The White House categorically rejected on Monday the allegations made by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh about the circumstances surrounding Osama bin Laden’s death in an article published in the London Review of Books on Sunday.
Seymour Hersh, the investigative journalist who received a Pulitzer Prize in 1970 for exposing civilian deaths in the Mai Lai Massacre in Vietnam and helped expose the US Army’s abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2004, claims that Osama bin Laden was captured by the Pakistani military years before the 2011 operation in which he was killed.
Hersh alleges that a deal was struck between the US and Pakistan to stage a raid to kill Bbin Laden after which the US would lie about Pakistan’s previous knowledge of the operation.
Ned Price, a White House spokesman said the story had “too many inaccuracies and baseless assertions” to fact check each one, and insisted that the death of bin Laden was the result of “a unilateral US mission.”
“As we said at the time,” he noted, “knowledge of this operation was confined to a very small circle of senior US officials. The President decided early on not to inform any other government, including the Pakistani Government, which was not notified until after the raid had occurred.”
Speaking to The Washington Post, a CIA official called the story “utter nonsense.”
Peter Bergen, a security analyst for CNN and author of ‘Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad,’ called the piece “a farrago of nonsense that is contravened by a multitude of eyewitness accounts, inconvenient facts and simple common sense.”
Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman, said “I can tell you that the Obama White House is not the only one to observe that the story is riddled with inaccuracies and outright falsehoods” and quoted Bergen: “What’s true in the story isn’t new, and what’s new in the story isn’t true.”
He shrugged off the article, saying “no one [at the White House] is particularly concerned about it.”
In recent years, Seymour Hersh’s work has increasingly relied on unverifiable data and unnamed sources.
The Christian Science Monitor points out that The New Yorker, a magazine known for its fact-checking where Hersh appears on the masthead, has not published an expose by him in more than three years.
The Brisbane Times reports that both The Washington Post and The New Yorker are said to have passed on “The Killing of Osama bin Laden,” because of its “thin sourcing” and “the lack of supporting evidence.”