Michael Morell: Separating Fact From Seymour Hersh’s Fiction About bin Laden

Bin-Laden-shot-lots

Osama’s body was chopped up and dropped from a helicopter? That’s odd. I saw video of his burial at sea

Michael Morell writes: As a career intelligence officer, I learned that there are few things in life of which you can be absolutely certain. But I am positive that a lengthy new article by journalist Seymour Hersh, which is getting widespread attention with a whole new tale about how Osama bin Laden was brought to justice, is wrong in almost every significant respect.

I can be certain because I was deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency when senior officials from our Counterterrorism Center first brought to CIA Director Leon Panetta and me the news that they had trailed an individual whom they believed was a bin Laden courier to a compound in Abbottabad, morellPakistan. And I was there for every meeting that followed as we worked through the evidence that led our analysts to conclude that the most-wanted man in the world was hiding at the compound.

[Order Michael Morell’s book “The Great War of Our Time: The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism–From al Qa’ida to ISIS” from Amazon.com]

So I had good reason to know that Mr. Hersh’s 10,000-word story in the London Review of Books was filled with falsehoods. But here’s something I got wrong: I was certain that Mr. Hersh’s allegations would be quickly dismissed. After all, there was a public record about the raid in statements by the White House, Pentagon and CIA, and in books by former officials such as Mr. Panetta, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others. Then there were the media appearances by the Navy SEAL who says he personally shot bin Laden. It should have been clear that either Mr. Hersh’s version of the truth was bogus or that we all had participated in one of the most successful and complex conspiracies in modern history.

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Despite the many and obvious holes in Mr. Hersh’s story, his allegations gained some traction. A number of respected news organizations ranging from the New York Times to NBC News picked up slivers of information in Mr. Hersh’s account and essentially said, “Yeah, we heard something like that too.” Almost all of these accounts were attributed to anonymous former officials—many of whom admitted having at best secondhand information. Incredibly, these “I know a guy, who knows a guy who swears that . . .” accounts were given credence over on-the-record statements made in the past four years by people who were in the room—or on the scene.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Mr. Hersh has appeared in the media in recent days saying that when I and others asserted that his report was wrong, we were offering “non-denial denials” because our objections lacked specificity. All right, let me specifically address his major allegations.

The house where Osama bin Laden was finally hunted down. SAEED SHAH — MCT Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/12/20/212378/zero-dark-thirty-leak-investigators.html#storylink=cpy

The house where Osama bin Laden was finally hunted down. SAEED SHAH — MCT

• Mr. Hersh says the White House lied when it asserted that the bin Laden raid was, as he puts it, an “all-American affair and that senior generals of Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services agency (ISI) were not told in advance.” The truth is that the decision not to tell the Pakistanis was made early in the discussions of our options. We would have liked to have made the raid a joint operation with the Pakistanis—what better way to strengthen the bilateral relationship?—but we simply couldn’t trust that someone in the Pakistani system would not tip off bin Laden. I was present during all of these discussions when it was resolved that we wouldn’t inform Pakistan until after the fact. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] White House Reportedly ‘Hitting Back Hard’ When Forced to Respond to Bin Laden Report Challenging Official Narrative

The White House is denying a reporter’s account accusing the Obama administration of lying about the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound.


Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the ‘pathetic’ American media

Pulitzer Prize winner explains how to fix journalism, saying press should ‘fire 90% of editors and promote ones you can’t control’

Hersh exposed the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam war, for which he on the Pulitzer Prize. Photograph: Wally McNamee/Corbis

Seymore Hersh exposed the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam war, for which he on the Pulitzer Prize. Photograph: Wally McNamee/Corbis

Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider.

It doesn’t take much to fire up Hersh, the investigative journalist who has been the nemesis of US presidents since the 1960s and who was once described by the Republican party as “the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist”.

He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth.

Don’t even get him started on the New York Times which, he says, spends “so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would” – or the death of Osama bin Laden. “Nothing’s been done about that story, it’s one big lie, not one word of it is true,” he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.

The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.

“It’s pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama],” he declares in an interview with MediaGuardian. Read the rest of this entry »