The Killing of Osama Bin Laden: Seven Questions Americans Should Ask Now

Originally published by

Legendary investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has unleashed a ferocious debunking of the official Obama Administration narrative, dramatized in the Oscar-winning movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” of the 2011 assassination by Navy SEALS of Osama bin Laden. Everything you think you know about the killing of the Al Qaeda leader accused of ordering the 9/11 attacks, Hersh asserts, is total bullshit.

For its part, the White House is kind of sort of denying Hersh’s alternative history.

“The White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll,” Hersh writes in the London Review of Books.

Here are the seven things Hersh’s piece makes one wonder about:

Osama Bin Laden Seymour Hersh allegationsOne: According to Hersh, the Pakistani ISI intelligence agency kept bin Laden under house arrest in Abbottabad between 2006 and 2011, kind of the way the Burmese junta did to hot dissident lady Aung San Suu Kyi. So when the SEALs came to kill him, it was less like bad-ass, well, SEALs, than shooting fish in a barrel. Anyway, they hid America’s most wanted man ever from us. Why are we paying the Pakistanis $1.6 billion a year? If we paid them $2.6 billion, would they be nicer to us?

Two: According to Hersh, careful intelligence gathering, torture, tracking that courier guy, none of that stuff led to bin Laden.

It was greed: ISI agent Amir Aziz walked into the U.S. embassy in Islamabad with evidence bin Laden was in ISI custody. “Aziz had been rewarded with a share of the $25 million reward the US had put up,” Hersh says. He adds: “The informant and his family were smuggled out of Pakistan and relocated in the Washington area. He is now a consultant for the CIA.” If you came into what we must assume is a significant share of $25 million — even if it’s just $5 million — wouldn’t you retire? Are all Pakistanis workaholics?

the killing of osama bin ladenThree: Hersh says there was no firefight, that bin Laden never resisted, much less got off a shot. “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,” he says.

What about when the assassinations are executed with drones? Does the Obama Administration pretend drone victims first have to point a gun at the drone before the Hellfire missiles are loosed?

Four: After the raid, the SEALs were ordered to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) so the public wouldn’t learn that the rubout was a cowardly act of, one might say terrorism. “On 5 May, every member of the Seal hit team – they had returned to their base in southern Virginia – and some members of the Joint Special Operations Command leadership were presented with a nondisclosure form drafted by the White House’s legal office; it promised civil penalties and a lawsuit for anyone who discussed the mission, in public or private,” Hersh wrote.

But two SEALs did talk, including Matt Bissonnette, who wrote the book “No Easy Day” (which was actually a walk in the park for all involved, excepting UBL and his family). Is it a violation of your NDA if you squawk, but it’s a lie, and it’s the same lie as the government’s?

Five: “Five days after the raid the Pentagon press corps was provided with a series of videotapes that were said by US officials to have been taken from a large collection the Seals had removed from the compound, along with as many as 15 computers.” Hersh says there was never a “trove of terrorist information” because bin Laden was a prisoner, no longer the tactical head of Al Qaeda.

If the tapes weren’t terror stuff, what were they? Where are the videos now? Note to Langley: if there’s a VHS version of the 1988 cult movie “Tapeheads” in the bin Laden trove, do get in touch — I’ve been looking for that one.

Six: Remember the Pakistani doctor, still in prison, accused of using his vaccination program as a ruse to collect UBL’s DNA? Hersh says he did nothing of the kind — that the CIA threw him under the bus to cover for Aziz. “A sacrificial lamb was needed, and the one chosen was Shakil Afridi, a 48-year-old Pakistani doctor and sometime CIA asset, who had been arrested by the Pakistanis in late May and accused of assisting the agency. ‘We went to the Pakistanis and said go after Afridi,’ the retired official said. ‘We had to cover the whole issue of how we got the DNA.’” What did Afridi do to get picked as a scapegoat? Is this what happens when you refuse to contribute to the Abbottabad Fraternal Order of Police fundraiser?

Seven: Hersh says “the funeral aboard the Carl Vinson didn’t take place… there had been ‘no burial at sea.’ added that ‘the killing of bin Laden was political theatre designed to burnish Obama’s military credentials.’” There was also what Hersh terms “a 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.”

Do terrorist body parts often rain from the sky in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Were any goatherds, or goats, bonked on the head by bin Laden bits?

10 thoughts on “The Killing of Osama Bin Laden: Seven Questions Americans Should Ask Now

  1. Never believe anything until it’s been officially denied.

    So, your girlfriend, Hillary, was shown gasping (hand over mouth, anyway) in this photo. We were told that she was watching the murd … uh … execu… errr … administration of justice to UBL.

    So what was she shocked by? Blood and stuff – which she’s purportedly seen before – or the naked aggression of a bunch of sadistic killers?

    • Crazy,

      She was ACTING shocked because there was a camera on her. That’s Politics 101. Once you can fake being human, the rest is easy.

      • Um, look at the computer screens, they’re all shut off. This looks more like a planned family photo-op. Semi-pro stage managed.


      • The Next President of the United States? A Clinton nonetheless? LYING? Oh, mercy me, fetch me my fainting couch!

        Don’t they always allow photographers into top secret illegal-death-squad monitoring stations?


        Well, at least we can be sure she’s not expressing shock at the idea of a blatantly illegal act.

  2. Ted,

    A followup question. The funeral aboard the Carl Vinson. This is one of those things of omission and commission.

    If there were no funeral, shouldn’t we have heard something from Vinson crewmembers? “I served on the Vinson. And if there was a funeral, we’d have been there just to be able to say we were there.”

    If there was a funeral, who was there? Someone HAD to know there was no body in the bag.

    Either way, this can be followed up.

    • Need-to-know? It’s not like they would have arrived in a limo helo hearse with a crew of crying relatives, so showing up with a black plastic bag that’s then tossed overboard with a minimum ceremony takes no time at all. Even so, the psy-ops of it all suggests that it really didn’t happen ’cause that’s one tactic of keeping any lips from ever getting ever loose. Just part of the memory hole.

      Meanwhile, the Seal team that (allegedly) brought UBL in for ultimate disposal is all dead from a single helicopter crash (very frugal). You simply can’t deny doing what you didn’t do when you’re dead.


      • Dan,

        What I mean isn’t that it would have been an outpouring of mourners. I mean that it would have been a bunch of mostly young men who’d want to be able to say, decades later, “Bin Laden’s funeral? I was THERE.”

        Don’t tell me an aircraft carrier didn’t have chatter about it.

      • Alex,

        I don’t think you realize just how structured or otherwise liimiting life is in a military setting, ESPECIALLY an aircraft carrier. Even when you’re off duty, you really must be where you’re supposed to be at that time. Again, it’s “Need-to-Know,” especially during military operations.

        While all the support personnel will generally know that aircraft operations are happening (you can feel it), the nature of any particular operation commonly sustains its mystery. When that Seal team showed up on deck in their helicopter with whatever body parts were left over, consequently, they didn’t just walk into the lunch room and start bragging about the mission. All conflict operations are heavily compartmentalized, but really, you only do what you’re told to do, and generally, by the time anything gossip-worthy happens, it’s already gone.

        Between Need-to-Know and opportunity-to-discover, even if it really happened, only people in the loop have any functional chance of discovery. There will always be scuttle-butt and war-stories abound, but only the actual participants know for sure, and NOBODY wants to go to Leavenworth because they couldn’t maintain secrecy. Decades later? Well, maybe. But even the first decade is still far down the road.

        Life on a military boat has no casual freedom of movement, or otherwise, of speech


  3. No one has come forth saying the burial at sea was a lie. Probably because no one was in a position to know it was a lie. Or they were threatened with Chelsea Manning’s fate if they ever opened their mouths.

    Islam says a burial in dirt is required unless it’s absolutely impossible. The White House version that all Islamic rites were followed is obviously taurine faecal matter.

    Basically, as Mr Rall said when the movie Zero Dark Thirty came out, the Official White House Version of events was an obvious lie to anyone with an IQ that has at least two digits. Mr Rall objected to the official assertion that Osama was found only by ‘enhanced interrogation,’ proving that ‘enhanced interrogation’ is essential if the government is to keep Americans safe from a terrorist attack.

    If Osama was in a fortified, multi-million dollar compound defended by many heavily armed defenders, the Seals could not have carried out their mission without massive casualties. So Obama KNEW that the compound had no weapons and was defenceless. And so he sent in the Seals to (as Mr Rall describes it) ‘shoot fish in a barrel’.

    As Mr Hersh says, almost everything the White House said about the death of Osama was complete taurine faecal matter, except for the fact that Osama was assassinated.

    And the fact that Osama was discovered by ‘enhanced interrogation’ was also pure, unadulterated taurine faecal matter.

    And the fact that Osama was killed in a fire fight was also pure taurine faecal matter.

    And all the rest of the official White House version was also taurine faecal matter (except for the fact that the elderly, helpless, Osama was shot dead by US Seals).