In the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, we've heard detailed accounts of the roles played by everyone from President Obama down to the Navy SEAL dog in the successful raid. But one story went untold until today: that of the CIA analyst who spent nearly a decade doggedly hunting the al-Qaeda leader. The AP's account this morning reveals how difficult it is to profile the intelligence official who spearheaded what the AP calls "the greatest counterterrorism success in the history of the CIA."
For starters, it's difficult to profile someone when you can't interview the person. The CIA isn't allowing the analyst to meet with reporters, so the AP relied on interviews with former and current intelligence officials, many of whom remained anonymous "because they were not authorized to speak to reporters or because they did not want their names linked to the bin Laden operation" (the report cites only one source--former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin--by name). The AP doesn't explain how it learned about the intelligence official and withholds the analyst's full name to keep him from becoming "a target for retribution," referring to him by his middle name--the conveniently commonplace John--instead. The article is short on biographical information and long on the steps that led John to tell CIA Director Leon Panetta, with 80 percent confidence, that bin Laden was hiding in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.