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Fog of War? Conflicting Information Surrounds Osama Bin Laden’s Death

While John Brennan, Assistant to President for Homeland Security said in a press conference Monday following Osama bin Laden’s death, that the operation prepared for all contingencies — acquiring Osama bin Laden dead or alive, and that there was preparation for the surrender option — then CIA Director Leon Panetta stated, “To be frank, I don’t think he (Osama bin Laden) had a lot of time to say anything,” CIA Director Leon Panetta said in an interview airing on PBS NewsHour.

Was bin Laden armed? Brennan’s answer on Monday implied that bin Laden was armed, but at Tuesday’s press briefing, White House spokesman Jay Carney stated, “He was not armed.” Bin Laden did “resist” U.S. forces … and he added that “resistance does not require a firearm.” He was killed in a third floor bedroom.


On Monday Brennan told the press that “There was a female who was, in fact, in the line of fire that reportedly was used as a shield to shield bin Laden from the incoming fire.” His statement was reinforced by confirmation from a senior Defense official, who told reporters at a Defense Department briefing that, “One woman, who was used as a human shield by one of the four military-age males on the compound, was killed; he was firing behind her.” On Tuesday, Carney stated that the woman was on the first floor, and was killed “in the cross fire.”

On Monday Brennan stated that bin Laden’s wife had been used as a shield. Carney clarified on Tuesday saying, “In the room [on third floor] with bin Laden, a woman, bin Laden’s wife, rushed the assaulter and was shot in the leg but not killed.” As stated above the woman was shot on the first floor as she was caught in the cross fire.

Back and forth on which son was killed: On Monday, Brennan said it was bin Laden’s son Khalid that was killed. Hours later a transcript was released that reported bin Laden’s son Hamza was killed. The latest update from the White House reports that Khalid was killed that the transcript naming Hamza dead was wrong.

A report of continuous gunfire for the full 40 minutes of the operation has now been updated to report that the only exchange from the compound was at the beginning of the operation from courier Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.

Monday Morning Quarterbacks Come Out of the Woodwork
The handling of Osama bin Laden’s body and the burden of proof has also considerable debate.

The issue of whether sliding bin Laden’s body into the Arabian Sea from the USS Carl Vinson is a proper Muslim burial is debated. Additionally the White House reports a proper religious service was given, and that sliding the body into the Arabian Sea was the best decision because it would prevent a shrine from existing in any particular country. However, Abdal Hakim Murad, Muslim Chaplain at Cambridge University, says the Americans have created a shrine that diffuses over the entire Arabian Sea and beaches.

Skeptics abound regarding the lack of pictures for proof of his death, while the President Barack Obama replied that we don’t need to “spike the football” and inflame the situation. With Photoshop in the world, the issue of authenticity of the photos would always exist, anyway.

Skeptics abound regarding the 25-minute blackout of the video of the operation that was transmitted back to the Situation Room at the White House. It’s likely that helmet cams, or other cameras used by the forces involved, recorded the mission onto SD cards or other media, even though the transmission back to the United States was interrupted. It is understandable that security issues protecting the ops of future missions would prevent the video showing tactical operations would be released.

Skeptics also abound regarding the speed of the results of the DNA testing to prove with over 99% certainty the relationship of the body from the Abbottabad compound with DNA retrieved from a sister of Osama bin Laden who died of brain cancer in the United States. While experts report that the kind of DNA testing required to show the DNA relationship of siblings could take as little as two hours, the schedule is remarkable, and questions arise whether the DNA analysis equipment was available at a base in Afghanistan or aboard the USS Carl Vinson, which was probably at least three hours away via a fast helicopter ride from the base in Afghanistan. Possible, but remarkable.

‘After World War II, we didn’t just go and put a bullet through the head of all the top Nazis, we took them to Nuremberg, we put them on trial.’

— Michael Moore

Incident provokes even more fuel for debate
The ethics of the killing of Osama bin Laden “in cold blood” unarmed in front of family members has also come under scrutiny. While a majority of American citizens appear to be satisfied that justice has been served properly for the atrocious, multiple murders committed by the accused Osama bin Laden; but some citizens, such as movie producer Michael Moore believe he should have faced a trial instead of, or before execution.

Even the use of “Enhance Interrogation Technique” has been a topic of debate. The Liberal view believes that Enhanced Interrogation Techniques did not help with the eventual capture of Osama bin Laden. But Conservatives will surely point to the words of Leon Panetta spoken to Brian Williams on NBC News Tuesday after Sunday’s raid: “‘Enhanced interrogation techniques’ [included waterboarding] were used to extract information that led to the mission’s success.”

In a 2009 CIA confirmation hearing Panetta declared, “waterboarding is torture and it’s wrong.”