The Most Useful News Story of 2015.

The Truth About the bin Laden Hit

by Fabius Maximus (May 11 2015)

Summary: Seymour Hersh’s new article about the bin Laden hit is important. Most political news provides entertainment for the outer party but makes no difference in their lives. But sometimes we get a teachable moment that rips aside the narrative fed to us by government officials and journalists, revealing truths that can inspire us to change ourselves. It’s our choice.

That’s almost the only part of the story that was correct.

The Truth About the bin Laden Hit

Today’s vital reading: “The Killing of Osama bin Laden” by Seymour M Hersh in the London Review of Books. It’s rich with important lessons for us.

First and most important, the various stories about the bin Laden raid by government officials (formal and leaked, quite contradictory, often unrealistic) remind us how far we’ve come since Eisenhower regretted getting caught lying to us about the Russia shooting down our U2 {1}. Now they lie light-heartedly and frequently, with no consequences when caught. Hersh pulls together and supplements what we learned from previous articles – that they lied about almost every important detail about the raid.

The information from torture played no role in locating bin Laden. Unlike what we saw in about the film Zero Dark Thirty, CIA intelligence played no role. A former senior Pakistani intelligence officer sold us bin Laden’s location for the $25 million reward.

The SEALs did not run a daring penetration into Pakistan. The Pakistan military knew of the raid and allowed them in and out. There was no resistance. Bin Laden did not use a woman as a shield and shoot at them; he was a sick prisoner.

It was planned as a hit, the assassination of a sick old guy. Lies were constructed afterwards to conceal this ugly truth.

The SEALs did not collect a “treasure trove” of documents and computers which gave insight into global terrorism. They gathered little, and what they gathered was proved of little use.

Bin Laden’s compound was not a nerve center for al Qaeda, fed by “a network of couriers coming and going with memory sticks and instructions” with bin Laden “providing strategic, operational and tactical instructions” and “throwing operational ideas out there and … specifically directing other al-Qaida members”. But in fact, as Hersh explains …

These claims were fabrications: there wasn’t much activity for bin Laden to exercise command and control over. The retired intelligence official said that the CIA’s internal reporting shows that since bin Laden moved to Abbottabad in 2006 only a handful of terrorist attacks could be linked to the remnants of bin Laden’s al-Qaida

This brings us to one of the big lies of post-9/11 America: the power of al Qaeda. The data from the bin Laden raid confirmed the large body of evidence showing that the collective action of the world’s police and intelligence agencies dismantled al Qaeda in the years after 9/11, as I showed in 2011 and many times since then {2}. The lurid tales of the powerful secret organization with sleeper cells across America were propaganda designed to keep us fearful – willing to surrender our rights and feed the military, intelligence, and security services.

Fruits of the bin Laden Hit

We felt big for a moment, using our elite troops to assassinate a unguarded sick old guy based on information from a paid informer and bribed Pakistan officials. The strategic significance was nil or negative, as it should have been. For details see {3} about the strategic significance of bin Laden’s execution, and the road not taken.


That didn’t take long. After the first day NBC reports that “Pakistanis Knew Where Bin Laden Was, Say US Sources” {4}. Michael Brenner (Senior Fellow, University of Pittsburgh) points us to his 2013 column {4}, reminding us that the official account of the bin Laden hit was considered dubious at the time – as it combined unlikely and contradictory elements.

Others wrote about this at the time, in 2011. Such as Raelynn J Hillhouse, who wrote about this at her website {6} in 2011, relying on different sources than Hersh’s: “Bin Laden Turned in by Informant – Courier Was Cover Story” {7} and “Questions Raised by Real Story of How US Found Bin Laden” {8}.


The history of America since World War Two has been one of American worked into a fearful frenzy about one boogeyman after another. First the Soviet Menace was over-hyped {9}, then Y2k, then al Qaeda, and now ISIS – all exaggerated into existential threats to America.

Why do we repeatedly fall for the same game? When will we see the pattern and learn skepticism? On that day political reform for America will become possible. The process begins with each of us.











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