WASHINGTON (Media General) – President Barack Obama’s administration loudly disputes a report from journalist Seymour Hersh that alleges the administration lied about the 2011 killing of former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Hersh, writing in the London Review of Books, cites an anonymous source that said the Obama administration cooperated with Pakistani intelligence officials to kill bin Laden and Pakistani military officials were aware of the Navy SEALs mission, contrary to the Obama administration’s claims.
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“There are too many inaccuracies and baseless assertions in this piece to fact check each one,” White House National Security spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
Price specifically took aim at Hersh’s assertion that the U.S. collaborated with Pakistani officials to kill bin Laden, saying “the notion that the operation that killed Osama bin Laden was anything but a unilateral U.S. mission is patently false.”
“As we said at the time, knowledge of this operation was confined to a very small circle of senior U.S. officials,” Price said. “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. … We had been and continue to be partners with Pakistan in our joint effort to destroy al Qaeda, but this was a U.S. operation through and through.”
The Obama administration has said American intelligence officials first were able to track bin Laden using a messenger. Hersh said a former Pakistani intelligence official tipped off the U.S. to bin Laden’s whereabouts with hopes of collecting a $25 million award, according to CNN.
According to Hersh, his unnamed source is a “retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad.”
Hersh won a Pulitzer Prize in 1970 for his report on the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War. He since has reported on conflicts in Iraq, Iran and Syria, but according to CNN, has come under frequent criticism for heavy use of unnamed sources.