Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Defensive Denialism

The reactions to Seymour Hersh's excellent article on the Obama administrations spinning of Osama bin Laden's assassination have been hilariously, pathetically predictable. A great wailing and gnashing of teeth denying the well-researched article, followed by tacit admission that it's true. Not all of it, at least not yet, but the most important point - that the Tier One Target was outed not by some courier tortured by the CIA but by a Pakistani snitch, as predicted the week of in 2011 by the always on point War Nerd:
The hard part was finding him. And no chopper, no buffed SEAL, no cool NSA traffic analysis found Osama. A snitch did. Some sleaze of an informer fingered him, that’s how he was got.

That's what really angers people about the Hersh story today. Not that Obama lied or all the office politics of how to anounce the killing, but that this was not some Hollywood ending to what most had at the time assumed to be an interminable manhunt. That it was craven politics and greed - not the much vaunted "tradecraft" of the spooks and spec ops shovelheads - that ultimately sealed Osama's fate.

In fact, it's even worse than us cynics have been saying for the past four years. The old Saudi golem wasn't just turned in by a snitch, but presented gift-wrapped by the ISI. Hersh details how not only did the Pakistanis provide the floor plans to Osama's compound, but guaranteed no interference from Pakistan's military and even cut the power to all of Abottabad. An ISI bagman even led DEVGRU on a tour of the house, the only shots fired being into Osama's decrepit old arse.

And decrepit he was. An invalid, living under house arrest until he could be traded for more kickbacks to ISI officers and more freedom to tinker in Afghanistan, where they and Benazir Bhutto first started the Taliban in the 1990s. That should depress people the most about the Hersh story - that it was the crooked as sin ISI that not only fingered Osama's hiding place, but built the hiding place specifically so they could finger him at the opportune time.

It's a complete refutation of the Zero Dark Thirty narrative... And that's why Americans are trying so hard to ignore Hersh. When not engaging in desperate denials, most reactions tend to be "So what? He's still dead." Which is very true, but it denies the importance - or lack thereof - of how it all went down. To reiterate: there was no firefight, Osama never resisted, the SEALs were never in any danger. The whole thing was as stage-managed as the Jessica Lynch rescue in the early days of the Iraq debacle, a spectacle of heroism for all the heartland rubes.

America is a culture that sanctifies military service while relegating the actual fighting and dying to poor and desperate nobodies. Where police can engage in the most blatant abuses, murdering citizens in broad daylight and on camera, only for millions of Americans to offer them the benefit of the doubt. Where peaceful protests are ignored until a pharmacy gets singed, because property - and propriety - are valued above human life.

Because if Americans actually stopped to take a clear, honest look at their lives, it would be horrifying. A flat expanse of mediocrity and conformity, worse than the darkest imaginings of life under Soviet communism. A spiritually bankrupt existence where fast food and petty malice are the only legal pleasures. The only logical responses are to flee, blackout with chemicals, or embrace a fantastical narrative where the CIA actually gets positive results and designated heroes like the SEALs slay the monster with selfless daring.

Such a culture wants the escape of mythic heroism, needs it, and so will never stop to process the ugly truth presented by Seymour Hersh. Who's got time to consider the amorality of great power geopolitics when there's a very important election in eighteen months?

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