Dit is de eerste van een tweedelige post over professor Johan Braeckman, die ik in de titel de "conspiracy slayer" heb genoemd. Eén van zijn bezigheden is namelijk het ontkennen van elke mogelijke samenzwering. Zo houdt de professor nog altijd vol dat Oswald de enige schutter was die Kennedy heeft vermoord ondanks het feit dat dat wordt tegengesproken door de Zapruder Film, door akoustisch bewijs, alsook door talloze getuigen die allemaal wijzen om minstens een tweede schutter vanop de Grassy Knoll.
In de tweede post zullen we langer over deze moord en de manier waarop de professor daarmee omgaat stilstaan. Deze eerste post zal eerder kort zijn. We willen gewoon even één aspect van zijn betoog onder de loep leggen. Braeckman is immers een zelfverklaarde kritisch denker die vindt dat we niet te wantrouwig mogen staan tegenover de experts (zoals hijzelf) en de overheid. En aangezien wantrouwen in de overheid de basis vormt van veel komplottheorieën moeten die dan ook worden bestreden.
In onderstaande video probeert Braeckman te verklaren waarom we toch zoveel moeite hebben met het aanvaarden van de officiële versie rond de dood van Osama Bin Laden. Zelfs wanneer blijkt dat de overheid bepaalde zaken achterhoudt, is er voor Braeckman nog altijd geen vuiltje aan de lucht. Het gaat immers enkel om een soort van "public relations"-fout, aldus Braeckman (je kan je eigenlijk afvragen hoeveel van dergelijke fouten de overheid nog moet maken vooraleer deze kritisch denker de mogelijkheid van bedrog eventueel in overweging zou willen nemen in plaats van deze verklaring op voorhand af te wijzen):
Nu is het op zich al merkwaardig te noemen dat een zogenaamd "kritisch denker" de mensen aanmaant om vooral niet kritisch te denken over wat de overheid hen
allemaal op de mouw spelt zo eerlijk mogelijk probeert uit te leggen, het wordt nog merkwaardiger wanneer je tot het besef komt dat er in vele gevallen - zoals in dit geval - er helemaal geen officiële versie is, of een officiële versie die voortdurend veranderd. Wat er wel is, zoals blijkt uit onderstaand artikel van Tom Secker, is dat er talloze semi-officiële versies zijn, die mekaar dan nog op fundamentele punten tegenspreken.
Dus hoe zit dat nu eigenlijk in mekaar? Hoe moet een kritisch denker hier over denken? Moeten we al deze verklaringen aanvaarden omdat het van een "officiële" bron komt? Hoe moeten we dan omgaan met de contradicties? Van Braeckman gaan we het niet te weten komen, vrees ik.
Then there are the contradictions in the different accounts of the raid, and in particular the shooting of Osama on the top floor of the house. First we were told that Osama fired on the SEALs and used his wives as human shields. This story quickly fell apart and faded away and a more nuanced account emerged, typified by a report in The New Yorker:
The Americans hurried toward the bedroom door. The first SEAL pushed it open. Two of bin Laden’s wives had placed themselves in front of him. Amal al-Fatah, bin Laden’s fifth wife, was screaming in Arabic. She motioned as if she were going to charge; the SEAL lowered his sights and shot her once, in the calf. Fearing that one or both women were wearing suicide jackets, he stepped forward, wrapped them in a bear hug, and drove them aside. He would almost certainly have been killed had they blown themselves up, but by blanketing them he would have absorbed some of the blast and potentially saved the two SEALs behind him. In the end, neither woman was wearing an explosive vest.
A second SEAL stepped into the room and trained the infrared laser of his M4 on bin Laden’s chest. The Al Qaeda chief, who was wearing a tan shalwar kameez and a prayer cap on his head, froze; he was unarmed. “There was never any question of detaining or capturing him—it wasn’t a split-second decision. No one wanted detainees,” the special-operations officer told me. (The Administration maintains that had bin Laden immediately surrendered he could have been taken alive.) Nine years, seven months, and twenty days after September 11th, an American was a trigger pull from ending bin Laden’s life. The first round, a 5.56-mm. bullet, struck bin Laden in the chest. As he fell backward, the SEAL fired a second round into his head, just above his left eye. On his radio, he reported, “For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo.” After a pause, he added, “Geronimo E.K.I.A.”—“enemy killed in action.”
Hearing this at the White House, Obama pursed his lips, and said solemnly, to no one in particular, “We got him.”
So in this version the first SEAL shot one of the wives in the leg and then bear hugged her and it was the second SEAL who killed Bin Laden, shooting him in the chest then above his left eye.
In the third version, told in the book No Easy Day, written by the second SEAL up the stairs onto the third floor of the house, the point man simply spotted Bin Laden as they arrived on the third floor and shot him twice in the right side of his head. When they entered the room where the body had fallen, one of the wives approached the lead SEAL, screaming, so he grabbed her and drove her back into the room, again in case she was wearing a suicide vest. There is no mention of either of the wives being shot in the leg.
The fourth version, told in Zero Dark Thirty, shows the two SEALs reaching the top of the stairs, spot a guy hiding in a doorway, whisper ‘Osama’ and then shoot him when he sticks his head out. It isn’t clear where they shot him, but his face is shown intact when they get the body back to a base in Afghanistan. The incident with the two wives and making sure they didn’t have suicide vests took place on the second floor, where they shot one of Bin Laden’s sons.
The fifth version came a couple of years later, when Robert O’Neill outed himself as the man who shot Bin Laden. He wrote a book and has given numerous TV interviews on what happened.
O’Neill’s account says he was the second man up the stairs to the third floor, whereas ‘Mark Owen’ in No Easy Day says he was the second man, and the shooter was the only man in front of him. O’Neill repeats the version whereby the first SEAL rushed two women in case they were wearing suicide vests, and that he then came face to face with Bin Laden and shot him twice in the head. Except that in other interviews he says he shot him three times in the head.
So, how do we reconcile these different accounts? There should be only two or three people – all highly trained, experienced Special Forces operators – who know the sequence of events on the third floor. And yet the accounts all contradict one another on exactly what happened, in what order. I do know that a lot of people in the military are not happy with O’Neill and see him as a braggard who is talking about things he shouldn’t, and the contradictions between his different interviews make him a fairly unreliable witness.
The problem only gets worse when it comes to the photographs of Bin Laden’s body. While some images leaked out almost immediately, some reproduced by major media as authentic, it rapidly became clear they were fake. One was a splice of a picture of Bin Laden and a frame from a video game. O’Neill has given interviews where he has decried these fake images, and called on the government to release the photos.
However, O’Neill has also said that he shot Bin Laden in the face, either twice or three times, and that ‘His nose was crushed and the skull opened in half. We had to put both pieces together so we could take the pictures.’ But according to ‘Mark Owen’ in No Easy Day, he took some of the pictures of the body and he says nothing about the having to hold the skull together. Likewise, the CIA claimed that they compared the photos from the compound with other known photos of Bin Laden and facematched them with a high degree of certainty.
Interestingly, Obama was asked in an episode of Rock Center with Brian Williams how he responded when he saw the pictures. His response speaks volumes.
Of course, these photos have never been made public. While they were initially the property of the DOD, having been taken by Navy SEALs, they were immediately transferred to the CIA so they could avoid releasing them under FOIA. The CIA can claim exemptions from FOIA that the Pentagon can’t, so this was a strategic move to evade the requests coming in from media outlets. Judicial Watch sued the CIA to try to get them release the photos but the courts repeatedly ruled in favour of the Agency.
One other curious thing about the raid is that both ‘Mark Owen’ and Rob O’Neill spoke of a sense of unreality while they were on the mission. I do know that several of the SEALs were on Ambien to help them sleep, which is known for affecting your sense of reality and ability to remember things. I also know that once they got the body back to Afghanistan, William McRaven himself examined it and initially did not believe it was Bin Laden. He told one of the tallest SEALs to lie down next to the body (Bin Laden was very tall) to get a sense of scale, and then became convinced.
The body was then flown to the USS Carl Vinson, where DNA tests were performed that apparently confirmed the identity, and the body was then wrapped up and disposed of at sea. According to emails released by the Navy, no regular sailors attended the funeral and it seems only a handful of people on ship ever actually saw the body.
According to Seymour Hersh, quoting anonymous sources, that’s because the burial never took place. Instead, the SEALs tore the body to pieces with rifle fire and threw pieces out of the helicopter on the way back to Afghanistan. This led the White House to concoct the ludicrous ‘burial at sea’ story as a cover, which is why no photos or other records of the burial have been made public.
However, this is all based on second hand information and anonymous quotes so while I can only imagine people did tell Hersh these things – I’d be surprised if he just made them up – this account is no more verifiable or reliable than those of O’Neill, ‘Mark Owen’, John Brennan, Barack Obama, or anyone else.