Washington, D.C. – Although the U.S. government has always maintained that the operation to find and kill Osama bin Laden was some Hollywoodish “Zero Dark Thirty” blockbuster action thriller, the reality exposed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh set the record straight regarding the Obama administration’s extensive and repeated lies about the events and circumstances that led to the assassination bin Laden—and the subsequent cover-up/propaganda campaign undertaken by the U.S. government in the wake of his killing.
In an explosive report in the London Review of Books, an exclusive interview with Alternet and in his book “The Killing of Osama bin Laden,” Hersh gives strong evidence that the Obama administration lied repeatedly and extensively about the circumstances and events that led to Osama bin Laden’s assassination on May 2, 2011.
Hersh blew the lid off of the narrative the American public has been spoon fed for over a decade, including several explosive claims that expose the official narrative sold to the U.S. public as nothing more than political propaganda meant to burnish then-President Obama’s military credentials, including the fact that Saudi Arabia paid Pakistan to keep bin Laden hidden to prevent possible questioning by the United States.
In fact, to kick off this list of five facts, Hersch revealed that the Pakistani ISI knew of bin Laden’s whereabouts in Abbottabad as early as 2006, and the Saudi government was able to bribe the Pakistanis into not telling the U.S.
“The Saudis bribed the Pakistanis not to tell us [that the Pakistani government had bin Laden] because they didn’t want us interrogating bin Laden (that’s my best guess), because he would’ve talked to us, probably,” Hersh explained, regarding the description in his book about the bin Laden compound receiving financial support from the Saudis in an interview with Alternet. “My guess is, we don’t know anything really about 9/11.”
When asked whether the Saudi money was from an individual or the government, Hersh replied, “The money was from the government … what the Saudis were doing, so I’ve been told by reasonable people … is that they were also passing along tankers of oil for the Pakistanis to resell.”
Here are four more largely unknown facts that expose the official U.S. narrative about finding and killing Osama bin Laden to be a fraudulent piece of propaganda sold to an unsuspecting American public:
1. The U.S. government has consistently claimed that it acted alone in locating and killing bin Laden when in reality it worked hand-in-hand with the Pakistani government.
Contrary to these claims, Hersch, citing interviews with “a retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad” as well as American sources who “had access to corroborating information,” says the U.S. in no way acted alone, and that senior Pakistani officials worked in concert with the U.S. to assassinate bin Laden.
In fact, according to Hersh, 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 U.S. raid on bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound in advance.
2. There was no firefight. The entire operation was a coordinated killing with Pakistani ISI escorting the SEALs around bin Laden’s compound.
Although the U.S. public was sold a story that there was a firefight in which U.S. Navy SEALs raided the Bin Laden compound, Hersh claims that there was no firefight and the only shots fired that night were the ones that killed bin Laden.
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In fact, the entire situation was set up by the Pakistani government who had been holding bin Laden prisoner since 2006. Bin Laden was simply made available to the SEALs who flew under cover of darkness to the Abbottabad compound with an officer from the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service, who escorted them around the compound upon arrival.
3. There was no walk-in or Pakistani doctor that procured bin Laden’s DNA.
To hide the complicity of the Pakistani government in the operation, the Obama administration lied about how bin Laden was found, claiming that a "walk-in" to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad tipped off the CIA that bin Laden was living in the Abbottabad compound when in reality this was not even remotely true.
U.S. officials disingenuously claimed bin Laden had then been found by the CIA, which had traced back one of bin Laden's couriers to his compound, subsequently building a circumstantial case that bin Laden was living there. The elaborate story fabricated by the U.S. included claims that a Pakistani army doctor obtained DNA from bin Laden that proved he was in Abbottabad.
4. bin Laden was not given an Islamic burial. His body was dismembered by SEAL gunfire and thrown out of a chopper over the Hindu Kush mountains.
Although the U.S. claimed it gave Osama bin Laden a burial at sea, the al-Qaeda chief's body was torn to pieces by rifle fire with some parts of his dismembered body tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains. Hersch said there was no Islamic burial for bin Laden aboard the USS Carl Vinson, and that U.S. officials' assertions as such were lies meant to cover up the political-religious inflammatory truth of his body’s desecration.
"With Obama's announcement of his killing by the SEALs everyone now expected a body to be produced. Instead, reporters were told that bin Laden's body had been flown by the Seals to an American military airfield in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, and then straight to the USS Carl Vinson, a supercarrier on routine patrol in the North Arabian Sea," Hersh said in his article in the London Review of Books.
"One consultant told me that bin Laden's remains were photographed and identified after being flown back to Afghanistan. The consultant added: 'At that point, the CIA took control of the body. The cover story was that it had been flown to the Carl Vinson.' The second consultant agreed that there had been 'no burial at sea'," Hersh said.
Hersh quoted an unnamed retired senior U.S. intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about Osama's presence in Pakistan's Abbottabad for his reporting.
"The retired official said there had been another complication: some members of the Seal team had bragged to colleagues and others that they had torn bin Laden's body to pieces with rifle fire. The remains, including his head, which had only a few bullet holes in it, were thrown into a body bag and, during the helicopter flight back to Jalalabad, some body parts were tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains—or so the Seals claimed," Hersh stated.
It is important to remember that Seymour Hersh is no run-of-the-mill journalist, as he is one of the most influential investigative journalists in recent American history—breaking two of the biggest stories about modern U.S. war atrocities with his account of the 1968 My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War and with his 2004 revelation of the U.S. Army abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.
Hersh’s account of the bin Laden raid is diametrically opposed to the version sold to the American public by the Obama administration. The reality is that authorizing the raid that killed Bin Laden was said to be one of Obama’s greatest accomplishments, and the administration was not going to let the truth get in the way of that.
Thus, the administration undertook a rewrite of reality to create a version of events that would be more politically palatable for all parties involved. Obama gets to look like a hero, and Pakistan doesn't get maligned domestically for handing Osama bin Laden, who was extremely popular in Pakistan, over to the United States.