Down the rabbit hole: Bin Laden raid was staged after extensive Pakistan-US negotiations – report

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 5.21.40 PM

Washington fabricated several key claims regarding the 2011 mission in which a US Navy SEAL team killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, according to legendary journalist Seymour Hersh in the latest challenge to the White House’s narrative of the raid.

Hersh, writing in the London Review of Books, has alleged that the United States government and Pakistani officials in fact worked closely–attempting to smooth political and financial concerns between the two nations–prior to the May 2011 assault on bin Laden’s Abbottabad, Pakistan compound.

The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account, Hersh wrote.

The White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll: would bin Laden, target of a massive international manhunt, really decide that a resort town forty miles from Islamabad would be the safest place to live and command al-Qaida’s operations?”

Contrary to US claims, bin Laden was not located through tracking of his couriers but through a “walk-in,” Hersh wrote in the piece, which was sourced mainly by a “retired senior intelligence official,” among a handful of anonymous others.

Read more

Bin Laden documents to be used in Briton’s terror trial

In August 2010, a “former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad” approached the CIA’s station chief at the US embassy in Islamabad to report bin Laden’s whereabouts. Once deemed reliable, the unnamed source — later moved to Washington to work as a CIA consultant — collected the outstanding $25 million reward offered by the US for information about bin Laden.

Bin Laden, Hersh wrote, was captured by Pakistan in 2006 and kept warehoused at the expense of Saudi Arabia, which wanted to keep the Al-Qaeda leader under wraps based on Riyadh’s close ties to the jihadist group. In addition, bin Laden was also considered a bargaining chip for Pakistan against Al-Qaeda and Taliban.

“The ISI was using bin Laden as leverage against Taliban and al-Qaida activities inside Afghanistan and Pakistan,” the retired official told Hersh. “They let the Taliban and al-Qaida leadership know that if they ran operations that clashed with the interests of the ISI, they would turn bin Laden over to us. So if it became known that the Pakistanis had worked with us to get bin Laden at Abbottabad, there would be hell to pay.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 5.23.58 PM

Once confronted by the US about bin Laden’s location following the “walk-in” source’s information, Pakistan sought increased military aid and a “freer hand in Afghanistan” from the US in exchange for bin Laden.

Pakistani Army Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of Pakistan’s ISI, negotiated and facilitated terms surrounding the raid, including the assurance that “Pakistan’s army and air defence command would not track or engage with the US helicopters used on the mission.” The Pakistani officials operated under the assumption that President Barack Obama would not trumpet the killing in public for at least a week — which was not the eventual result.

“Then a carefully constructed cover story would be issued: Obama would announce that DNA analysis confirmed that bin Laden had been killed in a drone raid in the Hindu Kush, on Afghanistan’s side of the border,” Hersh wrote.

Upon reaching the facility in Abbottabad, Navy SEAL Team Six encountered no resistance, as an “ISI liaison officer flying with the Seals guided them into the darkened house and up a staircase to bin Laden’s quarters,” Hersh wrote.

The “invalid” bin Laden “was cowering and retreated into the bedroom. Two shooters followed him and opened up. Very simple, very straightforward, very professional hit,” the retired official said. Bin Laden was not, as the White House said, killed by the SEALs out of self-defense amid a firefight.

The SEALs had so much clearance, Hersh wrote, that after the raid – which included the crashing of a Black Hawk helicopter – they were able to wait several minutes unimpeded for additional air transportation outside the compound in a resort town very near Pakistani military installations and rife with armed personal bodyguards at private residences.

During the raid, bin Laden’s body was torn to pieces by rifle fire, according to the account, and parts of his body were later “tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains.” His burial at sea consistent with Islamic custom — a claim made by US officials — was also fabricated, Hersh wrote.

The supposed cache of intelligence material taken from the compound was another lie, Hersh reported, used to justify the raid.

Read more

CIA barred from using vaccinations as cover after dozens of doctors killed

Among the covers the US offered to protect Pakistan’s part in the raid, it was alleged that Shakil Afridi, a “Pakistani doctor and sometime CIA asset,” ran an independent vaccination program in Abbottabad as a front in the US search for bin Laden. Though he had helped with CIA counterterror efforts in the past, Afridi “made no attempt to obtain DNA from the residents of the bin Laden compound,” Hersh wrote.

“News of the CIA-sponsored programme created widespread anger in Pakistan, and led to the cancellation of other international vaccination programmes that were now seen as cover for American spying,” he added.

Hersh is not the first to challenge official narratives of the bin Laden raid. As RT previously reported, former SEAL Team Six member Rob O’Neill — who was referred to only as “the shooter” in an Esquire magazine interview detailing the 2011 mission — went public in November as the person responsible for shooting bin Laden three times in the forehead.

O’Neill’s claims were disputed by another SEAL who came forward in 2012 with his own account of the raid. In ‘No Easy Day’, Mark Bissonnette, writing under the pseudonym ‘Mark Owen’, said the first person to enter bin Laden’s room, the “point man,” was, in fact, the SEAL that killed bin Laden.

Read more

US Navy investigates SEAL who allegedly killed Bin Laden

As Hersh noted, a bevy of Freedom of Information Act requests by news outlets seeking to unearth new revelations about the raid have been denied, barring public access to photographs, videos, or DNA test results confirming bin Laden’s death.

In 2010, a federal judge ruled that the US Department of Defense did not have to release such evidence to the public. An appeals court affirmed the decision in 2013.

It was later revealed that “Admiral [William] McRaven [head of Joint Special Operations Command at the time] had ordered the files on the raid to be deleted from all military computers and moved to the CIA, where they would be shielded from FOIA requests by the agency’s ‘operational exemption,’” Hersh wrote.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 5.26.10 PM

Hersh’s long, distinguished career in journalism has included major revelations of US wrongdoing, including stories that exposed, in 1968, the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and, in 2004, the detainee abuses at the US Army-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Yet his latest account is fielding pushback for “internal contradictions in the narrative he constructs,” as Vox.com’s Max Fisher wrote.

“Why, for example, would the Pakistanis insist on a fake raid that would humiliate their country and the very military and intelligence leaders who supposedly instigated it?

“A simpler question: why would Pakistan bother with the ostentatious fake raid at all, when anyone can imagine a dozen simpler, lower-risk, lower-cost ways to do this?” Fisher wrote.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 5.27.06 PM

CIA apparatchiks predictably countered Hersh’s story, as well.

“Every sentence I was reading was wrong,” Michael Morell, recently the deputy director of the CIA, said Monday on ‘CBS This Morning.’

“The source that Hersh talked to has no idea what he’s talking about,” Morell said. “The person obviously was not close to what happened. The Pakistanis did not know.”

Hersh told CNN he was “not out on a limb” with the story.

“The story says clearly that I was able to vet and verify information with others in the community. It’s very tough for guys still inside to get quoted extensively.”

He stood by his own reporting.

“I’ve been around a long time,” Hersh said. “I understand the consequences of saying what I’m saying.”

Hersh said he’s waiting for the White House to deny his account.

“There are too many inaccuracies and baseless assertions in this piece to fact check each one,” White House National Security spokesman Ned Price said in a statement to reporters.

N. Korea prepared to use nukes ‘any time’ it feels threated by US – DPRK Ambassador to UK

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 12.18.55 PM

North Korea has nuclear weapons and is prepared to use them in retaliation to a US attack, the DPRK’s ambassador to Britain has said.

In a rare interview, Hyun Hak-bong said the United States is not the only country that can use nuclear weapons.

He claimed North Korea has the ability to fire nuclear missiles at “any time” and would also use conventional warfare to defend itself.

The senior diplomat also attacked allegations of torture made against the secretive nation by North Korean refugees, describing them as “fabricated.”

Speaking to Sky News, the ambassador said: “It is not the United States that has a monopoly on nuclear weapons strikes.”

Read more

Lawmaker claims North Korea internet blackout was ‘response’ to Sony hack

Journalist Alistair Bunkall pressed the diplomat further, asking: “So can I just be clear: you are telling me that North Korea has the ability now to fire a nuclear missile?

Hyun Hak-bong replied: “Any time, any time, yes.”

He went on: “If the United States strike us, we should strike back.

The ambassador said the DPRK would only use nuclear missiles in “retaliation.”

We are ready for convention war with conventional war [sic], we are ready for nuclear war with nuclear war,” he said.

Bunkall asked: “But you wouldn’t push the button first?

The diplomat replied: “Well, we are peace loving people. We do not want war, but we are not afraid of war. This is the policy of the government.”

Hyun Hak-bong’s tough rhetoric likely comes in response to joint military exercises currently being carried out by the United States and South Korea.

Read more

North Korea threatens ‘pre-emptive nuclear strike’ over US-South Korea drills

Around 10,000 South Korean and 8,000 US troops are taking part in the annual land, sea and air operations, according to Voice of America.

Dubbed ‘Foal Eagle’ by the US military, the exercises started on March 2 and will last for eight weeks.

According to a report by military historian Dr John Farrell, while Foal Eagle operations have their origins in the 1960s, the current version of the training exercises began in 1997.

Foal Eagle replaced the previous joint-US and South Korean training exercises called ‘Team Spirit’ because they were deemed to be unrealistically large.

‘Fabricated’

North Korea’s ambassador to the UK also attacked claims of torture made by “defectors,” labeling the refugees “human scum.

Sky News asked the diplomat about allegations of torture made by North Koreans living in Seoul, the capital of South Korea.

Read more

‘N. Korea mission went from hot to cold overnight’ – US spy chief

He said: “Those allegations are based on fabricated stories by the defectors from the North.”

Do you know the difference between human beings and animals? Human beings have a conscience and morality. If they do not have a conscience and a morality they are like nothing.

They’re animals. That is why we call the defectors animals. They are no better than animals. They’re human scum,” he added.

A UN report on North Korean human rights published in February last year claimed the hermit state was perpetrating crimes similar to those committed by the Nazis during the Second World War.

The UN commission found there was strong evidence to suggest systematic torture, executions, arbitrary imprisonment and deliberate starvation take place in the DPRK.

Michael Kirby, a retired Australian judge who chaired the commission, wrote to Kim Jong-un to warn him he could face trial at the international criminal court (ICC) for “crimes against humanity.”

‘Compromised & gone’: Pentagon lost $500mn of weapons, equipment in YemenNO

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 10.57.43 AM

American military officials admitted to members of Congress that they have lost track of millions in small arms, ammunition, night vision goggles, patrol boats, vehicles and other supplies donated by the US to the Yemeni government.

The US has supplied more than $500 million in military aid to Yemen since 2007 through programs managed by the Defense Department and State Department. But in January, the Yemeni government was toppled by Shiite Houthi rebels, backed by Iran and critical of US drones strikes in the country, who also took over government military bases in the north.

Read more
Marines ‘smashed’ weapons before evacuating US embassy in Yemen

Since then, the Defense Department has lost its ability to monitor the whereabouts of weaponry and equipment. The situation has only grown worse since the US closed its embassy in Sanaa, the capital, in February and withdrew military advisers.

“We have to assume it’s completely compromised and gone,” a legislative aide on Capitol Hill told the Washington Post, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Washington Post said US military officials declined to comment for the record, but a defense official said there was no hard evidence the weaponry had been looted or confiscated. Nonetheless, the Pentagon had lost track of items.

“Even in the best-case scenario in an unstable country, we never have 100 percent accountability,” the defense official told the newspaper.

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 10.59.20 AM

Pentagon officials said that they have little information to go on and that there is little they can do at this point to prevent the weapons and gear from falling into the wrong hands. As a precaution, defense officials said they have halted shipments to Yemen of about $125 million in military hardware and donated it to other countries in the Middle East and Africa.

In Yemen, the Obama administration pursued a policy to combat terrorism by training and equipping foreign militaries to fight insurgencies and defeat networks affiliated with Al-Qaeda without sending US troops. A similar effort was tried in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003, when the US spent $25 billion to recreate Iraqi security forces that were eventually defeated in 2014 by Islamic State fighters who now have control of many areas of the country. Yemen was supposed to be the success story for the White House.

“The administration really wanted to stick with this narrative that Yemen was different from Iraq, that we were going to do it with fewer people, that we were going to do it on the cheap,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “They were trying to do with a minimalist approach because it needed to fit with this narrative . . . that we’re not going to have a repeat of Iraq.”

OBAMA’S AUMF WAR POWERS “INTENTIONALLY” VAGUE

Imperial president allowed to wage war against enemies anywhere in the world

By Kurt Nimmo

The Obama administration designed the language of its unconstitutional AUMF to be vague, Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, admitted on Wednesday.

Earnest said the proposal was left undefined “because we believe it’s important that there aren’t overly burdensome constraints that are placed on the commander in chief.”

Critics interpret this to mean the executive branch of the government wants to expand the reach of the imperial presidency and allow it to wage war against ill-defined enemies anywhere in the world.

Additionally, the administration believes the deliberately ambiguous AUMF, or Authorization for the Use of Military Force, will bring lawmakers together in a bipartisan coalition calling for a war against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq without restraint, including the use of ground troops.

Republicans are concerned the proposed AUMF will not provide the authority they believe is required to eliminate the Islamic State.

House Speaker John Boehner, a Michigan Democrat, said he is concerned the latest AUMF will not give “military commanders the flexibility and authorities they need to succeed and protect our people.”

Few in Congress have questioned the constitutionality of the proposed AUMF or two previous ones used to wage war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen following the attacks of September 11, 2001.

“In constitutional reality the President has no such sole authority,” notes Greg Weiner. “The President’s plenary ‘national security’ power is a phantom; it simply is not there in the Constitution. Like most constitutional authorities, the national security power is shared. It entails the war power, which belongs to Congress, the spending power (Congress’ too), military regulations (again) and other areas of policy that are not the President’s alone to decide.”

Republicans, however, take a different approach on the AUMF and the possibility it may limit the use of ground troops.

Arizona Republican Senator John McCain told reporters he would consider any such language as “unconstitutional,” declaring the Constitution gives the president the power to use the military to intervene abroad at his discretion.

Teenage army cadets threatened with beheading, barracks security tightened

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 12.53.03 PM

Police are upping security after two girls were allegedly threatened with beheading as they left an army reserve center in Northumbria.

The girls were verbally threatened by two men in a Vauxhall Zafira, who were said to have shouted ‘graphic’ and ‘nasty’ statements as they left the center in Gateshead.

“The men made no attempt to make any physical contact with the girls or get out of the car, and shouted the comments while driving away from the scene,” said Gateshead superintendent Richie Jackson.

The incident took place on January 21 at 2115 GMT. Northumbria police are thought to have increased patrols around other army barracks in the area.

“Inquiries are ongoing to establish the exact nature of what was said during the incident and we have spoken to the two teenage girls, viewed CCTV footage from the area and have identified the vehicle and inquiries are ongoing to trace the driver,” a spokesperson from Northumbria Police said.

“As a precaution we have notified staff at other Army Reserve centers in the area and have had extra officers on patrol in Alexandra Road to reassure residents.”

The verbal attacks come weeks after British police and military officers were warned not to wear their uniforms publicly while off duty, in case lone wolf terrorists attack them.

Attacks have been encouraged by Islamist extremist groups such as the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), similar to those carried out by terrorists in Paris last month.

Police warn attacks on British military personnel could happen imminently, echoing the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich in May 2013.

“We are aware of an incident allegedly involving members of the Army Cadet Force – this is a matter for the police and we cannot comment further. Any witnesses are urged to contact the police,” said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

“We understand the girls were not in uniform at the time of the incident and that the suspects asked them ‘Are you in the Army?’ before issuing the threats,” they added.