The Agendas Behind the bin Laden News Event
by Paul Craig Roberts
The US government’s bin Laden story was so poorly crafted that it did not last 48 hours before being fundamentally altered. Indeed, the new story put out on Tuesday by White House press secretary Jay Carney bears little resemblance to the original Sunday evening story. The fierce firefight did not occur. Osama bin Laden did not hide behind a woman. Indeed, bin Laden, Carney said, "was not armed."
The firefight story was instantly suspicious as not a single SEAL got a scratch, despite being up against al Qaeda, described by former Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld as "the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth."
Every original story detail has been changed. It wasn’t bin Laden’s wife who was murdered by the Navy SEALs, but the wife of an aide. It wasn’t bin Laden’s son, Khalid, who was murdered by the Navy SEALs, but son Hamza.
Carney blamed the changed story on "the fog of war." But there was no firefight, so where did the "fog of war" come from?
The White House has also had to abandon the story that President Obama and his national security team watched tensely as events unfolded in real time (despite the White House having released photos of the team watching tensely), with the operation conveyed into the White House by cameras on the SEALs helmets. If Obama was watching the event as it happened, he would have noticed, one would hope, that there was no firefight and, thus, would not have told the public that bin Laden was killed in a firefight. Another reason the story had to be abandoned is that if the event was captured on video, every news service in the world would be asking for the video, but if the event was orchestrated theater, there would be no video.
No explanation has been provided for why an unarmed bin Laden, in the absence of a firefight, was murdered by the SEALs with a shot to the head. For those who believe the government’s story that "we got bin Laden," the operation can only appear as the most botched operation in history. What kind of incompetence does it require to senselessly and needlessly kill the most valuable intelligence asset on the planet?
According to the US government, the terrorist movements of the world operated through bin Laden, "the mastermind." Thanks to a trigger-happy stupid SEAL, a bullet destroyed the most valuable terrorist information on the planet. Perhaps the SEAL was thinking that he could put a notch on his gun and brag for the rest of his life about being the macho tough guy who killed Osama bin Laden, the most dangerous man on the planet, who outwitted the US and its European and Israeli allies and inflicted humiliation on the "world’s only superpower" on 9/11.
When such a foundational story as the demise of bin Laden cannot last 48 hours without acknowledged "discrepancies" that require fundamental alternations to the story, there are grounds for suspicion in addition to the suspicions arising from the absence of a dead body, from the absence of any evidence that bin Laden was killed in the raid or that a raid even took place. The entire episode could just be another event like the August 4, 1964, Gulf of Tonkin event that never happened but succeeded in launching open warfare against North Vietnam at a huge cost to Americans and Vietnamese and enormous profits to the military/security complex.
There is no doubt that the US is sufficiently incompetent to have needlessly killed bin Laden instead of capturing him. But who can believe that the US would quickly dispose of the evidence that bin Laden had been terminated? The government’s story is not believable that the government dumped the proof of its success into the ocean, but has some photos that might be released, someday.
As one reader put it in an email to me: "What is really alarming is the increasingly arrogant sloppiness of these lies, as though the government has become so profoundly confident of their ability to deceive people that they make virtually no effort to even appear credible."
Governments have known from the beginning of time that they can always deceive citizens and subjects by playing the patriot card. "Remember the Maine," the "Gulf of Tonkin," "weapons of mass destruction," "the Reichstag fire" – the staged events and bogus evidence are endless. If Americans knew any history, they would not be so gullible.
The real question before us is: What agenda or agendas is the "death of bin Laden" designed to further?
There are many answers to this question. Many have noticed that Obama was facing re-election with poor approval ratings. Is anyone surprised that the New York Times/CBS Poll finds a strong rise in Obama’s poll numbers after the bin Laden raid? As the New York Times reported, "the glow of national pride" rose "above partisan politics, as support for the president rose significantly among both Republicans and independents. In all, 57 percent said they now approved of the president’s job performance, up from 46 percent."
In Washington-think, a 24% rise in approval rating justifies a staged event.
Another possibility is that Obama realized that the the budget deficit and the dollar’s rescue from collapse require the end of the expensive Afghan war and occupation and spillover war into Pakistan. As the purpose of the war was to get bin Laden, success in this objective allows the US to withdraw without loss of face, thus making it possible to reduce the US budget deficit by several hundred billion dollars annually – an easy way to have a major spending cut.
If this is the agenda, then more power to it. However, if this was Obama’s agenda, the military/security complex has quickly moved against it. CIA director Leon Panetta opened the door to false flag attacks to keep the war going by declaring that al Qaeda would avenge bin Laden’s killing. Secretary of State Clinton declared that success in killing bin Laden justified more war and more success. Homeland Security declared that the killing of bin Laden would motivate "homegrown violent extremists" into making terrorist attacks. "Homegrown violent extremists" is an undefined term, but this newly created bogyman seems to include environmentalists and war protesters. Like "suspect," the term will include anyone the government wants to pick up.
Various parts of the government quickly seized on the success in killing bin Laden to defend and advance their own agendas, such as torture. Americans were told that bin Laden was found as a result of information gleaned from torturing detainees held in Eastern European CIA secret prisons years ago.
This listing of possible agendas and add-on agendas is far from complete, but for those capable of skepticism and independent thought, it can serve as a starting point. The agendas behind the theater will reveal themselves as time goes on. All you have to do is to pay attention and to realize that most of what you hear from the mainstream media is designed to advance the agendas.
May 5, 2011
Paul Craig Roberts [send him mail], a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, has been reporting shocking cases of prosecutorial abuse for two decades. A new edition of his book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, has been released by Random House.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011 11:04 ET
In bin Laden killing, media -- as usual -- regurgitates false Government claims
By Glenn Greenwald
Osama Bin Laden
Virtually every major newspaper account of the killing of Osama bin Laden consists of faithful copying of White House claims. That's not surprising: it's the White House which is in exclusive possession of the facts, but what's also not surprising is that many of the claims that were disseminated yesterday turned out to be utterly false. And no matter how many times this happens -- from Jessica Lynch's heroic firefight against Iraqi captors to Pat Tillman's death at the hands of Evil Al Qaeda fighters -- it never changes: the narrative is set forever by first-day government falsehoods uncritically amplified by establishment media outlets, which endure no matter how definitively they are disproven in subsequent days.
Yesterday, it was widely reported that bin Laden "resisted" his capture and "engaged in a firefight" with U.S. forces (leaving most people, including me, to say that his killing was legally justified because he was using force). It was also repeatedly claimed that bin Laden used a women -- his wife -- as a human shield to protect himself, and that she was killed as a result. That image -- of a cowardly through violent-to-the-end bin Laden -- framed virtually every media narrative of the event all over the globe. And it came from many government officials, principally Obama's top counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan.
Those claims have turned out to be utterly false. From TPM today:
It was a fitting end for the America's most wanted man. As President Barack Obama's Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan told it, a cowardly Osama bin Laden used his own wife as a human shield in his final moments. Except that apparently wasn't what happened at all.
Hours later, other administration officials were clarifying Brennan's account. Turns out the woman that was killed on the compound wasn't bin Laden's wife. Bin Laden may have not even been using a human shield. And he might not have even been holding a gun.
Politico's Josh Gerstein adds: "The White House backed away Monday evening from key details in its narrative about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, including claims by senior U.S. officials that the Al Qaeda leader had a weapon and may have fired it during a gun battle with U.S. forces." Gerstein added: "a senior White House official said bin Laden was not armed when he was killed."
Whether bin Laden actually resisted his capture may not matter to many people; the White House also claimed that they would have captured him if they had the chance, and this fact seems to negate that claim as well. But what does matter is how dutifully American media outlets publish as "news reports" what are absolutely nothing other than official White House statements masquerading as an investigative article. And the fact that this process continuously produces highly and deliberately misleading accounts of the most significant news items -- falsehoods which endure no matter how decisively they are debunked in subsequent days -- doesn't have the slightest impact on the American media's eagerness to continue to serve this role.
* * * * *
Mona Eltahawy has an excellent column in The Guardian today headlined: "No dignity at Ground Zero. As a US Muslim I abhor the frat boy reaction."
Speaking of "frat boy reactions," Leon Panetta is excitingly speculating about which actors should portray him in the movie about the Hunt for bin Laden, helpfully suggesting Al Pacino. It's been a long time since Americans felt this good and strong about themselves -- nothing like putting bullets in someone's skull and dumping their corpse into an ocean to rejuvenate that can-do American sense of optimism.
Media Scrambles as Bin Laden Story Crumbles
by Alex Newman
While the establishment media was busy parroting President Obama’s announcement of Osama bin Laden’s supposed assassination, reporting the unsubstantiated claims as if they were unquestionable facts, much of the so-called “alternative” press was far more cautious — and accurate, it turns out. But more importantly, with the new official storyline indicating that bin Laden was in fact unarmed, bigger and much more important questions are beginning to emerge.
In terms of coverage, it turns out that the skeptical approach proved far superior in terms of getting it right. Countless mainstream sources were so confident in Obama’s word that they reported many of the claims as fact without even attributing them to the President.
But the official White House narrative has been changed so many times in recent days that now it’s almost unrecognizable. There wasn‘t even a fire fight; yet this was one of the crucial elements of the original story that justified the assassination of a person the government painted as the most valuable source of information on the planet — the leader of al-Qaeda. And in reporting the statements as fact, the establishment press has officially been left with egg all over its face again.
"[Bin Laden] was engaged in a firefight with those that entered the area of the house he was in," said terror czar John Brennan. Similarly, Obama said that “after a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.” The next day, however, the White House spokesman admitted bin Laden “was not armed." Trying to save face and justify the killing of an unarmed man, the spokesman added, without elaborating, that “resistance does not require a firearm."
More than a few other important parts of the storyline have been altered, contradicted, or simply exposed as false, too. Everything from which of bin Laden’s sons was supposedly killed to the claim that his wife was killed after being used as a “human shield” — all of it has changed for some reason or another. The transcript after Brennan’s speech was altered to change the name of the dead son. The new and improved narrative now says that not only was bin Laden’s wife not killed, but that she was not used as a human shield.
Originally the White House also suggested top officials watched the raid live through a video feed. Terror czar Brennan, for example, claimed that they “had real-time visibility into the progress of the operation.” CIA boss Leon Panetta later exposed that claim as false in an interview with PBS, saying: “There was a time period of almost 20 or 25 minutes that we really didn't know just exactly what was going on."
That means the “ photo op” of Obama and other officials intently “watching” the operation in the “Situation Room” was almost certainly staged for the press. And almost every media outlet that ran the picture used inaccurate captions parroting the White House claims.
And there’s more. The night of the raid, one administration official told reporters that a helicopter was lost due to mechanical failure. During that same briefing, another administration official said, "We didn't say it was mechanical." Now they claim the crash had something to do with the temperature at bin Laden’s supposed compound.
A poorly photo-shopped image of a dead bin Laden embarrassed a large swath of the world press and several Senators, too. Shortly after newspapers and television stations around the globe ran the image, it was exposed as a shoddy forgery that had been circulating for years. Now Obama said he “decided” not to release any pictures — or any other evidence that any element of the story is true, for that matter.
And then there’s the burial issue. The Obama administration originally claimed no country would accept the body; so, it was dumped at sea — Mafia style — in accordance with what Obama alleged were Islamic traditions and customs. When prominent Muslim theological leaders repudiated that lie and noted that it was actually a violation of Islamic tenets to bury Osama bin Laden in the ocean, the new line was that the decision was to avoid the creation of a “shrine.” That lie fell apart, too, when it was widely reported that bin Laden’s brand of Islam calls for unmarked graves — building any sort of shrine would have been blasphemous. So far, no new excuses have been concocted for allegedly feeding the body to the fish.
After the numerous discrepancies and falsehoods in the storyline became painfully obvious, the Associated Press, USA Today, Fox News and other outlets slowly and begrudgingly started to report it. “From the first moments, a good number of the details about bin Laden's killing, on points large and small, have been wrong,” admitted a Fox reporter in one of the more candid acknowledgements to appear in the mainstream press.
But of course, most of the media were also dutifully offering and parroting all manner of excuses. “Fog of war” was to blame for the confusion, claimed the White House spokesman after that excuse was suggested to him by a member of the “press” corps asking a question. Virtually every major news outlet reporting the changes in the official story promptly blamed “fog of war,” too.
An apologist reporter at USA Today wrote that “the administration did its best to get the story quickly,” adding “it's common situation with military action.” The paper quoted a Pentagon spokesperson under the Bush administration to bolster its case.
The AP offered a similar excuse along with the “fog of combat” line offered by the White House. “The contradictions and misstatements reflect the fact that even in the case of a highly successful and popular mission, the confusion inherent in a fast-paced, unpredictable military raid conducted under intense pressure in a foreign country does not lend itself immediately to a tidy story line,” the reporter claimed, citing “some experts.”
Several excuses for the ever-changing story were offered by other publications, too. The possibility that they were deliberate lies or worse was virtually never addressed. But the U.K. Independent noted: “The impression persists that the administration sought to cast the operation in the most heroic light possible, at the expense of the facts.”
Now, the President and his spokespeople and subordinates are refusing to offer more details or explanations. The government has also announced that it will not be releasing pictures or any other evidence to support its claims even as suspicions continue to mount.
But as analysts pointed out, the newly revealed fact that there was no fire fight begs the question about where the “fog” may have come from. And even more importantly: Why, in the absence of a fire fight, would U.S. forces put a bullet through the brain supposedly containing the most valuable intelligence on the planet? What if bin Laden knew where that alleged nuclear bomb in Europe was located that was set to detonate after his capture or death? None of those questions have been addressed so far.
But prominent critics are sounding the alarm. “When such a foundational story as the demise of bin Laden cannot last 48 hours without acknowledged ‘discrepancies’ that require fundamental alternations to the story, there are grounds for suspicion in addition to the suspicions arising from the absence of a dead body, from the absence of any evidence that bin Laden was killed in the raid or that a raid even took place,” noted Paul Craig Roberts, a senior official in the former Reagan administration in a piece entitled “ The Agendas Behind the bin Laden News Event.”
Roberts raised several important questions, too, as well as some comparisons. “The entire episode could just be another event like the August 4, 1964, Gulf of Tonkin event that never happened but succeeded in launching open warfare against North Vietnam at a huge cost to Americans and Vietnamese and enormous profits to the military/security complex,” he suggested, citing a series of government deceptions that have led to war based on lies and other atrocities.
Roberts suspects there are more lies about the bin Laden narrative than those exposed so far. And he’s certainly not alone. It emerged recently that the man who owned the house next to bin Laden’s supposed compound doesn’t even believe the story either. “To be honest, it’s not true,” he told Al Jazeera.
As the official story continues to be re-written by the administration and those in the media who simply re-package government press releases, critics and skeptics would seem to be justified in wondering what other lies and "fog of war" changes may emerge in the coming weeks and months. And perhaps even more importantly, we might also wonder if there are lies that may never be exposed in their entirety?