How Dumb is the CIA Part Four:
fourth estate |fɔrθ əsˈteɪt|
noun (the fourth estate)
the press; the profession of journalism: copy desks are held together by the bad-news contingent of the fourth estate
With the ‘fake news’ caper recently backfiring on the CIA and suddenly many people, previously devoted to the USA’s ‘fourth estate’, questioning what, if anything, can be believed in mainstream media when it comes to matters of intelligence… it seems an opportune time to examine the mythology generated by the American intelligence concerning Osama Bin Ladin.
According to this Guardian story from November, 2001:
“Two months before September 11 Osama bin Laden flew to Dubai for 10 days for treatment at the American hospital, where he was visited by the local CIA agent”
The article goes on:
“Bin Laden has often been reported to be in poor health. Some accounts claim that he is suffering from Hepatitis C, and can expect to live for only two more years.
“According to Le Figaro, last year he ordered a mobile dialysis machine to be delivered to his base at Kandahar in Afghanistan”
Moreover, according to French intelligence speaking with Le Figaro (picked up by the Guardian), Osama had visits with at least 2 CIA contacts during his 10 days in the hospital urology department in the summer of 2001, as well, Bin Laden met with the head of CIA allied Saudi intelligence. Hardly the behavior profile expected of an agency in relation to (at that time) a 12 years hunted terrorist per the legend of CIA asset Bin Laden turning on the agency; following on the CIA-Bin Laden-Saudi longtime anti-Soviet cooperation in 1980s Afghanistan.
Concerning Bin Laden’s 2001 state of Health; Pakistan has modern health care facilities and excellent doctors. Bin Laden traveling from Pakistan to Dubai for expert care in the American Hospital urology department speaks to a very serious health deterioration a few months prior to the American invasion. Bin Laden having a portable dialysis machine delivered to his base in Kadahar, Afghanistan, a year previous to this, poses serious complications for any narrative of his survival in the intense hardship Bin Laden supposedly survived at between the fall of Kabul and the conclusion of the battle of Tora Bora at the end of 2001:
Bin Laden is reported to have fled Kabul for Tora Bora a few days prior to Kabul’s fall 13 November 2001. The battle of Tora Bora began 6 December and concluded 17 December 2001. Being generous with a survival timeline, if we put Bin Laden on the run from Kabul and under subsequent siege at Tora Bora for a period of a month, presumably Bin Ladin has paused for dialysis a dozen times in one of the most inhospitable and under-developed regions of South Asia. This would require his mobile dialysis machine to accompany Bin Laden over a primitive and rough mountain road (built with explosives and simple bulldozer by Bin Laden more than 15 years previous to this), with generator and fuel. Then Bin Laden gets his dialysis treatment in a shallow cave, under siege, while bombs are raining down on his position, over 11 days in December. This at an elevation of 14,000 feet with subzero Fahrenheit (-18 or more Celsius) temperatures common. Despite the urban legend put out by USA intelligence of Tora Bora as a sophisticated, self-sufficient complex, a Special Forces soldier on location tells a different story:
“Again, with the caves, they weren’t these crazy mazes or labyrinths of caves that they described. Most of them were natural caves. Some were supported with some pieces of wood maybe about the size of a 10-foot by 24-foot room, at the largest. They weren’t real big. I know they made a spectacle out of that, and how are we going to be able to get into them? We worried about that too, because we see all these reports. Then it turns out, when you actually go up there, there’s really just small bunkers, and a lot of different ammo storage is up there”
Through all of this, culminating at a primitive, oxygen starved 14,000 feet elevation (4,200+ meters), deeply freezing, unsanitary environment under explosives raining down on his position for 11 days, we are supposed to assume Bin Laden received his necessary regular dialysis without complication or malfunction.
We know already American intelligence had either egregiously lied about the sophistication of the complex at Tora Bora or, perhaps had fallen to disinformation or, by far most likely, simply has a vivid imagination (no stupidity, no matter how immense, should be ruled out concerning the CIA’s ‘war on terror’, an incredible example HERE.)
It had been (by operatives on location) discovered that Tora Bora was set up to shelter no more than 200 people, maximum. Is the CIA lead officer who’d initiated the battle for Tora Bora, Gary Berntsen, a self-aggrandizing liar or merely possessed of vivid imagination? Self-professed “cowboy” Berntsen reports Osama had retreated to Tora Bora with 1,000 people in his entourage. Bin Laden would have known he could provide shelter for no more than 200 of his fighters at Tora Bora. Another CIA square peg driven into a round hole we are supposed to believe is a good fit.
Berntsen goes on to report he called in a strike with a BLU-82 which:
“The blast produces over pressure of 1,000 pounds per square inch, close to that of a tactical nuclear weapon. It can be felt miles away”
Now, it doesn’t require a degree in rocket science to determine what this weapon would have done dropped on a mountainside of shallow caves modified into unsophisticated or basic bunkers. The shock-wave alone would have decimated the inhabitants. This was on top of waves of B-52 carpet bombing of the so-called Tora Bora ‘complex.’ Enough ordinance had been dropped on the primitive bunker complex at Tora Bora to flatten a small city. Supposedly Osama, and his required, functioning dialysis machine, survived all of this to escape by hiking out.
Despite CIA Officer Berntsen maintaining he missed extinguishing Bin Laden at Tora Bora (actually Berntsen appears to have directed the operation by radio-phone from the relative safety of Kabul, despite the numerous inclusive use of ‘we’ in his Tora Bora battle description-narrative), because he lacked competent resources, the more likely scenarios are; Bin Laden died at Tora Bora, blown to bits by a BLU 82 or, Bin Laden was never at Tora Bora and the CIA is too stupid to realize this or too cowardly to admit they don’t know whether Bin Laden was at Tora Bora and if he was, what happened to him.
Imagine you’re leading the CIA team that has every reason to believe (with the CIA this could be solely in one’s imagination) Bin Laden was blown to tiny bits. But you actually cannot know. The fear of Bin Laden turning up alive is too much for you to risk the humiliation of stating Bin Laden almost certainly died at Tora Bora and later shown to be wrong. The consequent default presumption (the coward’s position) has to be Bin Laden escaped. This is almost certainly the concealed premise underlying CIA Officer Berntsen’s reporting.
Based on the original Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure (DGSE or French CIA) reporting via Le Figaro, picked up by the Guardian, a reasonable case can be made a seriously ill Bin Laden never returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan after his treatment at the American Hospital in Dubai only five months previous to the bombing of Tora Bora. This would actually make much more sense if indeed Bin Laden were to have lived to be assassinated by the Americans in 2011. But this narrative also has serious problems. Supposedly the last electronic intercept of Bin Laden was in 2001 (presuming this was the CIA report of captured shortwave radio communications at Tora Bora) but the NSA describes this as ‘possible’ as opposed to confirmed. There is no rationale for ‘possible’ given but one might reasonably presume this is because the NSA does not trust the CIA narrative concerning Bin Laden at Tora Bora and the NSA itself did not pick up this radio traffic:
“When asked if, after 9/11, the NSA ever saw “reflections of UBL [Usama Bin Laden] himself or members of his inner circle in SIGINT,” Darby responded, “[o]ur loss of SIGINT access to bin Laden actually occurred prior to 9/11 — it happened in 1998” with one possible exception in 2001“
Setting aside this ‘possible’ communications intercept the NSA cannot or will not confirm, together with presuming Bin Laden survived because he was not at Tora Bora, it is possible Bin Laden lived to be assassinated later; at Abbottabad, Pakistan, in 2011.
The first problem with this scenario is, if the CIA covered up the salient fact of Osama’s absence at Tora Bora, there is little reason to believe any subsequent CIA Bin Laden narrative absent hard evidence and the hard evidence of the 2011 Abbottabad raid has been deeply buried:
“Adm. William McRaven, the nation’s top secret special operations commander, ordered the Department of Defense to purge its computers of all files on the Navy SEALs raid on bin Laden and send them to the CIA. This decision was only recently revealed in a draft report by the Pentagon’s inspector general –and expunged from the final version– which was obtained and published last week by the Project on Government Oversight. The almost-secret decision to transfer the files, ostensibly done to protect the identities of the SEALs involved (the same SEAL team whose members have already begun writing best-selling books and granting tell-all interviews), was made under the pretense that the SEALs were effectively working for the CIA while conducting the raid, and thus all the files were CIA records.
“That’s the government’s take, anyway. What the transfer really did was ensure that the files would be placed in the CIA’s operational records, a records system that –due to the 1984 CIA Operational Files exemption[*]— is not subject to the FOIA and is a black hole for anyone trying to access the files within. The move prevents the public from accessing the official record about the raid, and bypasses several important federal records keeping procedures in the process”
* 50 USC [United States Code] 431, also known as the ‘1984 CIA Operational Files exemption’, states:
“The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, with the coordination of the Director of National Intelligence, may exempt operational files of the Central Intelligence Agency from the provisions of section 552 of title 5 (Freedom of Information Act) which require publication or disclosure, or search or review in connection therewith”
Consequently, with any hard evidence entirely expunged from the Department of Defense records, and sealed away from the press and public purview by Central Intelligence, we are limited to sorting through the several, literally littered with lies, official and unofficial narratives.
The first to seriously attempt a comprehensive challenge of the 2011 Abbottabad raid narrative is Seymour Hersh. Hersh allows Bin Laden was actually killed at Abbottabad but then Hersh attacks the official narrative on several accounts. Hersh states the biggest lie that had been uncovered is the Pakistanis’ did not know of the USA raid in advance but here is where I disagree with his assessment. If, as Hersh asserts, and this seems entirely credible, the CIA played no role whatsoever in discovering Bin Laden’s whereabouts and in fact it was a former ISI (Pakistan’s CIA) officer tipped the USA to Bin Laden’s presence at Abbottabad…
“…that the CIA 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 US…”
…this raises the distinct possibility the CIA had been taken in by a ‘dangle’ or an officer from ISI deliberately providing CIA with information that has underlying motive or purpose intended in some manner to cross or compromise the Americans. In this possible case, the CIA claiming they had discovered the whereabouts of Bin Laden is the by far bigger lie, because of these implications:
- If indeed Bin Laden was alive and at Abbottabad, the CIA 10 years manhunt expending countless man-hours and many, many millions of dollars had been an entirely incompetent waste of resources.
- Pakistan wanted to be rid of Bin Laden but didn’t want credit for killing him and used a dangle to hand off the Bin Laden assassination to the Americans with plausible denial of Pakistani involvement.
- Pakistan’s ISI had other, ulterior motive for pulling the Americans into the Abbottabad raid.
Going to the 3rd possibility, it is entirely plausible the Pakistanis’ had long since come to the conclusion Bin Laden had not survived the bombing at Tora Bora and decided it was time to humiliate the CIA and/or be done with the ‘living’ Bin Laden legend.
Motive for humiliating the CIA could easily stem from the Americans badly embarrassing the Pakistanis by breaking into the open the Pakistan based Khan nuclear black market, an incredibly incompetent endeavor in the hands of the CIA. These sort of events between intelligence agencies do NOT go without reprisal:
“Fallout by Americans Catherine Collins and Douglas Frantz tells the story of the illicit nuclear procurement network created by Abdul Qadeer Khan, a metallurgist who is widely considered the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program”
In this light, it is justified to examine the actions we know were taken by the Americans in the aftermath of the Abbottabad raid.
In the beginning, there were so many conflicting lies coming out of the administration as to lead one to suspect the raid had not produced expected result and no one knew what to do except make up stories in what amounted to a panicked environment. Numerous journalists, including Seymour Hersh and several journalists at The Intercept, have had a field day picking these official lies (and ‘unauthorized’ accounts) apart.
Next, we know JSOC boss Admiral McRaven had any records of hard evidence buried at the CIA and put beyond reach of any lawful Freedom of Information demands.
Then, things gets interesting. According to the American accounts, only a few operatives saw Bin Laden during the Abbottabad raid, with most of those preoccupied with securing the 3rd floor room, prior to Bin Laden’s face deliberately obliterated with weapons fire, permanently removing any opportunity at photographic identification. For that one simple act, it can never actually be known whether this were indeed Bin Laden. Why?
If indeed, as Hersh has asserted, the Bin Laden location at Abbottabad had been given up by a Pakistani intelligence officer, the CIA planners of the Abbottabad raid would have to have had a contingency plan if in fact it turned out Bin Laden was not present at the raided compound and they’d been set up by ISI. Obliterating the face of the suspect almost immediately (within a very few seconds of the ‘target’ in view) making identification necessary by DNA which according to phys.org is easily counterfeited:
“The researchers showed that with the use of basic equipment and know-how, anyone can obtain artificial DNA that can be incorporated into genuine human blood or saliva, or directly planted at a crime scene.
“Current forensic procedure fails to distinguish between such samples of blood, saliva and touched surfaces with artificial DNA,” the scientists wrote in an article recently published by “Forensic Science International: Genetics,” a scientific journal.
“Elon Ganor is CEO and co-founder of Nucleix, an Israeli company specialised in DNA analysis that conducted the research. She says it doesn’t take much to produce large quantities of artificial DNA.
“You can take a used cup of coffee or a cigarette butt, send it to a laboratory, and for a relatively small sum of money have their DNA identified, produced and sent back to you in a test tube,” he told AFP on Wednesday.
“The DNA samples, which are produced using a standard technique called whole genome amplification, can then be planted at a crime scene.
“Researchers at Nucleix also demonstrated how one could implant DNA into real blood by using a centrifuge to separate red and white blood cells and placing the DNA in the former, giving the blood a new profile.
“As part of the experiment, a sample of the modified blood was sent to a laboratory in the United States that works with FBI forensic teams, which failed to catch the forgery”
The presumed dead Bin Laden with an obliterated face was, according to official accounts, rather rapidly buried at sea (unrecoverable for future analysis) but had been positively ‘identified’ with a DNA ‘match.’
In the case of the purported Bin Laden’s face immediately obliterated, the lead SEAL had shot Bin Laden but was immediately preoccupied with securing the room and it was one of two SEAL team members who’d surprised everyone on the team with abandoning their assigned roles and instead burst immediately onto the scene behind the lead SEAL and immediately blew off the already shot and prostrate Bin Laden’s face as though this were a critical, assigned objective. Was this incredibly unprofessional act concerning two of those among the most well trained commandos in the world actually a clandestine assignment? A CIA assignment unknown even to fellow team members? Both of these SEAL members subsequently have left the service and are prostituting themselves by getting wealth and attention with “I killed Bin Laden” claims while calling each other liars. Bissonette is purported to be the greater liar of the (according to others present) two self-aggrandizing liars. A perfect obfuscation serving a distraction from the facts in the public mind. The SEAL who actually first shot Bin Laden (but didn’t blow his face off) isn’t talking. Distracted with securing the room, he didn’t have time to positively identify just who it was he had just shot:
“Conflicting accounts have emerged about how many other SEALs fired rounds into bin Laden’s lifeless body, though one former SEAL Team 6 leader who viewed the body in Jalalabad told me the body appeared to be intact aside from the chest wound and obliterated face.
“The SEALs had been specifically asked to avoid shooting bin Laden in the face. O’Neill’s decision to canoe the al Qaeda leader made him unrecognizable. A SEAL who spoke Arabic interviewed bin Laden’s wives and daughters until he was able to get two positive identifications”
The problems with Hersh’s and the Intercept accounts are manifold.
Hersh’s American sources were limited to mission training and after action reports. It could well be those sources fed Hersh a mix of fact and fiction without knowing they were feeding Hersh disinformation concerning a mission the CIA and JSOC, in after action reports, could never admit had been engineered by ISI to humiliate the Americans with the plausible benefit to the Pakistanis of being rid of a (possible long dead) Bin Laden legend with Bin Laden’s demise pinned on the Americans who could never admit not only had they failed but they also had been duped. Insofar as Hersh’s Pakistani sources, they could easily have their interpretation wrong as well, if the Bin Laden raid were in actuality an ISI initiated sting operation. One incidence Hersh probably gets right is the tip the supposedly seized (by the SEALs) computer records and other materials from Abbottabad is a fairy tale.
In the case of the Intercept interviews with SEAL Team 6 members, they would never be able to admit they did not get Bin Laden, and in fact with Bin Ladin’s face almost immediately “obliterated”, most of them could not even know.
With a history of incredible incompetence and numerous egregious lies coupled with removing any evidence from independent exam, taken together with failures surrounding the JSOC and their CIA mission leadership, none of what we read can be taken at face value, none of it. Not the questioning of Bin Laden’s wives and children to ascertain identity, not the proposed Bin Laden children reputedly born since 2001, and most certainly not the end result claimed by the Americans pertaining to the 2011 raid on the compound at Abbottabad.
Did Bin Laden die at Tora Bora? We don’t know. Did Bin Laden die at Abbottabad? We don’t know.
When the Las Vegas bookies open odds on the issue, my money will be on Bin Laden dead for 10 years prior to the excruciatingly stupid CIA actors planning and executing the 2011 raid at Abbottabad, Pakistan.