Official Washington ramped up its pushback against investigative reporter Seymour Hersh's recent exposé with
the release this week of nearly 80 previously classified documents
and books and other materials seized from Osama bin Laden's compound
during the raid by Navy Seals in May 2011, but the alleged treasure
trove did nothing to debunk Hersh's assertion that virtually
nothing the Obama administration has said about the assassination
of the 9/11 mastermind is true. And the ever dutiful news media
distorted or plain got wrong what Hersh has written about the documents.
Predictably, a list of the books seized from bin Laden's library -- ranging from Obama's Wars by Bob Woodward to The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy to The 9/11 Commission Report -- got most of the attention, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence cleverly promoted the list on a web page titled "Bin Laden’s Bookshelf."
The Obama administration claimed that the document dump had nothing to do with the publication of Hersh's exposé in the London Review of Books, but
coming as it did out of the blue a mere 10 days after Hersh dropped his
10,300-word bombshell begs credulity and reinforces my view that Hersh
touched a nerve in the hypersensitive White House and got a lot
more right than wrong -- notably that the Pakistani intelligence service
assisted the U.S. in carrying out the raid on the compound in Abbottabad
and that the documents seized were of marginal value.
material offers the deepest look yet into bin Laden’s final years, much
of which he appears to have spent sending missives to his subordinates,
seeking to direct a terror network that appeared to have grown far
beyond his control, and working his way through a pile of books that
ranged from sober works of history and current affairs to wild
conspiracy theories spun by anti-Semites," reported The New York Times.
True enough, but that falls far short of the administration's claim following the raid
that it produced a "treasure trove . . . the single largest collection
of senior terrorist materials ever," which would provide vital insights
into Al Qaeda's plans. An unnamed official told reporters five days
after the raid the material showed that bin Laden "remained an active
leader in Al Qaeda, providing strategic, operational and tactical
instructions to the group . . . He was far from a figurehead [and]
continued to direct even tactical details of the group’s management and
to encourage plotting’ from what was described as a command-and-control
center in Abbottabad."
of the documents seized remain classified, but if the documents that
were released are the best the White House could muster to make the case
bin Laden remained a -- if not the -- mastermind, then Hersh's assertion in his exposé that
"These claims were fabrications [because] there wasn’t much activity
for bin Laden to exercise command and control over" has withstood the
Obama administration's counteroffensive.
main source -- indeed virtually his only source, something that I and others have criticized -- is a retired senior U.S. intelligence
asserting that the documents were not a treasure trove, Hersh writes that
the CIA's internal reporting showed that since bin Laden moved to
Abbottabad in 2006, only a handful of terrorist attacks could be linked
to the remnants of Al Qaeda. "We were told at first," the retired
official is quoted as saying, "that the Seals produced garbage bags of
stuff and that the community is generating daily intelligence reports
out of this stuff. And then we were told that the community is
gathering everything together and needs to translate it. But nothing
has come of it. Every single thing they have created turns out not to be
true. It's a great hoax – like the Piltdown man."
retired official told Hersh that most of the materials from Abbottabad
were not seized in the raid but later turned over to the U.S. by the
Pakistanis, who then razed the building. The Pakistani intelligence
service, which Hersh states helped the U.S. set up the raid after
corroborating bin Laden's whereabouts, took responsibility for the wives
and children of bin Laden, none of whom was made available to the U.S.
blowback from the pundit class over the bin Laden story has been
especially ferocious, which reinforces my view that, as I wrote,
at the very least Hersh has again exposed the soft underbelly of a news
media content to chew its self-important cud without the bother of
questioning, let alone being ever so slightly skeptical, of what our
presidents and corporatocratic leaders tell us.
National Public Radio dutifully led the disinformation charge after the document release.
NPR first claimed that Hersh had written there were no documents, then NPR
reporter David Welna got it mostly wrong in stating " . . . there's
also the fact that these documents are coming out the week after
investigative reporter Seymour Hersh published a story alleging that the
U.S. fabricated the documents it claims to have seized during the
What Hersh said, of course is that the claims that the documents were dynamite were fabrications, not the documents themselves.
Writes Shamus Cooke at globalresearch.org:
probing questions is of course a key part of journalism. If only the
media had been so eager to ask similar questions of the Obama
administration's version of bin Laden's death. . . .
gaping holes of logic in the official story were there from the
beginning. Hersh actually asked questions and explored them while the
rest of the media were content with regurgitating White House press
releases. And when the White House's narrative became an Oscar winning movie [Dark Zero Thirty] -- made with help from the CIA -- the myth was cemented in popular culture. Until Hersh shattered it."
I don't remember what Mr. Hersh had to say about the 9/11 story that the Bush-Cheney gang told us...
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