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Is the New York Times Awakening to U.S. Government Deception?


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Excerpts from the article "The Mysteries of Abbottabad - What do we really know about the killing of Osama Bin Laden?" by Jonathan Mahler, The New York Times Magazine, October 18, 2015:

It’s not that the truth about bin Laden’s death is unknowable; it’s that we don’t know it. And we can’t necessarily console ourselves with the hope that we will have more answers any time soon; to this day, the final volume of the C.I.A.’s official history of the Bay of Pigs remains classified. We don’t know what happened more than a half-century ago, much less in 2011.

There are different ways to control a narrative. There’s the old-fashioned way: Classify documents that you don’t want seen and, as Gates said, ‘‘keep mum on the details.’’ But there’s also the more modern, social-media-savvy approach: Tell the story you want them to believe. Silence is one way to keep a secret. Talking is another. And they are not mutually exclusive.
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Then there was the sheer improbability of the story, which asked us to believe that Obama sent 23 SEALs on a seemingly suicidal mission, invading Pakistani air space without air or ground cover, fast-roping into a compound that, if it even contained bin Laden, by all rights should have been heavily guarded. And according to the official line, all of this was done without any sort of cooperation or even assurances from the Pakistani military or intelligence service. How likely was that? Abbottabad is basically a garrison town; the conspicuously large bin Laden compound — three stories, encircled by an 18-foot-high concrete wall topped with barbed wire — was less than two miles from Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point. And what about the local police? Were they really unaware that an enormous American helicopter had crash-landed in their neighborhood? And why were we learning so much about a covert raid by a secret special-operations unit in the first place?

American history is filled with war stories that subsequently unraveled. Consider the Bush administration’s false claims about Saddam Hussein’s supposed arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Or the imagined attack on a U.S. vessel in the Gulf of Tonkin. During the Bay of Pigs, the government inflated the number of fighters it dispatched to Cuba in hopes of encouraging local citizens to rise up and join them. When the operation failed, the government quickly deflated the number, claiming that it hadn’t been an invasion at all but rather a modest attempt to deliver supplies to local guerrillas. More recently, the Army reported that the ex-N.F.L. safety Pat Tillman was killed by enemy fire, rather than acknowledging that he was accidentally shot in the head by a machine-gunner from his own unit.

These false stories couldn’t have reached the public without the help of the media. Reporters don’t just find facts; they look for narratives. And an appealing narrative can exert a powerful gravitational pull that winds up bending facts in its direction. During the Iraq war, reporters informed us that a mob of jubilant Iraqis toppled the statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square. Never mind that there were so few local people trying to pull the statue down that they needed the help of a U.S. military crane. Reporters also built Pvt. Jessica Lynch into a war hero who had resisted her captors during an ambush in Iraq, when in fact her weapon had jammed and she remained in her Humvee. In an Op-Ed essay in The Times about the Lynch story in 2003, it was Bowden himself who explained this phenomenon as ‘‘the tendency to weave what little we know into a familiar shape — often one resembling the narrative arc of a film.’’

Was the story of Osama bin Laden’s death yet another example of American mythmaking?

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/18/magazine/what-do-we-really-know-about-osama-bin-ladens-death.html

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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On the other hand, some persons might find Peter Bergen's CNN article to be self-serving. I, for one, have never believed the Obama Administration's official line on what happened to Osama Bin Laden.

I was disappointed but not surprised that in the Times article's enumeration of government deceptions there was no mention of the multitude of questions that exist surrounding the assassination of JFK. But from what I have read this is a topic that is off limits to reporters of that newspaper.

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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I understand that some folks believe that there is deep deception involved in every single national security event that occurs. On the other hand, one proven technique of disinformation is actually to endorse and promote that view - so that the level of noise is increased to the point that real conspiracies and CYA get buried in it. Its a piece of psych trade-craft well enough known so that we even see it showing up in movies - including Men in Black, no less. I would also point out that the Agency has been very good at using that technique in regard to the assassination of JFK, actually feeding out alternative conspiracies to obscure and divert from the real one; we have discussed even more contemporary examples of manipulation, beyond Gus Russo.

In this instance I would just repeat what Jim said - OMG, Sy Hersh at work again...and again....

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From the column: I rise in defense of my colleague Jonathan Mahler.

Mahler’s cover story in The New York Times Magazine this weekend, titled “What Do We Really Know About Osama bin Laden’s Death?,” grapples with the way journalists on the national security beat covered that singular event. It focuses primarily on two well-known journalists, Mark Bowden and Seymour Hersh. In his article, Mahler raises the possibility that there might have been more to the raid on Bin Laden’s compound in 2011 than the narrative that we’ve come to accept as “the real story.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/20/opinion/osama-bin-ladens-first-draft.html

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just curious. is there any debate that OBL is dead?

if not, then what's the problem with obscure details? I personally find it ridiculous that the current "administration" takes credit for it, (especially as he busted out ST6 as he did so), since the mission was the culmination of a decade of intel and legwork. that notwithstanding, i delight in that Osama Bin Laden froze while three bullets entered his skull, like real cowards do.

how it happened and who approved and disapproved matters none whatsoever to me. i believe the shooter's story of the encounter, because i believe his eyes and his motive. it's that simple.

the horrible simplicity is that the death of OBL does nothing whatsoever in diminishing the evil in our world

but revenge does feel good.

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The Times has just published my reader's comment on its Bin Laden story:

I believe the article should be studied in college and university journalism classes because it presents the dilemma that reporters face when reporting on a highly significant story that may be being twisted by the government for its own purposes at the expense of telling what actually happened. Vice President Biden yesterday was caught in what is alleged to be two versions of what he advised the President on the Bin Laden raid. So there is likely still more information about this event waiting to emerge. This vindicates the Times' article.

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