President Obama has his account on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Seymour Hersh’s bin Laden Raid account tends to differ quite a bit.
According to the Huffington Post, Hersh, in his 10,000-word article published in the London Review Of Books, wrote that the raid was completed with the assistance and knowledge of the Pakistani government. Hersh also questions the Obama White House claim of Bin Laden’s discovery, killing, and burial. Hersh’s article also calls into account that at least two highly ranked Pakistani officers, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, had knowledge of the mission.
Hersh also writes that a senior Pakistani official told the CIA of bin Laden’s whereabouts in an effort to collect the $25 million reward for bin Laden. Hersh also asserts that Bin Laden was a prisoner to the Pakistani security services for five years and not in hiding. Hersh also disputes the claim of the firefight that killed bin Laden, the subsequent burial at sea, and that Obama was supposed to wait a few days before announcing bin Laden’s death.
Hersh’s article quickly came under mass scrutiny and derision. Ned Price, spokesman for the National Security Council, said “there are too many inaccuracies and baseless assertions in this piece — which apparently is based on the claims of a single anonymous source — to fact check each one.” Noah Schachtman, executive editor for the Daily Beast, tweeted that both U.S. and Pakistani officials to not back Hersh’s claims.
Hersh is used to writing tough reports. In 1970, Hersh won the Pulitzer Prize for his report on the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. During the Iraq War, Hersh helped expose the systematic abuses occurring at the Abu Ghraib prisons. Hersh’s latest report, however, ruffled many feathers, if not the whole bird.
CNN is reporting that the biggest issue with Hersh’s report is that he is citing a “major U.S. source” throughout the article. That source has been somewhat identified as a “retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad.”
Hersh also claimed that former ISI head General Assad Durrani, during an interview with Hersh, said, “Look, you got the story.” CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen reached out to Durrani, with Durrani claiming to have no knowledge of bin Laden’s whereabouts.
Hersh also claims that bin Laden was not buried at sea, but placed into a body bag, and while flying over the Hindu Kush mountains, parts of bin Laden’s body were thrown from the helicopter.
[Image courtesy of the Lavin Agency]