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The Slippery Story of the bin Laden Kill

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Garance Franke-Ruta
The Atlantic
Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The White House Tuesday blamed “the fog of war” for conflicting statements in its recounting of the events surrounding the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden, but the history of misstatements from U.S. government officials about various combat operations raises questions about whether briefers also were subjecting us to a counterterrorism strategy and not just completely confused in their initial statements.

(………)

Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports:

At a Pentagon briefing earlier in the day, a senior defense official said bin Laden used a woman as a human shield so he could fire shots. “He was firing behind her,” the official said.In another background briefing early Monday morning, a senior administration official also said bin Laden put up a fight. “He did resist the assault force. And he was killed in a firefight,” the official said.

By end of day, that narrative — much like the narrative of Jessica Lynch’s heroism in 2003 — was being picked apart. Reported Politico:

“A different guy’s wife was killed,” a different official familiar with the briefing for TV reporters said Monday night. Bin Laden’s wife was “injured but not killed,” the official said.Another official familiar with the operation said it did not appear that any woman was used as a human shield, but that the woman killed and the one injured were hurt in the crossfire. The official said he believed Brennan had mixed up the episode involving bin Laden’s wife with another encounter elsewhere in the compound.

“Two women were shot here. It sounds like their fates were mixed up,” said the U.S. official. “This is hours old and the full facts are still being ascertained as those involved are debriefed.”

Whether bin Laden was armed when he was shot also was initially unclear:

…during a background, off-camera briefing for television reporters later Monday, a senior White House official said bin Laden was not armed when he was killed, apparently by the U.S. raid team.Another White House official familiar with the TV briefing confirmed the change to POLITICO, adding, “I’m not aware of him having a weapon.”

As for the claim that bin Laden was living in a mansion, as opposed to just a big house, all that’s needed to debunk that description is some pictures of the house. A Wall Street Journal reporter went to the scene and gave this eye-witness account, concluding there was nothing mansion-like about it.

Full story here.

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This article was posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 6:08 am





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