The Empire Lies
By Sheldon Richman - May 14, 2015

Four years ago the late great journalist Alexander Cockburn wrote, "Alas, the actual story of 'our history' is an unrelenting ability to lie about everything, while simultaneously claiming America's superior moral worth."

It so happens he wrote that sentence in closing a column on President Obama's elaborate story about the Navy SEALs' May 2, 2011, assassination of Osama bin Laden. Cockburn wrote,

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

Cockburn's column was based on reporting that undermined key details of the official narrative. For example:

The official "back story" released Sunday night by Obama is that US 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-storey house has been a well-known feature of Abbottabad. Shaukat Qadir, a well-connected Pakistan Army officer, reported to CounterPunch from Pakistan: "For the record, this house has been under ISI [Pakistani intelligence] surveillance while it was under construction."

Now renowned investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has published a long article in the London Review of Books, "The Killing of Osama bin Laden," that appears further to demolish Obama's politically motivated tale. Hersh, whose major scoops include the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, opens his piece:

The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan's army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration's account. The White House's story might have been written by Lewis Carroll.

Hersh says that his "major source … is a retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad." Use of an unnamed source has provoked criticism of Hersh, but one detects a double standard. Many good scoops have depended on unnamed sources. Often that's the only way to get sensitive information about what the government is up to.

The article also has set off a firestorm about it particulars, with the administration, other members of the war party, and media cheerleaders dismissing Hersh's "conspiracy theory." But others defend Hersh. The New York Times' Carlotta Gall, author of The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan 2001-2004, while not accepting every detail, writes:

Among other things, Hersh contends that the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, Pakistan's military-intelligence agency, held Bin Laden prisoner in the Abbottabad compound since 2006, and that "the C.I.A. did not learn of Bin Laden's whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the U.S."

On this count, my own reporting tracks with Hersh's.

Gall points out that the existence of the informant has been confirmed by NBC and a newspaper in Pakistan: "This development is hugely important — it is the strongest indication to date that the Pakistani military knew of Bin Laden's whereabouts…."

Hersh's investigation is also important regarding Saudi Arabia and its connection with bin Laden, who was a Saudi. Is this why bin Laden couldn't be taken alive?

If Hersh is right, the SEALs murdered an unarmed and powerless invalid, held by Pakistan, under orders from Obama when they could have brought him to trial.

What's most important is this: if one understands the danger inherent in government secrecy, one must oppose the empire. Politicians can lie about domestic matters, but foreign intervention offers irresistible opportunities for really big lies — the kind that get people killed. Do people still need to be persuaded about that?

If for no other reason than transparency, the empire must be liquidated.

This article provided courtesy of Sheldon Richman. Sheldon keeps the blog "Free Association" and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society.

  • FreshUpFreddy

    “. . . a terrorist who is responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children.”

    > America’s Number One Enemy Is Finally Dead After Years Of Searching:

    “I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that
    killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda and a terrorist who is responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and
    children,” US President Barack Obama said during a statement from the White House Sunday evening.

    > So Quick Throw His Body In The Sea and Destroy All Evidence:

    “. . . the manner in which his body was rapidly tossed into the ocean was beyond
    bizarre. I mean, Tony Soprano keeps a body longer than that.”

    What would NOT be bizarre is rapidly tossing the body in the ocean to cover up the fact
    that bin Laden had died years earlier and the body, if there even was a body, was not bin Laden
    but some unlucky victim chosen to be a fake substitute.


    The Killing of Osama bin Laden by Seymour M. Hersh – http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n10/seymour-m-hersh/the-killing-of-osama-bin-laden

    Osama bin Laden Is Dead Again?by Anthony Wile, The Daily Bellv – http://archive.lewrockwell.com/wile/wile16.1.html

    Pentagon Has No Records of Osama’s Death … CIA and Admin Stonewall Requests By Staff Report – The Daily
    Bell – March 28, 2012 – http://www.thedailybell.com/news-analysis/3737/Pentagon-Has-No-Records-of-Osamas-Death–CIA-and-Admin-Stonewall-Requests-/#sthash.C9FsjLny.dpuf

    New Emails Say No Sailors Watched Bin Laden’s Burial at Sea – http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2012/11/23/new-emails-say-no-sailors-watched-bin-ladens-burial-at-sea/

    Mourning quietly for a staggering SEAL loss – http://articles.latimes.com/2011/aug/10/nation/la-na-navy-seals-20110810

    • Bruce C.

      At this point most people don’t seem to know what to believe about this and many other events. We’re well into at least the second decade in which one could not credibly make up most of what passes for news, and the crazy thing is the real truth is even more bizarre than the lies and cover ups.

      • Don Duncan

        We don’t need to know the details, i.e, the real truth. We know the political truth: Everything we are told supports the illusion that we are protected by an elite. That illusion is what controls, enslaves, kills, for the benefit of a few, not the populace. If the masses ever wake up and reject that superstition, it will mean the end of war, poverty.

        • Bruce C.

          “Protected by an elite”??

          I don’t see that. What I see is the embarrassment of government gone wild and stupid that others may think represents most Americans. None of what the government does makes me feel protected, just used. I feel that that our treasure is being squandered, and I don’t just mean monetarily. The masses haven’t woken up because the true costs haven’t hit home yet, or it’s so slow that they don’t realize it.

          • Don Duncan

            Did you get from my comment that I thought we are protected? Read it again.

            Did the German people “wake up” in WWII when their god failed them? Did they blame their hell on a person or a system that they created, i.e., institutionalized violence? No, they did not. The proof is they still have a govt. They still follow orders, e.g., pay tax (legal theft). They are not free in Germany but they are less enslaved than the police state here. The USSA is now the fascist empire Germany used to be. It will end the same.

            The superstitious ignore or misinterpret evidence that contradicts their belief. The question, the challenge of the ages is how to “wake up” the “true believers”. Remember, they are dragging us down with them. Their worship of rulers is forced on everyone in society. Liberty lovers, libertarians, individualists, are all subject to enslaving, controlling laws that violate rights daily. This mass self sacrifice is forced on all. It is mass hysteria. It is as if we were trapped in an insane asylum where the insane were in charge by virtue of being a majority. The asylum is earth. The insane worship faith and force, and are just like the muslims who want to force Sharia Law on the world. Both groups want to use violence against non-violent people to make them live a controlled life. This is inhuman, insane behavior. And it is the world view. So, what do we do? How do we fix this? How do we get through to the indoctrinated servants?

    • RED

      Among all of the other “evidence” and speculation, I find the apparent “Convenient” helicopter accident and loss of members of seal team 6 to be most disturbing.

      • FreshUpFreddy

        Yea, sure, you want to nitpick about things. I’ve run into
        guys like you. You sound like a paranoid conspiracy nut. Look, witnesses die
        all the time, and bodies sometimes disappear before they appear. Come on, do
        you really think this is strange? And dogs eat home work, you think they can’t
        eat evidence too ? . . . . breaking up, garble, garble, . . . national security
        . . .garble, garble . .

        • RED

          Your remonstrations are highly presumptuous and factually incorrect!
          Your wild and uncontrolled emotional response clearly reveals that any paranoia lies with you!

          • FreshUpFreddy

            Sorry, not directed at you personally. It was meant to be a “tongue-in-cheek” comment to point out the ridiculousness of the official story. I am curious, what is factually incorrect?

          • RED

            Hey “FUF”….my apologies for misreading your humor…..and yes I very much appreciate “tounge-in-cheek-” humor. I must admit, I was initially puzzled by your response, but I did not really look at who authored it when I first responded. The “factually incorrect” part was simply the “tounge in cheek” assessment of my “apparent” personality and motives in writing.

            My Excuse: I was in the middle of a very hectic work day and my all too “serious side” was in full control. Usually I “get it”, but it was just one of those days. Next time….breathe and relax.

            Thanks and Take care.

          • FreshUpFreddy

            Thanks for your kind reply. Actually, think I should have used more judgment in hitting you out-of-the blue with what I had actually intended as satire, mocking the ‘official story’ which, in my opinion, should be mocked, ridiculed and scorned for all eternity. But, going back and reading the first few sentences, it is understandable that you might feel under attack, especially if you were in a scanning mode. It is big of you to be so gracious.

            I like “FUF”. I was looking for a good handle, maybe I will change to “FUF”.

            As to your comment, “I find the apparent ‘Convenient’ helicopter accident and loss of members of seal team 6 to be most disturbing.”, I too find it most disturbing and, in fact, sinister would be a more appropriate description in my opinion. I think it is very revealing as to the type of people who are so desperate for power that they will stop at nothing. . . . Coincidence? I would be interested to know how many seals died that year, especially entire units. . . . . “Dead men tell no tales.” . . . . No bodies, no evidence and no witnesses . . . . truly convenient.

          • FreshUpFreddy

            Take a look at the article Bin Laden: What Do We Really Know? By Linh Dinh –
            May 16, 2015 at https://www.lewrockwell.com/2015/05/linh-dinh/the-official-bin-laden-tale/

            Note in particular the following passage:
            “On May 2, 2011, our government decided, finally, to kill off the Bin
            Laden apparition. Since the United States had supposedly been after him
            since 1998, you would think they’d hang on to their man a bit longer
            after they got him, if they got him, but within hours of finding her
            public enemy number one, America got rid of Bin Laden!

            Hey, if you can’t show me something, maybe you don’t have it,
            especially since you are a chronic liar and in the cloak and dagger
            business. For most English-language trials since the disappearance of
            William Harrison in 1660, there has been the principle of no corpse, no
            murder, but here you actually have an open admission of murder, widely
            broadcast, but no corpse, which is tantamount to destruction of
            evidence, whatever it was.

            So the CIA is basically saying to us, The dog ate my cadaver.
            Frankly, this farce was so crudely put together, the explanation so
            ridiculous, that our overlords must think most of us are morons,
            brainwashed as we are by cradle-to-grave propaganda delivered via print
            or pixels. I hate to think they might be right.”

          • FreshUpFreddy

            Also, one other passage from the article Bin Laden: What Do We Really Know? By Linh Dinh – May 16, 2015 at https://www.lewrockwell.com/20

            “On August 6, 2011, 22 Navy Seals from the Bin Laden hit team were killed
            when they were shot out of the sky, supposedly by the Taliban. All 38
            people onboard that Chinook died, 30 of them Americans. Not before or
            since had the Taliban killed so many Americans with one shot, and
            there’s also the question of why so many “heroes” from the Bin Laden
            fuss were so conveniently packed so as to be silenced like that? Liars
            and criminals, our grinnning leaders kill their own soldiers then pin
            medals on the cadavers.”

            There is that word again, “CONVENIENT”

  • Centurian

    This is a new Hegelian Dialectic. Let’s argue the “relative truth” of one false story over another to establish that the boogeyman OBL was killed that night. Since he was the excuse for launching worldwide war, it is essential that it be established (falsely) that he was alive to be blamed. We can do that, after all, we created him and his organization for that purpose.

    Many people were beginning to believe that OBL died long ago and that the entire hegemonic campaign was a ruse. So, establish one lie to cover another and get people debating which lie “is the least untrue.”

    We are screwed!

    • Bruce C.

      I don’t understand what you’re saying, or maybe I do and just don’t agree.

      What difference does it make if Bin Laden is/was alive or not? I don’t recall him being the excuse for the “worldwide war”, at least not in Iraq, but even if he were in some people’s minds the wars were supposed to be about revenge and the dismantling of any other terrorist means and plots no matter who the master minds were. Even if Bin Laden himself highjacked one of the 9/11 planes Bush would have still campaigned to scorch the Middle East “to stop any further terrorism.” It was a war on “terror” not Bin Laden.

      • Centurian

        Bruce, I largely agree with you. Our government would have used any excuse, that it thought that it could sell, to ignite the middle east, because, at the end of the day, that was the goal.

        But remember that despite denying any part in it, OBL was painted as the mastermind for 9/11 and served as the poster child for terrorism. We supposedly went to Afghanistan specifically to get him and couldn’t find a 6 ft. 7in. guy wearing a dress, walking around in the country and living in a cave where he supposedly got his dialysis treatments for ESRF secondary to Marfan’s syndrome back in 2002 (if he survived until he was allegedly killed in Pakistan, it was a medical miracle). That conveniently led to drone strikes and incursions into Pakistan and eventually expanded into Yemen.

        While Iraq was ostensibly for different reasons, support of terrorism is a message heard by many. You know, “fight them over there so that we won’t have to fight them over here.” Can’t have Saddam lobbing a nuke (that he didn’t have) on a missile (that he didn’t have) into NYC you know! Given Boston, Ft. Hood, and the recent Texas event, how’s that working for us?

        The entire excuse for the middle east misadventure was based on the fear and hysteria that followed 9/11. The average citizen could not articulate the reasons, other than they have been told that the people in the middle east “hate us for our way of life and our freedom.” The message that they hate us because we bomb their cities and wedding parties, kill their children and our own citizens with no proof of any crime or judicial proceedings, and seem set on destroying them doesn’t get through to very many here.

        I heard a statistic the other day, that about 3% of the people killed by drones have been the targets and the others have been collateral damage. If the Chinese killed 100 people in Dallas to get 3 people they thought were American terrorists or spies, working against their interests in some way, how do you think we would react? Mushroom Clouds in the far east?

        Iran is teed up for the future. Remember “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran?” First we helped create, fund and arm ISIS and now they are terrorists doing the bidding of Iran. So, now we have to attack Iran. That’s what passes for logic.

        The frightening pattern is that the US created OBL and Al Queda, armed them and then used them as an example of terror to expand influence and war. Similarly, the US deposed the governments in Libya, Egypt and attempted to do so in Syria through the creation and arming of so called “moderate” terrorist groups who start out as “good guys” and end up being “the enemy.”

        There have been other efforts, not dealing with Islamic terror, such as Ukraine, where Putin wears the devil’s mask. In Iran, the CIA deposed a democratically elected secular government to install the Shah as a compliant vassal. That ultimately resulted in the Islamic takeover of the country. Blowback is a cruel mistress.

        The point of the dialectic is to distract us from the lie that OBL, the ongoing mastermind of terror was still alive. They frame the issue to make us believe that the truth lies between the two stories. We try to figure out which story is more true and ignore that it is quite likely that both are complete fabrications. That prevents us from seeing the man behind the curtain, the US government. They don’t want us to see what they are doing.

        So then the question becomes Cui Bono? (Who benefits?).

        The populations of the countries we have attacked have suffered grievously with hundreds of thousands of innocents slaughtered by both sides. So, the benefits do not go to them.

        Our soldiers that are killed, crippled or psychologically tormented are not benefitting. Their families too often suffer tragic losses.

        The taxpayers don’t benefit as the real war is being waged on them.

        Our warfare/welfare regime gets unlimited resources. They usurp the liberty of our people in the pursuit of security from their very own creations.

        A frightened herd of sheep is often very compliant with the wishes of it’s shepherd. Shepherds use sheep dogs to provide a predator threat to the herd and make them do their will. That is largely what we are experiencing today. Washington is whistling the dogs to herd us in the direction it wants and to feel completely dependent on the shepherd for our safety.

        The military gains experience in asymmetrical warfare, much like it might some day face on our own shores and against our own people. The soldiers become desensitized about freedom and innocence by dealing with constant threats.

        The Military Industrial Complex gains new sales and the depletion of existing inventories among the warring factions.

        Central bankers get distractions, excuses and the ability to further disrupt the market economy. They get to create more currency to fuel the government debt and then collect interest from the taxpayers. Life is good for them.

        So who is causing all of this? Well just look at who benefits.

  • Gil G

    Why did bin Laden have to be taken alive? He was terrorist and leader of a terrorist group – he’s not some petty criminal. It the same here who complain the President can assassinate Americans with so much as a “how do you do?” because people here forget when you switch sides you become an enemy combatant and are part of the war and not the criminal justice system.

    • You are funny, Gil. So much bait, yet so few bites …

    • Don Duncan

      Listen to the words of the Seal who shot him. He states that BL was the #1 intelligence prize and his mission was to CAPURE him. Then at the end of his story he admits he killed the unarmed target as soon as positive identification. Why? We don’t know because the question was not asked. Why? Is everything on MSM propaganda? Do they contradict themselves? Why do you believe this fiction?

      • Gil G

        Who has to believe the story to understand bin Laden is not a petty criminal to be arrested and charged? He had no special rights as an enemy combatant. But if we’re to believe this story bin Laden is still alive and if anyone was killed it was some fall guy.

  • The management of the perception of others is one of the tools of the will to power. Who exactly is or was Osama Bin Laden?
    I don’t know if he is dead – even if Bhutto revealed he was dead some time before his assasination.
    Is he the negative or positive symbol in respective orientations of consciousness. To many yes – and that’s the use to which he was put. Of course he was a human being regardless what he did or did not do, or was flagged up to have done.
    Nothing can be taken at face value unless of course that doing so is one’s psychological need. When anything can mean anything else, it is wise not to let fear fill in the unknowns. Better to rest in truth as one can tangibly live and share and not subscribe to the fear channel.

    The Bin-Ladens are very close associates of some of the highest echelons of US political elites are they not?

    However, whether or not Hersh uncovered the whole truth, he still reveals a significant glimpse into the manner of workings and relationships of the non public cooperations between ‘frenemies’ who otherwise may play out any kind of mutual spat – or even all out war in public. And has dropped a pebble in the pond of a wider attention.

    The powers of the day tend to conspire against their respective populations because they seek to protect their personal or private agenda as if the good of the nation depends on it or them. Transparency, accountability and an independent media can hold abuse of power in check, and yet even these turn into buzzwords with the dishing out of propaganda.

    Spinning out of control…

  • Don Duncan

    “…the empire must be liquidated.” True, but not just this empire, all empires, for all time. Proving that an empire lied, or is corrupt does not achieve that goal. It is one empire among many. Empires keep rising and falling. It is the root of problem that must be attacked. The root of the support for empires is the illusion that protection (security) can be achieved by institutionalized violence, i.e., government.

    Endless debates about “dog & pony shows” is not productive. It is like attacking a belief in the existence of god with reason or proof. That will not persuade. The underlying motivation for a superstition must be addressed. The need for a feeling of safety or control will motivate most to buy insurance, buy protection with the surrender of freedom, just as the fear of death will motivate one to believe in a god who promises “life after death”. The loss of freedom can be mitigated by denying the loss, e.g., “I live in the land of the free and home of the brave.” Arguments to the contrary can persuade temporarily, but are soon conveniently forgotten or compartmentalized.

    The argument that a voluntary society will be safer, saner, and a real alternative to a lie, attacks the root of the myth of government. Pointing out that all safety and prosperity is achieved by private actions, in spite of government interference, is to provide an emotionally acceptable alternative. People will not abandon their superstition if their fears are not addressed.

  • Joelg

    Personally, I think the evidence that bin Laden died over a decade before the faux-raid in Pakistan is convincing. My guess is that the truth was in danger of coming out, and so a different set of lies was fed to Seymour Hersh to make USA.gov look less bad.

    Link, bin Laden death myth [http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2012/11/26/the-osama-bin-laden-myth-2/]

    While I have great respect for Seymour Hersh, an outstanding journalist and well above the rest of the pack, and view his reports as mostly accurate, the fact remains that there is no proof that the Pakistan raid occurred as USA.gov sources report. Indeed, locals interviewed by the Pakistani media are indicative of a USA.gov fabrication or false flag. Hersh has been fed false information by USA.gov before.

    The only proof of a bin Laden murder is a Dead Body. There is no Dead Body in the bin Laden case. Therefore, no proof that USA.gov murdered bin Laden several months ahead of the USA presidential election (perhaps presidential election propaganda?). The Hersh narrative seems a propaganda ploy aimed at Saudi Arabia, which USA.gov seems to be in the process of destabilizing and demonizing (they behead people, rather than kill them with drones, lethal injections, hanging, firing squads, etc like the USA). Motive: Save USA fracking industry by knocking out Saudi oil production; thereby lowering oil supply and raising price of oil. No doubt, part of Kerry discussions with Putin; a USA.gov double-cross of Saudis, ala what was done to Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. As Seymour Hersh would say, follow the money.

  • UKGBNI has also its politically incorrect lunatics in charge of the asylum …….. http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/3/2015/05/14/extremism_bill_to_allow_targeting_of_lawabiding_citizens/#c_2517144 …… and as the string of comments on that tale proves, are the natives more than just restless and some will surely not be powerless.

  • Gary1234

    Despite the “Obama Lied” headlines, the Hersh story actually reinforces the main point of the official narrative, which is that the Obama Administration “got” bin Laden. That Navy Seals would have killed bin Laden and promptly destroyed every bit of forensic evidence before a positive identification could be made is utterly preposterous. I’m surprised so many people are willing to believe it.

    • gomurr

      The DNA used to “prove” they got Bin Laden was from a cousin or aunt. The most it could prove was that the “Bin Laden” taken, or killed, in the raid, was a member of the Bin Laden family. Without a sample of Bin Laden’s DNA (which they didn’t have), there was no way to compare it to the body to make a positive ID. They could only prove the “owner” of the body was a member of the Bin Laden family.