— The Erimtan Angle —

‘The story of the killing of Osama bin Laden broke four years ago. From the day – May 2nd, 2011 – that US President Barack Obama revealed the news, there have been varying accounts of exactly what happened, including a few cracks in the official narrative.However, most of the media have told Washington’s version of the story, as did Hollywood.But now that version of the story has been challenged by one of America’s best known investigative journalists, Seymour Hersh.He reported that it was not a case of the CIA tracing Bin Laden to that compound outside Abbottabad. According to Hersh, a Pakistani intelligence officer gave up Bin Laden, he did it for the reward money and the Pakistani government not only knew that the raid was coming but had, in fact, been keeping the al-Qaeda leader prisoner for nearly five years.Hersh’s journalism came under immediate attack and the most vociferous response did not come from the Obama administration or Congress, but the US press corps. We are going to examine why that is. Why, with a story that has been murky from the beginning, is there such a reluctance in the American media to even entertain the account of a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has broken some of the biggest scandals the US has seen in the last 50 years? What are Seymour Hersh’s critics defending? The government they report on? Their own journalism? Or is it a bit of both? Helping us answer these questions are: Cora Currier, a journalist from The Intercept; Patrick L. Smith, from Salon; Philip Ewing, from Politico; and the author Imtiaz Gul (25 May 2015)’ .

Seymour Hersh writes thusly: “It’s been four years since a group of US Navy Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden in a night raid on a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The killing was the high point of Obama’s first term, and a major factor in his re-election. The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account. The White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll: would bin Laden, target of a massive international manhunt, really decide that a resort town forty miles from Islamabad would be the safest place to live and command al-Qaida’s operations? He was hiding in the open. So America said. The most blatant lie was that Pakistan’s two most senior military leaders – General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the army staff, and General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of the ISI – were never informed of the US mission. This remains the White House position despite an array of reports that have raised questions, including one by Carlotta Gall in the New York Times Magazine of 19 March 2014. Gall, who spent 12 years as the Times correspondent in Afghanistan, wrote that she’d been told by a ‘Pakistani official’ that Pasha had known before the raid that bin Laden was in Abbottabad. The story was denied by US and Pakistani officials, and went no further. In his book Pakistan: Before and after Osama (2012), Imtiaz Gul, executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies, a think tank in Islamabad, wrote that he’d spoken to four undercover intelligence officers who – reflecting a widely held local view – asserted that the Pakistani military must have had knowledge of the operation. The issue was raised again in February, when a retired general, Asad Durrani, who was head of the ISI in the early 1990s, told an al-Jazeera interviewer that it was ‘quite possible’ that the senior officers of the ISI did not know where bin Laden had been hiding, ‘but it was more probable that they did [know]. And the idea was that, at the right time, his location would be revealed. And the right time would have been when you can get the necessary quid pro quo – if you have someone like Osama bin Laden, you are not going to simply hand him over to the United States.’ This spring I contacted Durrani and told him in detail what I had learned about the bin Laden assault from American sources: that bin Laden had been a prisoner of the ISI at the Abbottabad compound since 2006; that Kayani and Pasha knew of the raid in advance and had made sure that the two helicopters delivering the Seals to Abbottabad could cross Pakistani airspace without triggering any alarms; that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the US, and that, while Obama did order the raid and the Seal team did carry it out, many other aspects of the administration’s account were false”.[1]

Last November, RT reported that “[t]wo former US Navy SEALs that took part in the raid at Osama bin Laden’s compound three years ago have told opposing versions of who ultimately killed the Al-Qaeda founder. The dispute over events is now materializing as both seek the spotlight. As RT previously reported, former SEAL Team Six member Rob O’Neill – who was referred to only as “the shooter” in an Esquire magazine interview detailing the 2011 mission – went public this week as the person responsible for shooting Bin Laden three times in the forehead. Now Rob [O’Neill] is set to appear in a Fox News series scheduled to air later this month where he will again be presented as the primary shooter. In O’Neill’s version of events, as told to Esquire in 2013, the “point man” in the Abbottabad, Pakistan raid tackled two women as “the shooter” advanced, killing Bin Laden in another room. Yet his claims are disputed by another SEAL who came forward in 2012 with his own account of the raid. In ‘No Easy Day’, Mark Bissonnette, writing under the pseudonym ‘Mark Owen’, said the first person to enter bin Laden’s room, the “point man,” was the SEAL to kill Bin Laden”.[2]

Now, who killed Bambi and how did all come about???  In the Columbia Journalism Review Trevor Timm writes that “Seymour Hersh has done the public a great service by breathing life into questions surrounding the official narrative of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Yet instead of trying to build off the details of his story, or to disprove his assertions with additional reporting, journalists have largely attempted to tear down the messenger. Barrels of ink have been spilled ripping apart Hersh’s character, while barely any follow-up reporting has been done to corroborate or refute his claims—even though there’s no doubt that the Obama administration has repeatedly misinformed and misled the public about the incident. Even less attention has been paid to the little follow-up reporting that we did get, which revealed that the CIA likely lied about its role in finding bin Laden, which it used to justify torture to the public”.[3]

[1] Seymour M. Hersh, “The Killing of Osama bin Laden” LRB (21 May 2015). http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n10/seymour-m-hersh/the-killing-of-osama-bin-laden.

[2] “Navy SEALs publicly clash over who killed bin Laden” RT (07 November 2014). http://rt.com/usa/203267-osama-seal-kill-dispute/.

[3] Trevor Timm, “The media’s reaction to Seymour Hersh’s bin Laden scoop has been disgraceful” CJR (15 May 2015). http://www.cjr.org/analysis/seymour_hersh_osama_bin_laden.php.

Comments on: "The Other Bin Laden Story or the Hersh Factor" (1)

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