Less than 24 hours before the official end of the Obama presidency, while White House staffers were pulling pictures off the walls and cleaning out their desks, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) posted without fanfare another installment of the documents captured in Osama bin Laden’s compound during the May 2011 raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The press statement that accompanied the release made an unexpected declaration: This batch of newly released documents would be the last one. Closing the Book on Bin Laden: Intelligence Community Releases the Final Abbottabad Documents, the statement was headlined. According to a tally on the ODNI website, this last batch of 49 documents brings the total number released to 571.
For analysts who have paid attention to the Abbottabad documents, the numbers immediately caused alarm. For years, the Obama administration told the American people that the haul from the bin Laden compound was massive and important. In an interview on Meet the Press just days after the raid, Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Thomas Donilon, said the material could fill a small college library. A senior military intelligence official who briefed reporters at the Pentagon on May 7, 2011, said: As a result of the raid, we’ve acquired the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever. Sources who have described the cache to THE WEEKLY STANDARD over the years have claimed that the number of captured documents, including even extraneous materials and duplicates, totals more than 1 million.