Hours ago, WikiLeaks sent out a tweet noting the US had suspected or known since 2008 that Osama bin Laden might have been living in Abottabad, Pakistan, where he was killed by a US black ops team, JSOC, in a pre-dawn raid on Sunday. The note begs a few questions.
Why was this detail missed when the New York Times, McClatchy Newspapers, Washington Post, and NPR put together coverage? How did this detail not become a headline on The Guardian’s or the Telegraph’s website?
Does it have anything to do with the way the media organizations searched the files? Or, was this small detail in one of the files not covered because of the fear that it might jeopardize efforts to track down bin Laden? Is it possible the New York Times met with the Pentagon and was urged to omit this detail?
The section that is getting attention comes from Abu al-Libi’s leaked detainee assessment report:
In October 2002, Nashwan Abd al-Razzaq Abd al-Baqi, aka (Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi),ISN US9IZ-010026DP (IZ-10026), contacted and asked detainee to work with him in Peshawar. Detainee accepted the offer and spent the next five to six months working underIZ-10026 organizing the purchase of supplies for fighters including medicine, lights,batteries, food, and clothing. In July 2003, detainee received a letter from UBL’s designated courier, Maulawi Abd al-Khaliq Jan, requesting detainee take on the responsibility ofcollecting donations, organizing travel, and distributing funds to families in Pakistan. UBL stated detainee would be the official messenger between UBL and others in Pakistan. In mid-2003, detainee moved his family to Abbottabad, PK and worked between Abbottabad and Peshawar.
Between August 2003 and February 2004, detainee traveled to Shkai, PK on three occasions. While at Shkai, detainee met with al-Qaida’s Shari’a Council, delivered funds to fighters, met with Hamza Rabia, and visited IZ-10026. In mid 2004, detainee moved his family from Abbottabad to Bajaur, PK. During October 2004, detainee received a letter from UBL asking about the [financial] situations in Pakistan and Waziristan. In addition to the letter, there was a video tape of UBL speeches. In December 2004, detainee met with Shawqi Marzuq Abd al-Alam Dabbas, aka (Khalid Habib), in Bajaur. They discussed possible future operations against US interests in Poland. In mid-March 2005, Abu Ubaydah al-Masri instructed detainee to meet with Abd al-Khaliq Jan in Mardan, PK. The meeting did not take place.
This shows the Department of Defense knew these details as early as September 10, 2008. Indeed, what took so long? Perhaps, a dig through details on bin Laden, which can be found in the US State Embassy cables released so far, is called for. Here’s one cable Spanish newspaper El Pais covered showing how Saudi Arabia intended to coordinate the forces of six countries to capture bin Laden. The force was to consist of Russians, Chinese, Pakistanis, and Afghanis.
El Pais concluded from their coverage of the cable:
The international community seems suspicious enough of the unwillingness of the Pakistani secret services (ISI) in the hunt for bin Laden, because everything indicates that the Saudi terrorist and al-Zawahiri are hiding in front of their noses in the tribal region of North Waziristan , border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a mountainous territory of 11,585 meters square whose villages attack the Predator unmanned aircraft the U.S. military.
What led the US to decide to halt its attempts to put together a multilateral force to get bin Laden?
In President Obama’s speech to the nation, he said, “Shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network,” begging the question: Was bin Laden’s killing or capture not a top priority for the Bush Administration?
These are just questions. This post does not aim to make any assertions that the New York Times was part of a cover-up. But, given the coverage of the Guantanamo Files and how the Times coverage was skewed towards focusing on the most dangerous in the prison, it is difficult to believe that details on bin Laden would not have been specifically researched. Thus, one must ask especially now why this detail was overlooked.
That there was a detail on the whereabouts of bin Laden in a leaked Guantanamo File raises the possibility that for at least a period of twenty-four hours the tenor of news coverage of WikiLeaks will shift. This nugget adds a nice context to the killing of bin Laden. On the other hand, the media could suggest WikiLeaks almost blew the operation because, in the compound he was hiding in (that had no Internet or phones), he could have read the detainee’s assessment report that was leaked.
Additionally, WikiLeaks tweeted, “With the death of Osama it is time to bring the war in Afghanistan to a close.” That talking point has not caught on. But, “rot in Hell” and “we finally got the miserable son of a bitch” seem to be sentiments that have gained traction among the wider American public.
Former Bush Administration officials like Donald Rumsfeld are using the fact that a courier might have given intelligence during an interrogation at Guantanamo Bay as vindication for opening up Guantanamo Bay in the first place, as justification for all the torture, abuse and denial of legal rights to detainees over past ten years.
This insensitive reaction to recent news surrounding bin Laden’s killing unfortunately will get a fair hearing in the United States at this hour. It fits the “might equals right” way of thinking that permeates through American society. It fits the frat boy spirit and hyper-masculine nationalism and patriotism that pumped through the veins and arteries of many Americans last night as they cheered at Ground Zero or outside the White House.
Salon.com blogger Glenn Greenwald suggested in response to the killing:
I’d have strongly preferred that Osama bin Laden be captured rather than killed so that he could be tried for his crimes and punished in accordance with due process (and to obtain presumably ample intelligence). But if he in fact used force to resist capture, then the U.S. military was entitled to use force against him, the way American police routinely do against suspects who use violence to resist capture. But those are legalities and they will be ignored even more so than usual. The 9/11 attack was a heinous and wanton slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians, and it’s understandable that people are reacting with glee over the death of the person responsible for it. I personally don’t derive joy or an impulse to chant boastfully at the news that someone just got two bullets put in their skull — no matter who that someone is — but that reaction is inevitable: it’s the classic case of raucously cheering in a movie theater when the dastardly villain finally gets his due.
Greenwald’s opinion is the minority report at this point in American history.
Team America got bin Laden. Without regard for national sovereignty or the rule of law, Team America will commit to brutally slaying the next terrorist leader that cares to fill the void that bin Laden’s death created.
The following is a video of The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill talking about the killing of bin Laden on the independent American news program, Democracy Now!