- Journalist Seymour Hersh claims ‘lying’ is common in US counter-terrorism
- Quoted ex-CIA high-level source in article for the London Review of Books
- Alleges Obama’s speech was put together in a rush and created ‘chaos’
- Source added there was an ‘agreement with the Pakistanis’ before operation
- Has also tried to poke holes in issues such as NSA spying and drone attacks
President Obama lied to Americans about the role of Pakistan special forces in the raid which killed Osama Bin Laden so he could take credit for the mission, an expose published on Sunday has claimed.
Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh has accused the the Commander-In-Chief of rushing to receive plaudits just hours after the Navy SEAL operation which killed the head of Al Qaeda and 9/11 mastermind four years ago.
In an article for the London Review of Books, where Hersh attacks a number of U.S. foreign policy areas, he says Obama’s address caused ‘chaos’ in the intelligence community and forced them to collaborate his story.
The former New York Times reporter quotes former American and Pakistani intelligence sources, as well as Navy SEALs as he claims that the White House and CIA repeatedly lied to the public about nearly every aspect of the bin Laden raid.
He says ‘high-level lying’ and ‘bypassing the chain of command’ is standard fare in U.S. counter-terrorism and those who stand up to the White ‘say no’ to the consensus are usually phased out.
Among the explosive claims that Hersh makes in the piece:
- The Pakistanis had been essentially holding bin Laden captive at the Abbottabad compound for years.
- The CIA learned of bin Laden’s location from a Pakistani intelligence official who tipped off American operatives hoping to claim the $25million bounty on the terror leader – not from interrogation of an al-Qaeda courier.
- Top American officials negotiated with Pakistani officials to let them carry out the operation to kill bin Laden on Pakistani soil.
- There was no vaccination program used to college the DNA from bin Laden’s compound – it was all made up as part of an elaborate cover-story after the fact.
- The Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, cut power to the neighborhood where bin Laden was hiding on the day of the raid and made sure no Pakistani forces would not interfere with the American choppers flying into sovereign airspace.
- There was no firefight during the SEAL raid – the only shots fired were those that killed bin Laden, whom Hersh described as a feeble, unarmed man.
- Bin Laden was cut off from al-Qaeda at the time of his killing and was not running the terrorist group
- There was almost no useful intelligence information found his compound.
- After he was killed, bin Laden was not buried at sea, but instead buried in Afghanistan.
- Obama publicly announced the commando raid and claimed public credit for it, despite agreeing with the Pakistanis to keep the action secret for seven days and eventually say bin Laden had been killed in a drone strike.
- Obama’s announcement badly alienated Pakistani leaders and all but obliterated the military and intelligence ties between the two nations.
A supposed fabrication he singles out is that Pakistani military officials actually knew about the operation, even though the White House maintains it was purely an American affair.
Militant organisation: During his piece, Hersh claimed the threat of Al Qaeda, headed by Bin Laden (left), was hyped up in the weeks before the attack
In the piece he cites one anonymous source, a retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abottabad.’
He adds the high-ranking servicemen was also ‘privy to many aspects of the (Navy SEALs)’ training for the raid, and to the various after-action reports.’
‘Obama’s speech was put together in a rush,’ Hersh alleges.
‘This series of self-serving and inaccurate statements would create chaos in the weeks following.’
The White House has maintained Pakistani officials were not informed of the raid, but Hersh believes this is false as members of the Obama administration have contradicted the account.
He quotes his anonymous source as saying: ‘The fact that there was an agreement with the Pakistanis and no contingency analysis of what was to be disclosed if something went wrong – that wasn’t even discussed.’
According to Hersh the Abbottabad compound was surrounded by ISI guards keep watch over bin Laden and his wives and children around the clock.
‘They were under orders to leave as soon as they heard the rotors of the US helicopters,’ Hersh adds.
‘The town was dark: the electricity supply had been cut off on the orders of the ISI hours before the raid began.’
The official added that Obama’s advisers were forced to ‘make up a new cover story on the fly’ after hearing the speech.
A Special Operations Command consultant also allegedly told Hersh Bin Laden’s death was ‘political theatre designed to burnish Obama’s military credentials’.
Controversial: Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh claims the Commander-In-Chief rushed to take credit for the Navy SEAL operation which killed the head of Al Qaeda four years ago
Aftermath: Hersch also claims the details of the raid in Abbotobad, Pakistan, were exaggerated. Pictured is a piece of a downed helicopter outside Bin Laden’s compound
‘The Seals should have expected the political grandstanding. It’s irresistible to a politician. Bin Laden became a working asset,’ the source added.
Hersch also claims the details of the raid itself were exaggerated and the threat of Al Qaeda was hyped up in the weeks leading up to the operation.
‘The White House had to give the impression that bin Laden was still operationally important,’ the source adds.
‘Otherwise, why kill him? A cover story was created – that there was a network of couriers coming and going with memory sticks and instructions. All to show that bin Laden remained important.’
He adds the ‘lies, misstatements and betrayals’ were always going to create a backlash.
The source said: ‘We’ve had a four-year lapse in co-operation. It’s taken that long for the Pakistanis to trust us again in the military-to-military counterterrorism relationship – while terrorism was rising all over the world … They felt Obama sold them down the river.
‘They’re just now coming back because the threat from Isis, which is now showing up there.’
The White House is yet to respond to Hersh’s claims.
In 2013, Hersh first aired his opinion on Obama’s story of the 2011 operation, claiming it was ‘one big lie’.
During an interview with The Guardian, he savaged the US media for failing to challenge the president on a number of issues – from NSA spying to drone attacks.
‘It’s pathetic. They are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama],’ he stated.
He has claimed the Obama administration has lied on a number of occasions.