With the 9/11 attacks being the story of the last decade, the raid that resulted in the killing of OBL may be the big story of this decade.

Before SEAL Team Six (correctly known as {redacted}) inserted via classified stealth helicopters and killed HVT #1, the White House, the Pentagon, and the CIA had a single, agreed-upon narrative that would be sold to the public. This narrative would presumably help everyone take the most credit possible and would at the same time do the responsible thing in maintaining operational security. This meant that the military would be able to protect tactics, techniques, and procedures, while the CIA would protect the sources and methods.

After all, more than a decade after 9/11, American citizens did deserve some answers about the raid that finally brought down Public Enemy #1.

But then one of the stealth helicopters, probably a highly modified MH-60 Blackhawk, crash-landed inside the compound. With the agreed-upon cover story thrown into disarray, the White House panicked. This was the big story that would keep the president in office for another four years, and if the PR spin made them look bad, it could be curtains for the administration. And by the way, there is absolutely no question that whoever happened to be in the White House, regardless of party affiliation, would have leveraged this operation for political gain.

The White House began to leak sensitive information. Perhaps the culmination of these leaks was a pitifully bad article about the OBL raid in The New Yorker magazine, describing a childish facsimile of an actual military operation.

The author, Nicholas Schmidle, blows it in the first paragraph by giving the wrong name for the military working dog that was on the mission. While Schmidle certainly makes it seem like he was in contact with members of SEAL Team Six when he wrote the story, he later had to back-peddle and admit that he had in fact talked to the guy who talked to the guy. The story itself was written in a dramatic, sweeping narrative with great scenes that sounded like clichés straight out of a Jerry Bruckheimer production.

While many journalists scrambled to get the big scoop on the OBL raid, they became frustrated that The New Yorker landed the story first. What many didn’t understand was that The New Yorker was the White House’s trusted media outlet. Call it PR, call it propaganda, but this was the channel chosen to make the White House look good. SOFREP does not know where the leak originated, but the National Security Council and any connections they may have to The New Yorker would be a good place to start looking.

Information Operations, i.e. influencing and managing perceptions, can sometimes be the decisive point of modern military operations. The United States government understands this and even created cover stories within cover stories. Some of them probably appear in Schmidle’s story. What many are deriding as “leaks” are in fact covers put out by military and intelligence authorities in order to protect their sources and methods. The scenario that now emerges from a national security standpoint is that we have good authorized leaks to the media and bad self-serving leaks coming from people who harbor a political agenda.