Bin Laden killing in 2011: a ‘Volcano of Lies’!



by Selvam Canagaratna

"You can fool too many of the people too much of the time."

– James Thurber, The Owl Who Was God, 1945.

In the May 21st 2015 issue of the London Review of Books, legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh who, in 1969, first exposed the ghastly My Lai massacre by US forces during the Vietnam War, published an new account of the killing of Osama Bin Laden which exposed the story told by the Obama Administration to be, as he put it, "a blatant lie."

Using sources inside the CIA and Pakistani intelligence, Hersh dismantled, plank-by-plank, the official narrative first paraded by President Obama in his public address a few hours after the raid in Abbottabad and later embellished by John Brennan.

Hersh’s revelations establish that at the time of the raid Bin Laden was essentially an invalid. He was living under a sort of ‘house-arrest’ by the Pakistanis, who were monitoring him 24/7. US intelligence was alerted to Bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad by a ‘walk-in’ informant who wanted to collect (and, in fact, did) a portion of the $25 million ‘reward’ that was on offer.

Retired General Asad Durrani, who was head of the ISI in the early 1990s, had 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 that ‘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.’

Had it not been for cloud cover over Abbottabad, the raid on Osama’s compound could have come on Friday, April 29, the same day as the royal wedding.

On May 6, 2011, four days after the al-Qaeda leader was killed in his hideout in Pakistan, Alexander Cockburn, then Editor of CounterPunch magazine, wrote: "Barack Obama, who pledged to restore ethical honour to the White House after the Bush years, is now burying himself under an active volcano of lies, mostly but not exclusively concerning the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

"There was scarcely a sentence in Obama’s Sunday night address . . . that was not subsequently retracted by CIA director Leon Panetta or the White House press spokesman, Jay Carney, or by various documentary records."

Even the photograph of Obama, Hillary Clinton and top security advisors supposedly watching real-time footage of the Navy Seals’ onslaught on the Abbottabad compound was a hoax, wrote Cockburn, as was the ‘liquidation’ of Bin Laden himself. Why? Because none other than Leon Panetta admitted the real-time video link had stopped working before the Navy ‘Seals’ got into the Abbottabad compound!

Added Cockburn: "Panetta also admits Osama bin Laden was not armed, and that he did not hide behind his young wife’s skirt. He conceded that under military rules of engagement Osama should have been taken prisoner, but then added, vaguely, that ‘he showed some unspecified form of resistance’."

Cockburn interprets that ‘resistance’ to mean that ‘old boy’ Osama probably reached for his walking stick, since he was known to be ailing from kidney and liver problems. "As any black or brown resident in, say, the purview of the  Ramparts Division of the Los Angeles Police Department knows full well, reaching for a walking stick or even holding a cell phone can be a death warrant; multiply that likelihood by a factor of 100 if you are the world’s most wanted terrorist  in front of a score of heavily armed and homicidal Navy SEALs, no doubt amped up on amphetamine ..."

Hersh’s report also demolished one of the cornerstones of the myth constructed by the CIA about the killing of Bin Laden: that the use of torture had led to the discovery of a network of couriers which they eventually tracked to the white house in Abbottabad. That lie has now been crushed.

Wrote Jeffrey St. Clair, current Editor of CounterPunch, in his 2015 intro to the reprint of Cockburn’s 2011 article on Bin Landen death just days earlier: "Predictably Hersh has come under withering attack from torture apologists and Obama defenders, especially the talking heads on MS-DNC. Last night, MS-DNC’s hipster teleprompter reader Chris Hayes led the attack on Hersh, while simultaneously cheerleading the findings of the MS-DNC ‘investigative’ team which "independently confirmed" the two major assertions in Hersh’s report. Hersh, to his credit, swatted down Hayes’s juvenile deprecations like the seasoned pro he is."

Hersh’s story also confirms what Pakistanis have long considered common knowledge. In fact, soon after Bin Laden’s assassination we heard from a former Pakistani military officer, Shaukat Qadir, who told us the whole story "was bunk."  According to Qadir: "For the record, this house has been under ISI surveillance while it was under construction. It was first raided in 2003, and the ISI just missed capturing al-Libi (he was later captured by the ISI close to Mardan in K-P Province). It has been raided on numerous occasions since." Shaukat tells me that contrary to a report in the New York Times by Carlotta Gall on May 5, neither of the two trusted couriers were among the dead in the compound."

Continued Cockburn: "So the trail to Abbottabad was known to the US intelligence services at least since 2005, when al-Libi was captured. We can conclude, from this narrative, that when the unredacted WikiLeaks files surfaced, US intelligence concluded that Osama’s associates would soon figure out that the Americans had made the appropriate connections and conjectures and that they would urge him to move on with all due haste. So Obama decided to send in the US Navy Seals.

"From this active volcano of lies, we can safely assume that Obama’s re-election campaign has been well and truly launched. Lift-off began on April 27, 2011, with the White House’s release of the long birth certificate. Obama seems to have problems with timely provision of convincing documentation about arrivals (his own) and departures (Bin Laden’s)."

Cockburn noted the White House claims that ‘issues of delicacy’ prohibited the release of photographs of Osama’s bullet-riddled face and required that after an alleged match with a relative’s DNA he be given a swift but formal sea burial in a weighted body bag dropped from the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson into the north Arabian Sea, "presumably awaiting retrieval by salvagers with a fix on the Vinson’s position at the time of burial."

Maybe the Navy Seal photographer forgot to take his lens cap off, said Cockburn impishly, adding, "Obama’s claims of ethical sensitivity certainly ring hollow. There was lengthy display back in Bush-time of the mutilated bodies of Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusay, killed by US special forces in 2003, plus filming of Saddam’s own execution by hanging."

Concluded Cockburn: "Obama only had one bloodied feather in his cap when he gave one of the most morally repellent speeches I have ever heard delivered from the White House. Bush at least had the crude brio of a semi-literate jock when he vaunted America’s prowess. Obama’s ‘we nailed him’ paragraphs of mendacity concluded with Dickensian Heepishness: ‘Tonight we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history.’

"Alas, the actual story of ‘our history’ is an unrelenting ability to lie about everything, while simultaneously claiming America’s superior moral worth."

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