Here are links to some interesting news articles that I came across today. They are about the ongoing controversy about Seymour Hersh’s recent article on the Osama bin Laden killing.
Hersh has pissed off some very powerful people and institutions with this story, and that means the inevitable media pushback to discredit his reporting is already underway, with the attacks on Hersh led by Vox Media’s Max Fisher, CNN’s Peter Bergen, and even some on the left like Nation Institute reporter Matthieu Aikins. Yesterday Slate joined the pile-on, running a wildly entertaining, hostile interview with Hersh. Such attacks by fellow journalists on a Sy Hersh bombshell are nothing new—in fact, he used to relish them, and probably still does. He got the same hostile reaction from his media colleagues when he broke his biggest story of his career: The 1974 exposé of the CIA’s massive, illegal domestic spying program, MH-CHAOS, which targeted tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of Americans, mostly antiwar and leftwing dissidents.
Hersh’s exposés directly led to the famous Church Committee hearings into intelligence abuses, the Rockefeller Commission, and the less famous but more radical Pike Committee hearings in the House, which I wrote about in Pando last year. These hearings not only blew open all sorts of CIA abuses, assassination programs, drug programs and coups, but also massive intelligence failures and boondoggles.They also revealed to the public for the first time the NSA’s secret programs targeting Americans, including co-opting all the major US telecoms and cable telex companies— AT&T, ITT, Western Union and RCA—in a program “vacuuming” all electronic communications, as well as “Project Minaret,” in which the NSA wiretapped hundreds or perhaps tens of thousands (depending on the source) of antiwar and leftwing American dissidents. Those hearings led briefly to some real reforms and some half-assed reforms in the intelligence community during the Carter years, all of which were undone as soon as Reagan came to power.
Link 2: Podcast Extra: Seymour Hersh
This week legendary investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published an account of the killing of Osama bin Laden that directly contradicts the official narrative. Hersh’s use of anonymous sources have led many to cast doubt on the assertions in the article; CNN’s Peter Bergen called his story a “farrago of nonsense”. Bob talks with Hersh about the swirling controversy in this On the Media special podcast.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015 – 05:56 PM
GUESTS: Seymour Hersh
HOSTED BY: Bob Garfield
What’s neither appropriate nor useful is to give former government officials the chance to attack Hersh’s story without giving readers the context of their track record of veracity. But that’s exactly what Politico did in this piece, “U.S. officials fuming over Hersh account of Osama bin Laden raid”: “If you were to believe Sy, you would have to believe this massive conspiracy that President Obama, Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Mike Morell were all lying to you,” said Bill Harlow, the [CIA]’s former top spokesman, referring to two recent secretaries of defense and a former acting CIA director. “It makes absolutely no sense.” … The next paragraph would have been the right place for Politico to say this: In 2003, Harlow himself participated in a massive conspiracy to lie to you about Iraq’s purported WMD. Indeed, he personally engaged in some of most egregious government dishonesty on the issue when he blatantly lied about a Newsweek story published just before the war that strongly suggested Iraq had no remaining banned weapons. Since leaving the CIA, Harlow has co-written three books with former top CIA officials, all of which defend the agency’s use of torture, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein recently accused Harlow of making “false charges” about the Senate’s torture investigation.
Asked who had provided him with the misinformation in 2003, Harlow responded: “I genuinely do not recall” and “I have no intention to engage in an exchange about that single answer to one of the thousands of questions I handled in that job more than a decade ago.” However, Harlow said, he is not misinformed about Hersh’s bin Laden story because “The information on the bin Laden case is based not only on Mr. Morell’s participation in nearly every meeting at the CIA and White House leading up to the raid — but also detailed accounts from others like Leon Panetta, Robert Gates, and many others.” The website of 15 Seconds, Harlow’s communications consulting firm, states that it can give clients advice on “Methods of deflecting difficult questions designed to bait you.”
What do you think? Comments?
Here are links to some interesting news articles that I came across today. They are about real life issues willfully ignored by white morons who talk about “HBD” and similar bullshit.
Link 1: The school of failure
This school seemed like a jail, and level two – Butta’s floor – was the psych ward. Students bolting up and down the hallways, desks taking flight, a trail of graded and ungraded papers scattered everywhere, fight videos being recorded on cellphones, Rich Homie Quan turned to the highest level, crap games and card games going down with children named Bitch and Fuckyou everywhere – all bottled up and sealed with that same shitty smell, so bad it was loud enough to hear, a shit stench I hoped wouldn’t stick to my flannel.
It’s hard to receive a good education in this environment. I’d be hard pressed to believe a good teacher could be effective. The computers were ancient, the textbooks were decayed, and the classroom felt like it was 15 degrees Fahrenheit – 30 to 35 musky, puberty-drenched kids and it was still cold. How can you learn in the cold? How can we be in the United States, in 2014, in a major metropolitan city and not have temperature-controlled rooms? I mean, the main office was nice and cozy so why were the classrooms meat freezers?
Too often I hear people cry: ‘Our schools are broken, our schools are broken!’ But are they? Are our schools broken or is our system working perfectly for its creators? During the years I pursued a master of science in education at Johns Hopkins, I studied a theory called ‘social reproduction’, the brainchild of a Connecticut sociologist named Christopher Doob. His theory holds that we’ve got to produce a certain number of minimum-wage workers and inmates – a general collection of bottom-feeders – for capitalism to sustain, and so we build the social structures to keep that going.
I’m not saying that a small group of people are planning this; however, it strikes me as interesting that we continue to produce a huge number of people fit for these jobs and they tend to come out of these school systems.’ Schools such as the one Butta and I attended are funded by property taxes from neighbourhoods full of housing projects and boarded-up homes, where the poor pay to perpetuate their own misery. The age-old system, in conjunction with law enforcement, makes the pipeline from public school to prison a reality.
For most children, swearing in school, throwing Skittles on a bus or walking around without a hallpass would get them sent to the principal’s office. But in the Jefferson Parish School District of Louisiana, many of these misbehaviors have resulted in arrest. A new report from the Southern Law Poverty Center found that schools and police are using a revised state statute to arrest students “under the charge of simple battery for horseplay and typical student roughhousing and fighting.” The report also finds that roughly 80 percent of students arrested in the 2013/2014 school year were African-American, though they only account for 40 percent of Jefferson Parish’s student population of 45,914.
On a different occasion, a 15-year-old boy and other students threw Skittles at each other on a bus. The 15-year-old was arrested the following day at school for “simple battery” and “interference with an educational facility.” He was then left in a juvenile detention center for six days. Another instance, also from March, details the arrest of a 10-year-old African American autistic girl who police handcuffed face-down on the ground, after she disrupted her classroom by climbing on top of tables and out a window onto a tree.
Link 3: Virginia’s pipeline to jail
Virginia is the most aggressive state in the nation in referring students to the criminal justice system. The commonwealth, according to a recent report by the Center for Public Integrity, sent students to law enforcement agencies at three times the national rate, many of them pre-teens arrested on charges of disorderly conduct or simple assault. Its police referral rate, nearly 16 for every 1,000 students, was far more aggressive than North Carolina, which was 12th with a rate of 7.5 referrals to police for every 1,000 students. One reason is because Virginia law requires schools to report a variety of crimes to law enforcement but offers no guidance on when behavior constitutes a crime and when it should be treated as a school discipline matter.
Sadly, once a student enters the justice system, his chances of coming back greatly increase. “Research shows that even one court referral can have devastating consequences, in some cases resulting in a juvenile justice record and placing children on a path toward prison rather than high school graduation and college,” according to Ciolfi and Sarah Gross, legislation chair for the Virginia PTA. The Center for Public Integrity’s study also found that in Virginia, minority and disabled students were disproportionately referred to police and the courts. Of those referred, 38 percent were African American; 30 percent were disabled.
It found that officers filed 3,538 criminal complaints against students over three years, starting in fall 2011. More than half were for simple assault or disorderly conduct; nearly half were against children 14 or younger. In 2011-12 alone, the report found, police in Chesterfield filed 1,499 complaints in a district of about 60,000 students. Compare that to New York City, which has 16 times as many students. Police filed 2,548 cases against students that year – a finding that prompted civil-rights groups to protest police aggression.
What do you think? Comments?
Here are links to some interesting news articles that I came across today. They are about independent corroboration of Seymour Hersh’s article on the Osama bin Laden killing.
Two years later, when I was researching my book, I learned from a high-level member of the Pakistani intelligence service that the ISI had been hiding Bin Laden and ran a desk specifically to handle him as an intelligence asset. After the book came out, I learned more: that it was indeed a Pakistani Army brigadier — all the senior officers of the ISI are in the military — who told the C.I.A. where Bin Laden was hiding, and that Bin Laden was living there with the knowledge and protection of the ISI.
After one of the SEALs’ Black Hawk helicopters crashed in Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound, neighbors called the police and reported hearing both the crash and the subsequent explosions. The local police told me that they received the calls and could have been at the compound within minutes, but army commanders ordered them to stand down and leave the response to the military. Yet despite being barracked nearby, members of the Pakistani Army appear to have arrived only after the SEALs — who spent 40 minutes on the ground without encountering any soldiers — left.
The NBC News sources who confirm that a former Pakistani military intelligence official became a U.S. intelligence asset include a special operations officer and a CIA officer who had served in Pakistan. These two sources and a third source, a very senior former U.S. intelligence official, also say that elements of the ISI were aware of bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad. The former official was emphatic about the ISI’s awareness, saying twice, “They knew.” Another top official acknowledged to NBC News that the U.S. government had long harbored “deep suspicions” that ISI and al Qaeda were “cooperating.” And a book by former acting CIA director Mike Morrell that will be published tomorrow says that U.S. officials could not dismiss the possibility of such cooperation.
Bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs on May 2, 2011. Three months later, on August 7, Hillhouse posted a story on her blog “The Spy Who Billed Me” stating that (1) the U.S. did not learn about bin Laden’s location from tracking an al Qaeda courier, but from a member of the Pakistani intelligence service who wanted to collect the $25 million reward the U.S. had offered for bin Laden; (2) Saudi Arabia was paying Pakistan to keep bin Laden under the equivalent of house arrest; (3) Pakistan was pressured by the U.S. to stand down its military to allow the U.S. raid to proceed unhindered; and (4) the U.S. had planned to claim that bin Laden had been killed in a drone strike in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but was forced to abandon this when one of the Navy SEAL helicopters crashed.
Hillhouse also claims that one of her sources told her a particular detail that she did not include in 2011 because she could not confirm it: that the Navy SEALs threw bin Laden’s body out of the helicopter while traveling over the Hindu Kush mountains from Pakistan to Afghanistan. Hersh’s story includes an assertion from his main source that “during the helicopter flight back to Jalalabad, some body parts were tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains.” While this seems bizarre in retrospect, it would be plausible if the SEALs had believed at the time that the Obama administration planned to say publicly that bin Laden had been killed in a drone strike.
What do you think? Comments?
Many of you might have heard about the recent expose by Seymour Hersh on the official government story about the american raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. As usual, the white house has issued a statement calling it “utter nonsense”. A few supposedly left-wing journalists have tried to refute the accusations made in the expose by making ad hominem attacks on Hersh. Others seem to have taken a more sympathetic attitude towards the accusations made by Hersh. Still other basically agree with his expose, but with some caveats.
In my opinion, the basic framework and course of events presented in the Hersh expose on the bin Laden killing are infinitely more plausible than the action-movie script published by the american government and promoted by its presstitutes. Here is why..
1: As some have noted, the basic narrative and main points of Seymour Hersh’s expose on the bin Laden killing are not new. Infact, another well-known journalist published a very similar series of reports on that event in August 2011, less than three months after the event. The journalist in question- R.J. Hillhouse is a former professor, Fulbright fellow and novelist whose writing on intelligence and military outsourcing has appeared in the Washington Post and New York Times wrote that bin Laden was betrayed by an informant from the main intelligence agency of Pakistan on August 7, 2011. She wrote a further update to that piece, a few days later, on August 11, 2011 in which she once again talked about the Saudis paying Pakistan for keeping bin Laden alive and under government surveillance. While a few newspapers outside the USA and many internet websites did carry this story, it was largely ignored by the “main stream media” in USA- both on the right and left.
2: The basic chain of events described by both Hersh and Hillhouse are almost identical, though they did not get information from the same sources. Moreover, they do fit the real nature of the relationships between USA, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. As some of you might know, Pakistan was a client state of the USA from the early 1950s to 1972, when it realized that all the weapons and assurances of support from the USA could not prevent it from being defeated (and humiliated) by India. Since then, Pakistan has been increasingly dependent on Saudi money and Chinese weapons to keep itself from falling apart. Now this does not mean that Pakistani elite are averse to getting money and weapons from the USA. Indeed, they has no problems with doing all that as long as it serves their own interests. Also, all organisations contain more than a few greedy and duplicitous people, who would drop their proverbial trousers for the right price.
3: Though Pakistan has elections and is officially run by a democratically elected government, the armed forces and its intelligence agencies have always been the real and unaccountable power in that country. Even worse, there are many factions within those two organisations, who frequently work at cross purposes if large financial considerations are at stake. The idea that bin Laden was kept as a guest of one (or more) of those factions in exchange for payments from the Saudis and as leverage over some factions of the Taliban is therefore extremely feasible. Pakistani elite have no interest in letting Afghanistan remain peaceful or become a less regressive society because that would kill their cash,weapon and influence cow from the USA.
4: We also cannot forget that Saudi Arabia is a frenemy of the USA. Though it requires the support and security provided by USA, its own internal situation and dynastic policies result in it spending tens of billions each year to support islamic militancy and extremists all round the world. It is perfectly plausible, and even desirable, for them to have paid Pakistan for keeping bin Laden alive- especially if doing so would allow them to influence his actions. Furthermore, the peculiar master-slave like relationship between the higher echelons of the Saudi and Pakistani administrative are not exactly secret. Some of you might have heard that Saudi Arabia paid for part of Pakistan’s nuclear weapon program and is expected to receive a few ready-made warheads from it if Iran ever becomes a declared nuclear power.
5: It is also no secret that USA has no significant independent human intelligence assets in Pakistan. I mean, they have tons of assets- but almost every single one works in collaboration with somebody in one of the many factions in the armed forces and intelligence agency of that country. Also, the whole idea that a person like bin Laden could have purchased, built and lived in a large house in one of the poshest and most exclusive army towns in Pakistan without drawing attention from nosy neighbors is very hard to believe. I mean, that whole town is crawling with the security details of all those Pakistani elite who maintain their exclusive summer homes in that town. Do you really think that all those people living in Abbottabad were that stupid, incompetent or oblivious for many years?
6: The whole idea that you can fly two large, low-observability but NOT stealth, helicopters into a town crawling with security details, army personal and defended by multiple air defense systems (including non-USA sourced radar and weaponry) without raising any alarms is laughable- at the very least. I mean, even some guy living a km or two away from that house who was live tweeting the event remarked about the noise caused by these supposedly stealthy “top-secret” american helicopters. You cannot seriously believe that nobody in a town crawling with army personal noticed something very odd about all those noise and commotion at that location and put two plus two together. Either more than a few people in that town knew exactly what was going down or that town is filled with retarded and partially deaf people.
7: The killing of bin Laden in May 2011 did give all the involved parties an easy way out of what would otherwise have been a PR disaster. The USA, and Obama, got their Hollywood action movie ending and bragging rights for killing that guy. Pakistani elites were able to avoid a public, and likely costly, spectacle. Also, some of them received extra money and other favors from the USA in return their cooperation. The Saudis were able to quietly wash their hands of the whole affair and maintain their public facade. I mean, doing it the way they did it in the end was likely the most profitable and easy route for all the major players in that game. Everybody except that guy was happier at the end of that day.
It is therefore my opinion that the basic facts and narrative framework of the report by Seymour Hersh (and R.J. Hillhouse) are consistent with what we know about the countries, organisations and individuals involved in that event, including their motivations to do what is described by both of those journalists. The “official” story, on the other hand, requires potential believers to suspend their critical thinking abilities.
What do you think? Comments?