Elsewhere in Mother Jones, David Corn analyzes the political gamble Obama took in authorizing the attack, Dave Gilson breaks down the numbers behind the most expensive manhunt in history, and Josh Harkinson rounds up ten ways the right is spinning bin Laden's death. Adam Weinstein reports on the reactions of bin Laden's supporters as well as active-duty soldiers, Stephanie Mencimer checks in on the tea party, and Mike Mechanic pulls together a slideshow of major daily front pages.
Pete Marovich/ZumaThis post first appeared on the ProPublica website.
The death of Osama bin Laden has sent news organizations scrambling for details on how it happened, where it happened, and what it all means. We've rounded up some of the best coverage, being careful to note what's been said, what's already being disputed, and what still remains to be seen.
How they found the most wanted man in the world:
The New York Times has a vivid account of the hunt for bin Laden in the weeks leading up to the strike, with dialogue straight from the situation room as the operation unfolded. As for the specific trail of intelligence, the Associated Press traces how detainees in both the CIA's secret network of prisons and in Guantanamo provided clues about the trusted courier who ultimately led the United States to bin Laden's hideaway. The AP cites former officials asserting that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind, was not being waterboarded while discussing the courier, though that still leaves unanswered what interrogation methods were used on the other, tip-giving detainees—many of whom haven't been identified.
But here's the interrogation file of one detainee who may have proved useful: The file of Abu al-Libi contained an early clue as to the whereabouts of a bin Laden courier in Abbottabad.
What we actually know about the operation and what's still fuzzy:
Most accounts of the bin Laden operation at this point cite background briefings from the White House. Those transcripts are interesting for both the details they provide and the details that officials skirt around. Here's yesterday's and today's.
Many of the blow-by-blows of the bin Laden operation are still fairly sketchy, and Obama administration officials already appear to be backing away from a few of the earlier descriptions of the circumstances surrounding bin Laden's death. For instance, early claims that bin Laden was armed at the time of his death and had used his wife as a human shield have since been contradicted by officials, Politico reported.
Given this, Slate's Jack Shafer has a must-read, pointing out several instances of vague sourcing and inconsistencies in some of the coverage of the bin Laden story.
Of course, some have taken that skepticism a step further and veered into conspiracy theories, seizing on the sea burial and the timing of the President's announcement as suspicious. (Slate has more on why the sea burial is unusual.) The administration has said it's considering releasing the photo of bin Laden's body or videos of the raid and the burial to put these suspicions to rest.
The Joint Special Operations Command, whose elite team of Navy Seals executed the operation, costs the country more than $1 billion annually, according to National Journal. Despite some of its personnel having been involved in abuse of prisoners and rendition, JSOC has operated without much scrutiny since 9/11—read the piece for more helpful context.