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Seymour Hersh: Obama Account of Bin Laden's Death 'Inaccurate'

Seymour Hersh: Obama Account of Bin Laden's Death 'Inaccurate'
Seymour Hersh (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The New Yorker)

By    |   Monday, 11 May 2015 08:03 AM

President Barack Obama rushed to take credit for the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, and then forced the military and intelligence communities to back up his version of the events of that night, a new investigative report claims.

"Obama’s speech was put together in a rush," investigative reporter Seymour Hersh claims in a lengthy exposé posted in The London Review of Books. "This series of self-serving and inaccurate statements would create chaos in the weeks following."

Hersh, quoting a single, unnamed source in his article, writes that the Pakistani government had an active role in approving and implementing the Abbottabad raid, where bin Laden died.

"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," Hersh writes. "This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account."

The source, described as being a "retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad."

The source told Hersh that "the fact that there was an agreement with the Pakistanis and no contingency analysis of what was to be disclosed if something went wrong — that wasn’t even discussed."

Hersh alleges in his exposé that the "most blatant lie" included the official Obama line 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, had never been told of the impending attack.

Instead, the anonymous source told Hersh that Kayani and Pasha knew about the raid in advance and enabled the United States' helicopters to enter Pakistani air space, and that the CIA and United States actually learned about bin Laden's location after paying a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer a $25 million reward after he walked in and offered the information to Jonathan Bank, then the CIA's station chief at the Islamabad embassy.

The United States' version has bin Laden being tracked down through his couriers, not through the reward.

"The US initially kept what it knew from the Pakistanis, as 'the fear was that if the existence of the source was made known, the Pakistanis themselves would move bin Laden to another location,'" Hersh's source told him.

But Pakistan's cooperation was needed, the source said, to pull off the attack.

"Despite their constant public feuding, American and Pakistani military and intelligence services have worked together closely for decades on counterterrorism in South Asia," Hersh's exposé claims.

The ISI kept bin Laden as a virtual "prisoner" at a compound — located less than two miles from the Pakistan Military Academy, one mile from a Pakistan army combat battalion headquarters and 15 minutes away from a base used by ISI covert operations — to keep him under "constant supervision," the source told him.

Bin Laden's death was also "clearly and absolutely a premeditated murder," the source told Hersh. The White House has maintained that bin Laden had a weapon and that he would have been taken alive had he surrendered.

Some of the Navy SEALs involved in the mission were appalled by the White House's claims that bin Laden was killed in self-defense, the source told Hersh.

"Six of the SEALs' finest, most experienced NCOs, faced with an unarmed elderly civilian, had to kill him in self-defense?" the source said. "The rules of engagement were that if bin Laden put up any opposition they were authorized to take lethal action. But if they suspected he might have some means of opposition, like an explosive vest under his robe, they could also kill him."

Also, the White House's claim that bin Laden was killed with one or two bullets was also a lie, the official said, as "the squad came through the door and obliterated him."

Hersh also reports sources who cast doubt on claims that bin Laden was buried at sea.

But matters are different with Obama today, Hersh concludes, as he is not facing re-election like he was in 2011, when the bin Laden death helped push him into a second term.

"His principled stand on behalf of the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran says much, as does his decision to operate without the support of the conservative Republicans in Congress," said Hersh.

"High-level lying nevertheless remains the modus operandi of U.S. policy, along with secret prisons, drone attacks, Special Forces night raids, bypassing the chain of command, and cutting out those who might say no."

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President Barack Obama rushed to take credit for the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, and then forced the military and intelligence communities to back up his version of the events of that night, a report by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh claims.
seymour hersh, bin laden, obama, death, pakistan
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2015-03-11
Monday, 11 May 2015 08:03 AM
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