Time has a fascinating look at the White House decisionmaking that led to the death of Osama bin Laden. One of the biggest challenges was confirming that the al Qaeda leader was actually at the Abbottabad compound.
“Most of the actions the CIA could take to increase its confidence about the target would also unavoidably increase the odds that bin Laden or Pakistani intelligence officers would learn that the U.S. had discovered his whereabouts. More-advanced drones could provide better overhead photography of activity in the compound, but what if one crashed, as an RQ-170 did in Iran seven months later? A broadsheet of options included everything from surveilling the neighborhood with a miniaturized UAV that resembled a bird (so convincing that one was attacked by an eagle) to analyzing local sewage for genetic markers.”