Can you believe President Obama exchanged confidential information about Osama Bin Laden raid through pieces of paper?

We already know that secrecy was of paramount importance in Operation Neptune’s Spear. The US willingness to use Stealth Black Hawk helicopters during the Osama Bin Laden raid is a measure of the importance of a mission involving Special Forces, aircraft, ships, drones, satellites and who knows how many new/unknown technologies, deep inside a foreign country’s territory as if Pakistan was the worst American enemy.

As we know, President Barack Obama gave the go ahead to the operation on Apr. 29 at 08.20AM, in the Diplomatic Room, before leaving for Alabama. According to the reports, he had met his “national security adviser Thomas Donilon, counter-terrorism adviser John O Brennan, and other senior national security aides to go through the detailed plan to attack the compound and sign the formal orders authorising it”.

As Italian news station Rainews noticed, few hours later, as Obama arrived in Cape Canaveral, Florida, he quite “stealthily” gave a piece of paper to Air Force General Ed Wilson (Commander, 45th Space Wing, and Director, Eastern Range, Patrick AFB, Fla.) while they shook hands. Gen. Wilson, took another paper from his pocket and, in the same way, put it into the President’s palm.

Even if it is impossible to guess what kind of information they exchanged in such a weird manner, for sure the way the information was transferred as well as the timing of the episode raise some questions. Rainews Director Corradino Mineo ventured the suggestion that the exchanged information could be related to the OBL raid, demonstrating how keeping it confidential was the number one priority of US government.

Even if I find it intriguing, I think this would be a rather clumsy way to exchange secret orders or other intelligence information: in front of cameras and not, for example, during an extremely quick private meeting. Anyway, at the same time, I can’t completely rule out the possibility that those papers contained something as important as Operation Neptune’s Spear orders. However if “mission critical” information must be exchanged on paper to ensure confidentiality, maybe time’s arrived to review Net Centric Warfare doctrine and Joint Battlespace Infosphere concept (just to name but two) which are based on an integrated, secure, internetworked information flow…

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Mr Taff, talk about yourself about smoking, please. I guess we never ate salt together, so please hold these comments for yourself.
    The coin explanation might be a logical one but check the video first, If you go frame by frame you clearly see the general seems to pass something which is light colored, much larger than a coin (which would smaller than the hand, while he holds it by his fingertips) and looks like paper. Same, although less clear, for the thing he gets from POTUS. Is it customary to wrap these coins in paper? Otherwise find a better explanation.

  2. I think a piece of paper is more secure that all that mythologically exaggerated secure military networks
    you can easily burn it so to leave no trace
    recent years have demonstrated how weak security is in these new technologies
    even if it was encrypted it will leave traces (in servers, you MicoSD ,FlashDrives …) and it’s easily copied on the fly
    and will be deciphered in hours or some days on some supercomputers
    and recently a researcher demonstrated a loophole in encrypted disks technology in laptops so the safest way is a piece of paper or mouth to ear .

  3. Wake up it is clearly a challenge coin that both of them will give to their children as many of us have done trough the years. The Patriotic Trumpet Player Monica D Key Lindbergh years ago was given one (14AF) and (AFSPC) and one the same way on one of her many performances at the Cape by USAF General Gregory J.Pavlovich 45th Space Wing, Cape Canaveral, Fl. Monica has played over 500 Performances. Many times for the Commander In Chief President George W. Bush and many Generals. For the Troops of United We Will Always Stand In GOD We Trust The United States Of America. That she is now part of, the troops serving overseas.

    The Lord’s Little Helper
    Paul Felix Schott

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