The writings of Osama bin Laden, much in the news the last couple of days, amount to a single notebook of "10 or so pages" in his handwriting, a senior U.S. intelligence official says.
Rather than a "journal" or a "diary," the official described it as an "outline" or a "white paper" on al-Qaida's plans. "It set up an agenda for subsequent discussion and correspondence," he added, some of it with his subordinates and some with affiliated groups. In fact, there is other written and digital material that relates to the 10-page notebook.
The singular impression of analysts, said the official: "He was down in the weeds ... a micromanager."
The U.S. does not yet know if the material was written in one or more sittings, and the official declined to say how recently it was written.
Exploitation of the full cache of material is still under way. At the beginning of the process, 10 days ago, the official said the CIA estimated exploitation would take "a few weeks total if we go around the clock" The explotiation is in fact going 24 hours a day, with updates every morning and a number of regular intelligence reports — "dozens" on some days — distributed throughout the day.
As for additional videos, the official said a lot of them were what we have seen already: unreleased propaganda, outtakes, and news reports that had been recorded. Bin Laden's own messages were recorded at the compound, and it appears that some production and post-production work were done elsewhere by al Shahab, the al-Qaida media arm.
When asked if the material seized is helping the U.S. identify locations of other al-Qaida leaders, the official declined to comment.