All right, everybody, let’s take a collective deep breath and just calm down. If I am to believe what I am reading today, President Obama, the CIA, and Special Operations leadership came up with an elaborate plan to fake-find and kill UBL—aided by the Pakistanis—and then Obama lied to the country about what really happened, all to protect Pakistan from the Taliban and al-Qaida.
With no disrespect meant for my friend (and boss!) Jack Murphy, who wrote a piece today regarding Seymour Hersh’s bombshell article, I must disagree that this report is at all authoritative.
I was thinking that we had reached the nadir of conspiracy thinking with the recent mass hysteria going on over the military’s Jade Helm exercise—sorry, I meant, secret plan to declare martial law in Texas. Of course, I also thought we had previously reached the nadir with the 9/11 ‘trutherism,’ in which the 9/11 attacks were purported to be an inside job, perpetrated by Washington and the Jews to justify a war on Islam.
So, where should we begin?
According to an article available online today in the London Review of Books, Seymour Hersh, drawing largely on information from a single anonymous source, as well as corroboration from “inside Pakistan” and from “consultants to Special Operations Command” (what?!), details an elaborate plan designed to deceive the world regarding how Bin Laden was found and killed.
Hersh alleges that a walk-in to the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, a senior Pakistani intelligence officer, claimed to know Bin Laden’s whereabouts, and was seeking the $25 million reward in exchange for providing the information to the CIA. So far so good, and plausible. An ISI officer definitely could have come across an ISI plan to hide Bin Laden, and subsequently decided to take it to the Americans. I am with you on this one in that it is plausible. Likely? Probably not, but I am giving you the benefit of the doubt, Seymour. Although I am skeptical that Pakistan would have played this dangerous game, I cannot rule it out.
According to Hersh, the CIA then decided it needed to bring the Pakistanis on board with the locational information on UBL in order to successfully identify Bin Laden in the Abbottabad compound prior to carrying out a raid to kill him. Huh?
Here is where the story goes off the rails.
If the Pakistani government, or even rogue elements within it, was truly sheltering Bin Laden in a military-guarded compound in Pakistan, and if an ISI walk-in provided this information to the CIA, then the absolute last thing that the CIA would ever do would be to bring the Pakistanis on board with this information.
This course of action would be the equivalent of killing the operation in its cradle, and losing Bin Laden again—instantly. How could you trust that the Pakistanis would not immediately move him, deny the story, and arrest the ISI walk-in once they identified him? You could not. Why would you trust the Pakistanis, who had been hiding Bin Laden all that time? You could not.
You had me, then you lost me, Seymour.
Hersh goes on to claim that Washington was able to convince Islamabad to go along with the plan, to deny their knowledge of Bin Laden’s whereabouts, and to acquiesce to an operation to kill him. How did Washington do this, you ask? They offered to continue military aid, offered some personal sweeteners to select individuals, and threatened to leak to the world that the Pakistanis knew of Bin Laden’s whereabouts.
How in the world could that have possibly worked? Excuse my exasperation, but I am exasperated by this foolishness.
I can just picture the sequence of events: First, news reports from anonymous intelligence officials in Washington state that the Pakistanis are hiding Bin Laden. Then, incredulous denials are issued by Islamabad, and public mockery is directed at Washington for such a ludicrous idea. Simultaneously, Bin Laden is promptly relocated elsewhere or disposed of by some other means. Story is over, we look dumb. Pakistan denies all, makes counter-accusations, and disposes of its problem child.
I think Hersh has shot off the proverbial target paper on this one, and is completely missing the absolutely crucial point of just how urgently the United States wanted to find and capture or kill Bin Laden prior to actually doing so in 2011. Anything—literally any course of action—that would have remotely jeopardized potentially accurate locational information on UBL would have been instantly rejected.
One simply does not hunt for the world’s most wanted man for 10 years and then risk blowing it all by telling the Pakistanis you know they have him (picture a Ned Stark meme, here). That is ludicrous in the extreme.
I simply cannot bring myself to address Hersh’s other insinuations, assertions, and instances of outright silliness. There is just not enough time in the day. I cannot get past the premise that we needed to tell the Pakistanis we knew Bin Laden was in that compound, being sheltered by them, before we went in and did something about it. That dog don’t hunt.
Call me naive, but this conspiracy theory should go the way of 9/11 trutherism and Jade Helm martial law plans.
I’m not buying it, and neither should you.
(Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)