Editor's note: Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst and the author of "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden From 9/11 to Abbottabad," from which this essay is adapted.
By Peter Bergen
There is no better way for historians to assess Osama bin Laden's thinking and the real state of al Qaeda as it was understood by its leaders in the years after 9/11 than the "treasure trove" of more than 6,000 documents that were recovered by the U.S. Navy SEALs who raided bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a year ago.
In those documents we hear bin Laden speak in his own voice, unaware, of course, that one day his most private musings would end up in the hands of the CIA.
The documents paint a portrait of a man who was simultaneously an inveterate micromanager but was also someone almost delusional in his belief that his organization could still force a change in American foreign policies in the Muslim world if only he could get another big attack organized inside the United States - something some of his subordinates were quite skeptical about given al Qaeda's diminished capabilities.