"Bin Laden raid" is potentially ambiguous between a raid ON Bin Laden or BY Bin Laden. "Doctor who aided US military raid" would probably be read as aiding a raid by the US military (rather than on).
@Dean: Insisting his name is "The Doctor" is a shibboleth for fans of the resurrected series. The character was "Doctor Who" in the credits for the classic series, although he was never actually addressed that way. Whereas on the new show, his name is "The Doctor", but he is sometimes called "Doctor Who." In the (probably best forgotten) Peter Cushing Dalek movies, his actual name was "Doctor Who."
The garden path sentence here would not have tripped me up without a significant degree of priming (from the post title and the fact that I was watching Doctor Who last night). I started out thinking of The Doctor aiding in the raid on bin Laden's compound, but before I had finished reading, my familiarity with the news story involved had nudged me back toward the correct reading.
@John: Despite Tina Brown's British origins, The Daily Beast is an American Web site, and it would not never have produced a hed like the one you suggest. The actual headline was not written in order to avoid a noun pileup, since those aren't standard in American headline-ese. Moreover, the salience of the phrase "doctor who" is much lower in America than Britain, and I think most American readers wouldn't be confused by this hed at all.
Without the priming of the headline, I also would never have thought this was a reference to the fictional "Doctor Who." What tripped me up for a moment was the word "raid." On first reading it looked like it was bin Laden who conducted the raid, rather than being raided.
@Brett: "The Doctor" vs. "Doctor Who" was a fan shibboleth even during the original-series era. The character credit at the end actually changed from "Doctor Who" to "The Doctor" over the course of both the old and the new series.
While it's uncommon, there are also two or three moments in the earlier decades of the original TV series in which he's either explicitly named as "Doctor Who" or some joke is built around it (not counting the far more numerous times that some character asks "Doctor who?") And the earlier tie-in novels, comics, etc. often referred to him by that name.
…Of course, when Doctor Who started out, TV episodes were regarded as ephemeral creations, and long-term continuity as a minor consideration; nobody would have dreamed of fans a half-century in the future picking over such details as to whether somebody called the main character "Doctor Who" in some episode or other. And even today, the makers of the series insist that it doesn't possess anything so set in stone as a "canon." So it's probably best not to be too picky about it.
(Consider the fact that the BBC wiped the master tapes of huge chunks of the Hartnell and Troughton eras, considering them to be of less value than the tape they were recorded on.)
I wonder whether one's television viewing habits prime (or not) them to parse 'Doctor Who' as one unit.
Also, I would never style a headline or title in all caps, and not even as each word capped, but in sentence case. 'Doctor who aided bin Laden raid is jailed' is instantly unambiguous (except the pesky lower case 'b' on 'bin').
Also, also, being a restrictive relative clause, would anyone use 'that': 'Doctor that aided …'? I wouldn't – it's just 'wrong' to me. I don't know why; all the grammar books allow, and some prescriptivists prescribe 'that' in restrictive relative clauses.
I've seen such headlines before. "Doctor Who Lost Cho's Record Had Been Fired After Review" is the first one I explicitly noted; it, of course, is a garden path rather than a real ambiguity. Headline casing makes it worse: "Doctor who…" wouldn't be read like that.