Meet the Press   |  May 08, 2011

National Security Adviser: Found ‘small college library’ of intelligence

The intelligence gathered at Osama bin Laden’s compound was huge and already indicates that bin Laden played an “operational and strategic role” according to White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> the compound in abbottabad, pakistan, last sunday not only resulted in the killing of the world's most wanted man, it provided u.s. intelligence officials a treasure trove of data showing, they say, that bin laden had remained highly active in directing al qaeda in the decade since 9/11. among some of the items released by the u.s. government yesterday afternoon, five videotapes showing never seen before videotapes of bin laden , several including actual or practice messages to the american people , and one shows a gray-bearded bin laden huddled under a blanket flipping through what appears to be news footage of himself on television. the audio from the seized tapes was not released by the government, officials saying it's an effort not to further spread bin laden 's anti- american propaganda . shortly after the tapes were distributed to the press, i sat down with the president's national security adviser, tom donilon. mr. donilon, welcome to "meet the press."

>> thank you, david. glad to be here.

>> bottom line, what are you learning based on new intelligence from this raid? we referenced the videos just a moment ago.

>> well, a couple points on that. first of all, as you know, the forces when they went in sunday night obviously took out osama bin laden , but also gathered up all the material that they could for exploitation by intelligence services , first point. second is the scale of what we've got here. this is the largest cache of intelligence derived from the scene of any single terrorist. it's about the size of a small college library .

>> what's that actually tell us? we looked at the video we showed before. you see osama bin laden looking at images of himself on a screen.

>> yes.

>> where is that actually happening and when? do you have an idea?

>> i don't have an idea with respect to the timing that i can share with you at this point, but let me tell you three or four things about it, all right? point one is it indicates to us that in addition to being the symbolic leader of al qaeda , that osama bin laden was involved operationally and strategic direction , directional operations, including propaganda efforts, obviously.

>> one thing, though, what leads you to believe he's operationally in control? because that would be different than what intelligence officials believed over the past several years.

>> i can tell you, and again, we're just at the front end of this, david, and you know me well enough to know i'm not going to say anything i haven't had a chance to study at this point, right? we're just starting to go through this large cache of information and we'll learn as we go along. we'll have, hopefully, information about our ability to additionally attack and strategically defeat al qaeda , but if we develop any information about planning or imminent threats, obviously, we will act on this. but it is important, it is important that osama bin laden -- i can tell you this based on the initial look at this material -- had an operational and strategical directional role, which makes the raid last sunday night and the event last sunday night all the more important in terms of our ultimate strategic goal, which is the strategic defeat of this organization.

>> again, you talk about the propaganda value. there were additional tapes the government released as well of bin laden making addresses, one purportedly to the united states .

>> yes.

>> these are that he had prepared. but based on what, do you say, that he was effectively still calling the shots for al qaeda ?

>> based on the information that we've seen in the initial pass-through information.

>> specific plots?

>> i don't want to get into details.

>> okay. but we know there was some discussion, at least aspirationally, about an attack on the rail system in the united states on the anniversary of 9/11.

>> in the attempt we hear information like that, we make notices and take appropriate actions.

>> were there references to specific plots?

>> i don't want to get