Electrifying investigation of White House lies about the assassination of Osama bin Laden
In 2011, an elite group of US Navy SEALS stormed an enclosure in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad and killed Osama bin Laden, the man the United States had begun chasing before the devastating attacks of 9/11. The news did much to boost President Obama’s first term and played a major part in his reelection victory of the following year. But much of the story of that night, as presented to the world, was incomplete, or a lie. The evidence of what actually went on remains hidden.
At the same time, the full story of the United States’ involvement in the Syrian civil war has been kept behind a diplomatic curtain, concealed by doublespeak. It is a policy of obfuscation that has compelled the White House to turn a blind eye to Turkey’s involvement in supporting ISIS and its predecessors in Syria.
This investigation, which began as a series of essays in the London Review of Books, has ignited a firestorm of controversy in the world media. In his introduction, Hersh asks what will be the legacy of Obama’s time in office. Was it an era of “change we can believe in” or a season of lies and compromises that continued George W. Bush’s misconceived War on Terror? How did he lose the confidence of the general in charge of America’s forces who acted in direct contradiction to the White House? What else do we not know?
Respected investigative journalist Hersh's controversial account of the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is the highlight of this collection of four essays originally published in the London Review of Books between May 2015 and January 2016. Few aspects of the official version of Seal Team Six's killing of bin Laden in May 2011 survive Hersh's scrutiny. For him, the White House's "most blatant lie" was that the American mission was kept secret from Pakistan's senior military leadership. Most of Hersh's essay derives from an unnamed "retired senior intelligence official" whose anonymity has been cited as the reason why Hersh's expos did not appear in another of his usual publications, the New Yorker. Not all of the source's arguments convince for example, even if bin Laden was no longer overseeing al-Qaeda operations, the White House could still have justified killing him rather than capturing him, undercutting the source's point that the White House lied about his role at the time of his death. The book's introduction, in which Hersh downplays Russian president Vladimir Putin's aggressive foreign policy, especially toward Ukraine, will also lead to questions about his objectivity. The three other essays offer new perspectives on President Obama's handling of the revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that buttress Hersh's view that the president was guilty of serious "lapses in judgment and integrity."