Thursday, May 14, 2015

Two Tales of a Killing

I have been studying the Sy Hersch account of the Osama bin Laden raid, against the account provided by the Obama administration, and I have to say that the former is somewhat more believable. Critics of Hersch cite the lack of any named sources, but as to sources for the administration’s story we have only itself, so

There has always been “holes” in the official story, even after the administration quit telling a miscellaneous set of wildly different stories and settled on a single one starring John Wayne and Chuck Norris. (Sorry.) The big hole, for me, was that after explosions and gunfire were reported in the close vicinity, a few blocks in fact, of the homes of several of Pakistan’s top generals no police or military showed up to investigate for more than 45 minutes.

Hersch explains that by saying that the police were told by the Pakistani government to stay away because the government knew it was the Americans and did not want to engage in a firefight with us. That makes more sense to me than the administration’s explanation that the Pakistanis were incompetent; an explanation which reportedly pissed off the Pakistani government. “We let you conduct a raid in our territory and then you throw us under the bus.”  Well, yes; throwing allies under the bus is what this nation does best.

It also astonished me that we though we could fly 100 miles across a heavily populated part of Pakistan without being detected, and apparently did so. The administration claims it was because we were using special “stealth Blackhawk”  helicopters, which had never been seen before and have never been seen since. They also didn’t mention the two Chinook helicopters, since they certainly could not claim that those beasts were configured to “fly quietly”  or be undetectable by radar.

Sy Hersch claims we pulled it off because Pakistan knew in advance and gave us permission, which sounds a lot more believable than inventing a whole new magical helicopter for the purpose.

Some of the government untruths don’t really bother me. The tale, for instance, about how bin Laden was discovered, that he was turned in by an informant rather than the fanciful story about following couriers and running fake vaccination programs, was told for the purpose of protecting the informant, and I see no harm in that. The fake vaccination program was an embellishment that did significant harm, in that it sowed suspicion on valid programs to the detriment of people who are in dire need of those programs. The administration should have thought more carefully about the consequences of that part of the tale, but in terms of being untruthful with the public I see no real problem.

I’m not even particularly troubled by the claim, false as it turns out, that bin Laden was supposed to be captured if possible when in reality that was a “kill mission”  from the start. Why is anyone upset by this? Assassination is the official policy of the United States, and has been since Obama took office. He makes no bones about it. Anyone who presents a perceived threat to this nation is killed. That is, according to Obama, “among the easiest decisions I make.”  Usually it is done by sending a Hellfire missile fired from a drone, but dead is dead.

I don’t like that policy, and don’t agree with it, but it is our national policy, set by the person we elected, and reelected, so why is anyone taking exception to it?

What I don’t like is the degree to which the story has been tailored simply to glorify the administration and the military, obscuring truth simply to make our elite class look good. Protecting those whose lives are at risk is fine with me. Lying to protect ego and reputation is a whole different matter.

1 comment:

bruce said...

we could have sent in a cruise missile or something coupled with a truck driving by (driver paid for by the CIA) and claimed it was a terrorist truck bomb. Complete deniablilty all the way around.

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