We have a smart and interesting group of readers from a range of backgrounds here on WARN. I am curious as to your thoughts on Seymour Hersh's new piece in the London Review of Books where he debunks and exposes the official "lie" about the killing of Osama bin Laden by United States operatives in May 2011.
From the initial reports about the SEAL Team 6 mission to kill Osama bin Laden, I was (and remain) in a state of disbelief about the facts as reported by Washington and the Obama administration.
Why didn't the Pakistanis shoot down the helicopters? Where was the active fighter cover for the raid? Why did the story about the mission to kill Osama bin Laden keep changing? Osama Bin Laden was hiding in the midst of the Pakistani military establishment and no one knew he was there?
Hollywood and the American military-intelligence-media apparatus have been shaping public perception and consciousness since at least World War One. The dream machine of Hollywood is now fully and unapologetically mated with the Pentagon where together they use films, video games, sporting events, and other means to manage and manipulate the public mood in favor of militarism.
Perhaps Zero Dark Thirty--the award winning movie about the mission to kill bin Laden--has such a high level of "realism" because the official version of the assault by the SEAL's was itself a fiction?
Hersh's The Killing of Osama bin Laden is a dense read.
A key passage:
Pasha and Kayani were responsible for ensuring that Pakistan’s army and air defence command would not track or engage with the US helicopters used on the mission. The American cell at Tarbela Ghazi was charged with co-ordinating communications between the ISI, the senior US officers at their command post in Afghanistan, and the two Black Hawk helicopters; the goal was to ensure that no stray Pakistani fighter plane on border patrol spotted the intruders and took action to stop them.
The initial plan said that news of the raid shouldn’t be announced straightaway. All units in the Joint Special Operations Command operate under stringent secrecy and the JSOC leadership believed, as did Kayani and Pasha, that the killing of bin Laden would not be made public for as long as seven days, maybe longer. Then a carefully constructed cover story would be issued: Obama would announce that DNA analysis confirmed that bin Laden had been killed in a drone raid in the Hindu Kush, on Afghanistan’s side of the border.
The Americans who planned the mission assured Kayani and Pasha that their co-operation would never be made public. It was understood by all that if the Pakistani role became known, there would be violent protests – bin Laden was considered a hero by many Pakistanis – and Pasha and Kayani and their families would be in danger, and the Pakistani army publicly disgraced.
It was clear to all by this point, the retired official said, that bin Laden would not survive: ‘Pasha told us at a meeting in April that he could not risk leaving bin Laden in the compound now that we know he’s there. Too many people in the Pakistani chain of command know about the mission. He and Kayani had to tell the whole story to the directors of the air defence command and to a few local commanders.
‘Of course the guys knew the target was bin Laden and he was there under Pakistani control,’ the retired official said. ‘Otherwise, they would not have done the mission without air cover. It was clearly and absolutely a premeditated murder.’ A former Seal commander, who has led and participated in dozens of similar missions over the past decade, assured me that ‘we were not going to keep bin Laden alive – to allow the terrorist to live. By law, we know what we’re doing inside Pakistan is a homicide. We’ve come to grips with that. Each one of us, when we do these missions, say to ourselves, “Let’s face it. We’re going to commit a murder.”’ The White House’s initial account claimed that bin Laden had been brandishing a weapon; the story was aimed at deflecting those who questioned the legality of the US administration’s targeted assassination programme. The US has consistently maintained, despite widely reported remarks by people involved with the mission, that bin Laden would have been taken alive if he had immediately surrendered.The United States is an "empire of illusion". The American people have been lied to so much and so often that they no longer have any expectations that their leaders are telling them the truth. Vaudeville politics, with its state of perpetual disorientation and confusion, is the new normal.
Seymour Hersh's claims will be dismissed as those of a "conspiracy theorist". Such an argument proceeds from a faulty assumption and inference: just because one is paranoid does not mean that someone is not in fact after him or her.
There are serious questions to be asked about Hersh's claims. But, they should not be rejected in either a knee jerk or reactionary way.