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White House denies claims it misled public on bin Laden killing

US says article alleging Pakistan involved in 2011 raid, was holding al-Qaeda leader prisoner, riddled with ‘outright falsehoods’

This undated photo shows al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan. (AP)
This undated photo shows al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan. (AP)

The White House dismissed as untrue an article alleging that US President Barack Obama misled the public about how the US killed Osama bin Laden.

Spokesman Josh Earnest says journalist Seymour Hersh’s piece in the London Review of Books is “riddled with inaccuracies and outright falsehoods.”

Earnest noted former CIA deputy director Michael Morell’s reaction to the article — that he stopped reading because every sentence was wrong.

The White House also flatly rejected claims that Pakistan was told in advance about the 2011 special operations raid that killed bin Laden.

File photo of the compound where al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (photo credit: Anjum Naveed/AP File)
File photo of the compound where al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (photo credit: Anjum Naveed/AP File)

Hersh claimed that Pakistan’s security services not only knew about the raid, but had been holding bin Laden prisoner since 2006.

That account was rejected by the White House.

“This was a US operation through and through,” said Edward Price, a White House National Security Council spokesman.

“The notion that the operation” which killed the 9/11 mastermind, “was anything but a unilateral US mission is patently false,” he said.

The raid on Abbottabad caused public outcry in Pakistan and strained already uneasy relations between Washington and Islamabad.

It was also seen as a hallmark achievement of Obama’s first term.

President Barack Obama talks with members of the his national security team in the White House Situation Room during one in a series of meetings to discuss the mission against Osama bin Laden, on May 1, 2011. (photo credit: AP Photo/The White House, Pete Souza, File)
President Barack Obama talks with members of the his national security team in the White House Situation Room during one in a series of meetings to discuss the mission against Osama bin Laden, on May 1, 2011. (photo credit: AP Photo/The White House, Pete Souza, File)

“Knowledge of this operation was confined to a very small circle of senior US officials,” insisted Price.

“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,” he said.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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