Troops aboard the USS Carl Vinson sent the washed and weighted body of Osama bin Laden to the bottom of the North Arabian Sea Monday, ending the nearly decade-long pursuit of America's most wanted enemy. Bin Laden was buried at sea because no country would accept his remains, said a senior Defense Department official at a Pentagon press briefing. "The body was placed in a weighted bag. A military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker," the official said. Some news reports suggested U.S. officials wanted to deny bin Laden a traditional burial to prevent the site from becoming holy ground for followers who view him as a martyr. A sea burial may not necessarily prevent that from happening. By coincidence, the May-June issue of Pathfinder magazine, the in-house publication of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, has an article on how the agency assists the Navy-Marine Corps Mortuary Affairs Office in recording sea burial locations on nautical charts, pinpointing location and time of burial. Susan Meisner, an agency spokeswoman, on Monday said she could not say at this time whether the system was used to record the location of bin Laden's burial. She said the appearance of the Pathfinder article and the burial of bin Laden at sea was a coincidence. "The article has been in the works for the past eight months," she said. The magazine has other items of interest potentially relevant to the search for and death of the world's most notorious terrorist. Federal investments in commercial technology have resulted in a suite of products to share geospatial intelligence that could have been used to locate the compound used by bin Laden in Pakistan, where he was killed in a Sunday raid by Navy SEALs and CIA special operatives. Letitia Long, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, wrote that the intelligence community's venture capital firm In-Q-Tel helped jump-start development of Keyhole software, which was acquired by Google and rebranded as Google Earth in 2004. The magazine, published Monday, said that Google Earth has become the standard for portrayal of Web-based geospatial data for the intelligence community and the Defense Department. Long said another In-Q-Tel investment that helps the agency in its missions is Perspective Pixel, which helps view, analyze and annotate geospatially referenced datasets and integrate them with third-party applications, including Google Earth. Long also said an In-Q-Tel investment in a company called iMove has helped the agency, its analysts and customers with security and surveillance systems.
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