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Claim was controversial at the time

In July 2011, I wrote "Exclusive: U.S. Air Force Could Have Used Spy Shuttles to Monitor Bin Laden" in which I discuss how both spy satellites and the X-37B autonomous space plane, a top secret U.S. Air Force design, could have been used to spy on the world's most infamous terrorist Osama Bin Laden.  The Boeing Comp. (BA) launched in April 2010 and flew in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), before successfully reentering the atmosphere and landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in November 2010.

I first became aware that the U.S. might have used the X-37B -- which was equipped with powerful imaging hardware -- to spy on Bin Laden from space via amateur astronomer tracking data from Heavens Above.  At the time I revealed:

Amateur astronomers observed the orbiter following variable paths that took it between 40 north and 40 south degrees of latitude, a swath that includes Pakistan.  Specifically, between September and October, observations logged on the site Heavens Above ... [show that the craft's] orbit crossed over Pakistan, though there was a gap in observations, making it hard to definitively say.

X-37B
X-37b Space Spy Plane [Image Source: EPA/Reuters]
 
In March 2011, a second X-37B space plane unit was delivered and launched in a trajectory that covered the Middle East.  Months later, on May 1, 2011, U.S. Navy Seals stormed the compound where Osama bin Laden was holed up, killing him.  The U.S. was rumored to have used special radar-evading Black Hawk helicopters in the raid.

While it still cannot be determined whether the camera equipped X-37B or one of the camera-equipped spy satellites -- such as "USA-186 Keyhole" or "Lacrosse-3/5" -- one key pillar of my story has been definitively confirmed via this week's release of the Edward Snowden-leaked "Black Budget" memos, which detail intelligence spending and operations.

Lacross 3 Lacross 5
Lacross-3 and 5 (left to right) [Image Source: Global Security]

The memos show that without a doubt U.S. orbiters intercepted communications from and snapped pictures of the Bin Laden compound from the safety of space.  THe Washington Post describes:

The U.S. commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden was guided from space by a fleet of satellites, which aimed dozens of receivers over Pakistan to collect a torrent of electronic and signals intelligence as the mission unfolded, according to a top-secret U.S. intelligence document.

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) used their ubiquitous phone tracking to hunt down connections made by al Qaeda operatives, eventually tracing calls to the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan where bin Laden was hiding.  Once they got that info, the space surveillance teams took over snapping over 387 "collects" infrared and high-resolution images of the Bin Laden compound.  The CIA in documents writes that these images were "critical to prepare for the mission and contributed to the decision to approve execution."

Bin Laden Compound
One of the satellite images of the bin Laden compound [Image Source: Getty Images]

In addition to space spying, the team used "implants" -- possibly malware implanted into terrorists' phones at a hardware, software, or firmware level -- to tap into al Qaeda operatives conversations in the region, leading to the capture of 30+ low-to-mid level officers.

Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden was killed on May 1, 2011. [Image Source: The Long War Journal]

Intelligence also played a key role in the aftermath of bin Laden's death.  The documents reveal over $2.5M USD was spent to analyze the computer files and other electronics seized from the bin Laden compound -- files which were ultimately found to include a hoard of porn, according to leaks.

Sources: The Washington Post, DailyTech [2011]



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Jason Mick = self-aggrandizing putz
By W00dmann on 8/30/2013 3:32:31 PM , Rating: 3
Jason Mick, hard-hitting fact-finding intrepid reporter, taking credit for spewing fantastical conjecture:

quote:
I first became aware that the U.S. might have used the X-37B -- which was equipped with powerful imaging hardware -- to spy on Bin Laden from space via amateur astronomer tracking data from Heavens Above.


"Became aware of"...? As in, "became aware of something and tried to tie it to something else without the slightest shred of proof". Oh but wait, here's the confirmation:

quote:
While it still cannot be determined whether the camera equipped X-37B or one of the camera-equipped spy satellites...


...which means what, exactly? Oh, that we don't know whether your claims are accurate. Got it.

quote:
At the time I revealed:


You revealed?? As in, you yourself collected this information first-hand and "revealed" it to the world?

quote:
one key pillar of my story has been definitively confirmed via this week's release of the Edward Snowden-leaked "Black Budget" memos, which detail intelligence spending and operations.


Umm where does it say that, Jason? Specifically, where does Snowdon say that
quote:
U.S. orbiters intercepted communications from and snapped pictures of the Bin Laden compound from the safety of space?


I'm still waiting to read where Snowdon says the X-37 "orbiters" spied on Bin Laden.

Good grief! You are one of the most self-aggrandizing hacks I have ever seen. You post a story that you pulled literally out of your a**, then later on you imply that it was accurate while admitting there is no proof whatsoever of its legitimacy, and then - best of all - you try and take credit for it!!!

Said it before - say it again: Mick, you're a putz.




RE: Jason Mick = self-aggrandizing putz
By kleinma on 8/30/2013 5:14:50 PM , Rating: 6
The Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden was guided by satellites providing minute-by-minute updates, a top-secret U.S. intelligence document indicates.

The satellite fleet aimed dozens of receivers over Pakistan to collect a flood of encrypted communications intelligence, including a cellphone tracked by the National Security Agency and then linked by the CIA to the Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound where bin Laden was hiding, The Washington Post reported, citing a document provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2013/08/30/Secret-d...


RE: Jason Mick = self-aggrandizing putz
By Shadowself on 8/30/2013 7:34:41 PM , Rating: 2
The "satellite fleet" monitored RF communications in many forms. The "satellite fleet" does not take high resolution, real-time, continuous, motion imagery. This has been known for quite some time (even before the Post reported anything.

If you want to take very high resolution, real-time, continuous, motion imagery today, you do it from the air, not space.


RE: Jason Mick = self-aggrandizing putz
By kleinma on 8/30/2013 11:11:39 PM , Rating: 3
for all the things that have been known for a long time, just imagine the unknowns that exist today.


RE: Jason Mick = self-aggrandizing putz
By ShaolinSoccer on 9/2/2013 3:31:29 AM , Rating: 2
Imagine being the guy who got that job and says to himself "Wow, I get to play with toys that the entire planet knows nothing about!".


By AntDX316 on 9/2/2013 3:43:51 AM , Rating: 2
he was so wanted they sent a dedicated satellite into space just for him


By kleinma on 8/30/2013 5:15:14 PM , Rating: 2
he didn't say it... he leaked it...


By Basilisk on 8/30/2013 5:18:49 PM , Rating: 4
So very true... just what I was thinking as I skimmed this "news" item. All this pretentious patting himself on the back must keep him flexible.


By flashbacck on 8/30/2013 5:25:52 PM , Rating: 3
yeah... this is not a good news item.


By drycrust3 on 8/30/2013 6:19:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm still waiting to read where Snowdon says the X-37 "orbiters" spied on Bin Laden.

Some months ago I recorded, I guess you'd call it "official", TV program on the killing of OBL. In it is specifically states that spy planes were used to spy on the compound.


RE: Jason Mick = self-aggrandizing putz
By Piiman on 8/31/2013 9:17:50 AM , Rating: 2
And yet you come here and read his stories? I'm sure he appreciates the page hit.


By Basilisk on 8/31/2013 1:25:53 PM , Rating: 2
(a) They don't declare the Author on the main page; if they did, I'd be in the group that would infrequently open his posts.

(b) If the Topic is interesting enough, I'll skim his post. His unjustified vitriol usually aborts that skimming.

I've twice been surprised, and a touch worried, that an article of his has seemed to the point, free of rancor and agrees with my take. Those are worrisome moments, but his next article hastens my recovery.

Yes, most of the DT authors seem more interested in Page Hits than good journalism. I really need to find enough other sites such that DT drops out of my viewing, but I'm lazy enough to link over from Anandtech which has higher standards.


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