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US Government Releases Bin Laden Docs But Won’t Release His Porn

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

Originally published at MintPress News.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government on Wednesday released a trove of documents taken from Osama bin Laden, the slain leader of al-Qaida. The documents provide new insight into the inner workings of the terrorist movement, but a purported collection of pornographic materials is being kept in the dark.

The cache contains over 100 documents that U.S. intelligence agencies said were found during the raid on Pakistan that killed bin Laden in 2011. The documents were vetted by multiple agencies prior to their release and represent only a portion of the total documents recovered, which are still under review.

A spokesman for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Guardian that the documents were released because of “increasing public demand,” and denied any link between the release and a recent controversial report by renowned independent journalist Seymour Hersh that questions the official narrative of bin Laden’s capture and killing.

Among the revelations are that bin Laden’s book collection included works by political philosopher Noam Chomsky and journalist Bob Woodward. He also apparently owned books relating to 9/11 conspiracy theories. Other documents are “mainly correspondence with key lieutenants, associates and groups spread around the Islamic world,” according to the Guardian.

One unusual document appears to be a job application to become a terrorist. ABC News reports:

The al Qaeda application form as translated by the U.S. government involves a lengthy questionnaire about basic personal details, family history, marital status, and education level. It asks that applicants “answer the required information accurately and truthfully: and, “Please write clearly and legibly.” …

But quickly the questions veer towards those that, depending on the answer, could give al Qaeda a tactical advantage in future operations: Is the applicant expert in chemistry, communications or any other field? Do they have a family member in the government who would cooperate with al Qaeda? Have they received any military training? Finally, it asks what the would-be jihadist would like to accomplish and, “Do you wish to execute a suicide operation?”

Bin Laden’s pornography collection confirmed

Osama bin Laden’s pornography collection has been the subject of speculation for some time, ever since Reuters first reported its existence soon after the leader’s publicly reported death.

In Reuters “exclusive” report from May 2011, the anonymous officials who leaked the reports admitted: “They were not yet sure precisely where in the compound the pornography was discovered or who had been viewing it. Specifically, the officials said they did not know if bin Laden himself had acquired or viewed the materials.”

While the government again emphasized the existence of the X-rated collection found at bin Laden’s compound, it refuses to declassify its contents. Officials did reveal that the collection is “fairly extensive” and contains “recent-vintage video smut,” despite the fact that the terrorist leader lived in isolation, without Internet access.

“We are not going to release these materials due to the nature of their contents,” Clapper’s spokesman, Jeffrey Anchukaitis, told the Guardian on Wednesday.

On Internet media channel TheLipTV, Elliot Hill and Mark Sovel questioned the “veracity” and motivation for the release.

“I’m skeptical of anything the CIA releases,” Sovel said. “Whatever they’re releasing is some sort of spin.”

“I agree,” said Hill. “You could question the timing of it, you could question the fact that it’s so prosaic in its nature.”

As others have pointed out before, it’s instructive to compare these government-supported leaks to the release of documents by political prisoners.

“If you are a whistleblower like Edward Snowden, who tells the press about illegal, immoral or embarrassing government actions, you will face jail time,” wrote Trevor Timm for the Guardian in March. “But it’s often another story for U.S. government officials leaking information for their own political benefit.”

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