In a 10,000 word investigative piece for the London Review of Books published online today, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh makes some astounding claims: that the Bin Laden raid by U.S. Navy Seals was largely a staged bit of political theater meant to protect and advance the reputations of officials within both the U.S. and Pakistani governments, including President Obama, who used the event to advance his reelection campaign.
The article, “The Killing of Osama bin Laden,” alleges that bin Laden had actually been held by Pakistan’s ISI since 2006:
This spring I contacted 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 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.
It will be interesting to see whether the allegations make their way across the Atlantic and into the mainstream U.S. press.
Shortly after the story went live this Sunday afternoon, LRB’s website was inaccessible for up to an hour or more (around 3pm U.S. Central time), likely due to massive site traffic. As of early evening The Hill and The Huffington Post are the first to acknowledge Hersh’s report.