Best Defense

Hersh questions U.S. account on killing bin Laden, others question Hersh account

Seymour Hersh says that pretty much everything written about the killing of bin Laden is wrong.


Seymour Hersh says that pretty much everything written about the killing of bin Laden is wrong. Here is his account. Lots of anonymous sources, but good questions raised. In a nutshell, he says that Pakistani officials told the U.S. where bin Laden was, and that they allowed the incursion of American aircraft into their airspace. He also says there is no evidence that bin Laden actually was buried at sea.

A friend asks, Who benefits from Hersh’s version? The answer is, on more than one account, that the Pakistani military does. That is, Hershs’ retired officials are stating that 1. Pakistan did indeed help the U.S. get bin Laden, and 2. That Pakistan’s air defenses are better than they appear, so India shouldn’t get any ideas. The friend also notes that there have been a whole bunch of accounts of how bin Laden was found and killed, and that these accounts have been very consistent. Americans are not good at maintaining official fictions.

The Washington Post ’s Erin Cunningham tweets, “Easy for Pakistani officials to claim after the fact that they knew of the bin Laden raid. Not sure how that’s proof of anything. Also clear he [Hersh] hasn’t read Joby Warrick’s deeply reported book ‘Triple Agent,’ released July 2011.” More here.

Bottom line: I am inclined to doubt the assertions of the Hersh article. I wonder if that it is why it appeared in a British publication, rather than the New Yorker, for which he often writes.

Quote of the day: Hersh is quoted by the Pakistani newspaper Dawn as saying that, “Pakistan has a good army, not a bad army, but the cover story made it look bad.” He also asserted, incorrectly, that Pakistan is a “total ally” of the United States. Hmm.

Wikimedia Commons/Institute for Policy Studies 

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at Twitter: @tomricks1

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