Four years ago I wrote a piece about the death of Osama Bin Laden and how I couldn’t see how the US Military / CIA could have processed his DNA evidence so quickly as to have empirical proof they’d got their man after just 8 hours or so. I received a mixed bag of responses on that. From the positive, to the negative and right down to the hostile and indeed threatening.
You can read my original post here.
So you can imagine my surprise after 4 years to read this Seymour Hersh post about how most of the facts of the raid on Osama Bin Laden were in fact complete fiction. This goes a little bit further than suggesting the Pakistani’s knew about the raid in advance. It goes so far as to suggest that ISI (the Pakistani Intelligence Service) were in fact keeping Bin Laden captive in Abbottabad and that due to his infirmity (reported in a number of reliable source previously, but conveniently forgotten for heroic reasons) was under the charge of a Pakistani Army Doctor Major Amir Aziz. The idea being they would keep him back in reserve should it be necessary to get something from the US or rather… maintain their current financial arrangement.
The story of a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer betraying this set-up for a cool $25 million reward (originally put up by the US) seems entirely plausible. And so, cat out of the bag, the raid began to take shape.
However, a rather keen point for the Obama executive, who had been facing increasing criticism from their frequent (and frequently mistargeted) use of drone strikes, had to be that they could prove absolutely that this was indeed Bin Laden.
The immediate goal of the CIA leadership and the Joint Special Operations Command was to get Obama’s support. They believed they would get this if they got DNA evidence, and if they could assure him that a night assault of the compound would carry no risk. The only way to accomplish both things, the retired official said, ‘was to get the Pakistanis on board’.
Which meant in ADVANCE of the raid
Obama was anxious for reassurance that the US was going to get the right man. The proof was to come in the form of bin Laden’s DNA. The planners turned for help to Kayani and Pasha, who asked Aziz to obtain the specimens.
Early press following the raid identified a Major in the Pakistani Army Dr Aziz living in a house very near the bin Laden compound. It seems that Aziz subsequently received payment for the DNA sample that had showed conclusively that it was bin Laden in the compound in Abbottabad long ahead of the raid.
By January 2011 the Navy Seals were training against a mock-up of the compound set up in Utah and America had started turning the screws on Pakistan by withdrawing funding for anti-terrorism and so forth. In advance of softening them up to allowing US Army helicopters into their airspace without setting off the alarms. All managed and controlled by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the army staff, and General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of the ISI.
The bottom line is that the Navy Seals killed an already identified bin Laden; an invalid, not the action packed “diving for his AK47” figure. As described later in lurid and, as it turns out, entirely fictional detail.
Given we know the radar operators were ordered to “look the other way” do we even believe that the helicopters were “stealth”? This now seems something of a ruse in order to shift potential gilt away from ISI / Pakistani officers. Although the helicopter accident seems real enough if ridiculous when you think about it. But would the head of ISI allow his men to be killed by US soldiers? Perhaps.
Obama gets his confirmation in advance, to look like a hero and get re-elected.
Pakistan guarantees it’s funding and gets to look innocent in the eyes of it’s people.