White House blasts bin Laden report as inaccurate

White House blasts bin Laden report as inaccurate
© White House photo/Pete Souza

The White House on Monday rejected a bombshell report claiming President Obama misled Americans about the 2011 operation that killed Osama bin Laden.  

The controversial report alleging Obama lied about one of the most consequential decisions of his presidency roiled the White House, which said multiple times that investigative reporter Seymour Hersh got the story wrong. 

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

Press secretary Josh Earnest noted the Obama White House is “certainly not the only one to observe that the story is riddled with inaccuracies and outright falsehoods,” adding, “No one here is particularly concerned about it.”

But the White House made a concerted effort to rebut Hersh’s piece, which the reporter billed as the true story of how bin Laden was killed.

Officials honed in on Hersh’s claim that the Pakistani government played an active role in approving and implementing the raid on the Abbottabad compound where bin Laden was living. 

“The notion that the operation that killed Usama Bin Ladin was anything but a unilateral U.S. mission is patently false,” Price said, adding Obama decided not to inform the Pakistani government of the raid until after it occurred. “This was a U.S. operation through and through.” 

Price said knowledge of the operation “was confined to a very small circle of senior U.S. officials.”

In a 10,000-word piece published Sunday in the London Review of Books, Hersh writes Pakistan knew the whereabouts of bin Laden and agreed to hand him off to the United States. His article claims the raid on the Abbottabad compound was staged.

Hersh earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1970 for uncovering the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, and he helped reveal prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2004. But he has faced scrutiny for his recent reporting because it relies heavily on anonymous sourcing and has contained inconsistencies. 

Former administration officials were the first to publicly rebut Hersh’s bin Laden report. 

Former acting CIA Director Michael Morell said on “CBS This Morning” that “every sentence I was reading was wrong.” 

“The source that Hersh talked to has no idea what he’s talking about,” Morell added. “The person obviously was not close to what happened. The Pakistanis did not know.”

On Monday morning, Hersh defended his reporting and questioned why the White House had not yet responded to the story. 

“I've been around a long time,” Hersh said on CNN's “New Day,” adding, “I understand the consequences of saying what I'm saying.”