Secret budget documents show that a U.S. military laboratory in Afghanistan analyzed DNA from Osama bin Laden’s corpse and confirmed his identify shortly after he was killed by a Navy SEAL team.
The Pentagon denied more than a year ago it had any records of these tests in a response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed a day after President Barack Obama announced bin Laden’s death in May 2011.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that classified intelligence budget files provided by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden state that a forensic intelligence laboratory run by the Defense Intelligence Agency performed the DNA testing, which “provided a conclusive match.”
The secret files also show that the NSA warned in 2012 that it planned to investigate up to 4,000 reports of possible internal security breaches, the Post reported.
Citing documents it said were provided by Snowden, the Post said the NSA’s concerns about insider threats were aimed at “anomalous behavior” of agency employees with access to top secret data. The account cited NSA concerns about “trusted insiders who seek to exploit their authorized access to sensitive information to harm U.S. interests.”
The NSA concerns were outlined in top-secret documents provided to the Senate and House intelligence committees in February 2012, well before Snowden emerged this summer as the sole source of massive new disclosures about the agency’s surveillance operations. The Post released only 17 pages of the entire 178-page budget document, citing conversations with Obama administration officials who voiced alarm about disclosures that could compromise intelligence sources and methods.
Shawn Turner, director of public affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, who has taken the lead in responding to the Snowden disclosures, did not immediately respond to a request to discuss the budget figures.
The FOIA request for records submitted May 2, 2011, included DNA and facial recognition tests performed to ensure the body was bin Laden’s, all videos and photographs taken during the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the death certificate and other records related to the mission.
In a March 2012 response, the Defense Department said it could not locate any of the files.
In July, the nation’s top special operations commander, Adm. William McRaven, was reported to have ordered military files about the raid purged from Defense Department computers and sent to the CIA, where they more easily could be shielded from ever being made public.
The secret move seems to have sidestepped federal rules and perhaps the Freedom of Information Act as well. The CIA has special authority to prevent the release of “operational files” in ways that can’t effectively be challenged in federal court.
Spokesmen for the Pentagon and CIA denied the move was intended to avoid the legal requirements of the FOIA. The bin Laden mission was overseen by the CIA, they said, which meant the records about the raid should be housed with the spy agency.
The CIA has not responded to a separate request for many of the same records about the bin Laden mission the Pentagon said it could not find.
The latest revelations also disclosed limited details about the highly classified 2013 intelligence “black budget,” which previously only provided a top line of nearly $53 billion. The $52.6 billion intelligence budget described by the Post discloses that the NSA’s portion was $10.5 billion in 2013 — outstripped only by the CIA’s $14.7 billion.
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