Journalist Seymour “Sy” Hersh has written a piece in the London Review of Books alleging that U.S. President Barack Obama engaged in a massive coverup surrounding the 2011 operation that resulted in the death of al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden.
Hersh, who has become famous for citing anonymous sources, relies on a single “major U.S. source” to make the claim that a member of Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, had a hand in helping deliver bin Laden’s location to the U.S. embassy in Islamabad. According to Hersh’s source, the U.S. paid a rogue Pakistani intelligence operative $25 million dollars for information related to bin Laden’s location.
The special forces mission to kill or capture the al-Qaeda chief was not an American-centric mission, but the U.S. worked in tandem with Pakistani authorities on the night of the Abbottabad raid, Hersh alleges. He claims the Pakistani military approved the raid, contradicting the statements made by both the Pakistani and American governments.
Hersh claims that President Obama wanted to take credit for the raid, and therefore, deceived the American people about the details surrounding the 2011 assault on bin Laden’s compound.
National security experts have almost unanimously condemned Hersh’s report.
“Hersh’s account of the bin Laden raid is a farrago of nonsense that is contravened by a multitude of eyewitness accounts, inconvenient facts and simple common sense,” CNN National Security analyst Peter Bergen said in response to the article.
Former CIA acting director, Mike Morell, said of the report, “Every sentence I was reading was wrong. The source that Hersh talked to has no idea what he’s talking about.”
“Sy Hersh is a far-left fantasist and conspiracy theorist who once every few decades breaks real news. This isn’t one of those times,” wrote Max Boot, an expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.
“Sy Hersh’s next piece can be on how InfoWars staged a shadow coup at the London Review of Books,” terrorism expert Michael Weiss joked on Twitter.
But Hersh’s story did have a select few defenders, including activist Glenn Greenwald, who has published stolen top secret U.S. government information leaked by defector and whistleblower Edward Snowden. Greenwald took to Twitter and wrote a series of posts defending Hersh’s account over that of the CIA and Obama administration.