Unexplained contradictions rise to an even dozen

Post-malfunction US helicopter

From Yesterday’s Daily Beast ‘Morning Scoop’ lead:The killing of Osama bin Laden—and Obama’s decision to strike quickly to get him—erases the enduring stereotype of Democrats as weak politicians who won’t use force, writes The Daily Beast’s Peter Beinart, and has greater potential to change the party’s reputation on national security than any single event since Vietnam.”

Clearly, six months is but the batting of an eyelid – and therefore ‘quickly’ – in the Unites States. But the Beast’s headline – ‘Obama dumps the Wimp factor’ – does kind of suggest that perhaps The Slog is on the right track in the way it sees this, the most important assassination since Cane and Abel. (That said, a new poll out in the US yesterday afternoon EST showed no bounce at all for Obama from the operation – a fascinating result.)

Whatever the folks on Main Street say, the White House version of events continues to suggest that hyperbole went into overdrive in the initial reports, and entered that politically vote-altering state known as hyperbollocks. As of this morning, we’re not so much getting clarity as a lot of use of the prefix ‘mis’.

It’s easy to be a wiseass. So, as with yesterday’s post, let’s examine the realities as we understand them.

1. Just how dangerous was this raid?

From the word go, President Obama and the US media have gone out of their way to position the raid as ‘meticulously planned’, ‘daring’, and ‘highly dangerous’: not to be attempted by the viewers at home, and strictly for the elite Force 6 Navy Seals alone, plus some CIA operatives along for the ride:

‘President Barack Obama announced last Sunday night that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had been killed during a daring and risky operation in Pakistan’

It is entirely sensible to plan for the worst option for example dozens of highly-armed suicide nutters – rather like those found by lightly-armed Israeli forces on the Gaza ‘peace’ flotilla, in fact. But as we’ve already heard so many times, the ‘crack team’ spent half a year staking out the joint.

This from the BBCNews website this morning (my italics): ‘[The] fortified compound in a quiet suburb was home to the world’s most wanted man, Osama Bin Laden, and a few close associates. The building was also reportedly home to several of his wives, numerous children and domestic helpers….’

In fact, the few associates seem to have been just two brothers: neighbours said two heavily moustached, fair-skinned brothers lived there. Most agreed they were Pashtuns — members of the tribe that straddles the Pakistan-Afghanistan border — though some said they spoke Urdu, which would suggest they were from other parts of Pakistan.

So: two close chums, what seems in fact to have been five unarmed women, a bevy of kids, and the odd wannabe Masterchef.

Google ‘gunfire in Bin Laden compound’ and you get 2.9 million results. Google ‘prolonged’ or ‘heavy’ gunfire, and 314,000 results come up. Not a controlled scientific experiment I agree – but none – zero, zilch – of the 314,000’s first ten Google pages use the words heavy or prolonged at all. The vast majority of comments focus on a few (perhaps two) loud blasts at the outset – standard procedure to disorientate the compound’s occupants.

We know from the excitable, short-sighted and highly confused John Brennan that Bin Laden was killed using two shots. Last Monday, a senior White House official said the raid “lasted under forty minutes”: that could mean two or thirty-nine…and anyway, this was the same guy who categorically declared “Bin Laden went down firing at the navy Seals” – which of course we now know to be bollocks.

So based on this body of evidence, the following could be a description of what happened:

24 navy seals arrived under cover of darkness in two helicopters. They landed outside, and one copter was hit by SNAFU. Not a good start. Three grenades were set off and the main gate stormed. There was some brief gunfire as the lower floors were cleared. Then they found Osama Bin Laden, asked him to come quietly, he didn’t, so they shot him twice.

The Alamo it wasn’t.


The copter was hit by something from somewhere, the Seals knew they’d been betrayed, and then with only one vehicle left to get away in, two dozen very brave guys went in anyway and shot at anything that moved, including their target. I wouldn’t blame them for that – but the White House says no missile, just malfunction.

Now whichever way you cut this, Obama can’t have both copter malfunction and The Alamo.

For myself, I think it takes balls of steel to do what those 24 blokes did. But then, they’re not the ones hyping the whole thing – the politicos are the ones larging it. Fancy that.

By the way – apropos of not very much – according to the Charlotte Observer, most of the Seals involved in the op voted Republican. Cue another 27,000 conspiracy theories.

2. Bin Laden: how did he die?

Even the Obama-supporting newspaper The Washington Post had to admit yesterday, ‘New details of U.S. raid contradict initial accounts of top-secret operation’ . Just to summarise, John Brennan said the seals were on ‘shoot to kill’ orders against Bin Laden. That Bin Laden had been armed. That he had shielded himself with wives. White House press secretary Jay Carney said the seals wanted Bin Laden alive, he did not have a weapon of any kind, and he did not shield himself. Brennan watched the whole thing live on Skype, and yet somehow got all the details ‘wrong’. This man runs the CIA. He’d just had 24 hours to watch a 40-minute max video over and over again, but he “must’ve confused the Bin Laden incident with one in another room”.

So you’re off to a press briefing with a global audience of 300 million hanging on your every word. Should you study the tape closely? Naar – what the Hell, let’s go watch the ballgame.

Turning to Mr Carney for a minute, I have to say that any US Adminstration that wanted Bin Laden alive would have to be clinically insane – so sorry Jay, but I don’t believe you. He also said that Bin Laden “resisted arrest without a weapon, and so was shot in the head and chest”. Here we have frail 53 year-old bloke known to require occasional kidney dialysis, but the only way two dozen navy Seals can restrain him is with two bullets from close range. So (if you follow) the second Carney statement tends to support my disbelief in the first one. Either that, or he has a promising career ahead of him in the Metropolitan Police.

3. Why was the Helicopter detonated?

‘Following the firefight, the non-combatants were moved to a safe location as the damaged helicopter was detonated’.

The obvious answer to this one is that it was cram-packed with sensitive technology the Seals didn’t want to fall into ‘enemy’ hands. But it doesn’t really stack up.

In the first place, the Chinook (and after several false starts, we do know now it was a Chinook) is a bog-standard field helicopter. The US sells the damn things to foreign powers: it’s about as secret right now as where Bin Laden was hiding.

Secondly, where are all these enemies – among the chickens clucking around again this morning in the streets surrounding the complex? I know that the Pakistanis seem to have behaved like enemies, but they are America’s allies. We’re talking a $34 million helicopter here: why trash it because of what the Administration is now describing as ‘mechanical failure’? Why not, you know, just take out the top secret Apple Ipad plus highly restricted Skype kit, and then come back for the copter later?

I’d suggest there are two possible answers: (a) the copter had been hit – eye witness reports suggest this; or (b) there actually was something – ie, data – on board that the Americans genuinely thought would be highly sensitive if picked up by Pakistan’s ISI.

As for option (a), read this eye-witness account from last night’s Washington Post: ‘Raja Kamran Khan, a community leader who lives along the main road, said he was awakened by helicopters, then a series of loud blasts…’. The report goes  on to say, ‘Mangled remnants of one helicopter — destroyed after what U.S. officials described as “mechanical failure” — lay in a field outside.’

So the copter got to just outside the compound and then – out of all the times the ignition might have had a chance not to work – it chose this one. Or it was part of the ‘series of loud blasts’.

Option (b) is also supportable. Again from the Post:

‘….Yet despite the placidity of the area, most neighbors seemed to agree on one thing: It was unfathomable that a terrorist of bin Laden’s stature could have lived in their midst — on property that is part of the military cantonment, not far from the border with Pakistan’s archenemy, India — without being detected by authorities. “He cannot,” said Sardar Mohammed Aslam, 65, whose property sits across a verdant field from the bin Laden house. “He would be noticed very easily.” The military and intelligence agencies are viewed as all-knowing in Pakistan, and monitoring is considered common…..’

So there are two imponderables: if the copter was hit, who hit it? It clearly wasn’t the Bin Laden retinue, who it seems were mainly armed with pea-shooters.

And what was the sensitive data on board that they couldn’t remove without destroying an extremely expensive bit of kit?

4. Will we ever see the video watched by the White House bigwigs?

No. Emphatically and double-dog no, not ever, never. A new paperback, How to ignite a million conspiracy theories by John Brennan will be available from Arrow books later this year.

I think the chances of it leaking one day are very high – if it isn’t destroyed at some point before then. But it seems to me obvious that there is something about the way things went in the compound – and/or how Bin Laden was killed – we’re never going to see.

5. Will we ever see the corpse photograph?

Yes, we probably will. Sources last night were suggesting that Time will feature them in its next edition, although there is no confirmation of this.

I think I can categorically state that the pictures will show Osama Bin Laden looking extremely dead and somewhat grisly. But it will be nothing the average 14 year-old kid hasn’t seen a hundred times before on umpteen Game consoles.

The shot will show (I think) a man with a shorter beard as part of his ‘disguise’, and it will be Bin Laden, because Bin Laden is dead. But it still won’t explain who gave AP a fake shot, and why.


Related: The Magnificent Seven unanswered Questions.

Enough of conspiracy theories? Try some conspiracy fact instead: How Newscorp conspired to pervert British Justice & Politics.


Why Bernanke and King REALLY daren’t raise interest rates. (Most read this year)

Why the West’s ‘recovery’ is a myth.