NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has leaked classified documents to the Washington Post that reveal a top secret security unit bugged phones to locate Osama Bin Laden, an undisclosed lab confirmed the al-Qaeda leader’s DNA and the Navy SEALS who raided his compound were guided by satellites in space.
According to the Post, a key component in the successful raid on Bin Laden’s Pakistan lair was a covert team of hackers called the Tailored Access Operation group.
The team’s purpose is to break into computer and mobile networks to install spyware and tracking devices. This type of spyware was crucial in coordinating the Bin Laden raid. The CIA was able to identify the location of a cell phone that belonged to an al-Qaeda operative, which turned out to be linked to Bin Laden’s walled-in compound.
Also playing a key role in the May 2011 raid were space satellites that collected electronic information from Pakistan before and during the mission. The satellite not only intercepted all electronic communication within the surrounding area to make sure no one was planning to thwart our attack, but additionally took pictures of the compound roughly a month before the raid.
Hundreds of high-resolution and infrared images of the compound were delivered to the National Reconnaissance Agency that, according to the Post, were “critical to prepare for the mission and contributed to the decision to approve execution.”
After Bin Laden was killed, the Post reports, his body was taken to a top secret military lab in Afghanistan that analyzed his DNA to confirm his identity.
This lab, run by the Defense Intelligence Agency, performed the DNA testing roughly eight hours after the raid. The tests “provided a conclusive match.”
These documents were transferred from the Pentagon to the CIA, which apparently has the authority to sidestep the Freedom of Information Act and deny any request that such papers be released to the public.
Had the documents stayed in the Pentagon, however, they might not have been available to Edward Snowden, who was able to access the information through his position in the agency.