Pentagon Files on Bin Laden Raid Purged--as Pakistan Report Leaks

Military files on the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011 have been purged from Pentagon computers and sent to the CIA where they "are even less likely to be seen by the American public." Reports of the purge emerged on the same day that Pakistan's own internal investigation into the bin Laden raid was published by Al Jazeera, revealing new operational details and possibly exposing intelligence failures.

The purge was done via a directive from Admiral William McRaven. And, as the Daily Mail reports, doing so "appears to have sidestepped federal rules and perhaps even the Freedom of Information Act."

The CIA has countered this by suggesting the Navy SEALs who undertook the raid "were effectively assigned to work temporarily for the CIA"--that their mission was "overseen by then-CIA Director Leon Panetta." For this reason, CIA spokesman Preston Golson said, "Documents related to the raid were handled in a manner consistent with the fact that the operation was conducted under the direction of the CIA director."

Golson said records of the "operation...are CIA records," and any suggestion that the Pentagon moved them to avoid "the legal requirements of the Freedom of Information Act" are "absolutely false."

Although the Federal Records Act does not permit agencies to "purge records on a whim" and the Joint Chiefs of Staff considers records of military operations to be "permanent," McRaven's order to transfer the files and remove them from the Pentagon was carried out.

The deletion of these files comes at the same time at a Pakistani report claims the Osama Bin Laden raid may have gone slightly differently than Americans had been told. For example, the Pakistani report claims bin Laden anticipated the SEALs arrival after hearing their choppers in the night--that he stood on a balcony looking for them. It also claims bin Laden did reach for a weapon before being killed, but only after one of his wives threw herself between him and the SEALs and was subsequently shot while trying to protect him. 

The report also confirms that public statements by former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta implicated Dr. Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani physician who assisted the U.S. in the hunt for bin Laden and is now in prison in Pakistan.

The Pakistani report provides numerous other details which may have countered or complicated some of the details contained in the Pentagon files.  

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins


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