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Bowden Recounts the Hunt for Bin Laden

Monday, October 22, 2012

President Barack Obama and his national security team get an update on Osama bin Laden in the White House Situation Room (Pete Souza/White House Flickr)

As the two presidential candidates meet to debate foreign policy issues on Monday, the hunt and killing for the world’s most wanted terrorist will likely be brought mentioned by President Barack Obama. In his latest book, author and journalist Mark Bowden discusses why the mission was a success.

On May 1, 2011, the world learned the Osama bin Laden was holed up in a compound in Pakistan and was killed by U.S. Special Operations forces.

In his book in The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden, Bowden, who received key access to sources, writes about the development of a new tactical strategy to fight al-Qaeda, how intelligence led to the compound in Abbottabad and how Navy SEALs carried out the mission.

“The fact that American special forces, special operators in particular, have been at war for the last 10 years means that you have veteran members of these units who have literally conducted thousands of raids like these,” Bowden told WNYC's Leonard Lopate on Monday. “That has never been the case before in history, so I think that’s a major reason that went off so smoothly.”

As remarkable as the raid itself, Bowden said that the way bin Laden was found — utilizing advances in technology — was even more interesting to him.

“The key to how we’re fighting now is making these invisible networks visible,” he said.

That included use of coercive interrogation methods. Bowden said there was never a moment where one interrogation brought out the key bit of information, rather it was piecing together information from a variety of interrogations over a long period of time.

Although there have been claims the Obama administration has politicized the capture of bin Laden, Bowden said that Obama deserves a lot of credit, “both for pushing this as a priority and also  the way he handled this whole episode from beginning to the end.”

Bowden added this is an end for him as well. He said The Finish will be his last book about a man hunt.

For more, listen to Leonard Lopate’s full interview with Mark Bowden above.

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