Though the Navy SEAL team storming into bin Laden's Pakistan compound referred to the Al Qaeda leader as "Geronimo," Pentagon and CIA analysts knew him by a more culinary nickname: "Cakebread." The quirky piece of bin Laden death trivia comes from excerpts from a new book published by ABC News called Target: Bin Laden—The Death and Life of Public Enemy Number One. This morning, the network sent us a preview of the book with a conveniently bulleted list of its latest scoops:
- President Obama wanted to wait until DNA Results Came Back on OBL Before Telling the World of His Death
- Bin Laden’s code name: Cakebread
- The code name for his Abbottabad compound: AC-1...
- CIA Director Panetta’s last call to Special Forces: "Go in and find bin Laden, and if he's not there, get the hell out"
- The breed of the SEAL dog – a Belgian Malinois
First of all, this is going to bring delight to Belgian Malinois breeders, who have been hoping for a month to claim genetic ownership of the dog accompanying the SEAL team. But there's still more information from this early release. Here are some of the more interesting revelations.
What the B-2 bomber strike on bin Laden's compound would've looked like
Tens of thousands of pounds... would be dropped on the compound, reducing it to rubble. So not only would all twenty-two individuals in the compound be killed -- including the women and children -- but it was likely the blast effects would hit surrounding houses, killing innocent Pakistanis who had no idea bin Laden was there.
The first guesses about who was living in the Abbottabad compound
Analysts arrived at two conclusions: First, the courier was harboring a high-value target (HVT) in Abbottabad Compound One, or "AC1." Second, there was a strong probability that the HVT was Osama bin Laden, code name "Cakebread."
But the case was completely circumstantial.
Could the HVT have been al Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, or Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar? Could the compound have been shielding members of bin Laden's family, but not bin Laden himself? Could al-Kuwaiti have been harboring just some drug syndicate crime boss hiding from the law?
The risk of telling Pakistan about the raid in advance
This would be a gamble. The relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan was not built on trust. For years the CIA had been conducting attacks on targets in Pakistan using unmanned predator drones, with the agreement that the U.S. would give the Pakistani government prior notice. After too many incidents where the targets had been tipped off, probably by components of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the U.S. government changed the policy to notification "concurrent with" the drone attack.
How could U.S. officials trust the Pakistanis with prior information about an attack on a much higher value target -- the highest value -- if they couldn't even trust them with information about some mid-level thug?
Why President Obama ultimately decided not to tell Pakistan
Theoretically, the president was told, the U.S. could try to force Pakistani General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani to join the operation with the U.S. Kayani would be approached the morning of the attack, informed about the information on bin Laden and given twelve-to-twenty-four hours to join forces with the U.S., the president was told. Pakistan would only be asked to cordon off the area. ... The president said it would be great if we could trust another country with this and proceed with the raid bilaterally.
But, he then said, I don't think we can trust any other country.
How Obama had to be persuaded to announce bin Laden's death before getting DNA evidence
President Obama's instinct was to wait. Yes, this looked like it was a successful operation. But there was no need to rush out tonight to tell the world. Let's wait until we get that DNA evidence back. Let's tell the Pakistanis, make sure they understand our perspective, he said. Let's get all of our ducks in a row.
Mullen was told to call Kayani. Panetta called ISI Chief Ahmad Shuja Pasha.
The story is going to get out, the president's advisers said.
The president didn't care. It wouldn't be official until it came from the White House.
You can't contain this, they told him. This is the biggest story of the decade.
The president was calm, serene. He eventually was convinced. They would make the announcement that night.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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