Transparency

Getting to the Truth About the Assassination of Osama Bin Laden

A long article in the London Review of Books further demolishes the Obama administration's official tale.

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Four years ago the late great journalist Alexander Cockburn wrote, "Alas, the actual story of 'our history' is an unrelenting ability to lie about everything, while simultaneously claiming America's superior moral worth."

Josh Pesavento/Flickr

It so happens he wrote that sentence in closing a column on President Obama's elaborate story about the Navy SEALs' May 2, 2011, assassination of Osama bin Laden. Cockburn wrote,

There was scarcely a sentence in the President's Sunday night address, or in the subsequent briefing by John Brennan, his chief counter-terrorism coordinator, that has not been subsequently retracted by CIA director Leon Panetta or the White House press spokesman, Jay Carney, or by various documentary records.

The official "back story" released Sunday night by Obama is that US intelligence learned of the Abbottabad compound only last August and spent the following months watching the place, following Osama's trusted couriers and concluding that it was highly likely, though not certain, that Osama was there.Cockburn's column was based on reporting that undermined key details of the official narrative. For example:

This is bunk. The three-storey house has been a well-known feature of Abbottabad. Shaukat Qadir, a well-connected Pakistan Army officer, reported to CounterPunch from Pakistan: "For the record, this house has been under ISI [Pakistani intelligence] surveillance while it was under construction."

Now renowned investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has published a long article in the London Review of Books, "The Killing of Osama bin Laden," that appears further to demolish Obama's politically motivated tale. Hersh, whose major scoops include the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, opens his piece:

The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan's army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration's account. The White House's story might have been written by Lewis Carroll.

Hersh says that his "major source … is a retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad." Use of an unnamed source has provoked criticism of Hersh, but one detects a double standard. Many good scoops have depended on unnamed sources, and Hersh says he confirmed what his major source told him. Often that's the only way to get sensitive information about what the government is up to.

The article also has set off a firestorm about its particulars, with the administration, other members of the war party, and media cheerleaders dismissing Hersh's "conspiracy theory." But others defend Hersh. The New York Times' Carlotta Gall, author of The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan 2001-2004, while not accepting every detail, writes:

Among other things, Hersh contends that the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, Pakistan's military-intelligence agency, held Bin Laden prisoner in the Abbottabad compound since 2006, and that "the C.I.A. did not learn of Bin Laden's whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the U.S."

On this count, my own reporting tracks with Hersh's.

Gall points out that the existence of the informant has been confirmed by NBC and a newspaper in Pakistan: "This development is hugely important—it is the strongest indication to date that the Pakistani military knew of Bin Laden's whereabouts…."

Hersh's investigation is also important regarding Saudi Arabia and its connection with bin Laden, who was a Saudi. Is this why bin Laden couldn't be taken alive?

If Hersh is right, the SEALs murdered an unarmed and powerless invalid, held by Pakistan, under orders from Obama when they could have brought him to trial.  

What's most important is this: if one understands the danger inherent in government secrecy, one must oppose the empire. Politicians can lie about domestic matters, but foreign intervention offers irresistible opportunities for really big lies—the kind that get people killed. Do people still need to be persuaded about that? 

If for no other reason than transparency, the empire must be liquidated.

This piece originally appeared at Richman's "Free Association" blog. 

NEXT: Want to Sabotage Bad Laws? Healthy Contempt is More Important Than Legal Strategy.

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  1. The Navy SEAL who killed bin Laden is no different than Adam Lanza.

    1. He’s WORSE!

      Osama bin Laden was an unarmed and powerless invalid. Those healthy First Graders had Lanza outnumbered and could’ve fought back.

  2. In before Sheldon Richman related flame war:

    http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/mad_max_fury_road/ – Mad Max has a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes!

    Huzzah!

    1. I really, really cannot wait to see that movie. Hoping over Memorial Day weekend I’ll have time to go see that and finally see Avengers.

      1. I want to see this movie even more because some douchebag at noted hive of scum and villainy Return of Kings doesn’t want anyone to see it because he’s determined it’s feminist propaganda without seeing the movie. His evidence is that they consulted with the author of the Vagina Monologues because she’d studied sex slavery in the Congo.

        So they consulted an author about a specific subject important to their film and it’s a subject she’s studied and this guy has therefore determined it’s feminist agit prop and REAL MEN shouldn’t go see it or else they’re supporting feminazis. Really sharp guy, this one.

        1. Just once I’d like to see some damn action without some jackass attaching some SJW/anti-SJW bullshit to it.

          1. His argument is that Charlize Theron is apparently a central character and spends a good amount of the movie kicking ass. This is therefore evil feminism or something.

            What I don’t understand is why this guy apparently believes watching hot women beat the hell out of people is something an American heterosexual man wouldn’t want to see. If you’re so obsessed with maintaining your masculinity that you don’t allow yourself to watch movies where hot chicks blow things up, then I feel very sorry for you.

            1. Hot chicks are the worst.

              1. And you called me horrible?

                *attempts a narrow gaze in the idom of Switzy*

                1. Yesss….yess! Give in to the Narrow Side!

                  1. Give in to the Narrow Side!

                    Not your best pickup line.

            2. What I don’t understand is why this guy apparently believes watching hot women beat the hell out of people is something an American heterosexual man wouldn’t want to see.

              Right, I mean isn’t that point of the Resident Evil movies?

              1. Ultraviolet. Tomb Raider. Underworld. Aeon Flux.

                And those are just the major lone leads.

                I even liked the Elektra movie.

            3. Wait, it’s been a while since I’ve watched it, but wasn’t Tina Turner a fairly central character, and a very powerful one, in Beyond Thunderdome? Which was 30 years ago?

              1. Yes. He also complains that Max is just there to basically help out the women who are fleeing from the the crazy rape gang, but that’s pretty much the same thing he did in The Road Warrior where he was basically just there to help the people get away with their oil. Max is a wanderer in all the movies, so he kind of just rolls in and helps out. This isn’t a new aspect of the films.

                1. Never underestimate the idiocy of Roosh V and his cronies. If I didn’t know for sure that they were serious, I’d think they were made up by feminists to say “SEE? THIS IS WHY MEN ARE HORRIBLE!”

                2. Shoot ’em Up is dumb fun and doubles as a decent drinking game, and it’s a movie that takes every page from the social justice playbook for its plot. But it’s such hyperactive nonsense that it makes a mockery of those elements.

              2. Yes, she was. Only Master Blaster was more powerful in Bartertown, and she was crafty enough to plot his downfall.

            4. I think the twist is that Max gets captured by the bad guys and the girls have to save him.

              This angers a lot of insecure fanboys.

              1. Wait… the women spring Max rather than taking matters into their own capable hands? Sounds like standard patriarchal misogyny to me.

        2. Why can’t misogynists and radical feminists just see that they were meant for each other already? They have so much in common.

          1. What’s funny is that CBS released a preview of their new ‘Supergirl’ series coming out this Fall. Both the nerds and the feminists are annoyed that they made Supergirl too girly and normal because she’s a personal assistant to a bitchy queen bee boss and is awkward around guys.

    2. Holy crap. I guess we finally have a movie on which to use our Fandango gift cards.

    3. Didn’t they already have a Mad Max movie?

      1. but this time…it’s personal

    4. Its not released until tomorrow.

      That means the only people who’ve seen it are dependent on the goodwill of the studios for pre-release screenings.

      So, I’ll wait for the *community* reviews to come in.

  3. Murder is certainly easier, but a trial would have shown the difference between “us” and “them.”

    1. This. Surely our glorious and efficient government had sufficient evidence to convict him?

      1. That wouldn’t help warboner Obama get elected now would it ?!?!?!?!

  4. This should be good

    /grabs another coffee

    1. Aye.

      *heads of to break room to get coffee cup*

  5. It’s a Sheldon Richman article; don’t bother reading it.

    1. Well, I read it. Whanna make something out of it?

  6. I’m sure this will kick off the usual firestorm from the usual people. But I think it’s valid to ask why bin Laden couldn’t have been taken alive, especially given how we’re always told that it’s vitally important that anybody accused of being a terrorists must be water-boarded until he talks because intelligence. bin Laden was the Big Cheese; surely he knew something of value?

    1. No no no…It’s RICHMAN!!!!!!

      Which is why this comments section will turn into a shitstorm as soon as the usual suspects show up.

      When it’s a Richman piece, there are ZERO kernels of good points brought up and nothing is worth discussing except how terrible Richman is.

      – Not that this is going to matter any, but the above does NOT imply any or even some agreement with Richman on any particular issue. I’m just pointing out how this place turns into a bunch of howler monkeys screaming and flinging poo every time one of his articles shows up.

      1. I’m just pointing out how this place turns into a bunch of howler monkeys screaming and flinging poo every time one of his articles shows up

        You say that like it’s a bad thing…

        1. It’s pretty annoying and contrasts sharply with most comment threads.

          1. “and contrasts sharply with most comment threads”

            Wut? 🙂

            1. Errr…the vitriol part does. Not the witty repartee and off-topic dalliances.

              1. I meant the excrement flinging and hooting!

                1. Or maybe that is just me?

                  *leaves to wash hands*

          2. [citation needed]

    2. surely he knew something of value

      Better to have the hardware that was seized?

      1. I recommend reading Mr. Hersh’s article, Restoras. To your point I’ll post this: “‘Despite all the talk,’ the retired official continued, there were ‘no garbage bags full of computers and storage devices. The guys just stuffed some books and papers they found in his room in their backpacks.'”

        http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n10/s…..-bin-laden

        I read it yesterday, and found it very informative.

        1. What about the porn? http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05…..laden.html

          1. I had heard about too, Kolohe.

            Since I have to choose between the credibility of an investigative journalist and this, the “most transparent administration ever” I’ll choose the former.

            1. Well, it’s more of an equal fight than you might think. Hersh has gone off the rails in recent years, e.g. claiming that U.S. Special Forces Command is controlled by Opus Dei.

              1. I hadn’t heard of that, Papaya, and will look into it.

                All of the other articles which mentioned Opus Dei and the Knights of Malta used Foreign Policy’s website as their sole reference, and I’d like to find the original speech of Hersh’s to hear what he said and in what context.
                Regardless, unsubstantiated claims do not bode well for his credibility.

                Thanks for the lead.

        2. Charles Easterly – thanks for the recommendation. Very informative indeed. Disturbingly so.

    3. I wonder, given the trouble that Gitmo was/is causing, if the default position is to know not take anyone alive. All the dronings seem to bear that out?

      1. That’s less the trouble Gtimo causes (which, in reality, doesn’t seem to be much – its not even a mild embarrassment to this administration) than the fact that its so much *easier* to just drop a missile on someone’s head than to go out and try to capture them.

        Captures were for important targets because they were so difficult.

        Nowadays its so easy and cheap to blow up some mid-level terrorist that there’s hardly any pressure to check to make *sure* that that’s your guy. Dropping a $65k missile on someone is cheaper than sending out a sniper team.

    4. No one wanted him alive. What do you do with him? Give him a trial and let him turn into a celebrity and make his case to the world and get fawning profiles written by people like Richman? Keep in GUTMO as a festering sore for the next ten years?

      The guy murdered 2800 American civilians. You don’t do that and get away with it. I understand the concern with assassinating people. That said, every rule has an exception. The only solution here was for him to end up on a slab. Richman is just angry because nothing the US ever does is anything but evil. If Hammas had murdered him, Richman would be on here telling us how wonderful they are and what allies they are in the war on terror.

      1. Re: John,

        No one wanted him alive.

        Speak for yourself. After all the money spent and all the lives destroyed in two wars, I wanted to see him brought in chains like a conquered Vercingetorix.

      2. No one wanted him alive. What do you do with him?

        Are you kidding me?

        Parade him around the Hague with a sign that says, “See! There is a reason to have the death penalty.”

        If they don’t acquiesce, then he can turn up dead of a heart attack in Milosevic’s chalk outline.

        1. Or hell, pull the Hussein trick and let the ‘legitimate’ government of Afghanistan hang him.

      3. I shared your concern with the making him a cause celebre by capturing him and holding him, but by killing him, he was made a martyr. Six of one?

        1. He would have been a martyr no matter what.

      4. One thing to bear in mind. Both Castro and Hitler used their trials to broaden their public appeal and turned what had been ignominious defeats into the groundwork for eventual victory.

        I think a decision to assassinate Bin Laden, an order to give him no quarter and kill him even if he were to surrender, is a very defensible one from a practical standpoint.

        I don’t think it should be legal to do that sort of thing, but don’t think it’s beyond the pale.

        1. Well said Tarran. This should not be the rule or anything that is done often. But sometimes circumstances dictate action. As I say below, this is a really stupid hill for Libertarians to die on.

        2. I don’t really see how the situation is at all parallel to Hitler or Castro before they came to power. The people who are going to like Bin Laden already did. I can’t imagine that a US trial would increase his popularity or public profile.

        3. When I saw the word “quarter” in your post, I was hoping it would be preceded by “draw and”. I could live with that. Because we could actually see him dead, rather than “buried at sea”.

      5. He already was a celebrity, no? In any case, that’s not a very good reason to justify not having a trial. Silencing people because you are afraid of what they might say is not a great precedent. It’s another power you really don’t want the president to have.

        I’m not losing any sleep over it, but I think he should have been taken alive if that was a reasonable possibility.

      6. No one wanted him alive. Especially the Saudis. He knew far too much about our “ally”.

      7. No one wanted him alive

        Sure, good arguments can be made for that. I think the bigger issue, however, is why would the administration need to lie about the whole thing?

        1. That’s a good question. It’s not like anyone doesn’t know that the administration does lots of targeted assassinations. Why pretend this one was something else?

          1. Because this administration still pretends that those targeted assassinations are not assassinations.

      8. You still believe he did 9/11? I’ve got a unicorn to sell you.

      9. What makes you think that keeping him alive means giving him a trial? I think they’ve got him somewhere. Either he’s locked up or living in luxury.

      10. Enh. I’d say I wanted him alive, just to have something resembling some kind of evidence they’d actually killed the right goatfucker.

        As it is now, we have the word of President Most Transparent that, uh, someone was killed and dumped in a watery grave. Whee.

    5. why bin Laden couldn’t have been taken alive,

      Why do you think he wasn’t? You don’t buy that “we dropped his body in the ocean” bullshit do you? Remember the same people that told you that story also told you the other official story that was bullshit. And the thing about no one in US intelligence knowing where he was, IMO, is also bullshit. It was only after they realized that his location was no longer going to be a secret that they ferreted him out of there.

    6. ” But I think it’s valid to ask why bin Laden couldn’t have been taken alive”

      Because the ISI knowing exactly where Bin Laden was would have made that *easier*, right?

  7. Whatevs. Countering lies with more lies. Everyone knows Osama bin Laden died in December 2001.

    1. I thought he was Purina Vulture Chow. All the Afghans I worked with thought we were nuts to look for a dead guy. Man, was I surprised when this all came down.

  8. The suggested reason for Bin Lades’s killing that Saudi Arabia played an important role and “could not be disclosed” had he been taken alive is very interesting

  9. Oh my fucking god. Can’t this asshat get a job writing at Salon, or the NY Times?

    1. He sure seems to be trying.

    2. This is what Reason chooses to spend their money on.

  10. I’m just here for the comments.

    1. I really didn’t need the extra calories.

      *puts another pouch of Pop Secret in the microwave*

  11. If Hersh is right, the SEALs murderedkilled an unarmed and powerless invalid, held by Pakistan, under orders from Obama when they could have brought him to trial.

    I’ve lost friends over the fact that I don’t consider what “we” did to OBL as justice in spite of the President’s statements. Richman’s theatrics aside, by that same token, I won’t say the SEALs murdered him/them. Shot? Assassinated? Killed? Dispatched? Disposed of? Did away with? Hit? Sure.

    Murder carries a legal connotation and an implication of guilt that doesn’t exactly apply on the ground in this specific situation.

    1. The problem is that his noteriety made giving him a trial impossible. He choose to wage war on the US and that is a contact sport. Even if you don’t agree with that, this is the dumbest hill possible to die on. Only someone as stupid and reflexively anti-American as Richman would want to do it.

      The US government assasinating people is a problem. The way to solve that problem is not to claim it is wrong because the guy responsible for the largest mass murder in US history was shot rather than given a gold plated trial. You may not like that and think in a just world even Bin Laden deserves such. You may be like Richman and think Bin Ladin was kind of a swell guy. But that doesn’t change the reality that picking this case to contest is a really stupid idea.

      1. Re: John,

        The problem is that his noteriety made giving him a trial impossible.

        You must be jesting. Charlie Manson, Timothy McVeigh, the Unabomber… Those guys had PLENTY of notoriety and they had their day in court. What makes you think Bin Laden was that special? A murderer is a murderer.

      2. John, I understand you frothily despise Richman, but knock off the bullshit like “You may be like Richman and think Bin Ladin was kind of a swell guy.”

        It’s beneath you.

        1. I think it is true. If someone is an enemy of the US, Richman will defend and excuse him. If Bin Ladin had been killed by the Chinese, Richman wouldn’t care.

          1. John, you’re absolutely nuts on a narrow range of issues. This is one where you completely take leave of your senses.

      3. The way to solve that problem is not to claim it is wrong because the guy responsible for the largest mass murder in US history was shot rather than given a gold plated trial.

        The issue is multi-fold. I have a significant problem with what was being described as justice. I have a modest(ly indifferent) problem with OBL being assassinated. I don’t like it, but I could understand the need given logistical and tactical contingencies.

        However, the act was describe as justice and, now, intelligence evidence suggests that even the assassination could’ve been avoided. That being the case, it becomes difficult to finely limit the scope of my ire to just the assassination or everything that falls under his royal highness’ notion of justice. A trial would’ve made this distinction much more clear.

      4. Why couldn’t he be captured as a terrorist … at least according to current U.S. policy.

        The argument over trial of these people perhaps should be a separate argument from Bin Laden’s capture

      5. this is the dumbest hill possible to die on

        Oh, I’,m sure you could come up with dumber ones if you put a little effort into it.

        I rarely read Richman, so maybe I miss it. But what has he written that makes you think he would consider Bin Laden a “swell guy”? You can be stupidly and reflexively anti-American without thinking well of America’s enemies.

    2. I love how you have two differing accounts with little objective evidence to really favor one or the other, but Richman decides to go with “murdered a helpless old man”.

      1. That phrase alone just cut my donation in half next year. I’ll make note of it in the check memo.

    3. “I won’t say the SEALs murdered him/them.”

      mad.casual,

      I recommend reading the article by Hersh.

      Here is to your point of view: “‘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.””

      1. I don’t think justice was done. OBL was marginally human scum and was well afoul of the NAP. If they had gone in to Pakistan to shoot a dog that had killed three thousand people I wouldn’t have called it justice and I wouldn’t consider them murderers.

        At the very least, as a libertarian, I don’t see the sense in impugning the individual(s) on the ground when the King is clearly lying about the clothes he’s wearing and imposing his murderous will. Certainly his men deserve some ire and will have to live with murdering OBL, however bad that may be. But, as John points out, this sort of thing has to be done on extremely rare occasion, and it’s not the worst idea to have these guys around for such occasions. If anyone’s going to be accused of murder and reprimanded for the act (and, presumably, learn something from it), it should the man at the top who acts like it was a codified duty of justice rather than exceptional circumstance of bloody revenge.

        1. Damn! EDIT:

          Certainly his men deserve some ire and will have to live with murdering OBL, however bad that may be.

          Nevermind. Their vernacular, not mine point taken.

  12. This click bait shit only works once. Richman already shot his wad, so to speak.

    1. Oh, I bet this one hits 300+ in a couple hours.

      1. Looks like I was wrong….not so many.

  13. If Hersh is right, the SEALs murdered an unarmed and powerless invalid, held by Pakistan, under orders from Obama when they could have brought him to trial.

    What gave away the game, at least for me, was the suspicious manner by which the body was laid to rest in the middle of the sea by the the US Navy. In the past, conquerors boasted about the vanquished by showing the head of their enemy on a pike. Why was the Navy (and for that matter, Obama) that squeamish? Highly suspicious.

    1. I also have never thought that made sense.

      But it doesn’t make me suspect THIS particular conspiracy scenario.

      To me, the lack of a body due to “burial at sea” made me suspect that they didn’t actually kill him, and it was all a ruse to cover the fact that they DID capture him, and they have him alive somewhere even now.

      1. They definitely killed him. If he were still alive, he would have long since come out with a video that showed the current date and humiliated Obama and the US. Since that has not happened, he is most certainly dead.

        I think this piece is at least part of the truth. The likely truth is that Pakistan had him and he was getting close to death. They were about to lose their leverage over Al Quada and worse still once he was dead Al Quada would have leverage over them by threatening to reveal that the Pakistanis had had him all of that time. So, I think the Pakistani ISI cooked up this whole thing to have the US kill him and solve the problem.

        1. What I can’t figure out, and the LRB article asks it too, was why the ISI didn’t just stick OBL, his wives, and whoever else in a hut somewhere in the NWTA, and have the U.S. drone it? Or smash it themselves with a few Mk 84s. Then look off to the side and whistle while ignoring whatever evidence collection the US wanted to do to assure themselves that the piece of filth was finally with his 72 virgins.

          That way, there’d be no embarrassment for the Pakistani military, no questions about how he could have possibly lived in the Pakistan equivalent of McLean, Virginia for the last five years, and no possibility of losing a dozen or two commandos should the ISI want to replay the Desert One mission.

          The negotiations and assurances that neither side’d screw over the other must have been something to see.

          1. Because they wanted to make absolutely, positively sure they got him. And the only way to be sure was to have him killed up close and in person, and to then take the body away for confirmatory genetic testing.

            In the scenario you outlined there would always be doubt about whether he (somehow) escaped, or whether the person that the ISI fingered wasn’t really him.

        2. If he were still alive, he would have long since come out with a video that showed the current date and humiliated Obama and the US.

          How would he do that in US custody? Or is someone suggesting that they just let him go? Or never really got him?

          I don’t have any significant doubt that he is dead, but that’s not why.

      2. OldMexican and Fluffy,

        According to Hersh’s source(s) “The initial plan said that news of the raid shouldn’t be announced straightaway. … 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.”

        Once the Blackhawk crashed and the mission could no longer be kept a secret between the Pakistani Government/army and the U.S. Government/Special Forces, they had to invent a new narrative.

      3. Um, no, they took his body back to the CIA headquarters.

        That was the “evidence that couldn’t be faked” tat convinced all the Republican leaders he was really dead.

        They didn’t show them photographs. They walked them into the morgue and wheeled his corpse out in front of them.

        The burial at sea never happened.

      4. He’s partying on an island somewhere with Elvis, Biggie, Tupac, and Michael Jackson right now!

        1. “Wrong. Last season’s LOSERS.”

      5. I think they wanted to dispose of the body so that it couldn’t be preserved like Lenin, so that people couldn’t demand access to it for autopsies, etc, etc.

        In the past, conquerors boasted about the vanquished by showing the head of their enemy on a pike.

        The important thing there is “in the past.” We haven’t done that for a few hundred years, and it would serve no useful purpose.

    2. Read the Cockburn Counterpunch article cited by Richman:

      “Further back, when DNA matches were unknown, US special forces verified Che Guevara’s execution by permitting many photographs immediately post-mortem. They also cut off Che’s hands, for subsequent verification by the CIA. We’re not talking Miss Manners here.”

      http://www.counterpunch.org/20…..o-of-lies/

    3. “Why was the Navy (and for that matter, Obama) that squeamish? ”

      Jihadist sensibilities. Mustn’t offend those dedicated to killing us, dontcha know?

  14. Hoo boy. 600 comments by tonight.

    1. I still think Richman is class-A trolling.

      1. Works 5 out of 6 times he posts – the clicks keep on a comin’!

      2. And very successfully. Someone asked above why Reason spends money on his crap. There’s the answer. All the people who froth at the mouth about every Richman article reliably rise to the bait.

        1. I did pose the question once about whether we could get Reason to stop publishing him if we stopped commenting. The main problem is that he’s a troll with too big of a soapbox. There will always be new commenters who don’t realize that he shouldn’t be encouraged.

  15. Can somebody do the Billy Madison speech?

    1. Nah. We would all be made stupider just by listening to it and may God have mercy on his soul.

    2. O’Doyle rules!

      (That’s the one you meant, right?)

  16. Sheldon Richman is not a libertarian. He is Leftist troll. Stop giving him a platform, you pinheads. Shikha Dalmia is almost as bad.

    1. Remember what Reason chooses to spend money on when they ask for donations. Markets work!

  17. Mussolini was murdered too. You want to bring his killers to justice?

  18. Bin Laden was an enemy of humanity by his actions and words. If Richman and Hersch want to characterize what happened to him as an “assassination” or “murder”, I find I do not care.

  19. This should be linked to after every Richman article.

  20. I think there are other issues here, BTW.

    Let’s say Hersh is right.

    To me, that would be important even if you think killing bin Laden was totally kosher.

    I could certainly be convinced that it was.

    But it would mean that the government of Pakistan had been harboring him, and that we knew, and that we covered up for them.

    And it would mean that we’re STILL lying about the exact relationship of the Pakistani government to al Qaeda.

    I don’t think THAT would be kosher, under any circumstances.

    Lying to the public about our relations with a nuclear power denies the public the opportunity to judge the effectiveness of the current administration’s policy.

    1. Saudi Arabia facilitated 9/11 and Pakistan’s ISI harbored bin Laden. I’m not really sure this is in dispute.

      1. This.

        It seems that we maintain tenuous relations with Pakistan because we… Need them in the region.

        It also seems clear to me (noted scholar of Pakistani political structure) that like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan has complex internal factions which operate independently of the official government.

        1. It seems that we maintain tenuous relations with Pakistan because we… Need them in the region.

          Great, but that kind of judgment should be made by elected officials, openly, and the public should be able to hold them to account for it.

          Think of it this way: if someone wanted to hold Hillary to account for the State Department’s interactions with Pakistan during her tenure, and campaign against her on that basis…they’d be unable to, because the government fundamentally lies to the voters about the nature of that relationship.

    2. But it would mean that the government of Pakistan had been harboring him, and that we knew, and that we covered up for them.

      I find that VERY difficult to believe. There is way, WAY too much political benefit for POTUS to say “I’m the one that got him”.

      Furthermore, I can’t think of any reason why the U.S. military would be OK with this. You’re letting an already shaky partner hold America’s most wanted man for….what exactly? How does this benefit the U.S. in any way?

      1. Furthermore, I can’t think of any reason why the U.S. military would be OK with this. You’re letting an already shaky partner hold America’s most wanted man for….what exactly? How does this benefit the U.S. in any way?

        I don’t think the U.S. knew for all of the time between OBL’s leaving Tora Bora sometime in December 2001 and eventually killing him in 2011, that he was being harbored on Pakistan gov’t controlled land. It makes sense they didn’t learn until some ISI guy (or Army guy, whatever) was looking for a pay day. As distinct from the Tribal Areas where we pretend that Pakistan runs things there, and they pretend to help the U.S. kill Taliban living there. OTOH, letting OBL go did deny the public a sense of, “O.K., now it’s over,” which makes it easier if you want to send troops somewhere else in the GWOT.

        I don’t think it would have been particularly difficult for the U.S. to stop him or anyone else from leaving Afghanistan, in the beginning of winter, when there just aren’t that many passes over the Hindu Kush. Stick an airmobile company on each pass, or more if needed, ignoring Pakistani sovereignty, and make sure nothing gets in or out. You’re telling me that’s not within the U.S. military’s capabilities?

        Saying that the Pakistani Army was going to make sure the Taliban weren’t going to get away doesn’t pass the giggle test. Rumsfeld et al aren’t stupid; so those consequences must have been intended.

  21. Bin Laden should have been hung, drawn and quartered, And whipped! And boiled until….until…until he’s had enough! And then we will do it again! And when it is done, we should have taken the little bits and jumped on them! And carried on jumping on them until we all got blisters or thought of something even more unpleasant to do!

    1. +42

    2. The boats.

  22. The stupid thing, unless you’re Barack Obama and your only concern was getting re-elected, was announcing anything whatsoever about it. It would have been much more effective to kill him and keep quiet about it. Nacht und nebel – am I allowed to self-Godwinize?

    1. There isn’t a politician, either alive, dead, or yet to be born, that would have kept that secret.

      And there is nothing wrong with letting the citizens of the country know that the guy who helped orchestrate the murder of 2000+ other citizens got what was coming to him. In fact, keeping it a secret would have been worse. We should know who the government is out there killing.

  23. “renowned investigative reporter Seymour Hersh ”

    Ummm… in my experience Hersh is at best a loose cannon and at worst a conspiracy nutcase. The fact that someone dropped Abu Grahib in his lap does not make him a great investigative journalist. The Tanaka report was being leaked from someone inside the Pentagon. They picked Hersh for god-know-what -reasons, but Hersh just got lucky. Maybe they picked hiom because they knew Hersh would publish anything and wanted to mke sure it got published.

    1. Speaking of Hersh, and general conspiracy craziness, whatever happened with all of his blathering that either the U.S. or Israel or both were going to go and attack Iran in 2008? Did he make it up out of whole cloth? Was it a case of, “Damnit! We’d have gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddlesome reporters!”, and all sides had to go back to step one until the furor died down? Or has he been really loose with the facts before that?

  24. While the details are new, the basic idea that Pakistani authorities were fully aware that UBL was living in that compound is hardly new. I remember news reports stating the entire town is basically a bedroom community for Pakistan military officials, and there was no way UBL moved there without anyone in the military noticing.

    As for the question of a trial, that seems unlikely. Wouldn’t the alternative have been Gitmo?

    1. Yeah there was never any way that we were going to take Bin Laden alive.
      Our holding him captive would have become a media circus and a massive target for terrorist attacks.

      I also think that maybe they knew where he was for years and were just waiting for the right moment, when the appeal of Al Qaeda had reached a nadir, to kill him. Do note that this happened in the immediate aftermath of the Arab Spring, when it sort of looked like the region was changing. Killing him right after 9/11 would have made him an incredible symbol.

  25. oh, we “murdered” osama bin laden?

    let me go find my ‘pretend-concerned’ face.

    oh. right. I threw it out because i hardly ever use it.

    The only thing disquieting about Sy Hersh’s piece is that the fucking pakistanis harbored a mass murdering terrorist for 5 years…then they were such pussies that they refused to openly hand him over because they didn’t want to piss off their terrorist pals… and meanwhile, they cheerlead other *attempted* mass murderers as heroes

    and yet American taxpayers keep providing them free money in record amounts, because something something “please don’t nuke india” something something.

    all that aside….

    for the love of god, stop publishing sheldon richman. he stinks up the entire magazine.

    1. It’s almost as though they don’t respect the US because we pay them tribute and do nothing when they betray us.

      1. that, and that the leaders of the country are slimebags who have stoked islamic furor for decades for political benefit, and fed the jihadis billions in saudi and American money… and know that they can never turn that spigot off or else the entire bullshit fascade of their country will fall to pieces, and the elite ‘middle-class’ pakistanis will be torn to bits by the mullahs.

        this is the story they sell to the Americans to explain why we should keep funding them, despite the virulent animosity of their populace.

        that, and ‘please dont go to war with India’.

        i also think china is somehow involved, but i’ve never been all that clear on what the chinese get out of that relationship. maybe they prefer the “anti-indian” angle, while we want to neutralize it.

        1. China is insecure and wants ‘friends’ that really do nothing for it. See also, ‘North Korea’.

    2. “for the love of god, stop publishing sheldon richman. he stinks up the entire magazine.”

      Seconded. Get an intern to write foreign policy. It could only be an improvement.

      1. Thirded.

  26. OT: So there’s this thing called Positive Train Control which could have prevented the recent AMTRAK accident. Unfortunately, the FCC has stymied this by refusing to reallocate the 220 MHz sector of the the radio spectrum.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P…..ailability

    Of course, it also could have been prevented if the conductor had not been speeding.

    1. Engineers drive the train. Conductors do not drive the train; they are passenger-wranglers.

      1. Boom! That was some nice drive-by pedantry.

    2. I don’t understand why they can’t just stick a GPS connected to a computer on each locomotive to control it’s speed.

      1. Well, probably a GPS and a cell phone, so the central train controlling computer would know where the trains were too.

        Heh. We probably really could make the trains run on time. 😀

  27. Sheldon Richman Facts

    Sheldon Richman once ate with chopsticks. He immediately became Enlightened and ate fortune cookies with Buddha.

  28. Sheldon Richman Facts

    Sheldon Richman brought peace to the Middle East by merely saying “guys, c’mon”.

  29. Sheldon Richman Facts

    Sheldon Richman’s only complaint is he often has wet feet. Walking on water will do that to you.

  30. All other issues aside, any article that starts out with the phrase “the late great journalist Alexander Cockburn” is bound to be full of shit.

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  32. 1) Hersh’s allegations are not proven.

    2) Killing the head of an organization you are at war with =/= murder. Anyone who believes otherwise is a moron.

    1. to be fair… even after reading the 10,000 word hersh piece…

      …the only thing Hersh is really claiming is

      a) that “the CIA didn’t “track bin laden down” – he was handed to them by rogue ISI people
      and
      b) we never actually dumped his body in the ocean
      and
      c) obama is a big fat liar who wanted to toot his own horn, so he got hollywood & peter bergen to cook up a really dramatic backstory for how shit went down

      Which of these three things is actually even *implausible*?

      1. None, and none of them make it murder.

  33. All of this “it was murder” stuff would not be an issue if we had done the sensible thing and declared war on Al Qaeda after 9/11. They had already declared war on us. If we were officially at war, what would be wrong with finding bin Laden and shooting him?

    I’ve read the arguments that they didn’t declare war because they didn’t want to abide by the Geneva Convention regarding prisoners, but that hasn’t exactly worked out well, has it? Besides, under the Convention, enemy combatants fighting out of uniform or without recognizable insignia can be considered spies and saboteurs and executed for war crimes.

    1. Perhaps I’m overly cynical, Papaya, but if I was a sociopathic politician among many such politicians who (for whatever group of reasons) wanted our country to get involved in a never-ending conflict, I would not want a war declared upon a physical enemy such as Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or anyone else who could actually be defeated.

      1. I think they could have declared war on “Al Qaeda and their allies” to give them enough flexibility in that way, but I’m not cynical that I think Bush & Co. were rubbing their hands together and saying: “Oh boy, a never-ending conflict we can use for our nefarious purposes!”

        1. Apparently I’m more cynical than you are, because I do think there are several men and women in positions of influence and power in the government and military who are true sociopaths. I think the same is true of people in a few industries that benefit from war and armed conflict.

          1. No doubt there are sociopaths in power, but I don’t think the war on terror is the result of their doing.

  34. A lot hinges on whether or not Hershey is correct. He may not be. As much as I despise the current regime, want more evidence before I damage them for this. Besides, it was not murder. He declared war on the west and waged it. Makes him a legitimate target.

    1. I think Richman used the term murder because one of the SEALS quoted in the Hersh article used it: “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.'”

      1. No Richman called it murder because he has a hate-on for the USG and US military actions.

        1. Both can be true.

  35. The real problem with the story is that Bin Laden died in December 2001 from kidney disease.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new…..error.html

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