Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, shown here in an undated photo, was killed in a 2011 raid by U.S. Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Credit: AP via NPR

With Release Of Bin Laden Documents, Is The U.S. Government Trying To Send A Message To Sy Hersh?

May 20, 2015

Four years after Osama bin Laden was killed in a top-secret raid by Navy SEALs, the United States government is releasing a score of documents, books, and magazines recovered from his Abbottabad compound to the public.

The documents reveal that Bin Laden kept an extensive—and eclectic—library, with works ranging from those by linguist Noam Chomsky to texts on suicide to histories of English bishops. 

But perhaps the most interesting thing about the release is its timing. It comes on the heels of a controversial piece by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who challenges the Obama Administration's official account of the Bin Laden raid by claiming that Pakistani officials were complicit. 

This release is a deliberate attempt by the administration to reclaim narrative of the Abbottabad raid, says homeland security expert Juliette Kayyem.

"The other part of Seymour Hersh's story, which people forget, is that he said there was nothing of value found in the bunker in Pakistan," she explained. "Clearly part of the background in releasing this was about shutting up Seymour Hersh and those who agree with him."

Combine that with the current fight in Congress to reauthorize the Patriot Act, and the timing was ripe for release.

"I think they disclosed this as part of the atmospherics of both Bin Laden but also the 9/11 legacy," Kayyem said.

To hear more from homeland security expert Juliette Kayyem, tune in to Boston Public Radio above. To hear the "Security Mom" podcast, click here.

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