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Demanding the Evidence on Abbottabad: Even the Media Establishment Is Wary

Since the Navy SEAL raid in Abbottabad, we’ve been raising questions (here and here) about the stories we were told—and what we were not told.

It seems we have company in feeling that the government is not leveling with us.

The Associated Press is the establishment, and so they tend to be quite cautious. Yet look at this, as reported by Atlanticwire:

President Obama’s decision to withhold the visual evidence of Osama bin Laden’s death has created a fundamental disagreement between the White House and one of the largest journalism organizations in the world. “This information is important for the historical record,” said Michael Oreskes, senior managing editor at The Associated Press. “That’s our view.”

It’s worth pointing out that “important for the historical record” is a tactful way of dressing up the issue. The United States is supposed to be a democracy, but for a very long time the citizens have had good reason not to trust what they are told about what is done in their name, and why. (Gulf of Tonkin, Iran Contra, Weapons of Mass Destruction, on and on—name your favorite deception.)

Last Monday, the AP filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the photographic and video evidence taken during the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  The organization’s FOIA request included a reminder of the president’s campaign pledge and a plea to be more transparent than his predecessor. “The Obama White House ‘pledged to be the most transparent government in U.S. history,” wrote the AP, “and to comply much more closely with the Freedom of Information Act than the Bush administration did.’”

Again, what AP presumably really meant was that there’s a staggering gap between Obama’s promise to open up government and what he has actually done. For more on this, see this recent example from the publication  Secrecy News, just one of hundreds. (In this case, a report on corruption in the Afghan Central Bank was removed from the USAID website after the agency reclassified some of its contents.)

Back to the AP story:

Two days later, the president told60 Minutes he would not release any of the footage related to the raid, including video of bin Laden’s deep sea burial and photographs of his slain corpse. Though Oreskes voices his disagreement diplomatically, there’s no way around it: The AP believes the president is wrong to maintain exclusive ownership of the evidence. “We’re asking to see it,” said Oreskes in an interview with The Atlantic Wire. “It’s about us saying we would like to make our own news judgements about news worthy material.”

Diplomatic as ever. But the difference between what members of the corporate-funded media write and what they say in private over drinks could, well, fill a newspaper. Basically, by now, even the most clueless establishment reporter is starting to get a clear sense that something ain’t right in Washington, and that it doesn’t really matter who is president or what party he calls his own. Not when powerful international interests—and hugely valuable natural resources—are at stake.

The president insists that releasing bin Laden’s photograph violates common decency and puts U.S. troops in harm’s ways. “We don’t trot out this stuff as trophies,” he told Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes. “I think that given the graphic nature of these photos, it would create some national security risk.”

Many in the press have agreed. “To put his head on a digital spike and display his mangled head is, indeed, not the Western way,” wrote Andrew Sullivan on Wednesday.

That comment, of course, hardly backs up the claim of a national security risk. But it does underline something: the “Western way” is, increasingly, to kill by remote control, to pretend no one actually dies, to deny the human toll behind strategic and tactical decisions based on scenarios that no one can any longer properly explain. Like how Osama became such a powerhouse in the first place, what his real influence was, or why the US is still in Afghanistan.

But a journalist’s prerogative is to ask questions and find answers, said Oreskes. “It’s our job as journalists to seek this material.”

“We’re not deciding in advance to publish this material,” he pledged.  “We would like our journalists, who are working very hard, to see this material and then we’ll decide what’s publishable and what’s not publishable based on the possibility that it’s inflammatory.”

Coming from a country where shock value is increasingly the gold standard, it’s a decidedly odd notion that when a story is really big is the only time to be delicate with sensibilities.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Susan Collins, Rep. Peter King and The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan have each sought the photos release at one point or another. They each maintained that bin Laden, of course, is dead and the White House’s narrative is to be believed. But photos should be released to tamp down conspiracy theories.

It’s interesting that nobody respectable will admit to private concerns about the conflicting stories we’ve been told about Osama and Al Qaeda over the years. Of course the White House’s narrative “is to be believed”, but, um, can we please see the proof anyway? Just for the heck of it?

For Oreskes, the photo is an important piece of evidence to establish what happened during the Navy SEALs raid on bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound. “In the week since the raid there’s been a whole series of story-lines about what happened in this raid,” said Oreskes. “At this point, anything that might shed more light on what occurred is potentially quite newsworthy. So we would like this imagery to fully understand what happened during this event.”

“I can’t tell you what understanding we would get,” he prefaced. “But we would like to see it and compare it with other things we’re being told about this raid both by U.S. officials and officials in other countries.”

What he presumably means is that there’s something fundamentally wrong with the inconsistencies in the White House version of events, and if we can’t even resolve those, how can we ever trust it on more mundane matters?

The AP isn’t alone in wanting more insight on the specifics of the raid. When it eventually surfaced that bin Laden was not killed in a firefight, his wife wasn’t used as a human shield, there was no live footage of the event and the “mansion” where he lived was only worth between $250,000 and $480,000, many became skeptical of the White House’s narrative. Other organizations that have filed FOIAs include Politico, Fox News, Judicial Watch and Citizens United. Oreskes sympathizes with the president. “This is obviously one of his most difficult decisions and we understand that.”

Actually, we don’t even really know that it was one of his most difficult decisions. And we don’t even know that it is really his to make. The real story of how decisions are “made” by the temporary occupants of the White House has a lot more to do with permanent constituencies and power centers inside and outside government that have been shaping events globally for decades. Those who read accounts of former insiders, from Fletcher Prouty (former chief of special operations for the Pentagon) to Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell) to investigative reporters (sorry—personal plug—yours truly), know that there’s far more intrigue in this process than even the president himself may know.

At best, presidents, who lack personal knowledge of the complex details, hidden agendas, and cooked intelligence, are dependent on how the options are presented to them and framed by unseen others. The truth is too sensitive to share with mere mortals like Obama, who at worst will be out of the way in a few short years. Meanwhile, every president has a stake in hiding how little real power he actually has.

 

Image Credit:  (http://searchesntopics.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Osama-bin-laden-dead1.jpg)


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  • Anonymous

    Russ,

    I guess you are including 9/11 in the “on and on” category of deceptions we have suffered from our gov and the media.

    I would rate it far ahead of the Gulf of Tonkin, Iran Contra and WMD.

    It is the first major false flag operation carried out within the US.

    • http://proudprimate.com Anonymous

      Certainly the biggest, but not the first.  What about OKC?  What about WTC93, where intended patsy Emad Salem shrewdly taped his conversations with his FBI handlers, proving they tricked him, promising to switch the explosive charge to inert powder, then at the last minute, reneging on that promise, ie., they intended and wanted the blast. [Tapes in Bombing Plot Show Informer and F.B.I. at Odds]

  • http://welcome-to-pottersville2.blogspot.com Suzan

    Thanks, Russ.

    And I’m with Payne100 on 9/11. The “killing” of long-dead Osama seems just to be another psy-ops operation to me.

    And without any proof, how would anyone think otherwise?

    Again, thanks for the journalistic integrity!

    • http://twitter.com/chartsweb charlotte

      And next time at least tell a half believable story. Osama was buried at sea for respect of muslim ritual….oh and his body was rinsed with water for 40 min prior to. OMG unbelievable.

  • KGB

    Although most major news outlets have been woefully remiss in their *duties* for quite some time, AP amongst them, they do have to be commended for at least *attempting* to show some backbone in this particular instance. Only time will tell if they remembered to put their teeth in before taking a bite at the Governments patootie!

    • Anonymous

      @AP ;-)

  • Carl Rising-Moore

    I do not believe in conspiracy theories as to what really took place. There is an interesting side bar to this story however. This “killing of Osama” was very handy from a White House public relations point of view.

    Obama was on the ropes for his illegal strike against Libya by joining with the Brits, French, Spanish, Italians and a strange assortment of Arab nations, NATO, EU, Etc. Here we have our President sitting down to dinner with the Libyan leader not too long ago, US, British, Chinese, and other countries oil companies were pumping some of the highest quality least expensive to produce in the world and all of a sudden, Obama sends in the CIA to help organize the rebel forces against Libya.

    Even George W. Bush went to Congress before attacking Iraq.

    Obama, Clinton and the Pentagon needed a smoke screen to take the media attention off this brand new preemptive war.

    Within months the gas prices began to soar….let’s come out with a story that will get people talking about something else than a new war and sent gas prices, (inflation).

    It reminds me of how Bill Clinton started bombing Iraq to take the heat off of his love life.

    The Puppet in Chief will pull all sorts of magic out of the hat when under pressure.

    The proof is in the pudding. Release this evidence and let the mainstream media and bloggers make their own decisions.

    • http://proudprimate.com Anonymous

      Rather simplistic.  Of course, you can assume the CIA started the uprising in Tunisia and then Egypt.  There is good reason to assume it in Iran with the Green Revolution, I will admit. 

      But is there no possibility of independent uprisings such as happened in Tahrir Square?  You are effectively saying, “Never.  All such displays are CIA organized, bar none.”

    • IRIQUOIS227

      Bush lied to congress. that CALLS for impeachment

  • Anonymous

    Speaking of conspiracy…
    Where is the PROOF that Jesus Christ died on the cross and
    arose on the third day ? A book written some hundreds of years
    supposable after it happened.

    • Vaptorious

      that, and the accounts of the secular historian, Josephus;
      & the 500+ witnesses of the crucifixion;
      & the ~120 disciples who continued His ministry;
      & scores of persecuted believers who endured horrific deaths rather than disavow their belief in Jesus;
      & the 2,000+ years Christianity has flourished;
      & the fact that Judaism & Islam both recognize Jesus’ importance.
      & the hatred of those who hate and/or ridicule Jesus today.

  • Anonymous

    To Ibett, You must be a lame brain to even associate Usama a low life human with Jesus is unbelievable.

    • Brian Mcgee

      @rmagnano:disqus  You missed the point completely and its 100% valid.  Jesus Christ was a myth that people cling to for dear life when there’s little evidence of his existence besides a book which describes a man splitting a sea, a talking burning bush and many other absurdities that throws its credibility out the window.  This is off subject to Osama Bin Laden so i wont further this debate and you can believe what you want to believe but just remember faith implies its unprovable, so if you choose to believe you still have no proof and its simply an opinion… not a truth.

      • Anonymous

        Your absurd interpretation of the Bible is without a doubt
        the ravings of a nurd. But what you lack in belief is your
        business. Have a nice day and loose my address.

        • http://proudprimate.com Anonymous

          “Loose him and let him go” [Jn. 11:44]

      • Vaptorious

        What utter absurdity. Nothing is more pathetic than a man who cites his own ignorance in an attempt to argue that Jesus is a “myth.” Open a history book, why don’t you? Like another poser on this thread, you seem to have overlooked the following:

        - the historic accounts of the secular historian, Josephus—accepted by secular historians, and backed by an ever-growing variety of archaeological evidence, I might add;
        - the 500+ witnesses of the crucifixion;
        - the ~120 disciples who continued His ministry after it;
        - scores of persecuted believers who endured horrific deaths rather than disavow their belief in Jesus;
        - the 2,000+ years Christianity has flourished since;
        - the fact that Judaism & Islam both recognize Jesus’ importance.
        - the hatred of those who hate and/or ridicule Jesus today.

        All that IS evidence of His authenticity. You’re never going to find a skeleton—because there ISN’T one. You can delude yourself all you want, but if you desire any semblance of intellectual credibility, you must either accept that Jesus was a real person who lived ~2,000 years ago—or challenge that notion with evidence of your own.

        Thinking you’re smart, “modern” or “enlightened” does not make you so. You don’t have to accept that Jesus is God—but barring any counter-evidence, you DO have to accept that He lived on earth, in the flesh. Wise up.

        • IRIQUOIS227

          faith=belief without evidence.

          produce any believable evidence. no bible since that is the source of your mythology

    • IRIQUOIS227

      you clearly know little about bin Laden. nothing atall

  • Dave

     Call me a cynic, but I think we’ve had our “OBL media bump” for now. We don’t need to resolve this beyond what we have – for now.  Who knows when we might just need another “OBL bump” to trot out for some reason. There might just be one on a day more critical than now.

    Have patience, and let the suspense continue.

    Politics is a game, and we’re mere ….

  • Brian Mcgee

    Excellent post WWW!

    This is PURE speculation but what i was thinking is maybe the intelligence community set up Obama for a fall like with Nixon and watergate…

    1st telling him we can get em.  Of course he’d say yeah, how could he say no?  If he said no to their plan(intelligence community) then they could come out and say “we knew where he was but Obama said no.”  So if they presented him a plan he almost had to say yes.

    2nd Who’s idea was it not to show the pictures?  i wouldnt be surprised if it was the intelligence community’s/Obama’s top handlers(i mean advisors) idea not to release photo’s

    3rd if it comes out this isnt Osama Bin Laden it’ll fall on Obama… NOT the intelligence community’s shoulders. 

    Thusly this could be a watergate situation.  Even from the offset of the timing, people were saying how politically timed this was but in my mind i was thinking if he really had the clout to do this at an opportunitstic time why the start of the campaign season?  Why not the end like Iran Contra?  I’m mean wouldnt it help em way more if it was a month before the elections?  If he was living fat in a mansion whats the rush? 

  • Brian Mcgee
    • Brian Mcgee

      using therapy to dismiss her facts, pathetic

  • Claude Dumont

    Russ, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the “official” CIA’s role to gather information from all the other secret agencies to present it to officials, NOT to intervene or be involved in operations…

    • KGB

      Depends who you ask (what you read) – Wikipedia acknowledges their ‘interactive’ (my word not theirs) role overseas. Whereas George Tenet wrote a NYTimes OpEd (1998) categorically saying they don’t get involved. Judge a man (or Government Dept.) by their deeds, not words, would seem an appropriate statement in answer.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Intelligence_Agency
      https://www.cia.gov/news-information/press-releases-statements/press-release-archive-1998/pr102898.html

      • Claude Dumont

         Thanks for the reply KGB. I was just wondering that because in Fletcher Prouty’s book, he mentions this so many times, but since then, I read in the news things to the contrary all the time, and nobody ever even mentions it. I was wondering if their “role” had been changed since Prouty wrote that book… I mean “officially”.

        • KGB

          I’ve not read that book yet so can only go on what the CIA say themselves – https://www.cia.gov/about-cia/index.html and https://www.cia.gov/about-cia/faqs/index.html

          *Officially* they don’t do *any* of what they’re “accused” of (their word, not mine). I’ll let the public record speak in answer to that one ;o)

        • Claude Dumont

           Thanks to you two for your input.

        • Russ

           There certainly has been no public correction of the original mission of CIA–which was indeed collating and distributing intel from other agencies. No spying. And certainly not engaging in proactive covert ops. As for military ops like with the drones, that is way, way, way beyond what Truman envisioned when he authorized this ‘modest’ agency.

        • http://twitter.com/Bamftiger Bamftiger

          Every president since JFK has been CIA controlled of course so there is no opposition to their encroachment. The final neonazi shift from illegal operations to redefined operations as the true shadow government came under Bush W when the reconfiguration of the CIA and their supposed cut in authority has in fact created a new super committee for assassinations and media mind control in the guise of the national security directorate. Both FBI and CIA never adhered to proper legal frameworks or definitions- if it is bizarre and wrong for CIA to be an assassination bureau how much more bizarre and wrong has it been for FBI to send agents overseas and create murder squads?

          There is strong documentary evidence to show that the USA’s 20th century police state closely mirrors the RSHA. Abwehr, SD and Gestapo in Hitler’s Germany.

    • blueskybigstar

      This was all changed. I think Verntura’s new book shows that they are allowed to do all kinds of evil. Truman said that if knew the CIA would turn into the Gestapo, he would never have supported its formation. Eisenhower also gave us warning.

      • Claude Dumont

         Yes, I think we can safely say that don’t go by that “rule”, but officially, they are not meant to take part in any active operations home or elsewhere. I was only wondering if someone had revised their job description since the 60s. From what Russ answered below, apparently not.

    • http://proudprimate.com Anonymous

      It might be worth mentioning that the CIA’s covert “babyshoes”, bronzed on the mantlepiece, is Operation Ajax (1953), the removal of Mossadegh from his interference in BP’s sucking the blood out of Iran (BP then Anglo-Iranian).  This happened under the watchful eye of Allen Dulles, who with brother Foster, were the core of the Cadillac Cabinet bestowed upon Eisenhower (or was it the other way around?)

      The Dulles bros. were Wall Street lawyers at Sullivan and Cromwell, one of whose clients was Union Bank Corp./Brown Bros. Harriman, where Prescott Bush’s biggest client was Hitler’s Vereinigtestahlwerke

      The CIA’s second covert coup was getting rid of Arbenz in Guatemala (1954), Arbenz who had the temerity to put land being sat on by United Fruit (later Chiquita) back into productive use, raising thousands of peasants out of abject poverty. 

      Both the Dulles brothers were major shareholders in United Fruit.

  • http://proudprimate.com Anonymous

    Well, it’s about who knew what and when. Remember, Benazir Bhutto blurted out the name of Omar Saeed Sheik as the man who “murdered Osama bin Laden” (which the BBC later censored) in the David Frost interview.

    So these are relevant issues. I’m tempted to believe that Bhutto was correct, and Obama is playing the cards very shrewdly, claiming to “kill” UBL, knowing that the ones who have pretended he has been alive and used him to frighten the US voter for ten years are not in a position to call his bluff.

    Do I fault him for that — far from it. I give him top marks for his savvy. We are deep inside the Matrix, and people who try to pretend we are not are doomed to failure.

    The children (read: voters) cannot fathom the depths of the charade they have been soaking in. It’s a waste of time to try. As Morpheus said to Neo during the Chicago training module, “however much we might wish to free them, as long as they are plugged in to the Matrix, they are our enemy.”

    As my Zen teacher once told me, “don’t talk to the furniture”.

    Then again, maybe he did actually kill him, and Amanpour is exactly right. I do hope so, but I’m hedging my bets.

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  • Tome

    DECEPTION
    remember the Main.  Hearst doesnt?
    Tonkin,Irancontra,WMD etc..

    fill in the rest for US

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  • Another Story That Stinks

    Another Story That Stinks To High Hell.

    First, we are supposed to believe a government that in effect, doesn’t believe in us because they spy on every last shred of communications we engage in.

    Second, we are supposed to take the word of a president that probably takes the “Guiness Book” prize for the sheer number of outright lies he sold himself to America with.

    Third, we are supposed to believe they killed OBL in this raid when the last two or three videos of him were provable fakes.

    Fourth, they dump his body in the ocean….??? Well, I guess if they can send Michael Hasting’s body home to his family as cremated ashes so they can’t do independent testing for (gee, I dunno….doping agents, explosives residue) I guess we should just stop ‘being inquisitive’.

    Fifth, no photos. Well, not quite. They did release this one through the Pakistan media which was quickly proven to be a fake.

    This whole story is one bullshit lie on top of another. Funny though when you think about it….no matter which version of 9/11 you believe, they both point to the involvement of two families that have shared business interests for decades, the Bush’s and the Bin Ladens.

  • Whatever

    Then they send SEAL Team 6 into a hot zone in an unshielded helo so they could all be shut up for good. These people will kill anyone to keep their illusions intact.