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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Why is the Obama administration going after the guy who shot Osama Bin Laden?

When we first learned of Osama Bin Laden's death, I wrote: "The Obama administration had to dump the corpse prematurely, in order to comply with the Conspiracy Theorist Full Employment Act of 2002."

That was a joke. But I'm starting to think that there really is a program to keep this country's conspiracy community as hyperactive as possible. Can you think of a simpler explanation for what we've seen?

For the longest time, the government would not reveal the name of the Navy SEAL who actually shot Bin Laden. Odd decision, that. Ronald Reagan, with his Hollywood instincts, would not have missed the opportunity to construct a spectacular narrative around a new American hero.

In 2012, we received a more complete version of the event from Matthew Bissonnette, who wrote No Easy Day (a book about the operation) under the name Mark Owen. The book created much controversy, not least because the the Department of Defense claimed that classified information lurked within its pages. (I have yet to discover which specific cat was de-bagged.)

It appears that fellow SEAL Rob O'Neil took the shot that killed Bin Laden, although he and Bissonnette fired in close succession. (Nota bene: My headline says that Bissonnette shot Bin Laden, not that he killed Bin Laden.)

A DOD review of the No Easy Day would be have been extremely time-consuming and probably would have focused on protecting the brass. I suspect that the administration did not appreciate the fact that the SEAL told a story which differed from the narrative first released to the public. Example:
While defense officials report that bin Laden was killed in his bedroom, Bissonnette says the Al Qaeda mastermind was first shot in a hallway, when he peeked around a corner.

Therefore, he was already gravely injured--not on the run--when SEALs delivered the “double tap” that killed him.
Actually, the contradiction was worse than that. In 2011, we were told that
Osama bin Laden used his wife as a human shield in a last desperate attempt to save his own life before he was gunned down by US special forces in his hideout in Pakistan.
Armed with an automatic weapon, the al-Qaeda leader's last act was to force his young bride to sacrifice her life as he tried to fire back at the US Navy Seals storming the compound.
White House adviser John Brennan had assured the public that Bin Laden was armed and engaged in a firefight.

These early accounts bore scant relationship to the truth (to the extent that we can now claim to know the truth, given the Rashomon-like way the facts have come out). Bin Laden did not hide behind a woman and did not fire back: He did not, in fact, have a weapon. According to this revised version by AP, the only person in the compound who had a gun was a courier named Aby Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.

The afore-linked AP story goes on to state that the SEALS methodically killed all of the unarmed inhabitants of the compound, a claim later contradicted by government officials. In fact, that schizophrenic article contradicts itself within the space of a few paragraphs...
White House and Defense Department and CIA officials through the week have offered varying and foggy versions of the operation, though the dominant focus was on a firefight that officials said consumed most of the 40 minutes on the ground after midnight Monday morning in Pakistan, Sunday in Washington.

"There were many other people who were armed ... in the compound," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday when asked if bin Laden was armed. "There was a firefight."
The mind boggles. If the President and his key advisers were following events in real time, why would the White House give official approval to multiple accounts? If the people in the compound were unarmed, then why tell the public that there was a 40 minute gun battle?

In March of 2015, Seymour Hersh published an important investigation of the event.
One of bin Laden’s wives was screaming hysterically and a bullet – perhaps a stray round – struck her knee. Aside from those that hit bin Laden, no other shots were fired. (The Obama administration’s account would hold otherwise.)

‘They knew where the target was – third floor, second door on the right,’ the retired official said. ‘Go straight there. Osama was cowering and retreated into the bedroom. Two shooters followed him and opened up. Very simple, very straightforward, very professional hit.’ Some of the Seals were appalled later at the White House’s initial insistence that they had shot bin Laden in self-defence, the retired official said. ‘Six of the Seals’ finest, most experienced NCOs, faced with an unarmed elderly civilian, had to kill him in self-defence?
Al Jazeera -- a propaganda organ of the Sunnis -- saw fit to attack Hersh's contention that Pakistan's ISI knew of Bin Laden's compound, which happened to be within walking distance (literally) of Pakistan's version of West Point. Personally, I never had any trouble accepting Hersh's claim that ISI guarded the compound, and that the watchmen not-so-mysteriously vanished on the night of the raid.

Hersh also says that an ISI officer flew with the SEALS. This detail coalesces with a little-known story published in Pakistan the day after the raid.

Here's the latest wrinkle in this case, courtesy of The Intercept...
Matthew Bissonnette, the former SEAL and author of No Easy Day, a firsthand account of the 2011 bin Laden operation, had already been under investigation by both the Justice Department and the Navy for revealing classified information. The two people familiar with the probe said the current investigation, led by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, expanded after Bissonnette agreed to hand over a hard drive containing an unauthorized photo of the al Qaeda leader’s corpse. The government has fought to keep pictures of bin Laden’s body from being made public for what it claims are national security reasons.
What national security reasons?

In 2011, we were told that at least one photo was taken, and that it was extremely gruesome. A few members of Congress have, reportedly, seen this photographic evidence. A desire to avoid churning the stomachs of people around the world may or may not be laudable, but is it really a matter of national security?
The retired SEAL voluntarily provided investigators with a copy of his hard drive as part of an agreement not to prosecute him for unlawfully possessing classified material, according to the two people familiar with the deal.

The two people who spoke about the case, and other former SEALs The Intercept interviewed about Bissonnette, asked that their names not be used because they were describing an ongoing investigation and classified matters.

“I can confirm that the criminal investigation of Mr. Bissonnette for alleged wrongful handling or disclosure of classified information was closed through declination by the DOJ in August 2015,” said Robert Luskin, an attorney who represents Bissonnette.

Luskin said that he had negotiated a deal in 2014 with the Pentagon and the Justice Department to hand over to the government some of the millions of dollars in book profits Bissonnette had received.

He would not confirm Bissonnette’s possession of the bin Laden photo or whether any investigation still remains open.
We all know that the Obama administration has been ultra-zealous when it comes to the prosecution of whistleblowers and leakers. But one would think that this government would want to avoid the public relations nightmare of mounting a case against the guy who shot Bin Laden.

The Intercept article then goes on to outline Bissonnette's subsequent business dealings: He set up a company called Element Group which designed "prototypes" for sporting and tactical equipment. The article hints, but does not state, that Bissonnette was helping the private market make the same stuff that SEALs use. But the same company also did business with a Navy contractor called Atlantic Diving Supply.

Frankly, I can't yet see how any of this business reflects poorly on Bissonnette, or why it would prompt legal action against a man whom many Americans consider a hero. Apparently, someone at the Pentagon or the White House got pissed off at Bissonnette for some other reason, and went searching for something, anything, to use against him. They went fishing -- and they found diving equipment.

What caused this epic rancor? The book, obviously. However, I don't know which part of that book caused such a vindictive reaction. And I don't know if Bissonnette's account tells the final truth about the strange death of Osama Bin Laden.

I do know that we were told multiple stories, and that we have yet to learn why we were told multiple stories.

I also know this. A few of my readers are now dying to sing a tune which many conspiracy buffs have been singing for years:

"You fool! Don't you know that Osama Bin Laden died in 2001?"


"You fool! Don't you know that Osama Bin Laden is still alive and well, enjoying his retirement on the Riviera?"

There are many variants of those two melodies. I have heard both songs before. Many times.

If you are a singer of those songs, let me stop you in mid-warble: No, I do not know such things, and neither do you. Please stop pretending to know things that you really don't, and please try to understand the difference between provable fact and a scenario that tickles your fancy.

Also, please try to answer the following questions:

1. If Bin Laden is still alive (or if he died many years before 2011), then why were there contradictory accounts of his death? If the "raid on the compound" story was a complete hoax -- if the government faked the death of Osama Bin Laden -- the hoaxers would have come up with a better story. A smooth, seamless, credible and problem-free story. A bulletproof story.

2. If the raid was a hoax, why crash a secret stealth chopper on foreign soil?

3. If the entire story is fraudulent, why stage a raid in Pakistan (within spitting distance of the Pakistani military academy), thereby creating an enormous backlash from both the people and government of that country?

4. If the entire story is fraudulent, why would Hersh's military contacts make claims which do not match the official accounts?

5. Why would Bissonnette tell a story that does not match the initial official accounts?

6. If Matt Bissonnette is part of some grand cover-up, why would the government drum up bullshit charges against the guy?

7. And why give so much grief to Rob O'Neill (whose account does not fully match Bissonnette's)?
I suspect bin Laden was killed (assuming, etc) for the same reason Saddam was hustled to the gallows: He knew too much.
We all know that the Obama administration has been ultra-zealous when it comes to the prosecution of whistleblowers and leakers.

Nonsense, Joseph. This is the most transparent administration in history. Just ask them.

PS: Hope your recovery is going well!
Why bother to tell the truth about anything, when it's so much simpler to tell mutually contradictory lies about every major situation? That seems to be the m.o. of this administration, and now Obama's legacy looks somewhat doubtful; I think that's what this is all about. It's about cleaning up some of the contradictions at least on major topics so that history can be written that makes some sort of sense, instead of being a series of questions like the ones you have prepared above.
As recently as last week when ten US sailors and two vessels ended up in the hands of the Iranians, no one in D.C. could get the story straight. The boats "broke down" (four engines simultaneously), they "got lost", they "lost communications", the mean Iranians ran out and grabbed them for no particular reason, etc. Who's running the show? Apparently nobody.
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