Social media and tech are key parts of the Bin Laden Raid, says author
The raid that killed Osama Bin Laden took place almost 18 months ago, but the story has continued to buzz throughout the US presidential election. Take a look at Twitter and bin Laden is everywhere.
He’s a political football being kicked back and forth in the presidential debates and social media has been a part of that story since the start.
Now the writer behind a new book on the Seal Team Six raid that killed Bin Laden, Mark Bowden, says the story would not be complete without talking about the role played by Silicon Valley based tech companies and Twitter.
Bowden’s book, ‘The Finish’, talks in-depth about how the Pentagon’s work with a number of tech companies, including data analysis firm Palantir, was a major factor in the successful raid, according to an interview on Forbes.
Bowden, who also wrote ‘Black Hawk Down’, says that Twitter had a major impact on the raid and even came close to jeopardising everything as the helicopters of the Seals came into Abbottabad, Pakistan, and local tweeter Sohaib Athar began live-tweeting what he was hearing:
A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S
— Sohaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual) May 1, 2011
Bowden said that, while the Pakistani military did not connect Athar’s tweet with what was happening, if they had, it could have meant a shooting war as American troops tried to get back over the border into Afghanistan. “I think it did have the potential to jeopardize the mission,” he explained to Forbes.
Bowden says that Twitter played another important role in how it influenced the Obama administration’s decision around news management of the event. If it had not been for Twitter we might have had to wait a little longer to hear the news:
Twitter played another important role, according to Bowden, in that it influenced the administration’s decision to announce the raid a bit earlier than planned. “There was some discussion given to waiting until the following morning to announce,” Bowden explained. “But it was clear that the information wouldn’t hold and the reason it wouldn’t hold was that the number of people who were are aware of what had happened began to grow exponentially.” Of course, the news broke early on Twitter anyway, with Keith Urbahn, the former chief of staff for Donald Rumsfeld, tweeting:
So I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn.
— Keith Urbahn (@keithurbahn) May 2, 2011
The rest is pretty much history except that it isn’t quite. The story is playing out heavily on Twitter still as the election plays out.
Ever more so as the first of two films about the raid hits the screen bringing with it yet more controversy.
According to the Daily Beast John Stockwell, the director of the first film, ‘Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden’, has denied that his film, which airs two days before the US presidential election, is in anyway propaganda.
You can see a short clip of ‘Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden’ here. It is due to air on the National Geographic Channel on November 4.