FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Hunt for Bin Laden Zeroes Out

by Alexander Cockburn And Jeffrey St. Clair

 

The world’s most wanted man, now magnified in the US press to mythic reach and wealth, has been the target of some hilariously inept US missions, Patrick Cockburn reports from Moscow.

“Russians are astonished by the US intelligence failure that allowed as many as 50 people to plot and train for their attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon for 18 months. But the efforts of the US consulate in Peshawar, in the northwest province of Pakistan on the Afghan border, to trace and capture Osama bin Laden suggest an operation of extraordinary amateurism. In a bid to find him, the consulate last year distributed free matchboxes with a picture of Mr. bin Laden on the front and a message in Urdu offering $500,000 for information leading to his capture. It also promised confidentiality and asylum in the US for anybody who supplied the information.

“The chances of the matchbox ploy producing results was never high and may have been further reduced by a serious misprint: the consulate had intended to offer potential informants $5mbut the printer accidentally omitted a zero, reducing the reward by a factor of ten.

“At the same time as the matchboxes were distributed, shopkeepers in Peshawar were surprised to discover that hundreds of 100-rupee notes written in the Pashto and Dari languages were also in circulation, overprinted with a message offering a reward for bin Laden. The US consulate denies having distributed the notes.”

Is “Surprise” Ever Truly Surprising? There’s now plenty of evidence, some of it initially surfaced by CounterPunch, that before the September 11 attacks, US intelligence and security services knew something was in the offing.

A quick look at some other notorious surprises confirms the fact that almost always there’s some foreknowledge on the part of the target nation, but the information is shelved for a variety of reasons, some of them malign.

Take the most famous surprise in American history: Pearl Harbor. Even leaving possible foreknowledge by President Roosevelt aside, it is beyond dispute now that US Naval Intelligence was well aware of Japanese plans for an attack. For example, the US ambassador in Tokyo, Joseph Grew, was told by a Peruvian diplomat that an attack was imminent.

The so-called “winds intercept” refers to a radio message from the Japanese carrier force in the North Pacific, indicating that Japan was about to implement its attack plan. Again, there is no question that US Naval Intelligence intercepted this message. Added to other testimony we have CounterPunch’s own direct knowledge of a woman who, in World War Two, supervised the US Navy’s most secure and secret files in a Pentagon basement. Among super-sensitive documents in one safe was a copy of the Winds intercept, which she read. In the closing months of the war the Winds intercept disappeared from the file.

Another supposed surprise to America was China’s sudden, devastating intervention in the Korean War. In fact a top level Chinese Communist, Chou En Lai, summoned the Indian ambassador before the attack and gave clear warning of what the Chinese would do if America continued its drive north. Frantic warnings were sent to General Douglas McArthur, directing UN forces in Korea. The warnings were disregarded.

Nor was the Tet offensive, so devastating to US morale in the Vietnam war, a surprise to US intelligence officers, who sent both President Lyndon Johnson and General Westmoreland briefings on the impending attacks, only to be told to rewrite the reports, which contradicted rosy assumptions of the weakness of the Vietnamese NVA and NLF.

A CIA analyst called Fred Fear accurately predicted Yom Kippur war, Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat’s stunning attack on Israeli forces across the Suez Canal in 1973. Months earlier Fear noted heavy purchases of bridging equipment by the Egyptians. From the orders, he deduced the size of the Egyptian force and the number and whereabouts of the bridges. He also drew a map. His report was filed and forgotten. When the attack came on October 6, 1973, his superiors pulled his report out of the files, tore out his map and sent it to the White House, relabeled as “current intelligence”.

The arrival of the Muslim suicide truck driver who blew up the Marine barracks outside Beirut in 1983, killing over 200 was preceded by plenty of warnings. And as for Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, as the world later learned, US envoy April Glaspie had earlier told Saddam that possible border adjustments between Iraq and Kuwait were not a concern of the United States. CP

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail