Bin Laden: The CIA knew; the American people don't know squat (Update: Yes, I KNOW that the source is a spookette)
We'll discuss the above video clip (which you've probably already seen) presently. First, here is a graphic relating the results of a USA Today/Gallup poll. (The image is rather too large to publish on this blog, so please click the link.) Some of the findings are noteworthy.
Only 35% credit Barack Obama with catching Bin Laden, while 22% credit George W. Bush. Who are these twenty-two percenters? How can any human being be that susceptible to propaganda?
Worse: Only 33% of the American people believe it would have been better to capture Osama Bin Laden alive. 60% say killing him outright was preferable.
Such figures make me want to smash my head against the computer monitor in frustration. An understandable thirst for vengeance should not blind us to the simple fact that dead men cannot talk. I, for one, strongly suspect that Osama Bin Laden had secrets which we should know.
Now let's talk about that viral video clip.
It's a snippet from a 2008 edition of Bill Maher's show, in which Christiane Amanpour says that a source told her that Osama Bin Laden lives in a villa in Pakistan, not in a cave. Unfortunately, the other guests on the show barely let her get the news out. Boys, let the lady talk, willya?
This is an important revelation. From the beginning, I've maintained that if Pakistan's ISI knew of Bin Laden's location -- and they almost certainly did -- then the CIA must have known as well. Don't be misled by all the recent talk of a Pakistan-U.S. rift. Instead, you should underscore the word recent. Historically, the ISI and the CIA have always been extremely close.
And even if they weren't close, even if the two services were hostile, we still should have known. We pay the NSA an enormous amount of money to get information like this.
Amanpour's revelation (and other evidence) suggests that the American intelligence community knew where Osama was all along. This puts the official narrative into rewrite in all sorts of interesting ways. All of that rigamarole about identifying the courier, all of that discussion about what we learned from KSM, all of that controversy about did-we-or-did-we-not-get-intel-from-Gitmo-detainees -- all of it may be pure hooey. A smokescreen.
Amanpour's source (she now reveals) was a U.S. intelligence officer who had recently left a top position. Here, she says that this person
had clearly been working very hard along with the rest of the intelligence community on trying to track Osama bin Laden ever since 9-11.
Hm. Who could that be?
One possible candidate would be Porter Goss, who served as Director of the CIA until May of 2006. In 2005, Goss told Time that he had an "excellent idea" where Bin Laden was.
But when you go to the very difficult question of dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you're dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play.
In the interview, Goss makes clear that his concern was not locating Bin Laden but placating the host country. So did he speak to Amanpour? Perhaps, but her phrasing indicates a source a bit lower down in the hierarchy.
Other possible candidates:
Gary Berntsen may be stretching our definition of a "recently" retired CIA officer, since he left in 2005. However, Amanpour did use him as a source. He specialized in Al Qaeda. In his book Jawbreaker, he publicly criticized the military for allowing Bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora.
He seems a very likely candidate. One problem: He began speaking out in 2005. Would he have been told about Bin Laden's new compound? Most sources say that the Bin Ladens moved into the place in 2006.
Michael Scheuer, often described as the former chief of the CIA unit tasked with hunting Bin Laden, is another possible candidate. But he left that job in 2004, before Bin Laden moved into his "villa." I'm not sure whether Amanpour would refer to him as having "recently" left the Agency.
And therefore, once we had the true name of the courier, it led all the way back and ended up in the operation that occurred on Sunday. The one thing that should have been clearer to a lot of people for some time was Mr. Bush and, until Sunday, Mr. Obama's story that Osama was running from rock to rock and cave to cave was certainly not correct. They kept saying that, but if you keep moving around a lot, you're going to get caught.
Looks like he's going with the "courier" story here. As noted above: If the location was known to the CIA in 2008, then we should consider that yarn a smokescreen.
The latter part of Scheuer's statement may be construed as a subtle public hint that he knew the truth all along. Am I reading too much into his words? You make the call.
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Update: As a whole bunch of readers have pointed out, all the above speculation is for naught, because Amanpour refers to her source as female. Yes, I missed that bit the first time I heard the clip.
In my defense, let me add this: When I first viewed this segment, I was distracted by a sudden, intense desire to punch Gary Shandling.
C'mon. Be reasonable. Haven't you ever been distracted from whatever-it-was-you-were-supposed-to-be-paying-attention-to because you were suddenly overwhelmed by an intense desire to punch Gary Shandling?
(I speak poetically. Mr. Shandling actually has nothing to fear from me -- what with him living on the other side of the country and all.)
Tomorrow, we'll start looking for a new candidate for our game of spot-the-spook. (And don't presume that I can't do it. Did any other blogger come up with the correct spelling of Mark Carleton's name?) In the meantime, let us return to our regularly-scheduled post, already in progress...
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Scheuer has lots of other interesting stuff to say. Even though it takes us some ways away from the Amanpour mystery, this bit deserves our attention:
The Saudis own us. We need their oil. We need them to buy our jets. We need them to buy our debt. And if they kill enough Shias up in Bahrain in the next month of two, we'll be at war with Iran because the Iranians will come to the Shias' rescue. And the American people won't have a thing to say about it.
You might notice that Christiane when speaking about her source says:
"She doesn't think...." and "This woman..."
So unless you know something about Porter Goss and Michael Scheuer that the rest of us don't -- I think your analysis is flawed.
posted by Anonymous : 10:30 PM
It is a woman. Amanpour says, "This woman, who is in American intelligence, thinks that he's in a villa, a nice comfortable villa in Pakistan."
posted by Eric : 11:31 PM
Wow! I had the suspicion that G.W.B. knew the whereabouts of OBL because it's the only way the pieces fit. OBL was probably under house arrest and Pakistan must have kept an eye on him 24/7. My guess is that G.W.B. came to some understanding with Saudi Arabia that as long as Pakistan kept him on a leash, OBL's life would not be threatened. The bin Ladens are powerful people and must have not wanted OBL's death. I'm also guessing that OBL is not in any sea, but buried in Saudi Arabia. Obama needed the political capital, and went ahead and did the job despite the understanding. That's why the Pakistanis are angry. Amanpour has only two choices. The first choice is to make public who told her. The second choice, if she decides not to reveal her source, is to make public that if she dies, her source will be revealed. Too many people are/were invested in protecting OBL.
posted by Anonymous : 11:44 PM
Btw, Amanpour says "this woman". Why do you think the spy is a man?
posted by Anonymous : 12:30 AM
So suddenly Osama Bin Laden knew stuff, but he acted alone in regards to 911.
On a nice note, you should get out more often, and read my blogs every now and then, Petunia head.
As for Obama, I have maintained from the start this was about his reelection. He needed a boost in the polls so time to play the OBL card.
posted by Anonymous : 10:01 AM
Here is a link to an outline of ISI chief's activities around 9-11: http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO111A.html (he was removed after 9-11 due to suspicion he funded the people in the operation) I don't know anything about this web site, really, but it contains info that warrants follow up for those interested in veracity of its claims. This site makes it clear it does not implicate Bush administration in the attacks, which is why I shared this link here. There's enough to feed the dot connectors for awhile!
posted by urbanmeemaw : 10:27 AM
The Pakistani intelligence agency has very deep connections to the CIA going back to when Henry Kissinger promised to make an example of Za Bhutto when he was seeking the bomb after the India/Pakistani war. We all know that Buhtto was overthrown by a military/ISI coup and later hanged. The CIA also used the ISI to get funds to the mujahideen during the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan including funding Osama Bin Laden. During this time, the senior Bush was at the UN and in the CIA so the Bushies and old Reagan folks have very deep, deep connections to the ISI. Also,OBL was a major campaign contributor to military/ISI candidates during the same period.