On Seymour Hersh and Osama bin Laden

Let’s shine light on Seymour Hersh: During the Bush administration, he revealed illegal and inhumane torture at Abu Ghraib for The New Yorker. Decades earlier, he told the world about the U.S. massacre of villagers in Vietnam. This won Hersh the Pulitzer Prize.

This past Sunday, Hersh released a new story, one that claims the Obama administration's official narrative on the death of Osama bin Laden is a lie. The 10,000 word feature appeared in The London Review of Books and goes like this:

Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, captured bin Laden and held him in Abbottabad. The United States learned of this, but from an ISI informant, not a courier. The U.S. maneuvered and eventually threatened to cut off Pakistani aid unless they cooperated on an effort to kill bin Laden. The two countries colluded and assassinated the terrorist leader.

Obama was supposed to declare bin Laden killed by a drone strike. But, instead, he went on TV and told what is now the “official” story. Drama ensued, coverups implemented, truths forged.

The White House denied all this on Monday. And critics decried Hersh's penchant for anonymous sources. Plus, it's also worth asking: Did anyone really believe the Obama administration's story in the first place?

As the traditional media focuses more on what I would categorize as a softer brand of news, this country needs to invest in Hersh's brand of investigative journalism. Because, hello, how was this story not out there already?

I'm reminded of what Hersh told me when I interviewed him in 2007: “When I worked for The New York Times, I used to write these stories that'd be splashed all over my newspaper. If anything, I'm certainly as good a reporter, and now I write stories and the mainstream press looks the other way.”