much as i'd love to believe it - mainly because it would re-inforce my prejudices about the political ineptness both of the US civilian and military leadership - i don't think i do.
thats not to say that i personally am not aware of incidents where US grandstanding nationalistic politics has directly affected a military operation and lead to its compromise/failure.
it could be true because these things have happened before and since this alleged incident, but given the massive subsequent cost (in both blood and treasure) of not capturing our friend i'd be very surprised if the details had not leaked from US sources. those who made such a decision will want it buried forever, but those who know about it but who weren't responsible for it would have little to lose by ensuring that it appeared in the NYT.
the inforrmation that a real, actionable opportunity to capture/kill OBL was sacrificed on the altar of having US troops getting the glory - probably on the highest political orders - is so juicy that its impossible that it hasn't leaked from the US side. it would of ended the careers of dozens of very senior officers as well as losing Bush the 2004 election. had it been leaked and confirmed in 2002 then Bush would probably been impeached, there is no way the US body politic would have stood for such a fcuk-up, despite its somewhat bizzare ideas about 'don't slag the President because then other people might realise he's a card-carrying member of the mouth-breathing window-licker club'.
short version, if it had happened then Bush would no longer be President and half of CentCom would be unemployed.