The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has released a lengthy list of documents seized during the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan back in 2011. I’ll leave it to others to parse the contents, but a couple of things stand out to me.
First, there’s a distinct lack of “fun” reading represented on Bin Laden’s list.* I mean, what did he read while sitting on the can?**
Second, the list reveals a kind of actor-reading-his-own-reviews sort of thing going on. Plenty of media stories, think tank studies, and books on Al Qaeda are represented.
Third, international relations theory! Look Ma, we’re relevant! Though he probably could have done better than Ikenberry and Mastanduno …
Finally, based on the strategy guide found, somebody in that compound was a gamer, although not apparently a very discerning one given the reviews for “Delta Force Xtreme 2,” described by IGN as “a game that’s every bit as bad as its spelling.” Gamespot was slightly more generous, boiling its essence down to “large ugly maps with death waiting behind every polygon,” and remarking that its artificial intelligence “can be amazingly stupid in certain situations.”
Somewhere in those reviews there’s a metaphor for the diminished fortunes that led Al Qaeda’s leader to spend his last few years hunkered down in a Pakistani safe house that wasn’t so safe after all. But someone else can puzzle that out.
*Unless you read Noam Chomsky for fun, in which case, I’m not sure you ought to be reading me.
**OK, maybe Chomsky wasn’t such a bad choice after all.