This memo (and a couple of 5.56 mm rounds) killed Osama Bin Laden

Even if the main U.S. media outlets have already published it, I still think the paper shown below deserves some attention: it is the memo by the (then) CIA Director Leon Panetta, giving the go ahead to the May 1, 2011 raid, dubbed “Operation Neptune’s Spear” that killed Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Image credit: TIME

The memo was obtained by Time magazine for this week’s cover package on the Osama Bin Laden’s first anniversary. Time was able to “decypher” it:

MEMO FOR THE RECORD Apr. 29, 2011, 10:35 a.m.

Received phone call from Tom Donilon who stated that the President made a decision with regard to AC1 [Abbottabad Compound 1]. The decision is to proceed with the assault. The timing, operational decision making and control are in Admiral McRaven’s hands. The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the President. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration. The direction is to go in and get bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out. Those instructions were conveyed to Admiral McRaven at approximately 10:45 am.

The U.S. willingness to use Stealth Black Hawk helicopters during the Osama Bin Laden raid shows 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”.

In the cyber age, this memo shows that handwritten papers are still an effective way to exchange secret orders or other classified information.

As hypothesized last year, when the footage showing Obama “stealthily” exchanging pieces of paper with Air Force General Ed Wilson on arrival at Cape Canaveral, Florida, few hours after authorizing the raid, fueled theories according to which the President of the U.S. gave the Air Force General, Commander of the 45th Space Wing, and Director, Eastern Range, Patrick AFB, Fla., information that could be related to the OBL raid.

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.