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The Mapmakers for the U.S. Intelligence Community Who Helped Catch Bin Laden

BY Nick Judd | Monday, May 2 2011

The hunt for Osama bin Laden took years and involved some of the most sophisticated technology the U.S. military could bring to bear, including an entire agency devoted to developing intelligence based on maps and digital imaging — and it took the broader Internet less than an hour after President Barack Obama announced bin Laden's death to start guessing at the location of the compound where the terrorist mastermind was killed, posting their guesses on Google Maps.

ABC News has an aerial view of the compound, provided by the Department of Defense, which makes it look like this amateur guess is the closest one to the real spot.

Who builds the maps for the U.S. intelligence community? Based out of Bethesda, Maryland, the National Geospacial-Intelligence Agency employs analysts with top-secret security clearances. A recent job posting advertises the opportunity to "identify anything on, above, or beneath the Earth's surface." According to a memo to Central Intelligence Agency employees about bin Laden's death released Monday morning, the NGA was involved in the operation to find bin Laden — an operation that started to hone in on that compound when officials traced a courier's movements to the sprawling, tightly secured complex.