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Obama on Osama—a Volcano of Lies

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By:Alexander Cockburn | May 09, 2011

 

Barack Obama, who pledged to restore ethical honor to the White House after the Bush years, is now burying himself under an active volcano of lies, mostly but not exclusively concerning the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

There was scarcely a sentence in the president's Sunday night address or in the subsequent briefing by John Brennan, his chief counterterrorism coordinator, that has not been subsequently retracted by CIA director Leon Panetta, White House press spokesman Jay Carney or by various documentary records.


The White House photograph of Obama, Clinton and top security advisers supposedly watching real-time footage of the Navy SEALs' onslaught on the Abbottabad compound, their killing of two additional men and a woman (excuse for the latter killing: the standard "caught in crossfire") and liquidation of OBL himself turns out to have been a phony. OB and friends could have been watching basketball replays. Panetta has admitted the real-time video link stopped working before the SEALs got into the compound.

Panetta also admits bin Laden was not armed, and that he did not hide behind his young wife's skirt. He conceded that under military rules of engagement, bin Laden should have been taken prisoner, but then added vaguely that he showed some unspecified form of resistance. He probably reached for his walking stick, since he has been ailing from kidney and liver problems. As any black or brown resident in, say, the purview of the Ramparts Division of the LAPD knows full well, reaching for a walking stick or even holding a cellphone can be a death warrant, particularly in front of a score of heavily armed and homicidal SEALs, no doubt amped up on amphetamine.

The White House claims that issues of delicacy prohibit the release of photographs of Obama's bullet-riddled face and required that after an alleged match with a relative's DNA, he be given a swift but formal sea burial in a weighted body bag dropped from the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson into the north Arabian Sea, presumably awaiting retrieval by salvagers with a fix on the Vinson's position at the time of burial.

Maybe the Navy SEAL photographer forgot to take his lens cap off. Obama's claims of ethical sensitivity certainly ring hollow. He's battling the wimp factor, and "Lo! The head of Osama" would be a nifty prop. There was lengthy display back in Bush time of the mutilated bodies of Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay, killed by U.S. special forces in 2003, plus filming of Saddam's own execution by hanging.

Further back, when DNA matches were unknown, U.S. special forces verified Che Guevara's execution by permitting many photographs immediately post-mortem. They also cut off Guevara's hands, for subsequent verification by the CIA. We're not talking Miss Manners here.

The official "backstory" released Sunday night by Obama is that U.S. intelligence learned of the Abbottabad compound only last August and spent the following months watching the place, following Osama's trusted couriers and concluding that it was highly likely, though not certain, that Osama was there.

This is bunk. The three-story house has been a well-known feature of Abbottabad. Shaukat Qadir, a well-connected Pakistan army officer, reports to CounterPunch from Pakistan: "For the record, this house has been under ISI surveillance while it was under construction. It was first raided in 2003, and the ISI just missed capturing al-Libi (he was later captured by the ISI close to Mardan in K-P Province). It has been raided on numerous occasions since."

In fact, specific knowledge by U.S. intelligence of the compound and its likely possible prime denizen goes back to 2005.

This has been established by Israel Shamir, also writing for CounterPunch. Shamir compares certain passages in the WikiLeaks documents on Guantanamo against those recently published by The New York Times and the Guardian.

Shamir reports these newspapers were working from the WikiLeaks files supplied to them (price unknown) by WikiLeaks' former German employee, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, "who went AWOL after this appropriation." Shamir says Domscheit-Berg made a deal with the Guardian, which subsequently made a co-publication arrangement with The New York Times.

"Both papers published the cables after redacting them, or should we say 'censoring'—removing everything the secret services demanded (they) remove."

When Julian Assange learned that the Guardian and The New York Times planned to publish the Guantanamo files, his WikiLeaks team also prepared the files and began to upload. So did the competitors, possessing the Domscheit-Berg appropriated copy.

The most important redactions by the Guardian and The New York Times, Shamir writes, "were directly dictated by the US intelligence services. The name of Nashwan Abd Al Razzaq Abd Al Baqi, or by another name, Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi or by his number IZ-10026 was edited away from the file of Abu al-Libi (US9LY-010017DP) and elsewhere."

This is significant because al-Iraqi was in close contact with al-Libi, who had been designated by Osama in 2003 as his trusted official courier, therefore aware of Osama's whereabouts at all times. In the end, at separate times, the U.S. captured both al-Libi and al-Iraqi, had them both tortured and thus became aware of al-Libi's courier duties and hence the possibility that Osama was in Abbottabad.

Comparison of the redacted version of the Guardian and in the uncut version of WikiLeaks shows to what extent all the traces of al-Iraqi, the likely informer under torture, were removed at the behest of U.S. intelligence. It was not connected to "caring about informers," for al-Libi was understood at the time to have committed suicide in a Libyan jail just before the arrival of the U.S. ambassador in Tripoli. The file of al-Iraqi is missing in all databases; he was captured in 2005 and kept in various secret prisons, until transferred to Guantanamo, where he remains detained.

So the trail to Abbottabad was known to the U.S. intelligence services at least since 2005, when al-Iraqi was captured.

"Careful reading of the file," Shamir writes, "shows that al-Libi was connected with al-Iraqi since October 2002. In 2003, Osama stated al-Libi would be the official messenger between OBL and others in Pakistan. In mid-2003, al-Libi moved his family to Abbottabad, Pakistan and worked between Abbottabad and Peshawar. He maintained contact with al-Iraqi."

We can conclude, from this narrative, that when the unredacted WikiLeaks files surfaced, U.S. intelligence concluded that Osama's associates would soon figure out that the Americans had made the appropriate connections and conjectures and urged him to move on with all due haste. So Obama decided to send in the SEALs.

From this active volcano of lies, we can safely assume that Obama's re-election campaign has been well and truly launched. Liftoff began on April 27 with the White House's release of the long birth certificate. Obama seems to have problems with timely provision of convincing documentation about arrivals (his own) and departures (bin Laden's).

Had it not been for cloud cover over Abbottabad, the raid on Osama's compound could have come on Friday, April 29, the same day as the royal wedding.

Saturday, April 30 was reserved for the attempted assassination of Col. Gadhafi, with the dropping of precision-guided bombs on the house of his son Saif, who died along with three grandchildren. Saif was in the Gadhafi family compound on April 15, 1986 when bombs ordered up by Ronald Reagan were dropped from F-111s, killing his 15-month old sister, adopted by Gadhafi 11 months earlier. "Decapitation"—going for the enemy's top guy—is now standard NATO strategy. Would Obama have been briefed on the plan or have signed off on a program of targeted assassination of Gadhafi? It seems highly likely.

But Gadhafi survived. So Obama only had one bloodied feather in his cap when he gave one of the most morally repellent speeches I have ever heard delivered from the White House. Bush at least had a crude brio when he vaunted America's prowess. Obama's "we nailed him" paragraphs of mendacity concluded with a Dickensian "Tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history."

Alas, the actual story of "our history" is an unrelenting ability to lie about everything, while simultaneously claiming America's superior moral worth.

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