Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Snowden and the death of Osama Bin Laden

Syria has been such a pressing issue that I haven't had time to discuss this...
United States intelligence documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden now confirm that US authorities positively identified the body of Osama bin Laden with a DNA test shortly after his May 2011 execution.

According to the Washington Post, top-secret documents provided by the national security whistleblower revealed that a DNA sample was taken from bin Laden’s body around eight hours after he was killed inside his Abbottabad, Pakistan compound.

The sample, the Post reported, “provided a conclusive match” between the DNA taken from the corpse and other bin Laden intelligence.
Here's the Post story. Problem: We've heard nothing from either Snowden himself or The Guardian about this matter. Heretofore, the Snowden revelations have been about domestic NSA surveillance -- an entirely different matter.

Sorry, but until Snowden or Greenwald confirms, I'm not buying this.

A lot of people forget the very suspicious "document shuffle" that we learned about a couple of months ago. Let's go back to this story...
When the Associated Press filed a Freedom of Information Act request after the May 2, 2011 killing, the Pentagon responded that it had no such testing documents in its possession.
Marcy Wheeler had more on July 8. There was a "shell game" involving the Osama Bin Laden records -- a shell game which she found rather suspicious, and which I find very suspicious:
Congratulations to the AP, which has caught up to the reporting I did a month ago on the way SOCOM purged their own systems of Osama bin Laden photos (and, apparently, records) and moved them to the CIA.

But it appears that this shell game involved more than just moving all these records to CIA. It appears CIA had to retroactively classify at least the photographs.
By moving the records to CIA, the DOD was able to shield them from FOIA. The Freedom of Information Act law gives greater leeway to the Agency.

Think about it. Why wouldn't the government happily release those DNA records?

From Wikipedia:
According to a draft report by the Pentagon's inspector general, Admiral William McRaven, the top special operations commander, ordered the Department of Defense to purge from its computer systems all files on the Bin Laden raid after first sending them to the CIA.[160][161][162] Any mention of this decision was expunged from the final version of the inspector general's report.[161] According to the Pentagon, this was done to protect the identities of the Navy SEALs involved in the raid.[161] The legal justification for the records transfer is that the SEALs were effectively working for the CIA at the time of the raid, which ostensibly means that any records of the raid belong to the CIA.[160][161] The National Security Archive has criticized this maneuver, saying that the records have now gone into a "FOIA black hole":
What the transfer really did was ensure that the files would be placed in the CIA’s operational records, a records system that — due to the 1986 CIA Operational Files exemption — is not subject to the FOIA and is a black hole for anyone trying to access the files within. The move prevents the public from accessing the official record about the raid, and bypasses several important federal records keeping procedures in the process.[161]
Richard Lardner, reporting for the Associated Press, wrote that the maneuver "could represent a new strategy for the U.S. government to shield even its most sensitive activities from public scrutiny."
Obviously, the government wouldn't resort to such tactics to shield those records if the death of Osama Bin Laden were a simple matter.

No, I don't have a conspiracy theory to explain the Great Record Shuffle. I don't know what that shuffle was meant to hide -- and neither do you, although some of you may pretend to know. But I can say that they must be hiding something, or the Great Record Shuffle would never have existed in the first place.

Frankly, I was more inclined to take the reports of Bin Laden's death at face value before I learned about the Great Record Shuffle. Shuffling the records insured my mistrust. I was hardly the only one who arched an eyebrow and muttered "What the hell....?": A lot of people became suspicious.

So instead of releasing the DNA records via FOIA, the government made sure that a reassuring story -- "We got the right guy!" -- was released under the "Ed Snowden" label. Perhaps Snowden has become the means by which the government can leak certain stories -- stories which may be true or false. In these captious times, a "Snowden" leak has credibility; an official leak does not.

Again: It is very telling that neither Snowden nor Greenwald has commented on this matter.

A long time ago, I had lunch with a writer who had had extensive dealings with spooks. This guy told me something that may be pertinent to our understanding of Snowden. Obviously, I don't recall the exact words this man said, but what follows is pretty close:

"When a whistleblower in the military talks to a journalist about something secret, that's it. The information is out there. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. When the military finds out who talked -- as it usually does -- it doesn't ask the whistleblower to stop talking to the journalist. Instead, the whistleblower is told to meet with the journalist again and again. But things are different. Now the whistleblower is given a script. He is told what to say. The things he now says may be true or they may be false; even the whistlebower doesn't know. He's acting as a conduit of disinformation in order to stay alive and out of prison. And the journalist will probably trust what he's hearing, because the whistleblower's original information was accurate."

Understand how it works?

The same writers who gave us the WP story referenced above -- Craig Whitlock and Barton Gellman -- have just now delivered another "Snowden" story that puts the US in a strangely flattering light. This story does nothing to challenge or undermine this administration. In fact, this story serves the administration's purpose, vis-a-vis Pakistan.

A little bird tells me that, within the next few days, Whitlock and Gellman will report that Barack Obama has a 15 inch dick. And what source will they cite? Documents released by Ed Snowden, natch...!


prowlerzee said...

Oh, I see, the Pakistanis themselves are "tired of blaming" violence on outsiders drone bombing them.
They're not tired of being bombed, they're tired of getting what they deserve from outsiders.


Joseph Cannon said...

Precisely, zee.

I wasn't entirely sure about my little theory when the first Whitlock and Gellman piece about Osama showed up. But that latest Pakistan thing was really obvious disinfo.

Anonymous said...

So the only way for US to make people believe that it was Assad army that used the chemicals would be to pass it as a "leak"

Joseph Cannon said...

Anon: If the chronology permitted, I have no doubt the administration would try that very trick.

Stephen Morgan said...

I see it being claimed that Snowden has revealed the aQ, Hamas and Hezbollah to be trying to infiltrate the CIA.

Andy Tyme said...

Aha! THIS is the kind of scepticism-in-reporting that first attracted me to your fine blog, Joseph.

Now, if you only could display comparably aggressive doubting toward the government's account of a certain "primordial incident" that you repeatedly ban comments on...

But no blogger's perfect, and you're still a great read, most days.