The White House denies the accuracy of Hersh’s expose of the real nature of the bin Laden murder. The denial is so far very sketchy, offering only a few assertions and no facts that would show that its story is correct and Hersh’s account false.
Hersh’s account, based heavily on an intelligence source, is credible, however. One reason is that it is an account that EXPLAINS a number of otherwise inexplicable facts; and its explanation is not strained or far-fetched. Furthermore, as shown below, important features of his account agree with conclusions I reached within a few days of bin Laden’s death that were presented in this blog. By contrast, the White House explanation has never explained everything satisfactorily. It did the opposite. It left many critical questions unanswered, and a good many of these questions were raised in my blogs, and presumably in those of others, at the time when bin Laden was killed
At the time, on May 2, 2011, I raised these questions in this blog:
“If bin Laden had actually been found, why would he be killed and not captured? Why wouldn’t he become a prime target for interrogation? Why make him a dead martyr? Wouldn’t it potentially save lives to talk to the man?”
The White House story never addressed these questions except by making up stories that the killers acted in self-defense. There was never any evidence presented, such as photographs of the killed defenders, to back this up. I asked “Is there video of the attack, outside and inside? There must be for such an important event. Where is it? Why has it been not revealed yet? Where is the video of bin Laden’s body and those of his guards?”
Bin Laden was supposedly shot through the head by one early account. I asked “Were the men who invaded that compound, if they did invade it, threatened so that they had to shoot and kill bin Laden? Does the head wound suggest such a struggle, or does it suggest an execution by gunshot?”
I asked “Why in the world was bin Laden’s body (assuming it was his) dumped into the ocean? Anyone who knows anything knows that this is extremely suspicious and can only raise unending questions.”
And this: “The body should have been on display. Many reporters and witnesses should have been called in. Where are the witnesses? Are there at least five independent persons who can visually verify the event? Who did these DNA tests? How were they conducted? Where are the independent verifications of that? Was DNA of bin Laden stored away somewhere? Why aren’t these details reported in full? Why is the reporting so skimpy?”
Hersh’s report provides convincing and sensible explanations of all of these questions.
Shortly thereafter, I wrote a second blog. The available accounts already suggested that bin Laden had been executed, killed summarily. The White House stories, whatever lies they contained, could not cover up certain facts even at that time. A CNN report led me to write “If the CNN news report is accurate, then the operation had the intent of killing bin Laden, not taking him alive. There could not have been much if any resistance from the 4 people in the compound, and bin Laden, we are told, was shot twice in the head.” I concluded that Obama had had bin Laden executed and any resistance was minimal.
The White House even at that time provided extremely lame reasons for bin Laden’s murder. See here. I addressed that in another blog. I didn’t tear apart their explanations as much as they deserved, however. They made no sense, however. The same U.S. government that demanded that the Taliban turn bin Laden over to them, to follow legal procedures, turned right around and, when given the opportunity to capture him in an allied country (Pakistan), killed him instead. The White House could never explain this. They said they didn’t want to risk the lives of the team they sent to do the job. This is a ridiculous explanation. They risked the lives of 10,000 times that many men trying to capture bin Laden in Afghanistan. And isn’t what these exceptional American heroes are paid to do, want to do, volunteer to do and are trained to do? The truth is there was no serious risk because they had solid information supplied by the ISI about the compound and its occupants. They were in friendly territory besides.
My next blog on this used a Reuters report in which an American national security official said that the team had a kill order: “This was a kill operation.”
Within 2 days, we got revised reports and I blogged on those. My lead line was “Reliable news reports inform us today that bin Laden did not fire any weapon at anyone and that he did not use his wife or a woman as a human shield. The White House changed its stories that were put out by some officials.” I cite the supporting sources in that blog.
In other words, certain important features of the new Hersh account were already largely in our grasp a mere 2 days after bin Laden was assassinated. We already knew that the White House was lying about self-defense of the SEAL team. We knew that the story about dumping the body made no sense. We knew that it was implausible for bin Laden to have been “hiding” under the noses of the ISI. It makes perfect sense that they were hiding him and using him for their own purposes. We knew that the SEAL team could not have crossed into Pakistan without being detected, unless they were allowed to enter. We knew more than that.
And now when we hear the White House try to play down this story and/or try to undermine it either by some new stories, some patriotic appeals, by finding some minor inaccuracies in it, or by criticizing Hersh himself, we should not believe them. The Hersh story makes sense. It explains a great deal that was not as clear as it should have been. At the same time, I am saying that news accounts at the time already provided substantial evidence of what had really happened, supporting Hersh’s story today, and my own blogs at that time provide evidence of that and links to some of the pertinent sources.7:49 pm on May 11, 2015