CIA John, Bin Laden Tracker: Revealed on White House Flickr

Back in May the world first heard about the death of Osama Bin Laden and we told about immediate social media reactions, how the raid that found him was reported live on Twitter, Twitter stats about the death and much more. Today we have heard that C.I.A. John, a man integral to the hunt and capture of Bin Laden, has been uncovered by White House Flickr photos.

The enigmatic C.I.A. John is said to have been involved in the hunt for Bin Laden for over 10 years and would no doubt prefer to have remained anonymous but now an image that the White House posted on Flickr has apparently led to his identification by The New York Observer. According to Jennifer Van Grove over on Mashable, reporter Aaron Gell of the Observer has agreed to keep silent about C.I.A. John’s identity and for doing so has had access to off-the-record discussions with John’s associates. Although John’s full name is being kept quiet, we do know that John is in fact the man in question’s middle name.

Gell tells how the photo was used by an acquaintance of John’s who recognized him and then found out information from web searches. It is said that ‘John’ played basketball in college, mostly as a practice player, and that he had an unusual shooting style. C.I.A. John actually appeared in two of the now-famous Situation Room photos released from the White House. One shows C.I.A John, an intelligence analyst, in an address to the national security team by President Obama on May 1. C.I.A. John is an imposing figure and stands tall at the back of the room with his eyes partially closed behind Hillary Clinton.

The Associated Press is reported as saying that John was the most important person in the hunt for Bin Laden but how do we know this man is actually C.I.A John? The AP report says “Hidden from view, standing just outside the frame of that now-famous photograph was a career CIA analyst.” When the original Situation Room photo was released this man’s face was cropped out but his yellow tie was not and of course it was evident that the man was very tall. John Young of Cryptome then took just 9 hours to find the man in the photo. It was as simple as looking through other Flickr feed shots from the White House administration to find the man with a similar build and a yellow tie. You can see that set of photos at the Mashable link above.

Some are now wondering if in fact the White House intended C.I.A. John’s identity to be uncovered so that he could be publicly celebrated but if not this seems like a monumental error on the administrations part. We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this so let us have your comments.

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