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Who–and What–Are Behind the “Official History” of the Bin Laden Raid? -- By Russ Baker

Original Investigation: http://whowhatwhy.com/2011/08/17/raidbinladen/

Who–and What–Are Behind the “Official History” of the Bin Laden Raid?
By Russ Baker on Aug 17, 2011

Article Summary:  When you look closely, nothing seems right about what will surely become the accepted account of the raid that nailed America’s enemy number one. And then things get even weirder…

The father of the New Yorker writer who got the exclusive inside story of the bin Laden raid

The establishment media just keep getting worse. They’re further and further from good, tough investigative journalism, and more prone to be pawns in complicated games that affect the public interest in untold ways. A significant recent example is The New Yorker’s vaunted August 8 exclusive on the vanquishing of Osama bin Laden.

The piece, trumpeted as the most detailed account to date of the May 1 raid in Abbottabad Pakistan, was an instant hit. “Got the chills half dozen times reading @NewYorker killing bin Laden tick tock…exquisite journalism,” tweeted the digital director of the PBS show Frontline.  The author, freelancer Nicholas Schmidle, was quickly featured on the Charlie Rose show, an influential determiner of “chattering class” opinion. Other news outlets rushed to praise the story as “exhaustive,” “utterly compelling,” and on and on.

To be sure, it is the kind of granular, heroic story that the public loves, that generates follow-up bestsellers and movie options. The takedown even has a Hollywood-esque code name: “Operation Neptune’s Spear”

Here’s the introduction to the mission commanderfull of minute details that help give it a ring of authenticity and suggest the most intimate reportorial access:

James, a broad-chested man in his late thirties, does not have the lithe swimmer’s frame that one might expect of a SEAL—he is built more like a discus thrower. That night, he wore a shirt and trousers in Desert Digital Camouflage, and carried a silenced Sig Sauer P226 pistol, along with extra ammunition; a CamelBak, for hydration; and gel shots, for endurance. He held a short-barrel, silenced M4 rifle. (Others SEALs had chosen the Heckler & Koch MP7.) A “blowout kit,” for treating field trauma, was tucked into the small of James’s back. Stuffed into one of his pockets was a laminated gridded map of the compound. In another pocket was a booklet with photographs and physical descriptions of the people suspected of being inside. He wore a noise-cancelling headset, which blocked out nearly everything besides his heartbeat.

On and on went the “tick-tock.” Yet as Paul Farhi, a Washington Post reporter, noted, that narrative was misleading in the extreme, because the New Yorker reporter never actually spoke to James—nor to a single one of James’s fellow SEALs (who have never been identified or photographed–even from behind–to protect their identity.) Instead, every word of Schmidle’s narrative was provided to him by people who were not present at the raid. Complains Farhi:

…a casual reader of the article wouldn’t know that; neither the article nor an editor’s note describes the sourcing for parts of the story. Schmidle, in fact, piles up so many details about some of the men, such as their thoughts at various times, that the article leaves a strong impression that he spoke with them directly.

That didn’t trouble New Yorker editor David Remnick, according to Farhi:

Remnick says he’s satisfied with the accuracy of the account. “The sources spoke to our fact-checkers,” he said. “I know who they are.”

But we don’t.

On a story of this gravity, should we automatically join in with the huzzahs because it has the imprimatur of America’s most respected magazine? Or would we be wise to approach it with caution?

***

Most of us are not the trusting naïfs we once were. And with good reason.

The list of consequential events packaged for us by media and Hollywood in unsatisfactory ways continues to grow. It starts, certainly, with the official version of the JFK assassination, widely discredited yet still carried forward by most major media organizations. (For more on that, see this.) More and more people realize that the heroic Woodward & Bernstein story of Nixon’s demise is deeply problematical. (I’ve written extensively on both of these in my book Family of Secrets.)

And untold millions don’t think we’ve heard the real (or at least complete) story of the phenomenal, complex success of those 19 hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001. Skeptics now include former White House counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke, who recently speculated that the hijackers may have been able to enter the US and move freely precisely because American intelligence hoped to recruit them as double agents—and that an ongoing cover-up is designed to hide this. And then, of course, there are the Pentagon’s account of the heroic rescue of Jessica Lynch in Iraq, which turned out to be a hoax, and the Pentagon’s fabricated account of the heroic battle death of former NFL player Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, who turned out to be a victim of friendly fire. These are just a few from scores of examples of deceit perpetrated upon the American people. Hardly the kind of track record to inspire confidence in official explanations with the imprimatur of the military and the CIA.

Whatever one thinks of these other matters, we’re certainly now at a point where we ought to be prudent in embracing authorized accounts of the latest seismic event: the dramatic end to one of America’s most reviled and storied nemeses.

The bin Laden raid presents us with every reason to be cautious. The government’s initial claims about what transpired at that house in Abbottabad have changed, then changed again, with no proper explanation of the discrepancies. Even making allowances for human error in such shifting accounts, almost every aspect of what we were told requires a willing suspension of disbelief—from the manner of Osama’s death and burial to the purported pornography found at the site. (For more on these issues, see previous articles we wrote on the subject, here, here and here.)

Clarke’s theory will seem less outrageous later, as we explore Saudi intelligence’s crucial, and bizarre, role at the end of bin Laden’s life—working directly with the man who now holds Clarke’s job.

Add to all of this the discovery that the reporter providing this newest account wasn’t even allowed to talk to any raid participants—and the magazine’s lack of candor on this point—and you’ve got an almost unassailable case for treating the New Yorker story with extreme caution.

***

Continue to page 2 of 4

continued: http://whowhatwhy.com/2011/08/17/raidbinladen/

from page 4:

Certainly, Obama’s reaction differs dramatically from that of other previous presidents who always demanded detailed briefings and would have stayed on top of it all throughout—including fellow Democrats JFK, Carter and Clinton. At minimum, it shows a degree of caution or ceremony based upon a desire not to know too much—or an understanding that he may not ask. Does anyone doubt that Bill Clinton would have been on watch 24/7 during this operation, parsing legal, political and operational details throughout, and would have demanded to know who felled America’s most wanted?

Summing up about the reliability of this account, which is now likely to become required reading for every student in America, long into the future:

•It is based on reporting by a man who fails to disclose that he never spoke to the people who conducted the raid, or that his father has a long background himself running such operations (this even suggests the possibility that Nicholas Schmidle’s own father could have been one of those “unnamed sources.”)

•It seems to have depended heavily on trusting second-hand accounts by people with a poor track record for accurate summations, and an incentive to spin.

•The alleged decisions on killing bin Laden and disposing of his body lack credibility.

•The DNA evidence that the SEALs actually got their man is questionable.

•Though certain members of Congress say they have seen photos of the body (or, to be precise, a body), the rest of us have not seen anything.

•Promised photos of the ceremonial dumping of the body at sea have not materialized.

•The eyewitnesses from the house—including the surviving wives—have disappeared without comment.

We weren’t allowed to hear from the raid participants. And on August 6, seventeen Navy SEALs died when their helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. We’re told that fifteen of them came, amazingly, from the same SEAL Team 6 that carried out the Abbottabad raid—but that none of the dead were present for the raid. We do get to hear the stories of those men, and their names.

Of course, if any of those men had been in the Abbottabad raid—or knew anything about it of broad public interest, we’d be none the wiser—because, the only “reliable sources” still available (and featured by the New Yorker) are military and intelligence professionals, coming out of a long tradition of cover-ups and fabrications.

Meanwhile, we have this president, this one who according to the magazine article didn’t ask about the core issues—why this man was killed, who killed him, under whose orders, what would be done with the body.

Well, he may not want answers. But we ought to want them. Otherwise, it’s all just a game.

Revision of the Bay of Pigs history as well...

During the failed "Bay of Pigs" invasion of Cuba, the CIA had US planes repainted with Cuban markings, which then drew CIA fire. Newly declassified documents show that it was even more of a clusterf**k than we already thought.

Kudos to Russ Baker

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Proud to say...

One of our "North Texans for 9/11 Truth" group members, Candice, is a journalism major who has been interning with Russ Baker.
And here at Dealey Plaza is Russ Baker with our favorite Joe.

North Texans for 9/11 Truth
http://www.northtexas911truth.com/

The Boiling Frogs Presents Russ Baker

http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2009/12/17/podcast-show-16/
Podcast Show #16

Thursday, 17. December 2009
The Boiling Frogs Presents Russ Baker

Russ Baker discusses his book, Family of Secrets, the first complete historic portrait of the Bush dynasty, and provides us with an overview of how this dynasty shaped our politics. He tells us about the shadow government in the US, the real players, elites, and power centers within each president’s government, and the limitation on what and how much an American president can accomplish – considering the influence of these powerful and independent fiefdoms characterized by entrenched agendas and constant intrigue. Mr. Baker defines and explains the concept of Forensic Journalism, and talks about his nonprofit news organization WhoWhatWhy, the need for nonpartisan and independent journalism today, the current media landscape in the US, and more.

RussBaker Russ Baker is an award-winning investigative journalist and the author of Family of Secrets- – the Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years. He has written for The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Village Voice and Esquire. He has served as a contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review, and is the founder of WhoWhatWhy, a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organization.