Sunday, August 14, 2011

Part I: The Bin Laden Raid, the New Yorker Article, and Useful Idiots

Apologies while I continue to add to this post; it's definitely morphing into something beyond the scope of the original title.

How do you know where to even start with this stuff? The August 8, 2011 edition of the New Yorker has an article by Nicholas Schmidle titled "Getting Bin Laden." The article is filled with "you are there" details, right down to what one of the Navy SEALs had in his pockets. However, we are rarely told by Schmidle specifically where he gets his detailed information.

Schmidle contends that the story was built on "about two dozen" interviews, including one with John O. Brennan "and other senior officials." He said he didn't interview any of the 23 SEALs involved in the mission, but a casual reader of the article would come away with the impression that he had direct access to at least some of them for this article--an impression that apparently Schmidle is happy to leave the reader with, an impression he continued to give in an NPR interview, an impression that NPR later had to correct. If you listen to the interview or read the transcript at NPR, and ditto with the NYer article, you would swear that Schmidle was right in the middle of this raid.

Some are calling the story a fraud. I don't think the story itself is a fraud, but I do think that Schmidle was schwindled--he was given the government-approved story about the raid, he wrote it up as if what he was told was all true, and soon (October 2012, right before the presidential election) we will have a movie based on the "facts" of this story. In short, Schmidle (as well as the New Yorker) is a useful idiot. He apparently took dictation for this article from government sources--all of which could be successfully "fact-checked" by the New Yorker staff, a magazine which prides itself on its "fact-checking" capabilities. David Remnick, the editor, says that he's satisfied with the accuracy of the account: "The sources [emphasis mine] spoke to our fact-checkers," he said. "I know who they are. Those are the rules of the road around here." But the distinction must be made between fact checking and source checking. What the New Yorker staff did was check the sources for the story, as Remnick's quote indicates. No one questions that certain sources gave Schmidle certain information and that Schmidle accurately repeated what he was told (dictation). The crux of the argument is this: if these were all simply government-approved sources from the Obama administration, then the story Schmidle was fed was the "correct" party line story of the raid, but it was not necessarily an accurate account of the event. To believe so is criminally naive. It would be as if Woodward and Bernstein had written about Watergate based on approved sources from Dick Nixon's White House.

And who were the stated sources for the story? Remember, Schmidle states that the story was built on "about two dozen" interviews. My contention is that very few of these "interviews" that Schmidle sites are interviews actually conducted by him--primary sources. I believe that the article is a pastiche of secondary sources, and that's the basis of my "dictation rather than journalism" claim. Schmidle just can't seem to help himself from adding these kinds of coy details: "It's a circuitous process," Schmidle said. "One source was willing to share something that gets a second source to talk. That opens up a third source. And then you go back to the first source." Yes, that's the process followed by journalists, but based on the article, that's not the process followed by Schmidle.

Here's an interesting article, posted at Columbia Journalism Review on August 12, 2011: "New Yorker keeps mum on fact-checking process for bin Laden piece." No.Duh. See below.

The "sources" mentioned in the article.

1. Shuja Nawaz, "an expert on the Pakistani Army" and author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within. Nawaz is a native of Pakistan and the "first director of the new South Asia Center of the Atlantic Council--"a leading authority on South Asia." --"told me"

2. "A Pakistani senior military official in Rawalpindi." --"whom I reached at his office"

3. Does he count as part of the "two dozen" a July 2009 CBS report that he cites? --secondary source

4. "John Brennan, Obama's counterterrorism advisor, told me that the President's advisors began an 'interrogation of the data, to see if [they could] . . . disprove the theory that bin Laden was there."

5. Does he count as part of the "two dozen" "a recent report in the Guardian that he sites? --secondary source

Most of the article is completely uncited as to source, with statements like these throughout: "In late 2010, Obama ordered Panetta to begin exploring options for a military strike on the compound. Panetta contacted Vice-Admiral Bill McRaven, the SEAL in charge of JSOC." I guess we're just supposed to believe this to be true because Schmidle says it's true. Is this the outstanding "fact checking" referred to by Remnick?

6. "A senior counterterrorism official" is the source he gives for the office used by "Brian" and "half a dozen" JSOC officers who supposedly planned the raid.

7. A "senior Defense Department official told me" that the lines between the C.I.A. and military personnel have increasingly blurred: "These people grew up together" is the quote from the official.

8. "John Radsan, a former assistant general counsel at the C.I.A., said that the Abbottabad raid amounted to "a complete incorporation of JSOC into a C.I.A. operation." On his website you can find multiple links to John Radsan in the news, so the Radsan quote is almost certainly a secondary, not a primary, source.

9. "There was a real lack of confidence that the Pakistanis could keep this secret for more than a nanosecond," a senior advisor to the President told me."

10. "'Special operations is about doing what's not expected, and probably the least expected thing here was that a helicopter would come in, drop guys on the roof, and land in the yard,' the special-operations officer said."

11. Schmidle quotes Gates, but it's not a quote that Gates gave to Schmidle--there's no "Gates told me" in the article, and I've seen the quotation elsewhere. Secondary source.

12. General James Cartwright, the vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Schmidle says he favored an airstrike, but "thirty-two smart bombs" which would be "required to penetrat thirty feet below ground, insuring any bunkers would collapse" --"That much ordnance going off would be the equivalent of an earthquake," Cartwright told me.

13. "This wasn't a hard op," the special-operations officer told me. "It would be like hitting a target in McLean." So is this the same special-operations officer of #10? So that would count as one of the "about two dozen" interviews.

14. "As the counterterrorism official put it recently, 'If you land and everybody is out on a milk run, then you get the hell out and no one knows.'" Is this the same one as #6? "The counterterrorism official told me that the percentages 'ranged from forty per cent to ninety or ninety-five per cent,' and added, 'This was a circumstantial case.'" It would appear from these quotations that Schmidle actually did have at least one personal interview with a "counterterrorism official."

15. "Yet as Ben Rhodes, a deputy national-security advisor, put it to me recently, the longer things dragged on, the greater the risk of a leak, 'which would have upended the thing.'" Ben Rhodes, on the White House webcast, looks 30-something. No way did he speak to Schmidle without White House authorization.

16. Schmidle consistently, throughout the article, refers specifically to two sources: "the counterterrorism official" and "the special-operations officer." I'm taking these as two interviews. "The JSOC planners, determined to keep the operation as secret as possible, had decided against using additional fighters or bombers. 'It just wasn't worth it,' the special-operations officer told me. The SEALS were on their own."

17. "A former helicopter pilot with extensive special-operations experience said of the pilot's situation, 'It's pretty spooky--I've been in it myself. The only way to get out of it is to push the cyclic forward and fly out of this vertical silo you're dropping through. That solution requires altitude. If you're settling with power at two thousand feet, you've got plenty of time to recover. If you're settling with power at fifty feet, you're going to hit the ground.'"

18. "'Eternity is defined as the time between when you see something go awry and that first voice report,' the special-operations officer said." Same interview as 16, 13, and 10.

19. "The senior advisor to the President compared the experience to watching 'the climax of a movie.'" But since "senior advisors" (five of them) gave a phone interview at midnight on May 2, did he simply take this quotation from one of those senior advisors? Secondary source. Same as #9?

20. "The senior Defense Department official told me that 'this was not one of three missions. This was one of almost two thousand missions that have been conducted over the last couple of years, night after night.' He likened the routine of the raids to 'mowing the lawn. . . . Most of the missions take off and go left,' he said. 'This one took off and went right.'" Same as #7?

21. Schmidle has a quotation from Ahmed, the translator, but as for eveythting in this article that discusses the details of the raid, Schmidle offers no source. "'Go back to your houses,' Ahmed said, in Pashto, as Cairo [the dog] stood watch.'" --no source.

22. "The SEALs were not wearing helmet cams, contrary to a widely cited report by CBS." --no source. Here Schmidle contradicts many other sources who say there were helmet cams. WHY NO SOURCE? Oh, that's right, New Yorker editor Remnick has checked all of this out for us, so we're just supposed to believe their excellent fact-checking department. Bull shit. Let's ask this, just one time. If this were the Bush administration, would Remnick believe that "fact" from the Bush administration? Would he?

23. "The counterterrorism official claims that Khalid was unarmed, though still a threat worth taking seriously. 'You have an adult male, late at night, in the dark, coming down the stairs at you in an Al Qaeda house--your assumption is that you're encountering a hostile.'" Same as #14 and #6?

24. "'You can only be hyper-vigilant for so long,' the special-operations officer said. 'Did bin Laden go to sleep every night thinking, The next night they're coming? Of course not. Maybe for the first year or two. But now now.'" Same as #10, 13, 16?

25. "The SEAL instantly sensed that it was Crankshaft." This is what bothers me about this article--no sources for this kind of "fact." This is screenplay-writing, it's not journalism. Schmidle goes on to say, "The counterterrorism official asserts that the SEAL first saw bin Laden on the landing, and fired but missed." So, Editor Remnick, just how to we FACT-CHECK that one??? (same as #6, 14, and 23?)

26. "Fearing that one or both women were wearing suicide jackets, he [the SEAL] stepped forward, wrapped them in a bear hug, and drove them inside. He would almost certainly have been killed had they blown themselves up, but by blanketing them he would have absorbed some of the blast and potentially save the two SEALs behind him." NO SOURCE--zip, zero, nada. But that's OK, we'll just believe the outstanding fact checkers of the New Yorker.

27. The special-operations officer told Schmidle about the pornography found at the compound: "We find it on all these guys, whether they're in Somalia, Iraq, or Afghanistan." Same as #10, 13, 16, and 24?

28. The SEALs destroyed the damaged Black Hawk. "'You're not going to hide the fact that it's a helicopter,' the special-operations officer said. 'But you want to make it unusable.'" #10, 13, 16, 24, 27.

29. "I'm glad no one was hurt in the crash, but, on the other hand, I'm sort of glad we left the helicopter there," the special-operations officer said. "It quiets the conspiracy mongers out there and instantly lends credibility. You believe everything else instantly, because there's a helicopter sitting there." #10, 13, 16, 24, 27, 28

30. Ben Rhodes, the deputy national-security advisor, who travelled with Obama, is quoted in the article with information about Obama's meeting with "the DEVGRU unit and the pilots who pulled off the raid." Said Rhodes, The President was "in awe of these guys. It was an extraordinary base visit. They knew he had staked his Presidency on this. He knew they staked their lives on it." This is Obama's very young speech writer who would not be speaking for attribution with the OK from the White House.

31. Schmidle has quotes from "James" from the meeting at Fort Campbell, KY. But of course he doesn't say where he got the quotes, yet is happy to leave the impression that he was there, taking this down first-hand in his little reporter's notebook. But since he later had to admit that he hadn't talked to any of the SEALs, how exactly did the New Yorker "fact check" this one?

My conclusion: there's nothing in Schmidle's article that wasn't vetted and blessed by the Obama administration. This is the party line version of "Getting Bin Laden," and if I were a betting person, I would expect to see the "October surprise" movie version, starring brave, decisive Rhambo Obama, will be very close to what we have here in the Schmidle article.

One woman who says she knows Schmidle well is obviously uncomfortable with Schmidle's "deeply detailed" and "riveting" account: C. Christine Fair in "The Schmidle Muddle of the Osama Bin Laden Take Down." Fair goes into detail about what bothers her in the article, including this detail: "He even describes how the translator Ahmed hollered in Pashto at the locals that a security operation was ongoing to allay their suspicions about the nature of the cacophony in the cantonment town. (This detail caught my eye as the majority of persons in Abbottabad, where the raid took place, speak Hindko rather than Pashto.)"

So after reading the New Yorker Schmidle article, I wanted to compare the article with what we were told and when we were told it about the Osama bin Laden death raid by the Obama administration. It's clear that Barry's collective White House "team" as he is so fond of referring to (the buck doesn't stop with Barry, it stops with his "team"), had a heck of a time getting their stories straight.

How many different stories did we hear of this picture alone? I think the first fairy tale about this "official" WH photo from the Situation Room [they said it was the Situation Room, but even that wasn't true] was that "the White House security team watched the entire raid, live and in real time." That was such a ludicrous story that the WH immediately had to come out with a different lie correction. The descriptions of what this gang of liars was doing in the official photo op changed almost daily. Maybe to try to understand what was going on, we need a timeline.

The blue-colored font is from The NYer article.

August, 2010. Panetta went to the White House with the news that C.I.A. analysts believed they had identified bin Laden's courier. He's the one who led them to the compound in Abbottabad. The speculation at that time was that one of the men living in the compound was Osama bin Laden.

"Late 2010." Obama ordered Panetta to begin exploring options for a military strike on the compound. So what were they doing from August to "late" in the year? If the C.I.A. thought they knew where OBL was, then what was the holdup?

January, 2011. Vice-Adm Bill McRaven, in charge of JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command), contactacted a JSOC official named "Brian" to present a raid plan. "The next month," Brian moved into an unmarked office at the C.I.A.'s printing plant in Langley, VA and worked with "half a dozen" JSOC officers to come up with a plan.

February, 2011. This is according to the National Journal article (see below, May 2): The C.I.A. could say with "high probability" that bin Laden and his family were living in the Abbottabad compound.

Wednesday, April 20. The release date of Dr. Jerome Corsi's book, Where's the Birth Certificate? is announced as May 17, and pre-sales begin on Within hours, the book is #1 on Amazon.

Wednesday, April 27. Obama's Team (TM) releases a PDF image said to be a scan of his original long-form Hawaiian BC. The image is debunked within hours as being an "astoundingly incompetent forgery."

Wednesday, April 27. From an article posted on the NYer website by Ryan Lizza, "Leading from Behind": "The phrase "leading from behind," which an Obama advisor recently used in an interview with me to describe the Administration's approach to Libya,...." It's very possible that April 27 was actually one of Obama's worst, if not THE worst, day of his administration. If you read Lizza's entire article, it looks as though he's pretty aggressively trying to rehabilitate that quotation.

Friday, April 29. According to an Associated Press report, published May 2, "Obama approved an operation to kill bin Laden." The article, posted on the Fox News website, reported that "Obama tapped a small contingent of the Navy's elite SEAL Team Six and put them under the command of CIA Director Leon Panetta."

Sunday May 1 - Monday May 2. The story is, Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan by Navy Seals on May 2, shortly after 1 a.m. local time. So that means this photo was taken in Washington, D.C. at 4:00 p.m., Sunday, May 1.

Sunday, May 1. Obama makes a statement from the White House about the killing of OBL. The WH alerted the press corps at 9:30 p.m.EDT that the president would speak within the hour.

"Sunday night." According to the National Journal account by Marc Ambinder (see below), C.I.A. Director Leon Panetta sent out a memo that "provides some hints of how the information was collected and analyzed."

Monday, May 2. Immediately, news of the raid in amazing detail is reported in several outlets. The Huffington Post has a report of the raid, first posted at 3:44 AM ET: "Osama Bin Laden Dead: Inside the Raid that Killed Him." "Details were provided in interviews with counterterrorism and intelligence authorities, senior administration officials and U.S. officials. All spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive operation." [More accurately, they spoke "on background," unless these "senior officials" were giving Huff Po information that wasn't given out at the press briefing at midnight on May 2--see below. It may be splitting hairs to make the distinction, and it's probably more than can be expected of the Huff Po people that they would get this right--or even understand the distinction.]

Monday, May 2, The New York Times, official mouthpiece of the Barry Soetoro Hussein Obama administration, came out with the STORY OF THE RAID. We can be sure that, at that time, this was the "official" story of what happened that day--the one that Obama Team (TM) wanted the world to hear: "Behind the Hunt for Bin Laden." The raid took place on May 1-2. Can someone tell me how The NYT was able to come up with the information for this article for their May 2 newspaper? The details are sourced as "administration officials" or "the officials." Again, like the New Yorker Schmidle story, this story as well can only be described as dictation, not journalism.

[Update: On the White House website, dated 2 May 2011 and timed 12:03 A.M. EDT, there is a document titled: "Press Briefing by Senior Administration Officials on the Killing of Osama bin Laden." "Senior Administration Officials" are quoted as sources; the briefing was via conference call. Call me cynical, but I'm just imagining that this transcript version of the conference call was doctored for the wide, general audience of the WH website. It's interesting to note that this version of events says that bin Laden was "killed in a firefight."  --at the end: "Just to remind everyone, this call is on background, as senior administration officials." The call lasted for about 20 minutes. The information is quite detailed and was given out at midnight on the day after the raid--which begs the question, why was so much detailed information given about a SEAL team operation? Has this ever been done before?] According to the National Journal account posted on Monday morning (see below), five "senior administration officials" were involved in the press briefing.

Monday, May 2, the National Journal posted an article by Marc Ambinder (9:40 A.M.): "The Secret Team that Killed bin Laden." This is yet another hugely detailed article put out by yet another left-wing source. Obviously someone in Barry's administration wanted this level of detail out there. So by at least 9:40 on Monday morning, the word was out about exactly who had executed this raid. Ambinder says that bin Laden was "done in by a double tap--boom, boom--to the left side of his face." Ambinder goes on to say that the special-missions units of JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) "report to the president." He adds, "Though the general public knows about the special SEALs and their brothers in Delta Force, most JSOC missions never leak." --OK, brother, tell us of even ONE other JSOC mission that has leaked--ever. The article goes into great detail about JSOC, it's organization, types of missions, intelligence gathering, where it gets its funding, etc. This writer either had all of this in the can, ready to use when something broke, or he was given all of this by someone--to what end? If you are JSOC, are you happy that this information is out there? I think not.

Monday, May 2, the Huffington Post reported that the White House had released "behind the scenes" photos of the Situation Room during the mission to kill bin Laden. HuffPo had an entire slide show of photos, one of which was the photo of the "tense" group in the Situation Room [It wasn't the Situation Room, according to the NYer article; the room where they were sitting during that photo was a "small adjoining office" where the group wnt to view "the only video feed in the White House showing real-time footage of the target."]. The photo was also used in The NYT article from the same day.

Monday, May 2, John O. Brennan, White House counterterrorism chief, told reporters during a Monday briefing that the woman killed by U.S. forces in the raid was one of Bin Laden's wives: her body was positioned in a way that suggested "she was being used as a shield." By the end of the day, the White House had to back off of Brennan's statement, saying the woman was not bin Laden's wife and she may simply have been caught in the crossfire. In the same briefing, Brennan said that bin Laden had "joined in the fight" against the Navy Seals. Brennan: "He [bin Laden] was engaged in a firefight with those that entered the area of the house he was in. And whether or not he got off any rounds, I quite frankly don't know." That statement also was "corrected" on Tuesday, May 3 by White House Press Sec'y Jay Carney. One "U.S. official" gave this excuse for the mix-up: "This is hours old and the full facts are still being ascertained as those involved are debriefed."

Then here's an idea for O's "team," if they're still really trying to figure out what happened on Monday, May 2 (or more likely, trying to figure out how to spin what happened): STFU!

Monday, May 2, posted at 4:23 p.m. ET: "A senior White House official tells NBC News that the U.S. has completed the DNA analysis and it has come back with a nearly 100 percent match to his relatives." The post goes on to say that "the test explains why President Barack Obama was confident to announce the death to the world Sunday night." A detailed explanation of the DNA evidence and how the test would have been done was posted at National Journal: "Did DNA Finger bin Laden?" Also, we are told, "the body was photographed before being buried at sea."

Monday, May 2, from an interview between Jeffrey Brown and Margaret Warner, Senior Correspondent on PBS's nightly news program, the PBS NewsHour. Warner is also the lead correspondent for the PBS NewsHour's Overseas Reporting Unit, reporting from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and etc. Warner: "They also, of course, planned for every eventuality, taken dead or alive, what to do with the remains, how to do quick forensic analysis, so they could dispose of the body within 24 hours." Warner goes on to report what Brennan said about the raid: "the minutes passed like days, and every moment was tense. But the tensest [sic] moment came when one of the helicopters they had taken in there essentially stalled out. It got on the ground, but it stalled out. And they needed it to get out." Then Warner discusses the decision about whether or not to release the photos of dead bin Laden, and she said: "Brennan said, you know, you don't want to do anything that could encumber or threaten any future missions. Jeffrey Brown signs off at the end of the interview: Margaret Warner from the White House, thanks a lot.

As if putting out all this freaking information about the mission might not THREATEN FUTURE MISSIONS? Give me a break.

Monday, May 2, the Washington Post reports that Osama bin Laden was "buried at sea" on Monday. The same article gave information about the Navy SEALs: "The raiding team reportedly was led by U.S. Navy SEALS." And this: "A senior defense official told reporters at the Pentagon that bin Laden's body was buried at sea from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson after traditional Islamic rites including washing of the corpse." This same article says that bin Laden was killed by U.S. bullets after a 40 minute firefight at the compound--which is an incorrect interpretation of the information given out by "senior administration sources." This gang at the WaPo evidently can't even take correct dictation. In another article published by WaPo, the specific Navy SEAL unit involved in the raid is named.

Monday, May 2, WaPo reports on their online blog about Sohaib Athar's tweets from his home in Abbottabad during the attack--tweeting in real time. His tweets are here.

Monday, May 2, The Hollywood Reporter: "How Will Osama Bin Laden Death Impact Kathryn Bigelow's 'Kill Bin Laden' Movie?" I kid you not, that's a for-real post, dated May 2. "We hear Bigelow and Boal are digesting the news and will spend the week figuring out their next move. We can be sure that Boal will be using his extensive intelligence connections to get the inside dope on the mission. And if they move forward, the final film will no doubt be authentic and timely."

Tuesday, May 3, more "you are there" information put out by "White House officials" on Monday had to be walked back. Evidently someone on Barry's "team" decided that Brennan was a loose cannon, so they jerked him off the stage and replaced him with Leon Panetta. In a "newsmaker interview" with Jim Lehrer at PBS, CIA Director Leon Panetta described "the final tense seconds of the commando raid on the compound." He told Lehrer that neither he nor Obama watched the raid in real time. Panetta: "once those teams went into the compound I can tell you that there was a time period of almost 20 or 25 minutes where we really didn't know just exactly what was going on."

Tuesday, May 3. Here's something for the rumor mill. I don't like being called a whacko conspiracy theorist; I don't think anyone does. However, I'll put this out there: there's a persistent story on the internet that says Panetta was the one who ordered the bin Laden raid--that President Dither could never come to a decision about the raid, that Valerie Jarrett was opposed to it, and her opposition was enough to plant uncertainty in Obama about giving the go-ahead. This story matches what we know about Obama's personality and how it's part of his leadership style to dither for days, weeks, or months on end before making a decision--or often to fail to take a position altogether. So that this is what's being said about the bin Laden raid is no surprise--that he continued as the months went by to avoid having an opinion about what and how they should go forward with the intelligence on bin Laden. I don't know how to evaluate this information; I haven't found another source that corroborates this version of events. All I can say is, read it for yourself in light of the (ever-changing) "official" version of events.

Tuesday, May 3, Leon Panetta, CIA Director, is interviewed on CBS News by Katie Couric, when he said that "U.S. officials had assumed 'from the beginning' that Osama bin Laden would be killed in the raid on his compound."

Tuesday, May 3, Leon Panetta is interviewed on NBC News by Brian Williams. Panetta told Williams, "I don't think there's--there's was any question that ultimately a photograph [of dead bin Laden] would be presented to the public. Obviously I've seen those photographs. We've analyzed them and there's no question that it's bin Laden." He also said that the Pakistanis "did not know anything" about this mission. Panetta said once and then repeated again that they had the best intelligence on the location of bin Laden "since Tora Bora" and that the President felt "we had that obligation to act."

Tuesday, May 3, The NYT reports that while White House officials were still deciding what to do about the photo, "one official" said they were "leaning toward releasing the photo."

Tuesday, May 3, The NYT Opinion Pages: Maureen Dowd posts her op-ed column, "Cool Hand Barack." Don't read this thing unless you have a strong stomach. She writes that Obama's "studied cool and unreadable mein" allowed him to put on a tuxedo and give a comedy speech on Saturday night in a Washington ballroom "after giving the order for members of a Navy Seals [sic] team to execute a fantastically daring plan to, let's be honest, execute Osama bin Laden." Dowd says the timing was "good, blunting the infelicitous remarks made recently to The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza by an Obama advisor, who described the president as 'leading from behind.'"

Tuesday, May 3, the website Blackfive weighs in on the raid with a post titled, "Squandering Our Victory": "Of course, this White House has never been very good at sharing credit and it is that infantile demand for attention that is causing this victory to become muddled in conflicting accounts and naked political point scoring."

Wednesday, May 4, The Guardian reports on the photo: "US confirms it will not release Osama bin Laden death photo." Obama's reasoning: the photo would be "an incitement to additional violence." I remember all the BS back-and-forth about releasing the photo, and frankly, at the time it seemed to me to be just something to divert people from more important issues--"Look at the shiny thing over here!"

Wednesday, May 4, The Telegraph reports that "further doubts emerged about the US version of events."

Wednesday, May 4, The NYT reports on the "SEALs' All-Star Team." This is beyond belief. This sycophantic newspaper, mouthpiece of Barack Hussein Obama, makes me want to puke. From the first paragraph: "the success of the mission turned on some two dozen men who landed inside the Qaeda leader's compound, made their way to his bedroom and shot him at close range--all while knowing that the president of the United States was keeping watch from Washington." It will be a happy day when The NYT goes out of business.

Thursday, May 5, Leon Panetta, CIA Director, states that there was no live video footage of the raid, that there was a period of "20 to 25 minutes where we really didn't know just exactly what was going on," he said in an interivew with PBS. It's impossible to know whether Panetta's claim of "no live footage" is BS or true. But evidently, from other reports, the SEALs were wearing helmet cams and caught the raid on tape.

Thursday, May 5. Fox News publishes a detailed report about the firefight in the compound on its website: "Sources: Bin Laden Acted 'Cowardly,' Confused in Final Moments."

Thursday, May 5. Ann Barnhardt writes in her article, "Execution of SEAL Team Six" that she had an email conversation on this date with a "retired military man with spook contacts. All were in total agreement that the Bin Laden episode was pure theater. The SEALs were sent into a compound as evidenced by the lost chopper on the site. But Osama Bin Laden wasn't in that compound. Osama Bin Laden has been dead for years." [The article was posted August 7, 2011.]

Thursday, May 5. The White House, with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications as the speaker, put on a webcast, billed for middle school and high school students. He sounds like a Valley girl?, with his sentences all ending in a question? He can barely get through a sentence without "um's" and "uh's"--quite a wordsmith. What I find fascinating about his remarks is that he says the president's National Security Team was "literally receiving real time information" when that picture was taken and during the raid. He told the students: "That means that I’m responsible for all of the president’s speech writing on foreign policy issues and national security issues, as well as our, uh, communications, uh, both here in the United States and abroad."

Friday, May 6, Hillary Clinton tells the press that she had "no idea" what she was watching when the photographer snapped the picture. Said Clinton: "Those were 38 of the most intense minutes. I have no idea what any of us were looking at that particular milisecond when the picture was taken. I am somewhat sheepishly concerned that it was my preventing one of my early spring allergy coughs. So, it may have no great meaning whatsoever."

Friday, May 6, Obama travels to Fort Campbell, KY where the helicopter pilots are based. [This is from the CBS 60 Minutes interview with Steve Kroft, below.] "He reportedly met them behind closed doors along with the Navy SEALS who carried out the assault. It's unlikely you will ever see the faces, or learn the names of those who avenged 9/11 and finally disposed of its mastermind. Their identities are classified and likely to remain so."

The Washington Post reports that Obama met with "some" of the Navy SEALS who raided Osama bin Laden's compound. "The identities of the men who killed bin Laden are likely to remain secret. White House officials released few details of Friday’s meetings and would not formally confirm whether Obama met members of SEAL Team 6, whose existence is classified." Was there some reason for the White House not to confirm that Obama met with the SEAL team? I mean, considering all the other details that were immediately reported by Obama's "team," why not confirm that Obama met with the SEALs? Reportedly, joining Obama and Biden in the private meetings were Adm. Eric T. Olson, the commander of U.S. Special Operations, and Vice Adm. William H. McRaven, the head of Joint Special Operations Command [JSOC] and the man who directed the SEALs' mission. "Nearly 80 U.S. commandos were involved in the top-secret mission, including about two dozen who entered bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan....Obama used his appearance to speak broadly about the war in Afghanistan, where he has pledged to start reducing troops by July."

Friday, May 6. Michelle Malkin posts this article on her website: "The Fog of Fog": "the hourly revamping of key details of Sunday's raid suggests something far beyond the usual realm of situational undertainty that accompanies any military operation."

Sunday, May 8, Barack Obama gives a 30-minute interview about the bin Laden raid on 60 Minutes. The interview was conducted on Wednesday, May 4 and shown on Sunday, May 8. The interview was conducted by Steve Kroft, and the questions have the tone of, "How does it feel to be so cool?" Predictably, Kroft lets Obama blather on with his answers. Kroft asks Obama how involved he was in the planning process. "About as active as any project that I've been involved with since I've been president." He says he wasn't involved in "designing the initial plan." Obama says he knows Osama was in that compound for "five years." At the end of the day, he says, "this was still a 55/45 situation." They couldn't say definitely bin Laden was there. He says he made the decision "Thursday night, informed my team Friday morning....This was in the back of my mind all weekend." He says that the "vast majority of my most senior aides did not know we were doing this." He says the mood in the room was tense: "doing a lot of listening as well, 'cause we were able to monitor the situation in real time. Getting reports back from Bill McRaven, the head of our Special Forces operations as well as Leon Panetta. There were big chunks of time in which all we were doin' was just waiting. And it was the longest 40 minutes of my life with the possible exception of when Sasha got meningitis when she was three months old and I was waiting for the doctor to tell me that she was all right. It was a very tense situation. [Like when Sasha had meningitis? Seriously?] Kroft asks Obama, "What could you see," and the dancer-in-chief deftly parries that one by saying, "We were monitoring the situation . . . but we could not get information clearly about what was happening inside the compound. . . . We had a sense of when gunfire and explosions took place." Really? Could that answer be any more nebulous?

Tuesday, May 10. Maureen Dowd posts an article at The NYT. "Maybe it's because I watched the videos of Osama bin Laden released by the Obama administration...." So Maureen Dowd and who else had access to the videos of OBL? What videos, exactly? Dowd continues: "Now Hollywood will have its say....The inside track goes to director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, the pair who won Oscars for 'The Hurt Locker,' a movie about a bomb-defusing team of soldiers in Iraq....Then the Navy Seal Team 6 dropped from Pakistan sky. And now the duo, planning for a 2012 release, have an exciting ending and excited financiers."

Thursday, May 12, Attorney General Eric Holder told the BBC that the raid on bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan was a "kill or capture" mission. "What happened to bin Laden was not an assassination," Holder said. And that would be true--how? Also, see Tuesday, May 3, Leon Panetta's comment which directly contradicts Holder.

Thursday, May 12, Defense Sec'y Robert Gates speaks at a town hall meeting at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. "Frankly, a week ago Sunday, in the Situation Room, we all agreed that we would not release any operational details from the effort to take out bin Laden. That all fell apart on Monday, the next day. [Actually, it "fell apart" as early as a midnight telephone conference with "journalists" (I use the term loosely, thus the scare quotes) and "Senior Administration Officials"--see above.

At the meeting, a Marine asked Gates what measures were being taken to protect "the identities and lives" of the SEALs involved in the takedown of bin Laden from a threat of retaliation. "The Marine's question underscored sentiment among military and intelligence communities that identification of the team signified an unprecedented breach of confidentiality."

Gates's answer: "The one thing I would tell you, though, is that I think there has been a consistent and effective effort to protect the identities of those who participated in the raid, and I think that has to continue."

Thursday, May 12. CBS reports that "SEAL helmet cams recorded entire bin Laden raid." "CBS news national security correspondent David Martin reports the 40 minutes it took to kill bin Laden and scoop his archives into garbage bags were all recorded by tiny helmet cameras worn by each of the 25 SEALs."

Saturday, May 14. Daily Mail Online reports on the helmet cams: "Navy Seals helmet cam DID film whole Bin Laden raid: Extraordinary blow-by-blow details of terror chief's final moments." The ONE attribution in the article is "according to CBS news." The article is filled with details not found in the "CBS reports" article of May 12.

Wednesday, June 22. Obama announces the Afghan troop withdrawal. O'Bama declared in his address to the nation: "the tide of war is receding," and he announced a plan to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year.

Friday, August 5. A Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan, killing 30 Americans, 7 Afghans, and 1 interpreter. According to an LA Times article that was posted on August 6, White House national security advisor Tom Donilon notified Obama of the incident shortly after 8 p.m. on Friday.

Saturday, August 6. Posted as an op-ed column at The NYT by Maureen Dowd: "Downgrade Blues." "The White House clearly blessed the dramatic reconstruction of the mission by Nicholas Schmidle in The New Yorker--so vividly descriptive of the Seals' [sic] looks, quotes and thoughts that Schmidle had to clarify after the piece was published that he had not actually talked to any of them." And then this: "The White House is also counting on the Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal big-screen version of the killing of Bin Laden to counter Obama's growing reputation as ineffectual....The moviemakers are getting top-level access to the most classified mission in history from an administration that has tried to throw more people in jail for leaking classified information than the Bush administration. It was clear that the White House had outsourced the job of manning up the president's image to Hollywood when Boal got welcomed to the upper echelons of the White House and the Pentagon and showed up recently--to the surprise of some military officers--at a C.I.A. ceremony celebrating the hero Seals [sic]. 

Monday, August 8. Posted at National Review Online, "Media Blog: NRO's MSM watchdog": "Maureen Dowd: How Hollywood Can 'Man Up' President Obama." One of the commenters at the site is suggesting that Steve Urkel will play Obama. Haha.

Monday, August 8. The New Yorker publishes the Nicholas Schmidle article: "Getting Bin Laden: What happened that night in Abbottabad. "Bin Laden's death provided the White House with the symbolic victory it needed to begin phasing troops out of Afghanistan."

Wednesday, August 10. From "Congressman Pete King's" website: "King Calls for Investigation of Reports of Obama Administration-Sanctioned Film on Classified bin Laden Mission." The text of the letter is found at the link. One of the questions King wants answered is "how many human intelligence sources and how many Agency intelligence methods have been compromised due to leaks about the May 1st raid?"

I hope as Rep. King is making his investigation, someone will clue him in on the article that this Mark Boal, "screenwriter," wrote for Rolling Stone, published March 27, 2011: "The Kill Team: How U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan Murdered Innocent Civilians" (Subtitle: "Plus: An exclusive look at the war crime images the Pentagon tried to censor." And this was the guy invited to a "C.I.A. ceremony celebrating Navy SEALs"? (see Maureen Dowd article, Aug. 6, above) The RS article is complete with "THE CENSORED IMAGES." [See also a critique of the article, posted March 30, 2011, by Carl Prine: "Rolling Porn," who says "the article "wasn't very well written, researched or edited, which is a shame because most of the facts it details are true." The article also doesn't mention until PAGE 5 that SPC Jeremy Morlock pleaded guilty to his role in the murders and now faces a quarter century in prison--and that he and others in the squad were charged in May 2010.

Wednesday, August 10. There's a guy I like and respect very much, who used to go under the name of "Doc Zero" at HotAir. Now he publishes his stuff at Human Events under his name, John Hayward. "Gutsy Call: The Movie. Hollywood's love letter to Barack the Slayer." He references Maureen Dowd's article: "Dowd doesn't think any of this reflects badly on Obama or the filmmakers. The rest of us can only marvel at the stupendous value of the completely unregulated campaign contribution Hollywood is making to the failed President." Hayward wonders, as do I, "How will they depict Obama's 16-hour delay in making history's gutsiest call?"

Thursday, August 11. Posted at the American Thinker by M. Catharine Evans: "Maureen Dowd's Loose Lips About Navy Seals [sic] Movie Causes Inquiry." The article says that Rep Peter King (R-NY) read the NYT article and "quickly penned a letter" to Gordon S. Heddell, Inspector General at the DOD. The movie, according to Evans' article, is set to be released "3 weeks before voters head to the polls in 2012." Evans says that King has asked for an investigation into the "attendance of filmmakers at a meeting with special operators and Agency officers at CIA Headquarters."

Sunday, August 14. From the LA Times opinion page: "Hunt for Bin Laden Profits." The gist of the article is that the timing of the film about bin Laden is "driven by money not politics." Sure. Any chance it's driven by both money and politics?

In Part II I want to look at the Chinook helicopter crash in light of what we "know" about the death raid on bin Laden.

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