The most blatant lie was that Pakistan’s two most senior military leaders – General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the army staff, and General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of the ISI – were never informed of the US mission. This remains the White House position despite an array of reports that have raised questions, including one by Carlotta Gall in the New York Times Magazine of 19 March 2014. Gall, who spent 12 years as the Times correspondent in Afghanistan, wrote that she’d been told by a ‘Pakistani official’ that Pasha had known before the raid that bin Laden was in Abbottabad. The story was denied by US and Pakistani officials, and went no further. In his book Pakistan: Before and after Osama (2012), Imtiaz Gul, executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies, a think tank in Islamabad, wrote that he’d spoken to four undercover intelligence officers who – reflecting a widely held local view – asserted that the Pakistani military must have had knowledge of the operation. The issue was raised again in February, when a retired general, Asad Durrani, who was head of the ISI in the early 1990s, told an al-Jazeera interviewer that it was ‘quite possible’ that the senior officers of the ISI did not know where bin Laden had been hiding, ‘but it was more probable that they did [know]. And the idea was that, at the right time, his location would be revealed. And the right time would have been when you can get the necessary quid pro quo – if you have someone like Osama bin Laden, you are not going to simply hand him over to the United States.’
This spring I contacted Durrani and told him in detail what I had learned about the bin Laden assault from American sources: that bin Laden had been a prisoner of the ISI at the Abbottabad compound since 2006; that Kayani and Pasha knew of the raid in advance and had made sure that the two helicopters delivering the Seals to Abbottabad could cross Pakistani airspace without triggering any alarms; that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his way courier, 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 US, and that, while Obama did order the raid and the Seal team did carry it out, many other aspects of the administration’s account were false.
Monday Reads: Pollen Tsunami, Tornadoes, and Seymour HershPosted: May 11, 2015
Dakinikat is still grading papers and also has to work this afternoon and tonight, so I’m filling in at the last minute.
Have your allergies been worse than usual this spring? Mine have. As it is I have to take antihistamines and decongestants year round to beat back my sinus problems.
I’ve been taking Allegra D almost every day for years. I started to worry about taking so much Sudafed, so this weekend I decided to try taking Flonase. It hasn’t been a roaring success. It does help me breathe, but it doesn’t seem to do anything for my other allergy symptoms like scratchy throat and eyes and itching skin. Last night I got so desperate that I went out to the drugstore around 10PM to get some Benedryl for the unbearable itching. So between the Benedryl hangover and the allergy symptoms, I feel like a zombie.
So I decided to google for allergy news, and look what I found:
ABC News: “Pollen storm” may not let up anytime soon.
Allergy experts are warning of a “pollen tsunami,” adding to the downside of Spring for the roughly 50 million Americans with nasal allergies.
One of the biggest pollen hot zones in the country spans the Northeast and there are indications it won’t let up anytime soon, reports CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan.
Blooming flowers and budding branches mean Spring is in the air — and so is the pollen. It’s everywhere, collecting in thick clumps on the ground and coating cars.
Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of allergy and asthma care of New York, said there’s so much pollen, even people who have never had allergies are suffering.
“This particular season, we’ve been bombarded by phone calls from people experiencing allergy symptoms for the very first time,” Bassett said. “And not only allergies, but pollen triggered asthma — wheezing. People in their 50s, 60s, and beyond — never had it before.”
Great. So what’s causing the “pollen tsunami?”
Normally, trees release their pollen in early Spring, but the long, brutal winter delayed that until now, when other plants and grasses are just starting to release theirs. For allergy sufferers, it’s a perfect pollen storm.
“Right now we have birch, oak, maple pollen in the Northeast, very prevalent. If you’re sensitive to those tree pollens, you’re going to feel miserable,” Bassett said.
The article says pollen counts are at medium-to-high levels in other parts of the country also.
Tornadoes hit Texas and Arkansas early today.
Emergency crews were searching through wreckage Monday in parts of Texas and Arkansas and were attempting to contact relatives after a line of tornadoes battered several small communities, killing two people and leaving at least 10 missing.
The couple in their late 20s or early 30s died when a twister hit their mobile home late Sunday in the Arkansas town of Nashville, Howard County Coroner John Gray said.
Their daughter was 1 or 2 years old. He did not release the parents’ names.
Once the word spreads, he added, it will be a sad week for the community.
“That’s what it’s like in a small town,” Gray said. “You either know them or you know somebody who knows them.”
Howard County Sheriff Brian McJunkins told KLSA-TV that two other people in the town about 50 miles north of Texarkana were critically hurt.
A massive cleanup and hunt for the missing were underway Monday after a line of tornadoes and wild storms roared through the nation’s Tornado Alley, killing five people and injuring dozens.
Tornadoes caused major damage in parts of Arkansas, Iowa, South Dakota and Texas on Sunday.
In Van, Texas, Van Zandt County Fire Marshal Chuck Allen said a man and a woman died and 43 people were taken to hospitals after a tornado tore through the county Sunday night. Eight people remained missing.
About 30% of the city suffered some kind of damage, and 50 people in the town of 2,700 sought shelter with the American Red Cross, Allen said.
County Judge Don Kirkpatrick thanked the public for the outpouring of support.
“We are working very hard to get Van back to normal,” Kirkpatrick said. “Van is a strong city, a strong community. We will rebuild.”
At least four people were killed and 50 injured in Texas and Arkansas after a series of tornadoes hit the Great Plains states overnight, flattening buildings and snapping power lines, officials said on Monday.
Two people were killed in Van, about 70 miles southeast of Dallas, by a tornado that hit late on Sunday. Eight adults were still unaccounted for on Monday, Van Zandt County Fire Marshal Chuck Allen told a news conference.
Allen said workers with search dogs have been going over the wreckage to look for more victims.
Authorities said 43 people in Texas were taken by ambulances to hospitals with injuries and several more arrived on their own.
Obviously, this is a developing story; and the death toll is likely to arise. I’m just posting the latest articles.
Seymour Hersh’s latest project is a story on the Osama bin Laden killing published at the London Review of Books. Hersh claims that President Obama lied when he said that Pakistan did not know in advance about the U.S. raid on the bin Laden compound and that he fabricated the entire story of the Navy Seals taking down the Al Qaeda leader. Here’s the introduction to the long piece.
It’s been four years since a group of US Navy Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden in a night raid on a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The killing was the high point of Obama’s first term, and a major factor in his re-election. 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: would bin Laden, target of a massive international manhunt, really decide that a resort town forty miles from Islamabad would be the safest place to live and command al-Qaida’s operations? He was hiding in the open. So America said.
Here are the main takeaways:
The White House’s “most blatant” lie was that Pakistan’s two most senior military officials were never informed of the mission, Hersh says.
While US officials say they found bin Laden by tracking his trusted courier, Hersh says they discovered his whereabouts from a former Pakistani intelligence officer who wanted the $25 million reward the US was offering.
The government claimed bin Laden was hiding out, but Hersh says the Pakistani intelligence agency had actually been holding him captive since 2006 to use him as leverage against Taliban and Al Qaeda activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
While the White House has said it would have taken bin Laden alive if it could have and that he was killed in a firefight, Hersh says that wasn’t the case. “There was no firefight as they moved into the compound; the ISI guards had gone,” Hersh wrote.
The article also takes issue with the White House’s claim that bin Laden was buried at sea in a service that followed Islamic practices. “The remains, including his head, which had only a few bullet holes in it, were thrown into a body bag and, during the helicopter flight back to Jalalabad, some body parts were tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains — or so the Seals claimed,” Hersh reported, citing his senior US intelligence official.
Personally, as I wrote at the time, I disapproved of the killing of bin Laden. I thought he should have been arrested and put on trial in the U.S. There were obvious problems with the story, beginning with the number of ex-Navy Seals who claimed to have been the killer. I never believed the burial at sea claims either. Frankly, I found the whole episode distasteful, and I’m not all that interested in the details of what really happened–there are so many other important issues that I think are more urgent. At the same time, I’m not happy that Republicans will now have a new conspiracy theory to flog Obama with.
Hersh’s story is getting some pushback in the media, and the White House has denied his claims. Others, such as Suzie Madrak and Joseph Cannon are praising Hersh’s report. Obviously I have no way to know what the truth is, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the public story of what happened has serious problems. I haven’t had time to read these articles or the Hersh piece yet, so I’m just putting the controversy out there for you to explore if you wish.
Max Fisher at Vox: The many problems with Seymour Hersh’s Osama bin Laden conspiracy theory.
Peter Bergen at CNN critiqued the report: Was there a cover-up in bin Laden killing?
Taylor Marsh: Seymour Hersh Weaves Wild Tale on bin Laden.
What do you think? As always this is an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread.