A New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story Oct. 18 raises questions about the Obama administration’s account of a 2011 raid killing alleged 9/11 planner Osama bin Laden.
The generally sympathetic profile of investigative reporter Seymour Hersh (shown in a file photo) highlighted his controversial but seldom re-reported challenge last spring to conventional wisdom about bin Laden’s death during the Navy SEAL raid. News, commentary, and film recreations of the raid helped establish foreign policy credibility for the president’s re-election campaign in 2012.
The Times treatment comes at the same time that separate investigative reports and Western foreign policy reverses raises similar questions about the veracity and even morality of the bipartisan U.S. foreign policy establishment in ways seldom seen since the Vietnam War era.
We begin with investigative reports regarding the death of bin Laden. Separate columns soon shall cover:
- News reports Oct. 18 that Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed in 2002 to support the Bush administration’s Iraq War more than a year before either country told its citizens that war was justified;
- New documents describe U.S. drone attacks as killing far more civilians than previously reported;
- Russia’s recent initiatives in Syria, including reports that it has used advanced technology to create a zone in Syria where Western electronics (including flight and satellite imagery) do not function; and
- Continuing controversies over a London subway bombing in 2007 that constituted UK’s “9/11” and the Boston Marathon Bombing of 2103.
In the aggregate, these developments are very important. Greater public understanding of foreign affairs could lead to a reduction of military confrontations and orchestrated coups and rebellions.
Conversely, leaders could also react by escalating war budgets, leading to direct confrontation between major nations — deriving not so much from investigative articles, of course, but instead from a U.S./NATO confrontation (possibly over a “No Fly Zone” in Syria) with Russia and its allies.
Hersh: Federal Authorities Might Lie About Sensitive Matters
In What Do We Really Know About Osama bin Laden’s Death? the New York Times Sunday Magazine published a sympathetic examination by staff writer Jonathan Mahler, a specialist on the media, of Hersh’s article last spring, The Killing of Osama bin Laden. In it, Hersh cited unnamed sources to challenge the veracity of official accounts about the SEAL raid from the Obama administration and military/intelligence sources.
The magazine cover was illustrated by a deliberately blurry image of bin Laden by designer Neil Kellerhouse (shown at left) that suggests the mysteries involved in the death.
The Times story prompted a harsh attack of the newspaper and Hersh in Vanity Fair Magazine from Mark Bowden, an author of a book about the 2011 raid and a defender of the official story.
Mahler’s reporting for the New York Times article profiled the acerbic and otherwise colorful Hersh and his sleuthing. It did not attempt to resolve the mysteries surrounding bin Laden’s death in a definitive manner.
Nonetheless, Mahler’s article was important because the Times, like other prestige outlets, tends to avoid high-profile treatment of claims that top government authorities might lie or otherwise deceive the public on vital matters involving national security. Thus, these outlets tend to ignore criticism of official accounts of 9/11 and 1960s political assassinations instead of covering the topics like other news, with pro and con viewpoints on relevant evidence and commentary.
President Obama announces death of Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011