Bin Laden’s death, in Hollywood pro-torture film and reality


This video says about itself:

Zero Dark Thirty: Glorifying torture in bed with the CIA

16 December 2012

Writer Glenn Greenwald argues that Zero Dark Thirty, the film about the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, which is already a front-runner to win the 2013 Best Film Oscar, is politically and morally reprehensible and a glorification of torture. Hollywood and the film’s director Kathryn Bigelow have climbed into bed with the CIA and produced pernicious propaganda for the view that the USA is always on the side of “good”, whatever our enemies do is always because they are “evil”, and anyone who is a Muslim is a “terrorist suspect”.

By David Walsh in the USA:

Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s Zero Dark Thirty

CIA-embedded Hollywood liars and their lies

15 May 2015

Zero Dark Thirty, written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow, was a detestable work for many reasons. The film, released in December 2012 to much critical acclaim, was promoted as the true story of the decade-long hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, assassinated by the US military in Pakistan in May 2011.

Now we know, thanks to Seymour Hersh and his article in the London Review of Books, that, along with everything else, the Bigelow-Boal film was a pack of lies from beginning to end. About the only plot element of Zero Dark Thirty that remains unrefuted is that the CIA did indeed operate illegal “black sites” and horribly torture people.

As our original review noted, the film’s central figure, CIA agent Maya, is shown “conducting a single-minded pursuit of clues leading to the whereabouts of bin Laden, while bravely battling resistance from the entire male-dominated leadership of the CIA until she finally prevails.

“According to this improbable version of events, the junior female analyst single-handedly brought about the May 1, 2011 raid on the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan that ended in the assassination of bin Laden and the shooting of several other defenseless men, women and children.”

“Improbable” seems to be the key word here.

Hersh points out in his lengthy piece that bin Laden was not living secretly at the time of his killing in a well-guarded hideout, as depicted in the film, but “had been a prisoner of the ISI [Pakistani intelligence service] at the Abbottabad compound since 2006.” He further explains “that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011 [seconded by Zero Dark Thirty], but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer [a “walk-in”!] who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the US.”

So there was no intense debate at CIA headquarters as to whether bin Laden was actually living at the location in question, an important sequence in Bigelow’s film. In the face of rather wishy-washy superiors, Maya boldly insists it is a “100 percent” certainty that the house’s mysterious resident is indeed the al Qaeda leader. In actual fact, Pakistani officials had acknowledged to their American counterparts he was there in Abbottabad (“less than two miles from the Pakistan Military Academy,” and “another mile or so away” from “a Pakistani army combat battalion headquarters,” observes Hersh) and even handed over a DNA sample to prove the point.

Nor was there a deadly shoot-out at the compound. The Pakistani military and intelligence deliberately stood down and let the US Navy Seal team do its dirty work. “An ISI liaison officer flying with the Seals guided them into the darkened house and up a staircase to bin Laden’s quarters,” writes Hersh. Bin Laden was unguarded and unarmed, living on the third floor of the “shabby” house “in a cell with bars on the window and barbed wire on the roof.”

Nor did any CIA official identify the body after the murder, as Maya is shown doing in Bigelow’s film, because two members of the Seal team obliterated bin Laden, an elderly, seriously ailing man. Hersh writes that “some members of the Seal team had bragged to colleagues and others that they had torn bin Laden’s body to pieces with rifle fire. The remains, including his head, which had only a few bullet holes in it, were thrown into a body bag and, during the helicopter flight back to Jalalabad, some body parts were tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains—or so the Seals claimed.”

So much for the events that Bigelow absurdly claimed only “come along once or twice in a millennium”! So much for what Zero Dark Thirty’s director praised as “the brave work of those professionals in the military and intelligence communities”!

Bigelow and Boal hardly made a secret of the fact that they enjoyed intimate and unprecedented cooperation from the CIA and the Obama administration in the development of the project. Emails and transcripts released in May 2012 revealed that the previous July Bigelow and Boal had met with Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers and other Defense Department officials. Boal had earlier held discussions with top administration officials, including Obama’s Chief Counterterrorism Advisor John O. Brennan and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough.

One of the released emails, from a CIA spokesperson, explained that the agency and other US government entities “have been engaging with the film’s screenwriter, Mark Boal. … Both Mark and Kathryn have told us how impressed they are with the Agency’s work in the UBL [Usama bin Laden] operation and how eager they are to bring that to the screen.”

The CIA and the administration gave the green light to the film, vetted or had changes made in its script and gloated about its usefulness as propaganda.

One of the principal lines of defense of the filmmakers and their apologists against critics was that Zero Dark Thirty did not render a judgment, was apolitical and simply presented the unadorned facts.

Boal evidently chose to believe (and pass on) every bit of information provided to him by the CIA, not exactly an organization known for its scrupulous adherence to the truth.

In an email sent May 10, 2011, Boal informs George Little of the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs that he and Bigelow “are making a film about the extraordinary effort to capture or kill Usama Bin Laden. Given the historical nature of the subject matter, we intend to make accuracy and authenticity hallmarks of the production, for we believe that this is one of those rare instances where truth really is more interesting than fiction.”

One doesn’t know whether to laugh or …

In another remarkable email from June 13, 2011, Defense Department Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Douglas Wilson wrote Under Secretary of Defense Vickers that “At the direction of Director [Leon] Panetta, CIA is cooperating fully [with the filmmakers] … For the intelligence case, they [Boal and Bigelow] are basically using the WH[White House]-approved talking points we used the night of the operation.”

And, as it turns out, those talking points were a series of fabrications.

In a February 2013 radio interview, Boal asserted: “Of course we tried to be as honest as we could. Who would go into a movie like this knowing there’s going to be the scrutiny there is, knowing the importance, knowing the deep underlying fissures in our political system on the policy issues and try to play fast and loose? You’d have to be out of your mind to do that.” Was Boal out of his mind then? Or had he simply bought into the “war on terror” so deeply that he was incapable of identifying lies when they were told him?

It is almost farcical. This is Boal, in the same radio interview, on the details of the hunt for bin Laden, now exposed as part of a White House-CIA cover story:

“I think that what led to Osama Bin Laden’s death is the work of thousands of people over the course of 10 years. We depict some of them. There were many different places that the information came from. Some of it came from the detainee program. A lot of it came out of good old-fashioned sleuthing, detective work, some of it came out of electronic surveillance. There’s a whole host of methods, but at the end of the day what the movie is really about that there’s a cerebral cortex involved here.”

Boal here admits somewhat grudgingly—after all, he is a liberal-minded man!—that only “some” of the information came from “the detainee program,” i.e., torture. And, as a result of Boal’s including this claim in the film, Zero Dark Thirty became part of the argument in certain circles for the effectiveness of “enhanced interrogation.” But, in any case, it was all made up! Interrogations and torture had nothing to do with bin Laden’s being located.

Hersh writes: “That US intelligence had learned of bin Laden’s whereabouts from information acquired by waterboarding and other forms of torture,” a complete invention, was “pushed by [John] Brennan and [CIA director] Leon Panetta.” A bunch of retired CIA officers had been called in, according to one of Hersh’s sources, “‘to help with the cover story. So the old-timers come in and say why not admit that we got some of the information about bin Laden from enhanced interrogation?’ At the time, there was still talk in Washington about the possible prosecution of CIA agents who had conducted torture.”

It is difficult to express in words the contempt one feels for individuals like Bigelow and Boal.

They were both “leftists” of a sort once upon a time. In the 1970s Bigelow (born 1951) was a radical opponent of the Vietnam War, a figure on the artistic “avant-garde scene” and a student of postmodernism at Columbia University. One of her earliest film projects was a critique of US counterinsurgency methods and the use of death squads.

According to Jordan Michael Smith in the Nation, Boal (born 1973), a graduate of Oberlin College, “began writing for The Village Voice in 1998, documenting concerns about the burgeoning US surveillance infrastructure. … Boal was also freelancing for Mother Jones. In a terrific 1999 cover story, he investigated a garment factory in Kentucky that qualified as a sweatshop because of its below-sustenance wages, dangerous working conditions and intimidation against union organizers.”

Both have evolved, along with many other former middle class protesters and dissidents, into enthusiastic defenders of the state and its brutal operations, at home and abroad.

“You gotta be kidding me.” – Seymour Hersh on the timing of the new Bin Laden documents: here.

SEAL Team Six the classified US special operations unit best known for killing Osama bin Laden, has grown into a “global manhunting machine”, that often kills civilians and operates with only partial oversight, according to a major new report: here.

In a lengthy article published Sunday, the New York Times provided a glimpse into the criminal and grisly methods employed by Seal Team 6, a secret unit within the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). The unit was made famous by the phony accounts of its assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, cover stories that were blown last month by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh, who exposed the operation as the cold-blooded murder of an unarmed and decrepit individual who had been fingered by Pakistani intelligence: here.

French invasion of Mali, its real deathly face


French soldier in Mali with skull mask

This photo of a French Foreign Legion soldier, part of the invasion of Mali, shows the real face of that war.

That war is not “against Al Qaeda terrorism” (supported by the French government in Libya, and still in Syria). It is not for women’s rights, human rights or secularism.

It is in support of a military dictatorship.

It brings death, mainly to Malian civilians.

This war is a neo-colonial war.

The French top brass did not like the deathly honesty of the Foreign Legion soldier’s mask. It undermined war propaganda.

Pentagon-Al Qaeda alliance in Syria?


This video is called Unarmed Men Executed By Free Syrian Army/Al Qaeda.. And These Are The Good Guys?

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Washington’s proxy in Syria: Al Qaeda

9 August 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday issued a warning against anyone “attempting to exploit the misery of the Syrian people, either by sending in proxies or sending in terrorist fighters.” She insisted that such actions would “not be tolerated.”

Neither she nor the State Department cared to spell out precisely which countries or organizations were being warned. Hidden behind Clinton’s hypocritical statement is the reality that US imperialism and its allies are themselves relying on, bankrolling and arming just such “proxies” and “terrorist fighters” to pursue their war for regime-change in Syria.

Chief among these forces is Washington’s supposed arch enemy, the Islamist terrorist organization Al Qaeda.

The growing acknowledgment within official circles that Al Qaeda is playing a decisive role in Syria’s civil war exposes both the real nature of the US-backed bid to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad and the fraud of Washington’s “war on terror.”

Having for months dismissed as “propaganda” the Syrian government’s statements that it is battling Al Qaeda terrorists, the corporate media and sources close to the US government are now not only acknowledging the role of this organization in the Syrian events, but celebrating it.

The major US news networks all carried reports on Monday and Tuesday highlighting Al Qaeda’s presence inside Syria. These follow a report in the New York Times late last month that Al Qaeda is operating in the heart of the so-called Syrian “revolution” through three groups: the Al Nusra Front for the People of the Levant, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades and Al Baraa ibn Malik Martyrdom Brigade.

The frankest admission of the significance of Al Qaeda’s role came Monday in an article posted on the web site of the Council on Foreign Relations by Ed Husain, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies and one of the council’s chief analysts on Islamist political movements in the Middle East.

Husain wrote: “The Syrian rebels would be immeasurably weaker today without al-Qaeda in their ranks. By and large, Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions are tired, divided, chaotic, and ineffective… Al-Qaeda fighters, however, may help improve morale. The influx of jihadis brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results. In short, the FSA needs al-Qaeda now.”

America’s Syrian Jihad: An Old War in New Clothes: here.

The United States and its Comrade-in-arms, Al Qaeda: here.

The Dangerous Global Consequences of a Syria Intervention: here.

Washington is intensifying its bloody intervention to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad: here.

Grisly videos show yet more Syrian atrocities: here.

The “Free Syrian Army” are hardly paragons of virtue in this dirty war: here.

US efforts to bring down the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria focus on collusion with Turkey’s Justice and Development Party: here.

Yesterday US and NATO officials discussed plans for a US military invasion of Syria to bring down Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, after US President Barack Obama announced that the US was contemplating a direct attack on Syria at a press conference Monday night: here.

United Nations experts warned today that an increasing number of “foreign elements” including jihadis are now operating in Syria: here.

US proxy war in Syria spreads to Lebanon and Iraq: here.

Bin Laden’s death, truth and lies


Osama bin Laden

By Gareth Porter, Truthout in the USA:

Exclusive Investigation: The Truth Behind the Official Story of Finding Bin Laden

Thursday, 03 May 2012 09:07

A few days after US Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden in a raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a “senior intelligence official” briefing reporters on the materials seized from bin Laden’s compound said the materials revealed that bin Laden had, “continued to direct even tactical details of the group’s management.” Bin Laden was, “not just a strategic thinker for the group,” said the official. “He was active in operational planning and in driving tactical decisions.” The official called the bin Laden compound, “an active command and control center.”

The senior intelligence official triumphantly called the discovery of bin Laden’s hideout, “the greatest intelligence success perhaps of a generation,” and administration officials could not resist leaking to reporters that a key element in that success was that the CIA interrogators had gotten the name of bin Laden’s trusted courier from al-Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo. CIA Director Leon Panetta was quite willing to leave the implication that some of the information had been obtained from detainees by “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Such was the official line at the time. But none of it was true. It is now clear that CIA officials were blatantly misrepresenting both bin Laden’s role in al-Qaeda when he was killed and how the agency came to focus on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

In fact, during his six years in Abbottabad, bin Laden was not the functioning head of al-Qaeda at all, but an isolated figurehead who had become irrelevant to the actual operations of the organization. The real story, told here for the first time, is that bin Laden was in the compound in Abbottabad because he had been forced into exile by the al-Qaeda leadership.

The CIA’s claim that it found bin Laden on its own is equally false. In fact, the intensive focus on the compound in Abbottabad was the result of crucial intelligence provided by the Pakistani intelligence agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Truthout has been able to reconstruct the real story of bin Laden’s exile in Abbottabad, as well as how the CIA found him, thanks in large part to information gathered last year from Pakistani tribal and ISI sources by retired Pakistani Brig. Gen. Shaukat Qadir. But that information was confirmed, in essence, in remarks after the bin Laden raid by the same senior intelligence official cited above – remarks that have been ignored until now.

In his campaign to win the election as a war president, Barack Obama flatters the worst vices of chauvinism and panders to the most vulgar and brutal idea of the qualities that define a leader and the actions that ennoble a country. No alchemy of eloquence can atone for the confession of moral surrender involved in such a boast: here.

Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s new film chronicling the CIA’s hunt for Osama bin Laden, which opened in select theaters December 19, has largely received rave reviews and garnered a host of awards and nominations as the year’s best movie. It is a shameful work, and this reception says far more about the state of the media and the popular culture industry in the US than it does about the film itself: here.

Opinion: Pakistan must release the Osama bin Laden report: here.

Seymour Hersh on death of Osama bin Laden: ‘It’s one big lie, not one word of it is true’: here.

Sworn testimony by an FBI supervisor has confirmed that the FBI recruited an informant close to Osama bin Laden in the early 1990s, who was later employed by the CIA. Both agencies concealed this fact from the commission established to investigate the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001: here.

FAMED INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER ALLEGES U.S. HIDING THE TRUTH ABOUT OSAMA BIN LADEN’S DEATH “The most blatant lie was that Pakistan’s two most senior military leaders — General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the army staff, and General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of the ISI — were never informed of the US mission … the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the US … and … while Obama did order the raid and the [SEAL] team did carry it out, many other aspects of the administration’s account were false.” [London Review of Books]

Nearly four years since the US Special Forces raid that resulted in the murder of Osama bin Laden, an extraordinary political exposure by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published Sunday in the London Review of Books has torn the mask off the official narrative by the US government: here.

The 10,000-word essay by Seymour Hersh on the US killing of Osama bin Laden, published Sunday by the London Review of Books, is a devastating blow to the entire narrative of the US “war on terror,” as it has been elaborated by both the Bush and Obama administrations: here.

Report from Pakistan that Brigadier Usman Khalid went to the US seeking a $25m reward adds credence to Seymour Hersh exposé: here.

THE KILLING OF OSAMA BIN LADEN! – –US version is a ‘fairy tale’ that ‘might have been written by Lewis Carroll’: here.

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Australia: book banned which was OK when Bin Laden was official US ally


Censorship, cartoonBy Mike Head:

Australian government revives book banning

26 October 2006

With the assistance of the state Labor governments, the federal Australian government is carrying out overt political censorship of books.

So far, two Islamic volumes have been banned and preparations are underfoot to tighten censorship laws by agreement with the states.

The current campaign began in February, when federal attorney-general Philip Ruddock moved to take more control over censorship rulings.

Ruddock announced that the two committees responsible for classifying books, films, TV programs, video games and other material—the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board—would be integrated into his department.

Previously, they were within the Office of Film and Literature Classification, a formally independent agency.

In June, Ruddock applied to the Review Board to outlaw eight Islamic texts and one film, even though the Classification Board had previously cleared them, on the advice of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

None of these agencies thought the books incited any crime, threatened public safety or contravened the expanded sedition laws passed late last year.

According to the AFP, the material was “descriptive rather than inciting any type of violence”.

Ruddock’s intervention followed a media witchhunt, led by the Murdoch newspaper stable.

The Sydney Daily Telegraph’s headline on May 15, for example, screamed, “Muslim ‘Books of Hate’ Get OK”.

The newspaper demanded the banning of the books for, among other things, encouraging hostility toward police among Muslim youth.

The seven government-appointed members of the Review Board proscribed two books, Defence of the Muslim Lands and Join the Caravan, but allowed six others. As well as a film of a speech by a lecturer at an American university.

People who display or sell the censored material can be jailed for up to two years.

The two outlawed books were written by Sheikh Abdullar Azzam, who was killed in Afghanistan in 1989.

Ironically, both sought to justify the Islamic fundamentalist war against the Soviet-backed regime that ruled at the time in Kabul.

There was no move to ban the books in the 1980s, because the US and its allies, including Australia, were backing the Islamic groups as “freedom fighters”.

In its decision on Defence of the Muslim Lands, the Review Board acknowledged that the book, including its preface by Osama bin Laden, was written in 1984 as a “call to arms” against the Soviet invasion, “which was condemned at the time by much of the Western world including Australia, the UK and the US”.

Australia: computer game censored.