[ by Charles Cameron — following up on Browsing in bin Laden’s library ]
Marcy Wheeler at Salon reports of the ODNI’s Bin Laden’s Bookshelf (expanded form, .pdf) that “the categorization imposed by ODNI” consists “largely of overlapping categories of English-language materials worthy of a Jorge Luis Borges short story.
- Publicly available US government documents (including the full-length book, The 9/11 Commission Report as well as a number of other book-length reports)
- English-language books (including the publicly available US government report on MKUltra, CIA’s 1960′s drug experimentation program, as well as materials like a single web page that are not books)
- Materials regarding France (including some full-length books, apparently in English)
- Media articles (including numerous longer journal articles)
- Other religious documents (including some book-length materials in English)
- Think Tank articles (including numerous
- Software and technical manuals (some of which are books)
- Other miscellaneous documents (largely maps, but including some dictionaries)
- Documents probably used by other compound residents (including a few full-length books)
The Borges “short story” referenced here isn’t in fact a short story but an essay, The Analytical Language of John Wilkins, which includes a classification system “which doctor Franz Kuhn attributes to a certain Chinese encyclopaedia entitled ‘Celestial Empire of benevolent Knowledge’”. Borges’ spurious taxonomy divides the animal kingdom into the following categories:
(a) belonging to the emperor,
(d) sucking pigs,
(g) stray dogs,
(h) included in the present classification,
(k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush,
(l) et cetera,
(m) having just broken the water pitcher,
(n) that from a long way off look like flies.
Nicely observed, Marcy.
Of particular personal note considering my interest in games:
Under the heading “Documents Probably Used by Other Compound Residents” we find listed:
Delta Force Extreme 2 Videogame Guide Game Spot Videogame Guide
One wonders (idly) whether ODNI cannot believe OBL would play such games, or whether that classification was arrived at on the basis of the location in the compound where these materials were found.
And given my interest in religion:
Under the heading “Think Tank & Other Studies”:
Program for the Study of International Organizations (PSIO), “Hizb ut-Tahrir: The Next Al-Qaeda, Really?” by Jean-Francois Mayer (2004)
And under the heading “Other religious documents”:
a treatise on Christianity by one Monqith Ben Mahmoud Assaqar PhD, titled Was Jesus crucified for our atonement? — which opens with the following (presumably post-doctoral) statement of scholarship-to-date:
Praise to Allah (S.W) , the cherisher and sustainer of the worlds, and may peace and blessings be upon all of His messengers. In our previous parts of this series “True guidance and light series”, we have concluded and confirmed a plain truth, which is that the Holy Bible, as we have seen, is man work, and not the word of Allah (S.W) in any way. Thus, Christians cannot present it as evidence for any of their creeds or events, including the crucifixion and the Atonement.
FWIW, reading this treatise will likely not have helped OBL in his quest for interfaith understanding.