Odds are that many of Bin Laden's contacts would assume that their identities are compromised whether there was a single thumb drive involved or an entire building of thumb drives, external hard drives and computers. Stating that a large amount of data was found might scare away those who are on the fringe of the organization.
Of course a "mother lode of data" could simply be a few spread sheets of names and locations. I recall reading that more information was collected during this raid than ten years of more conventional information collecting. That wouldn't take much given how long it took to find him.
Consider it to be a CYA type thing. It is a computer. It is on the network. While you may have set it up, IT ultimately has to answer for things that are on the network. If your machine ends up being a security hole, they will get the blame at first because some part of the network was hacked. If they can't sign in to your machine to verify that everything is up to date, they can only assume that your machine is the cause and they can't fix it.
Note that the lab servers are probably locked down so they won't do much damage if they are hacked. They may even be managed by IT, even if the content comes from the labs.
The original poster could be a troll, or they could be someone trying to get advice without revealing who they are. In some academic environments, IT is stretched very thin and it lacks authority to enforce what should be standard operating procedure. If someone wants something done, they refer to their local, unofficial IT staff and jury-rig it.
Eventually IT inherits the kludge and has to figure out how to make it work. If IT is lucky, it comes before a disaster occurs. If IT is unlucky, it happens because of a disaster.
We might be mining methane for the hydrocarbons using automated skimmers. But they would likely be launched from space or perhaps the moon using mass drivers.
Chance are we would NOT be using the hydrocarbons for fuel though. The energy cost of doing the hydrocarbon harvest would likely be much greater than the energy provided by the hydrocarbons.
Another option would be to promote midrange products and how they can ultimately save money. If a pair of jeans costs forty dollars but lasts three times as long as a pair of twenty dollar jeans, you save money despite the bigger front end expense.
Unfortunately, the WalMart mentality has created a situation where you have cheap stuff and extremely expensive stuff, with little if any middle ground.
Of course, another option would be for innovation to take over. Let's say that the innovation fostered by a group like MAKE magazine encourages people to go into limited run manufacturing. It is done in garages and neighborhood production centers, so shipping and handling is minimized. If the manufacturing equipment is flexible enough, you can produce a lot of different things that are high quality AND customized. You may pay more for the jeans, but they will be a perfect fit AND they will be the colors you want.
I recall reading an article about a Russian woman who came to the US to 'prove' that all our talk about a better standard of living was propaganda. She cried when she got a tour of a typical supermarket, realizing that the propaganda was true.
Then there was the case of a science/SF writer that took a Czech engineer to Disneyland. The engineer was frightened by the level of technology that went into simple entertainment. The logic behind his fear was simple: If the tech that went into entertainment was that advanced, what was the top secret military tech like?
I like to say that Pepsi, MTV and Levi jeans were what brought down the Iron Curtain. While you can't diminish the fact that the military kept the USSR contained, the amenities were what broke down the Wall. (Was the Wall there to keep the evil capitalists out or to keep the people in?)
I seem to recall that this quote was intended to drum up more support for the Patent Office. They didn't have enough manpower and the number of patent applications was soaring. (It shows that sarcasm marks have been needed for over a century.)
Add in deductions for pollution control and safety measures. That would address the 'problem' of regulatory differences. (Or you could have a pollution/safety tariff on imports.)
I have to agree with Grove's statement. If you are exporting jobs overseas while depending upon the US market to buy the product you make, you will eventually reach the point where the US market doesn't have enough customers because they are unemployed.
At that point you better hope that your overseas market makes up the slack.
You might check into James Hogan's book "Voyage from Yesteryear."
A robot probe is sent to a nearby star with a habitable planet and the equivalent of embryos. Robot caretakers raise the children and help with the colonization of the planet in a cultural vacuum that doesn't transmit a lot of cultural bad habits like racism and classism. (This is a minor part of the story.)
Back on Earth World War III comes and goes. A much larger spaceship is sent to the colony to take charge of it for the 'good guys,' arriving a few years before two other ships from competing factions of 'bad guys.' A culture clash happens, with the robot raised types countering the 'good guys.' (This is the bulk of the story.)
The robot raised types, and the kids they have, have a lot more going for them, intellectually and socially, than many of the 'good guys.'
It is an interesting story.
The biggest technical problem is getting to Low Earth Orbit. Right now it is too expensive, though people are working on solving that.
The biggest overall problem as I see it is the socio-cultural approach we are taking with regards to space.
Back in the 1930's space flight was science fiction, though a few people like Goddard, Tsiolkovsky, and Oberth had been working on the technical aspects for a few years. People dreamed what it would be like to go into space and came up with some ideas on how to do it and what they might face. But it was just a dream that needed technology to make it real.
In the 1960's science fiction became science fact as the Space Race came into play. National pride and national security demanded that the money be spent on space. It got us places, but not cheaply. We learned a lot about what to do and what not to do. The dream was alive.
Since then we've been coasting, making little steps and sometimes stumbling. Space flight has become a 'so what' type of thing for a lot of people for a variety of reasons. It was also a fairly restricted 'club' limited to professionals and a small number of multi-millionaires. But the dream continued to live on and a few hundred ambitious people made it into space. They had to work hard to get those seats though.
In the not too distant future, as a result of private enterprise getting interested in space, 'normal' people will be making baby steps into space. These baby steps are much like the 'barnstorming' flights where pilots sold airplane rides. You went up, you came down, and you talked about it to all your friends. That creates an greater cultural awareness of what could be done with airplanes and it will do the same with suborbital space ships. And if people like Rutan and Branson can make a profit at it, an greater economic awareness will develop.
When the ball gets rolling in the suborbital area, people will start looking at orbital flights with a greater degree of seriousness. Once you reach orbit, you're halfway to everywhere.