To reaffirm what he said yesterday, the Rude Pundit isn't assessing whether or not Seymour Hersh's potential revising of recent history with his epic article in the London Review of Books on the "real" story of the "capture" of Osama bin Laden. The Rude Pundit merely wants to figure out if it matters. Should you give a shit beyond "Well, goddamn, guess everything our leaders tell us isn't true"? Let's hold hands and find out together. Picking up where we left off:
"A former Seal commander, who has led and participated in dozens of similar missions over the past decade, assured me that ‘we were not going to keep bin Laden alive – to allow the terrorist to live. By law, we know what we’re doing inside Pakistan is a homicide.'" Hersh says that "it was clear to all at this point...that bin Laden would not survive." Two things here: The former SEAL commander didn't participate in the bin Laden raid or Hersh would have said so. More importantly, does anyone seriously think that the orders were not "Go in there and shoot the fuck out of bin Laden"? As a nation, we've wrestled with this question and we've decided, rightly or wrongly, "Yeah, don't care. Fuck that guy in Hell."
That also goes for "according to the retired official, it wasn’t clear from the Seals’ early reports whether all of bin Laden’s body, or any of it, made it back to Afghanistan." The United States wouldn't care if the SEALs barbecued bin Laden and fed him to his children. We are psychotic murderers here. We just don't care, even if we should.
Retired CIA officers helped concoct a cover story for how the United States got its information on where bin Laden was, says Hersh's anonymous "retired official." It wasn't from a walk-in source looking for a reward, as Hersh reports is the truth. It was from tracking a courier for al-Qaeda, the Obama administration said. How did they find out about the courier? "[T]he old-timers come in and say why not admit that we got some of the information about bin Laden from enhanced interrogation?"
And there it is. There is the significance of Hersh's story, if true. It's why you don't see every Republican holding up the London Review of Books and shaking it at any Fox "news" reporter who will listen. If Hersh has it right (and it's looking like some of his reporting is getting confirmed by other reporters), then there is nothing left to show that torturing detainees did a fucking thing other than damage the United States in the world. Zero Dark Thirty is an even bigger lie than we knew it was.
That potential revelation alone turns anyone who defended "enhanced interrogation techniques" like waterboarding into pathetic, ass-covering cowards. (Looking at you, Cheney, you heartless motherfucker.) And maybe, if it ever comes up again, in a fantasy Bush III administration, anyone who attempts to justify torture with the bin Laden story will be smacked down.
And that's about it.
"High-level lying nevertheless remains the modus operandi of US policy." Where Hersh goes wrong (and what everyone attacking the article follows) is pretending that his conclusion about President Obama and his administration making up a story about the bin Laden raid is earth-shattering. Christ, we just expect the president to lie to our faces. Hersh is living in a pre-Nixon era if he thinks we have that outrage gene anymore.
This is a nation that reelected the man who lied them into war. We are so apathetic that we just want to believe whatever story makes us sleep better at night. If we pull at the threads, if we start saying what the lies are in our "war on terror," there's a mighty big, comfy blanket that will fall apart. We will never allow that to happen.
Truth carries a trigger-warning for Americans, so we choose to ignore it. Whether or not the real story is Hersh's, it sure as hell isn't the official one. It never is.