A lengthy new report by the investigative journalist Seymour Hersh turns the official account of Osama bin Laden's assassination on its head. In the London Review of Books, Hersh writes that the US didn't, as it has said, discover bin Laden's location through couriers. Instead, top Pakistani generals knew where bin Laden was—in fact, as Hersh puts it, "bin Laden had been a prisoner of the ISI at the Abbottabad compound since 2006," and a Pakistani official revealed the information for a large portion of a $25 million reward the US had put forward in 2001. Hersh bases his report largely on an anonymous source he describes as "a retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad." Obama did order the Navy SEALs raid on the compound, but it didn't happen the way the White House has said, Hersh writes.
"There was no firefight as they moved into the compound," the source says. Bin Laden, who was an "invalid," was simply shot. Ensuing accounts, including President Obama's speech, provided inaccurate details. Though Obama acknowledged working with Pakistani intelligence, the account by John Brennan, now the CIA head, rejected the idea that Pakistan had any knowledge of bin Laden's location. Hersh's report is an "explosive" one, writes Seth Maxon at Slate, but he notes that its trustworthiness is uncertain, "since it mostly relies on the information of a single anonymous source—and because it doesn't appear in Hersh's usual venue for blockbuster investigative pieces, the New Yorker." Business Insider agrees that it "should be viewed with skepticism." Read it all here. (Read more Osama bin Laden stories.)