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White House pans bin Laden report

White House photo/Pete Souza

The White House on Monday panned a 10,000-plus-word report accusing it of creating a false narrative surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden.

“There are too many inaccuracies and baseless assertions in this piece to fact check each one,” White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement shared with The Hill.

{mosads}”Nevertheless, the notion that the operation that killed Usama Bin Ladin was anything but a unilateral U.S. mission is patently false,” Price added, describing the raid as a “U.S. operation through and through.”

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh’s Sunday story in the London Review of Books suggested the Pakistani government played an active role in planning and carrying out the 2011 raid of the compound in Abbottabad, to the point that a Pakistani security liaison flew with the U.S. Navy Seals and guided them through the compound to bin Laden’s quarters, where he was shot dead.

Hersh wrote, “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 [Inter-Services Intelligence] – were never informed of the US mission.”

Hersh alleged that the pair knew of the raid in advance and ensured the two U.S. Blackhawk helicopters flying into the Pakistani airspace for the mission didn’t trigger alarms.

“As we said at the time, knowledge of this operation was confined to a very small circle of senior U.S. officials. The president decided early on not to inform any other government, including the Pakistani government, which was not notified until after the raid had occurred,” Price said in the statement.

Many details in Hersh’s story were based on an account from a “retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abottabad,” he wrote.

Hersh defended his piece during an appearance Monday on CNN’s “New Day,” in which he acknowledged that some details in his original story appeared inaccurate, such as that the Navy Seals who killed bin Laden were training at a former nuclear test site in Nevada, as opposed to Utah, as originally suggested.

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