ORLANDO – As soon as President Obama held an unscheduled live press conference on Sunday night to annouce that terrorist Osama bin Laden had been killed by U.S. armed forces, the conspiracy theories immediately started: what if it isn’t true?
Blogs quickly filled up with theories about why bin Laden might not have been assassinated by the U.S. Navy SEALS unit that stormed the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Bin Laden’s body was buried at sea, in accordance with Muslim tradition.
No photos have been released yet of his body.
Some of the details of the attack – including whether bin Laden was armed and whether or not he used a woman as a human shield – have changed since Monday.
That’s led some theorists to suspect that the White House is hiding something, although few have gone public to accuse the Obama administration of deliberately deceiving the American people about bin Laden’s death.
David Raith, though, has no qualms about doing just that.
“He is not dead,” Raith said. “The military is trained to do these things and does not make a habit of killing an intelligence asset.”
Raith, who served in the Marines and is a contributor to Freeline Media Orlando, believes the expertly trained, highly specialized Navy SEALS unit, the most elite force in the military, did in fact storm the compound in Abbottabad where bin Laden was hiding. But all the details that followed that have left Raith feeling skeptical, at best. He no longer believes what the White House is reporting to the American people.
The White House said on Tuesday that bin Laden was unarmed when Navy SEALS burst into his room and shot him to death right above the eye. Raith doesn’t buy a word of it.
A team as highly trained as the SEALS would have no problem disarming a 54-year-old man who was suffering from low blood pressure and an enlarged heart.
Capturing him would have been remarkably easy for the SEALS, Raith said.
“There’s a million different ways of dismantling a target without killing him,” Raith said, adding that bin Laden, taken alive, could have provided the U.S. with a wealth of valuable information about the activities of Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations in the Middle East. Assassinating him, Raith added, would have been counter productive.
“The military doesn’t make a practice of killing people they can use later,” he said. “History shows they don’t make a habit of killing an intelligence asset. When he dies, the information dies with him.”
That’s why Raith has concluded that bin Laden is alive, and in the custody of the U.S. military and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Other aspects of the White House’s report of what happened in the compound also don’t ring true to Raith. On Monday, U.S. officials said a woman in the room with bin Laden had acted as a human shield to protect the terrorist leader from the SEALS, and had been killed in the firefight. But on Tuesday, the White House changed its story, and said the woman, later identified as the wife of the Al-Qaeda leader, has been shot in the leg and taken into custody by U.S. commandos.
If this is true, Raith said, it once again cuts big gaping holes in the entire story.
“So they shot her in the leg, but they shot him in the face?” he asked. “This shows you how well these people can aim. Why would they have shot him? These guys are trained to where they don’t have to shoot him. They’re not going to aim for the head. They’re good shots. Chances are they were carrying AR15s” – a semi-automatic rifle – “a very accurate firearm up to 400 yards. They wouldn’t have had to disarm him. He wasn’t armed. You grab him and throw him on the floor and cuff him up.”
It doesn’t help, he said, that the Obama administration is stalling on whether to release photos of bin Laden’s corpse, which the White House has described as “gruesome” and potentially inflammatory. Raith said he believes bin Laden is now in U.S. custody, being interrogated – and, quite possibly, is being subjected to torture.
Since President Obama announced on Sunday that bin Laden had been killed, there have been some reports indicated that waterboarding, an interrogation tactic, was integral to extracting information several years ago from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libi, information that eventually helped the United States track down bin Laden.
Raith said the White House decided to claim bin Laden had died because the government doesn’t “want people to question, ‘Okay, you’ve got him in custody, what are you going to do to him? Are you going to torture him?’ “
That, Raith said, is why the White House is covering up bin Laden’s capture, and the fact that he’s still alive today.
It’s a totally plausible and sensible theory, said Dexter Miller, the co-host of The Freeline Media Hour radio show.
“That’s as plausible as anything I’ve heard so far from any source,” Miller said of Raith’s theory. “It’s entirely plausible that’s the deal, and he’s being interrogated as we speak. There is no proof the man is dead.”
Raith and Miller, who both voted for Republican John McCain for president in 2008 rather than Obama, insist there are too many holes in the White House’s story to be easily ignored.
“As I stated on the radio show on Tuesday, when I first heard the story I was in total disbelief,” Miller said. “As the day went on, so many people were on board with the story, and they knew more about the details than I did, so I decided to go along with it.
“And now today,” he added, “I hear they are not going to release the pictures, which puts another huge chink in my belief system. I’ll keep saying that until there is some kind of photographic evidence that will satisfy not only me, but everyone else.”
Other small details nag at him and sound implausible, Miller added.
“That sea burial in the middle of the night – that’s too convenient,” he said.
Miller also agreed with Raith that the Navy SEALS would have no trouble taking bin Laden prisoner, unharmed.
“Even though bin Laden said he would not surrender, it was 20 to one,” Miller said. “That’s 20 against a mostly frail man.”
Miller, who served in the Navy in the 1960s during the Vietnam War, said one thing just might convince him that the White House has told the entire truth since Sunday night.
“The only thing that keeps me from completely believing this is a hoax,” Miller said, “is I couldn’t believe the Navy SEALS allowed themselves to be a part of a staged play. I would hate to think our U.S. Navy SEALS were involved in that.”
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