Debunking 4 myths around bin Laden killing: torture, cowering, CIA, and Pakistan's involvement
A few things that caught my attention.
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Nevertheless, the "fact" that bin Laden's home had been "previously raided" has appeared in multiple news stories.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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2. Bin Laden cowered behind his wife.
I was on vacation when bin Laden's death was announced (indeed, still am, sort of). But the claims coming from first unnamed "sources" and then from Obama aide John Brennan that bin Laden, in his final moments, cowered behind a defenseless woman and forced her to act as a human shield, really shouldn't have passed anyone's smell test. Sure, we've all seen it dozens of times before: The villain, finally cornered, loses all bravado and honor and tries to force his own wife or girlfriend to take the bullet meant for him. But where we've seen it is in B movies and television shows. In real life, America's enemies rarely act so cartoonishly.
Brennan's account: "Here is bin Laden, who has been calling for these attacks, living in this million-dollar-plus compound, living in an area that is far removed from the front, hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield. I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years."
The US has since walked back almost every one of the claims Brennan made. White House spokesman Jay Carney explained that while a woman was killed in the assault, it was on the first floor, apparently in the crossfire. Bin Laden was found in a bedroom in the second floor with one of his wives, who was shot in the leg as she charged at the commandos. There was no cowering or otherwise use of anyone as a human shield. Mr. Carney attributed the mistaken original narrative to "fog of war."
Perhaps. But the US has been locked in a propaganda war with Al Qaeda and others for years, and would like nothing more than to convince bin Laden's supporters that he was a coward who deliberately put an unarmed women in harm's way in his final moments. Reporters should have been much less credulous in reporting this claim, tailor-made to serve US interests. (This paper was as guilty as anyone: "Bin Laden wives found in compound, one used as human shield" was the headline of a very popular story).
As for the rest? The compound may be worth $1 million, but it surely doesn't seem luxurious from pictures. It appears bin Laden never even went outside for fear of US surveillance.
3. The CIA trained Al Qaeda
The CIA invented Al Qaeda. Trained it, funded it, then it turned on its master. This old chestnut is almost as old as Al Qaeda itself. Bin Laden's death has breathed new life into it. Take left-wing activist and filmmaker Michael Moore who wrote in a tweet on May 2: "The monster we created -- yes, WE-in the 1980s by ARMING, FUNDING &TRAINING in the art of terror against the USSR, finally had to be put down." While it's hard to argue against the logical power of all CAPS or against a man with 800,000 Twitter followers, allow me to try.