1. Profiles

    The CIA’s Bin Laden Hunter

    This April 1998 file photo shows Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Federal authorities dropped terrorism charges against bin Laden in court papers filed Friday, June 17, 2011, formally ending a case against the slain al-Qaida leader that began with hopes of seeing him brought to justice in a civilian court. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan approved a request made by federal prosecutors to dismiss the charges — a procedural move that's routine when defendants under indictment die.

    AP Photo

    You won’t see him in the famous war-room photo: he was standing just outside the frame. Nevertheless, one of the most important people in the hunt for Osama bin Laden was a career CIA analyst whom the Associated Press identifies only by his middle name, “John.” After tours in Russia and the Balkans, he joined the CIA’s counterterror unit in 2003 and outlasted three different CIA directors, frequently turning down offers for new assignments. After John’s team found a courier close to bin Laden last year, he wrote the memo describing their findings and began pushing then–CIA chief, Leon Panetta, to act—even though they weren’t positive it was bin Laden in the compound. (John said he was 80 percent sure it was bin Laden.) He also briefed President Obama on their findings.

    Read it at Associated Press