Debunking 4 myths around bin Laden killing: torture, cowering, CIA, and Pakistan's involvement
A few things that caught my attention.
Osama bin Laden was not even hours dead when the partisan posturing, spin, and misinformation began to saturate television and computer screens. Sarah Palin may have taken the cake by accusing President Obama, who had just authorized a covert raid deep into Pakistan that ended with the death of public enemy No. 1 and without the loss of a single American life, of "pussyfooting."Skip to next paragraph
Dan Murphy is a staff writer for the Monitor's international desk, focused on the Middle East. Murphy, who has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, and more than a dozen other countries, writes and edits Backchannels. The focus? War and international relations, leaning toward things Middle East.
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But there's been plenty of spin, myth, and disinformation to go around. For instance:
1. Pakistan raided bin Laden's house before.
Shortly after the US gave its first briefings on how it had tracked bin Laden to his sprawling, fortified compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan officials began to make the case that they didn't know he was there. Sure, an outsider might think that the security cameras, barbed wire, and 7-foot walls even on a third floor balcony were a little bit suspicious, as was the total absence of telephone or Internet lines to the house, but who could have thought that bin Laden would be so wily as to hide out just a few blocks away from the country's most prestigious military academy? And, come on, if we were hiding bin Laden, would we be so dumb as to place him in the middle of a garrison town crawling with retired officers and active members of ISI military intelligence? As Jon Stewart ably pointed out on The Daily Show a few nights ago, the argument seems to be that Pakistani intelligence is far too smart to have hidden bin Laden in Abbottabad, where he appears to have lived for six years, but far too dumb to find him there.
Abbottabad has been known to harbor Al Qaeda affiliates in the past. Indonesian jihadi Umar Patek was caught in the city earlier this year, and former Pakistani President Pervez Musharaf wrote in his memoirs that senior Al Qaeda member Abu Faraj al-Libi had multiple safe-houses in the town that were uncovered around 2004. That nugget was seized on by the Pakistani intelligence official this week, though thanks to the good work of Reuters, to embarrassing effect. The official told Reuters that one of the Libi safe-houses may have in fact been the one that bin Laden later inhabited, his point apparently being that Pakistan was actively looking for Al Qaeda figures in the area, and just got unlucky in this instance. Leaving aside the question of why the ISI would end surveillance of a known Al Qaeda safe-house, Reuters came up with a more troubling fact about this narrative: The house bin Laden died in didn't exist in 2004. The link above contains before and after satellite photos.
Nevertheless, the "fact" that bin Laden's home had been "previously raided" has appeared in multiple news stories.