UPDATE 10:40 a.m. ET: The White House has called the report full of "inaccuracies and baseless assertions."
"There are too many inaccuracies and baseless assertions in this piece to fact check each one," White House national security spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. "Nevertheless, the notion that the operation that killed Usama Bin Ladin was anything but a unilateral U.S. mission is patently false. As we said at the time, knowledge of this operation was confined to a very small circle of senior U.S. officials. The President decided early on not to inform any other government, including the Pakistani Government, which was not notified until after the raid had occurred. We had been and continue to be partners with Pakistan in our joint effort to destroy al-Qa'ida, but this was a U.S. operation through and through."
Original story below:
President Barack Obama lied to the American public about the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden, according to legendary journalist Seymour Hersh.
Hersh wrote in the London Review of Books that the administration rushed to take sole credit for killing the Al Qaeda leader behind the 9/11 attacks, when in fact the government of Pakistan provided significant assistance. And he called out several details that have become to be accepted as fact:
This spring I contacted [retired Pakistani general and former head of Pakistani intelligence Asad] Durrani and told him in detail what I had learned about the bin Laden assault from American sources: that bin Laden had been a prisoner of the ISI at the Abbottabad compound since 2006; that [top Pakistani military leaders] Kayani and Pasha knew of the raid in advance and had made sure that the two helicopters delivering the Seals to Abbottabad could cross Pakistani airspace without triggering any alarms; that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the US, and that, while Obama did order the raid and the Seal team did carry it out, many other aspects of the administration’s account were false.
Among Hersh's other claims: that there was no firefight at the compound, only the shots that killed bin Laden, and that the terror leader was never burred at sea.
The military and intelligence communities scrambled to corroborate the president’s version of events, Hersh added.
“High-level lying nonetheless remains the modus operandi of U.S. policy, along with secret prisons, drone attacks, Special Forces night raids, bypassing the chain of command, and cutting out those who might say no,” Hersh wrote.
In this 2012 photo provided by the White House, President Barack Obama meets with members of his national security team in the White House Situation Room. (Pete Souza/White House Photo via Getty Images)
Hersh's report was based on a single anonymous source whom he identified as a “retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abottabad.” The source had an active role in approving the raid that killed bin Laden, according to the report.
“This was not the fog of war,” Hersh quoted 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,” the source continued, adding, “And once it went wrong, they had to make up a new cover story on the fly.”
The Pakistan government played an active role in planning the raid, the report said. Further, the Obama administration first planned to announce the bin Laden killing was the result of a drone strike rather than a Navy SEAL operation.
“Obama’s speech was put together in a rush,” Hersh wrote. “This series of self-serving and inaccurate statements would create chaos in the weeks following."
(H/T: The Hill)