The Hill is carrying a story about a book excerpt published in the London Review of Books this past Sunday from author Seymour Hersh. The book, entitled, The Killing of Osama bin Laden, reportedly details that President Obama deceived (a.k.a. lied to) the American people regarding the narrative as to how the bin Laden raid was handled. As our President is always the smartest man in the room, as well as the 24/7 campaigner in chief, Hersh reports that Obama rushed to take credit for the bin Laden raid, which left the Special Ops and military communities rushing to corroborate his version of events.
Now Hersh is no two-bit reporter. He broke the My Lai massacre story years ago, as well as the goings on in the Abu Ghraib scandal. He’s won numerous awards for his investigative journalism. However, as certain media acolytes and the White House points out, his sources, those pesky sources, are anonymous. H’mmm. Given that Hersh is detailing the finer points of the bin Laden raid, you think he might be protecting the sources from losing their lives.
Hersh, in his version of the bin Laden takedown, claims that senior officials of the Pakistani military and their Inter-Services Intelligence, were aware of the American raid in advance, and that the raid was initially meant to be a drone strike and not a special ops mission. He quotes other investigative journalists, their articles and undercover sources.
According to Hersh, one of Pakistan’s to military generals “Pasha” came to Washington for a meeting with the Administration:
A Pakistani with close ties to the senior leadership of the ISI told me that ‘there was a deal with your top guys. We were very reluctant, but it had to be done – not because of personal enrichment, but because all of the American aid programmes would be cut off. Your guys said we will starve you out if you don’t do it, and the okay was given while Pasha was in Washington. The deal was not only to keep the taps open, but Pasha was told there would be more goodies for us.’ The Pakistani said that Pasha’s visit also resulted in a commitment from the US to give Pakistan ‘a freer hand’ in Afghanistan as it began its military draw-down there. ‘And so our top dogs justified the deal by saying this is for our country.’
And the story continues:
Pasha and Kayani were responsible for ensuring that Pakistan’s army and air defence command would not track or engage with the US helicopters used on the mission. The American cell at Tarbela Ghazi was charged with co-ordinating communications between the ISI, the senior US officers at their command post in Afghanistan, and the two Black Hawk helicopters; the goal was to ensure that no stray Pakistani fighter plane on border patrol spotted the intruders and took action to stop them. The initial plan said that news of the raid shouldn’t be announced straightaway. All units in the Joint Special Operations Command operate under stringent secrecy and the JSOC leadership believed, as did Kayani and Pasha, that 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. The Americans who planned the mission assured Kayani and Pasha that their co-operation would never be made public. It was understood by all that if the Pakistani role became known, there would be violent protests – bin Laden was considered a hero by many Pakistanis – and Pasha and Kayani and their families would be in danger, and the Pakistani army publicly disgraced.
It was clear to all by this point, the retired official said, that bin Laden would not survive: ‘Pasha told us at a meeting in April that he could not risk leaving bin Laden in the compound now that we know he’s there. Too many people in the Pakistani chain of command know about the mission. He and Kayani had to tell the whole story to the directors of the air defence command and to a few local commanders.
The book excerpt then continues with the decision on how the story broke, and quotes then Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in his book about how our agreement with the Pakistanis (to remain quiet for a week and then the “cover story”) should be honored and wasn’t. Also, how Gates would not agree to be party to this “nonsense” of a strike raid. But Gates wasn’t the only one under duress.
The White House’s solution was to silence the Seals. 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. ‘The Seals were not happy,’ the retired official said. But most of them kept quiet, as did Admiral William McRaven, who was then in charge of JSOC. ‘McRaven was apoplectic. He knew he was fucked by the White House, but he’s a dyed-in-the-wool Seal, and not then a political operator, and he knew there’s no glory in blowing the whistle on the president. When Obama went public with bin Laden’s death, everyone had to scramble around for a new story that made sense, and the planners were stuck holding the bag.
As you read the Hersh account, and I urge you to do so in this excerpt, a very vivid picture is being painted of the current White House occupant. That this account is being published in light of the US/Iranian nuclear talks, and now with the news that the Saudi king has blown off the President’s Gulf States summit, leads one to speculate that the American public is learning now, more openly, what world political and military officials have known for years — neither the President nor his Administration can be trusted.
Hopefully, this doesn’t extend to the American people as well. We’ve given too much of our “treasure” on the field of battle in faraway places.