Nipping at the heels of yesterday's story about the software that automatically writes news articles comes another technological innovation changing the shape of journalism: software that reads news articles.
Hunting the world's most wanted man for school credit
By Paul Kvinta and Madhumita VenkataramanaPosted 09.04.2011 at 2:58 pm 0 Comments
In 2008, students in Tom Gillespie's geography class at the University of California at Los Angeles were floating ideas for class projects. One student wanted to calculate changes in the size of refugee camps in Sudan. Another figured he could gauge the effectiveness of the military surge in Iraq by looking at aerial images of Baghdad at night. To execute these projects, the students planned to employ the methodologies and systems Gillespie had been teaching them about, primarily geographic information systems (GIS), remote-sensing and GPS.
"Getting Bin Laden," published in this week's New Yorker and online today, has all the trappings of a Hollywood espionage thriller. Having spoken to numerous officials in the military, the Obama administration, and the Navy SEALS of Team Six, writer Nicholas Schmidle paints a thrilling play-by-play of the mission's preparation, execution and aftermath. Including the chilling radio message confirming the death of Osama bin Laden: "For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo."
The National Security Agency is, by nature, an extreme example of the e-hoarder. And as the governmental organization responsible for things like, say, gathering intelligence on such Persons of Interest as Osama bin Laden, that impulse makes sense--though once you hear the specifics, it still seems pretty incredible. In a story about the bin Laden mission, the NSA very casually dropped a number: Every six hours, the agency collects as much data as is stored in the entire Library of Congress.
For more than a year we've been posting grainy images of the Air Force's RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone, also known as the "Beast of Kandahar," and speculating about its potential mission profile. Now, via a tweet from the National Journal's Marc Ambinder yesterday, we might finally have an answer: "US Joint Special Operations Command SMU -- from DEVGRU (Navy SEALs), did the shooting. RQ-170 drone overhead. JSOC spotters on ground."
It's not uncommon for U.S. military forces to destroy an aircraft downed in a foreign land, but U.S. Special Forces had particular cause to blow up the ill-fated helo that participated in Sunday's raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan. Apparently, it was a secret stealth helicopter, the design of which U.S. military commanders would not be keen to share with the Pakistanis or anyone else.
The Navy SEAL team that offed the 21st century's most wanted man Sunday was so concerned about preparation and accuracy that they re-created the one-acre compound where their target was living, "Ocean's Eleven" style. The SEALs ran trial runs there in early April until they were ready to take down Osama bin Laden.
It’s predictable that the U.S. government, not leaving anything to chance, used DNA to identify Osama Bin Laden’s body. What is more than a little creepy, is that they matched his DNA to that of his sister, who died several years ago of brain cancer, and whose brain the FBI has kept in its hall of brains since then.
Plenty of people found out about the demise of Osama bin Laden through Twitter — but for most of them, it was through rumors at first and then snippets of media reports. In Abbottabad, one Twitter user provided live commentary as the raid was happening near him. Without realizing it.