The White House is dismissing as “baseless” a controversial report alleging President Barack Obama’s administration lied about the circumstances surrounding the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden.
“There are too many inaccuracies and baseless assertions in this piece to fact check each one,” White House National Security spokesman Ned Price said in a statement to reporters.
He took aim specifically at journalist Seymour Hersh’s assertion that the administration collaborated with Pakistani officials to kill the al Qaeda leader, saying that “the notion that the operation that killed Usama Bin Ladin was anything but a unilateral U.S. mission is patently false.”
“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.
“We had been and continue to be partners with Pakistan in our joint effort to destroy al-Qa’ida, but this was a U.S. operation through and through.”
It was the White House’s first response to Hersh’s stunning report, published this weekend in the London Review of Books, outlining what he describes as the true circumstances surrounding bin Laden’s death. Other former administration officials have panned the report as well, and during the daily press briefing, White House spokesman Josh Earnest again dismissed the report, citing CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen’s comment that “what’s true in this story isn’t new, and what’s new in the story isn’t true.”
“I thought that was a pretty good way of describing why no one here is particularly concerned about it,” he said.
Citing an anonymous “major U.S. source,” Hersh writes that the Obama administration cooperated with Pakistani intelligence officials to kill bin Laden, and that the chief of staff of the Pakistani army and director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency knew about the mission, contrary to Obama’s claim that Pakistani officials weren’t aware of the raid in advance.
A U.S. official with detailed knowledge of the outreach to the Pakistanis after the raid tells CNN that based on the reaction it was clear the Pakistanis did not know in advance