Bin Laden's end: Sey­mour Hersh's bomb­shell story

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - COMMENT - By Justin Rai­mondo

"I'm not say­ing that they're at the high­est lev­els, but I be­lieve that some­where in this gov­ern­ment are peo­ple who know where Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda is, where Mul­lah Omar and the lead­er­ship of the Afghan Tal­iban is, and we ex­pect more co­op­er­a­tion to help us bring to jus­tice, cap­ture or kill those who at­tacked us on 9/11."

That was Hil­lary Clin­ton, al­most ex­actly four years ago.

Her re­marks caused a storm of con­tro­versy - not in the US, where sus­pi­cion of the Pak­ista­nis was rife, but in Pak­istan, where the US was al­ready in trou­ble due to drone at­tacks that rou­tinely kill in­no­cent civil­ians. Pres­i­den­tial spokesman Farhat­ul­lah Babar de­nied the Amer­i­can Sec­re­tary of State's ac­cu­sa­tions, but he did so in a way that, in ret­ro­spect, hardly seems like a de­nial at all: "If there were of­fi­cials who knew where bin Laden was," he averred, "I can as­sure you that he would not be a free man."

But of course, ac­cord­ing to Sey­mour Hersh's 10,000-word piece in the Lon­don Re­view of Books, he wasn't a free man dur­ing his years in protective cus­tody in the Ab­bot­tabad hide­away so con­ve­niently close to ISI head­quar­ters and within spit­ting dis­tance of the cap­i­tal city of Islamabad. There were steel doors on the en­trance to his third story quar­ters and armed guards posted, all of it sub­sidised by the Saudis. The ail­ing and el­derly Osama bin Laden was a prisoner, and had been since 2006.

Amid the hys­ter­ics in our state­wor­ship­ping "main­stream" me­dia, where the ac­com­plices of power are busy echo­ing the de­nials of var­i­ous gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, the key el­e­ment of Hersh's stunning ex­posé is be­ing stead­fastly ig­nored, and it is this:

"A wor­ry­ing fac­tor at this early point, ac­cord­ing to the re­tired of­fi­cial, was Saudi Ara­bia, which had been fi­nanc­ing bin Laden's up­keep since his seizure by the Pak­ista­nis. 'The Saudis didn't want bin Laden's pres­ence re­vealed to us be­cause he was a Saudi, and so they told the Pak­ista­nis to keep him out of the pic­ture. The Saudis feared if we knew we would pres­sure the Pak­ista­nis to let bin Laden start talk­ing to us about what the Saudis had been do­ing with al-Qaeda. And they were drop­ping money - lots of it. The Pak­ista­nis, in turn, were con­cerned that the Saudis might spill the beans about their con­trol of bin Laden. The fear was that if the US found out about bin Laden from Riyadh, all hell would break out. The Amer­i­cans learn­ing about bin Laden's im­pris­on­ment from a walk-in was not the worst thing.'"

What would have been "the worst thing"?

Imag­ine if bin Laden, in­stead of be­ing killed - in a fire­fight, ac­cord­ing to the Of­fi­cial Gov­ern­men­tAp­proved Story, or sim­ply mur­dered, ac­cord­ing to Hersh - had been cap­tured alive. If Hersh's re­port­ing is cor­rect - and I be­lieve it is - then a whole can of worms Wash­ing­ton has gone to a great deal of trou­ble to keep sealed would have come pour­ing out.

Peter Ber­gen, the Bri­tish born au­thor and ter­ror­ism ex­pert, has come out against the Hersh rev­e­la­tions guns blaz­ing: it's a "far­rago of non­sense," he splut­tered, be­cause the Saudis are the sworn enemies of al-Qaeda, which has vowed to over­throw the monar­chy. Yet this as­sumes "the Saudis" are a mono­lith, that there are no alQaeda sup­port­ers or sym­pa­this­ers within the royal fam­ily and gov­ern­men­tal ap­pa­ra­tus. But this as­sump­tion is to­tally un­war­ranted, as for­mer Se­na­tor Bob Gra­ham of Florida - once head of the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee - and those mem­bers of Congress who have read the censored 28 pages of the Joint In­quiry into In­tel­li­gence Com­mu­nity Ac­tiv­i­ties Be­fore and Af­ter the Ter­ror­ist At­tacks of Septem­ber 11, 2001 would no doubt ar­gue.

Those 28 pages deal with the in­volve­ment of cer­tain for­eign gov­ern­ments in the events lead­ing up to the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks on the World Trade Cen­ter and the Pen­tagon. Mem­bers of Congress are al­lowed to read them, but must do so in the pres­ence of in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials in a sound­proof bug-proof un­der­ground room: they can­not take notes, or re­veal what they have read to any­one. Pres­i­dent Obama, when he ran for of­fice, promised the fam­i­lies of the 9/11 vic­tims he would de­clas­sify those pages, but has so far not done so.

Those who have di­rect knowl­edge of the in­for­ma­tion con­tained therein are un­equiv­o­cal about which coun­try as­sisted the 9/11 hi­jack­ers in their grisly, fate­ful task. Gra­ham says the Saudi gov­ern­ment di­rectly aided the hi­jack­ers and that the FBI has cov­ered it up. Rep. Thomas Massie de­scribed his re­ac­tion upon read­ing the censored 28 pages:

"It was a re­ally dis­turb­ing event for me to read those. I had to stop ev­ery two or three pages and re­ar­range my per­cep­tion of his­tory. And it's that fun­da­men­tal… it cer­tainly changes your view of the Mid­dle East."

Rep. Stephen Lynch ( DMas­sachus­sets) says the as­ser­tions of Saudi fi­nanc­ing of the 9/ 11 at­tacks are ver­i­fied in the 28 pages: "There are peo­ple named; there are trans­ac­tions iden­ti­fied.

" Speak­ing of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, Lynch went on to say: "What are they afraid of ? Hav­ing those 28 pages dis­closed to the public will in­form our for­eign pol­icy go­ing for­ward, which would be very help­ful at this stage."

Hersh, in his in­ter­view with Democ­racy Now!, as­serts the Saudis were aid­ing alQaeda both "be­fore and af­ter" 9/11, and that their fear of bin Laden blab­bing to the Amer­i­cans led to their sup­port for his Ab­bot­tabad in­tern­ment.

Hersh's bomb­shell story has the me­dia in de­fen­sive mode: de­fen­sive, that is, of their pa­trons and over­seers in of­fi­cial Wash­ing­ton. Noth­ing il­lus­trates this mas­ter-slave re­la­tion­ship more clearly than the fe­roc­ity un­leashed on Hersh by the ad­min­is­tra­tion's Prae­to­rian Guard in the "main­stream" press. Ev­ery­one from Max Fisher of Vox - a re­li­ably proObama out­let - to Jamie Kirchick, the neo­cons' slim­i­est smear-mon­ger, are scream­ing "Con­spir­acy the­o­rist!" at the top of their lungs. Within this left-right anti-Hersh Popular Front var­i­ous mo­ti­va­tions co­ex­ist, but all are united in the con­tention that our gov­ern­ment would never ever lie to us about some­thing so big, so im­por­tant, as the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the killing of bin Laden.

Faith in our gov­ern­ment lead­ers - blind, wor­ship­ful sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief - is what unites both wings of the Wash­ing­ton estab­lish­ment, and this faith is al­most re­li­gious in its in­ten­sity in the one in­sti­tu­tion where it should be en­tirely ab­sent: the "main­stream" me­dia. Yet it isn't at all sur­pris­ing that, in­stead of pur­su­ing the many leads pro­vided by Hersh in his re­port­ing, they are busy­ing them­selves smear­ing and sneer­ing at the man who ex­posed the My Lai massacre and Abu Ghraib atroc­i­ties. Af­ter all, th­ese are the same peo­ple who swal­lowed ev­ery lie put out by the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion in the run up to the in­va­sion of Iraq, broad­cast­ing and elab­o­rat­ing on the phony "in­tel­li­gence" pro­mul­gated by the neo­cons as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for what Gen. Wil­liam E. Odom ac­cu­rately char­ac­ter­ized as the worst dis­as­ter in Amer­i­can mil­i­tary his­tory.

There is much more to Hersh's re­port­ing than I can cover in one col­umn, but his es­sen­tial con­tentions - that bin Laden's lo­ca­tion was re­vealed by a "walk-in" from Pak­istani in­tel­li­gence, and that the Pak­istani gov­ern­ment knew the ter­ror­ist chief­tain's lo­ca­tion - have al­ready been cor­rob­o­rated by NBC News.

We are learn­ing a lot more from Hersh's re­port­ing than how and why bin Laden met his end: we're learn­ing that our me­dia is among the most servile on earth, and that our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers lie rou­tinely, and ef­fort­lessly, fak­ing out­rage bet­ter than the best Hol­ly­wood ac­tor. We're learn­ing that you can't trust any­one in gov­ern­ment and the me­dia (or do I re­peat my­self ?) far­ther than you can throw them. And we're learn­ing, above all, that the truth is out there, and will even­tu­ally come out no mat­ter what the Wash­ing­ton know-it-alls say or do.

(Justin Rai­mondo is the ed­i­to­rial direc­tor of An­ti­, and a se­nior fel­low at the Ran­dolph Bourne In­sti­tute. He is a con­tribut­ing edi­tor at The Amer­i­can Con­ser­va­tive, and writes a monthly col­umn for Chron­i­cles. He is the au­thor of Re­claim­ing the Amer­i­can Right: The Lost Le­gacy of the Con­ser­va­tive Move­ment [Cen­ter for Lib­er­tar­ian Stud­ies, 1993; In­ter­col­le­giate Stud­ies In­sti­tute, 2000], and An En­emy of the State: The Life of Mur­ray N. Roth­bard [Prometheus Books, 2000].) - Cour­tesy An­ti­

In this pho­to­graph taken on May 9, 2011, Pak­istani youth play cricket near the fi­nal hide­out of slain al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden in Ab­bot­tabad. AFP

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