Monday, May 11, 2015


Seymour Hersh's big story claiming that Everything You Thought You Knew About The Death Of Osama Bin Laden Is A Lie is up at the London Review of Books ... and I don't see a lot of right-wingers embracing it wholeheartedly, even though you'd think an "Obama LIED!!!1!1!1" story would be irresistible to the right.

One reason the story is unsatisfying to the right is obvious right away: If Hersh's version of how the U.S. learned about bin Laden's whereabouts were to prove true, it would end forever the discussion of whether torture had anything to do with bin Laden's death, and not in the right's favor. Hersh writes:
It began with a walk-in. In August 2010 a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer approached Jonathan Bank, then the CIA’s station chief at the US embassy in Islamabad. He offered to tell the CIA where to find bin Laden in return for the reward that Washington had offered in 2001. Walk-ins are assumed by the CIA to be unreliable, and the response from the agency’s headquarters was to fly in a polygraph team. The walk-in passed the test. ‘So now we’ve got a lead on bin Laden living in a compound in Abbottabad, but how do we really know who it is?’ was the CIA’s worry at the time, the retired senior US intelligence official told me.
So, if Hersh is right, bin Laden wasn't located because we tracked his courier -- and if that's the case, this discussion is over:
After Osama bin Laden was killed by US special operations forces, the pro-torture CIA crowd pointed to the raid as evidence that human-rights-abusing questioning can produce essential intelligence. And this debate was revived when the film Zero Dark Thirty implied the same point. During these dust-ups, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chair of the Senate intelligence committee, said her committee's years-long investigation of the CIA interrogation program showed that the agency's use of harsh techniques did not lead it to bin Laden's hideaway in Pakistan. The torture report she released today -- that is, the 535-page executive summary of the 6,600-page full report -- states bluntly that CIA torturing had nothing to do with finding bin Laden. A footnote reports that the CIA, naturally, takes issues with this and says the committee report "incorrectly characterizes the intelligence we had." That footnote adds, "This is incorrect."
That's from a Mother Jones story on the report released by the Senate in December 2014. CIA director John Brennan subsequently insisted that the report was wrong:
"It is our considered view that the detainees who were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques provided information that was useful and was used in the ultimate operation to go against Bin Laden," Brennan said.
The right loves torture. The next Republican president will openly and unabashedly torture. So if this is true, it's buzzkill.


PDiddie said...

'Boom'. And 'thud'.

Victor said...

Yes, the right loves torture.

But they especially like torturing us Libtards.

I know listening to them, that it's torture for me, at least.

And yeah, I'm over-exaggerating. It's more mental torture, certainly not physical.
But, give them time, give them time...

Never Ben Better said...

Bergen at takes Hersh apart on this, calls the story nonsense, and includes his own observations of the Abbottabad compound after the raid.

Never Ben Better said...

And I'll point out the most glaringly obvious flaw in Hersh's tale: for it to be true would require hundreds if not thousands of people who know otherwise on some or all crucial details to keep from blabbing.

How likely is that?

Steve M. said...

Vox's Max Fisher also tears the Hersh story apart.

oc democrat said...

I have only read about this on the blogs this morning.

If this writer was from the Daily Caller, or Regency Publishers, I would also be Rolling On The Floor
Laughing My Ahole Off, BUT this is Seymour Hersh. I remember Seymor as being a Real writer, and not the way he is almost unanimously described today.

Do I have the right SEYMOUR?

Roger said...

If UBL "had been a prisoner of the ISI at the Abbottabad compound since 2006," how was he pumping out tapes until 2011?

Paul Canning said...

Seymour Hersh is the supposed 'legendary' reporter whose claim that Assad never used chemical weapons is still the go to for Assad defenders.

It has been debunked several times, most comprehensively by Bellingcat.
See for example.

However, despite that epic fail, he still gets published and I would bet most readers wouldn't have heard about his Syria screw up.

aimai said...

I don't think about the Hersh story this way at all--I don'tthink the right needs to do anything about it, neither to puff it off nor to attack it. Because its absolute truth or falsity or its implications for torture are not relevant to the way the Right does politics right now.

Obama didn't do anything/Osama wasn't killed the way we thought will be folded into an already existing far right narrative of dislike of Obama seamlessly. The kinds of people who relish telling and retelling the "injury" of Obama "claiming credit" for ordering the killing will be happy to repeat some of the supposed facts of the Hersh story without accepting or even noticing the other implications (say,for torture).

And no one at the top of the right wing tree will feel the need to defent Hersh, or attack him, because the story is out there in just the way they like stories to be. They will allude to the parts that work for their narrative, and ignore the parts that don't, secure in the knowledge that most people can't figure out who did what to whom in either version.

Paul Canning said...

Also worth noting that Hersch has blamed "Jewish money" for Obama's opposition to an Iranian nuclear weapon.

Again, why is anyone listening to Hersch?

Mark Johnson said...

Isn't the obvious reason that the right isn't making a big deal about this because they don't want to remind everyone that Obama got Bin Laden? I mean, I don't think if Bush/Cheney had gotten him the way Hersh describes and then lied about it, they'd care one lick so long as Obama had been got. But, Bush didn't get him. Obama did. They'd rather people forgot that.

Never Ben Better said...

Good assessment of this by Jim Wright (of Stonekettle Station fame) on his Facebook page: