Journalist Seymour Hersh published a report on Sunday alleging that President Obama and the White House lied about the 2011 killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
According to Hersh, who published his report in the London Review of Books, the Obama administration cooperated with Pakistan to carry out the raid that killed bin Laden despite President Obama claiming that Pakistani officials knew nothing about the events that unfolded. Citing a “major U.S. source,” Hersh claims that Obama was quick to take credit for the killing, which forced military personnel to corroborate his publicly announced version of events.
“High-level lying nonetheless remains the modus operandi of U.S. policy, along with secret prisons, drone attacks, Special Forces night raids, bypassing the chain of command, and cutting out those who might say no,” Hersh said in the report of the administration’s policies on counterterrorism.
Hersh’s source, according to reports, was described as a “retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abottabad.” Hersh details the specific portions of events in Abottabad that President Obama allegedly misled the American public about.
“Obama’s speech was put together in a rush,” he writes in the report, addresing Obama's announcement of Operation Neptune Spear of Americans. “This series of self-serving and inaccurate statements would create chaos in the weeks following.”
“This was not the fog of war,” the anonymous source was quoted as saying. “The fact that there was an agreement with the Pakistanis and no contingency analysis of what was to be disclosed if something went wrong – that wasn’t even discussed. And once it went wrong, they had to make up a new cover story on the fly.”
CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen blasted Hersh’s allegations, contradicting a majority of the 10,000 word report’s claims.
“Hersh's account of the bin Laden raid is a farrago of nonsense that is contravened by a multitude of eyewitness accounts, inconvenient facts and simple common sense,” Bergen wrote on Monday.
A former senior CIA official at the time of the bin Laden raid also rebutted Hersh's report on Monday, telling CNN that "this account is complete and utter fiction."
Hersh has also been called out for relying heavily on his one anonymous source for the report.
The White House has yet to officially respond to Hersh's claims.
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