7 Deceptions About Bin Laden's Killing Pushed by the Obama Administration
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4. Larger Force
According to the New York Times , the team comprised 79 special forces operators and a dog, 3 times the number of troops originally reported. This is relevant to the question of whether they could have taken bin Laden alive had that been their goal. As David Dayen noted, “the SEALs were well-trained and had the element of surprise, and this overmatched their foes, who were not plentiful – there was not a phalanx of bodyguards protecting the al Qaeda leader.”
5. No “Picture-Perfect” Operation
According to the Associated Press, “Navy SEALs carried out what those involved call a textbook military operation that killed the world’s most wanted man, Osama bin Laden.” It's an odd assertion, given that the raid appears to have resulted in a coveted, highly classified technology falling into the hands of a rival state.
ABC reports that one of the four helicopters used in the raid was damaged and destroyed by the SEAL team. But the parts left behind in the compound revealed a “top secret, never-before-seen stealth-modified helicopter” that had previously only been “rumored to exist.” According to the report, “photographs emerged of large sections being taken from the crash site under a tarp,” and former White House counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke “said U.S. officials may have reason to worry about where those parts end up.”
"There are probably people in the Pentagon tonight who are very concerned that pieces of the helicopter may be, even now, on their way to China, because we know that China is trying to make stealth aircraft," he said. The Chinese military is known to have a close relationship with the Pakistani military.
6. Not Living in Luxury
On Monday, defense officials told reporters that bin Laden was holed up in a million-dollar compound and wondered what other terrorists might make of the situation "when they see that their leader was living, relatively speaking, high on the hog."
I fell for this one myself, writing on Monday that “bin Laden was living in the lap of luxury among our allies, not in either of the countries we've invaded and occupied since 9/11.” But according to The Guardian , “local estimates suggest the house is worth $250,000.”
Footage from inside the compound shows little sign of luxury. Cooking equipment was shown on the floor, the decor seemed shabby, medicines were left on a shelf with no cabinet and the pantry seemed rudimentary. The paint was peeling outside the building and there was no sign of air-conditioning.
7. White House Wasn't Watching the Whole Operation Unfold
On Monday, John Brennan said, "We were able to monitor in a real-time basis the progress of the operation from its commencement to its time on target to the extraction of the remains and to then the egress off of the target.” This gave way to the now iconic images of Obama, Hillary Clinton, and others watching intensely from the White House situation room. But the next day, CIA Director Leon Panetta told PBS, “Once those teams went into the compound, I can tell you that there was a time period of almost 20 or 25 minutes that we really didn't know just exactly what was going on. There were some very tense moments as we were waiting for information. ”
Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy (and Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America) . Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter .