Summary: The assassination of bin Laden is rich in lessons for America. Here are a few. Everyday we learn a bit more about our world and how its changing.
Third in a series about bin Laden’s death. Previous chapters:
- A brief note about the death of bin Laden
- About the strategic significance of bin Laden’s execution, and the road not taken
The pattern remains consistent over the years. The military gives us a story, bold and appealing — confirming their narratives. The stenographers calling themselves journalists write headlines. Minds are molded by these strong impressions because we want to believe. Adding to the effect are hundreds of articles by our geopolitical experts and pundits, carefully rearranging the details fed to us by government officials.
Then come the corrections. Step by step, eroding away the story. In the cases of Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch leaving almost nothing of the original left.
But we never learn. We respond just the same when we’re fed the next story. Like fish that take the bait each time. Or Charlie Brown — each time he believes Lucy’s promise.
Perhaps we’ll learn, someday. On that day the Republic will become much stronger.
Here ae some of my favorite articles debunking the stories about our assassination of bin Laden. At the end are links to more information.
- A classroom demonstration of finding terrorists by mathematics
- How are criminals often caught? Not always by detective work.
- Our Russian friends congratulate us, happy that we’ve joined them on the dark side
- One of our few real journalists is an attorney
(1) A classroom demonstration of finding terrorists by mathematics
Here’s a powerful example of why propaganda works: an appealing story gets widespread attention, while its retraction is buried. “Geographers Had Predicted Osama’s Possible Whereabouts“, Science, 2 May 2011 — Excerpt:
Could Osama bin Laden have been found faster if the CIA had followed the advice of ecosystem geographers from the University of California, Los Angeles? Probably not, but the predictions of UCLA geographer Thomas Gillespie, who, along with colleague John Agnew and a class of undergraduates, authored a 2009 paper predicting the terrorist’s whereabouts, were none too shabby. According to a probabilistic model they created, there was an 88.9% chance that bin Laden was hiding out in a city less than 300 km from his last known location in Tora Bora: a region that included Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was killed last night.
The media ran the story without the qualifications. Then comes the inevitable correction to this preposterous story (red emphasis added):
The figure initially reported was incorrect; the model predicted a 88.9% probability given the distance. Also, the model only predicts the probability of his being within a geographic radius of his last known location, not a specific city. The article has been corrected to reflect this fact. The story also implied that USA Today had contacted Gillespie after the article published; the paper had interviewed him a year before.
(2) How are criminals often caught? Not always by detective work.
Somebody drops a dime on them. Friends who are rivals for power. Jealous subordinates. Enemies living next door. This may be the hidden story this week (of course it may be disinformation): “Zawahiri betrayed Osama bin Laden: Saudi paper“, Press Trust of India, 5 May 2011:
Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden was betrayed by his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri who led US forces to his hideout as the two were involved in an intense power struggle, a Saudi newspaper has reported.
The two top al-Qaida men had differences and the courier who led US forces to bin Laden was working and had more loyalties for Zawahiri, al Watan newspaper reported quoting Arab sources. “The Egyptian faction of al-Qaida led by Zawahiri was de facto running the militant group, after bin Laden was taken ill in 2004 and they were trying to take full control,” the paper said.
The courier was a Pakistani national and not a Kuwaiti as the US suspected and the man knew he was being followed but disguised the fact.
The paper claimed it was Zawahiri’s faction which had persuaded Osama to leave tribal areas close to Afghanistan-Pakistan border to take shelter instead in Abbottabad, where he was finally killed by US Seals on Monday. The plan to dispose off bin Laden had been hatched by a prominent al-Qaida commander Saif al Adel of Egyptian descent, who returned to Pakistan from Iran, last autumn.
Al Adel had reportedly escaped to Iran escorting Osama’s other son and family members after 9/11. Al Adel is a member of the majlis al shura of al-Qaida and a member of its military committee, and he provided military and intelligence training to members of al-Qaida and Egyptian Islamic Jihad in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Sudan, and to anti-UN Somali tribes.
(3) Our Russian friends congratulate us, happy that we’ve joined them on the dark side
Note than in the US few dare call the bin Laden hit by what it was, assassination. The Russians see that, and rejoice: “Russia sees vindication of its killing practices in the death of Osama bin Laden“, Pavel Felgenhauer, Eurasia Daily Monitor (by the Jamestown Foundation), 5 May 2011 — We can expect more comparisons like this, from many other nations, as we adopt the methods used so successfully by the KGB. Excerpt:
Russian officials reacted favorably to the killing of the al-Qaeda terrorist network leader Osama bin Laden by SEAL commandos during a raid of a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The Kremlin congratulated the United States with a “serious success in the fight against international terrorism” and called for more security cooperation.
… The statement compared the “success of US commandos” with the “work of the Russian special services in the North Caucasus” in dealing with local rebels and “al-Qaeda emissaries.” The statement directly compared the demise of bin Laden with the slaying of Chechen insurgent warlord Shamil Basayev by a remotely controlled explosive planted by Russian special forces in 2006.
… Russia has for many years been insisting the insurgency in the North Caucasus was inspired by al-Qaeda and other foreign forces. A policy of assassinating terror and rebel suspects, instead of attempting to capture them, has been run for years. Such summary executions also happened on foreign soil: In 2004 former Chechen rebel president Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev living in exile in Qatar, was killed by a bomb planted in his car while he was praying at a mosque. Two Russian military intelligence (GRU) officers were arrested and convicted by a court in Doha for planting the bomb, but later extradited to Moscow. Today the apparent shoot-to-kill actions of the US SEALs in Abbottabad are seen in Moscow as vindication of previous similar targeted killings of rebel terror suspects, and a carte blanche to do so in the future.
… The bewildering and seemingly unstoppable flow of contradictory statements from President Barack Obama’s White House about the details of the killing of bin Laden soon changed the mood of comments in Moscow from praise to mockery and concern.
(4) One of our few real journalists is an attorney
As usual, we can turn to Glenn Greenwald for the real story: “In bin Laden killing, media – as usual – regurgitates false Government claims“, Salon, 3 May 2011 — Excerpt:
Virtually every major newspaper account of the killing of Osama bin Laden consists of faithful copying of White House claims. That’s not surprising: it’s the White House which is in exclusive possession of the facts, but what’s also not surprising is that many of the claims that were disseminated yesterday turned out to be utterly false.
For more information
Links to posts about bin Laden and al Qaeda are given in the earlier post A brief note about the death of bin Laden.
For a complete listing of articles see the FM Reference Page Information & disinformation, the new media & the old.
About propaganda and info warfare:
- News from the Front: America’s military has mastered 4GW!, 2 September 2009
- 4GW at work in a community near you , 19 October 2007 — Propaganda warming us up for war with Iran.
- Successful info ops, but who are the targets?, 1 May 2008
- Psywar, a core skill of the US Military (used most often on us), 26 November 2008
- Iran’s getting the bomb, or so we’re told. Can they fool us twice?, 16 February 2009
- The media doing what it does best these days, feeding us disinformation, 18 February 2009
- How the Soviet Menace was over-hyped – and what we can learn from this, 13 October 2009
- Think-tanks bribe journalists to promote our wars, 24 December 2009
- Iran will have the bomb in 5 years (again), 20 January 2010
- Successful propaganda as a characteristic of 21st century America, 1 February 2010
- A note about practical propaganda, 22 March 2010
- Programs to reshape the American mind, run by the left and right, 2 August 2010
- The US government successfully smears Wikileaks, while America sleeps, 22 October 2010
- The easy way to rule: leading a weak people by feeding them disinformation, 13 April 2011