In light of Sy Hersh’s claim that the raid on Osama bin Laden in 2011 is “one big lie,” here’s an overview of evidence in support of an alternative narrative: bin Laden died in December 2001 in Tora Bora from a lung complication as a result of kidney failure starting at least since mid-2000.
All sources are from the mainstream news, many of which have since been “scrubbed” from the internet.
2000 to September 2001: Reports Emerge of bin Laden Dying From Kidney Disease
In March 2000 the Chicago Tribune reports that an Afghan witness and “Western intelligence official” say bin Laden is suffering from severe kidney and liver failure.
This story was also picked up by CBS News in 2000, who outright lead with the title that “Bin Laden Reported to be Dying” from “kidney disease.”
In July 2001, the South Asia Analysis Group reports: “Bin Laden, who suffers from renal deficiency, has been periodically undergoing dialysis in a Peshawar military hospital with the knowledge and approval of the Inter-Services Intelligence, (ISI) if not of Gen.Pervez Musharraf himself.”
September to November 2001: bin Laden is Trapped in Afghanistan, Unable to Receive Kidney Treatments
In September 2001, PBS’ Frontline interviews the former general counsel for the CIA, mentioning reports from 1998 that the DEA found out Osama bin Laden was undergoing kidney dialysis with a doctor in Peshwar. They mention further that the DEA wanted to poison bin Laden through his dialysis machine, but the CIA allegedly rejected this due to the ban on assassinations.
In November 2001, The Guardian is reporting that French intelligence officials say bin Laden was flown to Dubai for kidney treatment in July of 2001, where he also met with several CIA agents and the head of Saudi intelligence. This story is also picked up by several French newspapers.
In his first interview since 9/11, in November 2001 bin Laden talks to a Pakistani newspaper and claims that his “kidneys are all right” and denies visiting a hospital in Dubai the previous year (note that he may have visited one in Pakistan). In the same interview he also asserts, clearly lying, that he has “nuclear weapons.”
December 2001: bin Laden is Dead, Buried in Afghanistan In December of 2001, the New York Times reports on “high-level murmurings that bin Laden is dead.”
That same day,citing a Taliban source, Fox News reports that bin Laden has died due to an “untreated lung complication” from kidney disease. About 30 “close associates” reportedly attended bin Laden’s funeral in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan. A source concludes that the U.S. government and other forces are in a “mad search operation” but will never be able to locate the now-dead bin Laden, buried in an unmarked location.
Late December 2001 to March 2002: bin Laden’s “Death Video” is Released In late December of 2001, after reports of bin Laden’s funeral, a new video appears of a gaunt, sickly Osama bin Laden. The London Telegraph reports, verbatim: “The recording was dismissed by the Bush administration yesterday as sick propaganda possibly designed to mask the fact the al-Qa’eda leader was already dead.” One aid further concludes that the video was created earlier in the event bin Laden is dead, who by December of 2001 was so heavily surrounded he would have been unable to escape to obtain kidney dialysis.
At this time CBS news also runs a story on bin Laden receiving kidney disease treatments in Pakistan the week before 9/11. Link:Osama bin Laden Near Death in 2002 (from Dan Rather CBS); US Government bin Laden LIE In January of 2002, The Guardian reports that the president of Pakistan speculates that bin Laden is now dead of untreated kidney disease based on video and photographs of a gaunt-looking bin Laden.
In January of 2002, based on his analysis of video and photographs of bin Laden from December 2001, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta says that bin Laden seems to be having renal failure. He notes kidney dialysis is expensive, and suggests bin Laden would need help in obtaining medical treatment.
In March 2002, the BBC reports on an interview with bin Laden’s wife, who speaks of bin Laden in the past tense, notes his failing kidney and frequent use of pills and other medicines. She says she has not seen her husband since September 2001, but holds out hope that he is still alive: “I feel deep inside me that he is still alive.” She also notes that bin Laden’s wish was to die in Afghanistan and nowhere else: “He never spoke to me about his intention to leave Afghanistan and always wished to die there. He told me once that if he ever left Afghanistan, it would be to meet his Creator.” She also says that bin Laden “always suffered from kidney and stomach pains and that he “told me once that he was going to Pakistan for treatment.”
In March and April of 2002, U.S. officials downplay the threat of bin Laden, with Rumsfeld even saying the bin Laden threat has been “neutralized.” Even Bush, called out for rarely mentioning bin Laden in 2002, admits: “We haven’t heard from him [bin Laden] in a long time… I don’t know where he is. I really just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you.” Link: Bush: Truly not concerned about bin Laden (short version) In May 2002, ABC News reports on a new spliced-together tape from unknown time periods in which bin Laden appears “about the same” (that is, sickly-looking) as in the tape from December 2011. ABC News also says they have “learned intelligence reports indicate bin Laden had received a kidney transplant in Pakistan,” but do not know when.
July 2002: FBI Chief Says bin Laden is Most Likely Dead; Nothing from bin Laden Since December 2001 In July 2002, the BBC reveals a bombshell: the FBI’s counter-terrorism chief Dale Watson says bin Laden is ‘”probably dead.” Conveniently, bin Laden’s followers’ claim that bin Laden will “not make more video statements until his group launches another attack on the United States.”
In July 2002, CNN reports that bin Laden’s close bodyguards were captured in February of 2002, but not bin Laden. The article also quotes mentions some high-level officials: “Some high-level U.S. officials are already convinced by such evidence that bin Laden, who has not been seen or heard from in months, is dead.”
In July 2002, Time Magazine reports that “intelligence officials are not certain whether Osama bin Laden is alive or dead” but that “they have found a tantalizing document that suggests he was living at least as recently as the last days of December [of 2001].”
In July 2002, The New York Times runs another article on how Osama bin Laden is likely dead. The author notes how unusual it would be for bin Laden, known for his constant desire for media attention, would be silent for over half a year.
October 2002: Intelligence Officials Confirm bin Laden is Dead; bin Laden’s Will is Released Also in October 2002 the D.C.-based news service The World Tribune, citing Israeli intelligence sources, reports that the United States and Israel have concluded that bin Laden died in Afghanistan in December 2001. They note that additional bin Laden messages are “probably fabrications,” and that bin Laden’s heir has been chosen.
The president of Afghanistan also concludes that bin Laden is probably dead: “The more we don’t hear of him, and the more time passes, there is the likelihood that he probably is either dead or seriously wounded somewhere.”
In October 2002 CNN reports that U.S. intelligence officials have obtained Osama bin Laden’s will, which is dated December 14, 2001 (approximately the same date as has been reported bin Laden’s funeral in Tora Bora by Fox News and other outlets). CNN also reports that there has been no evidence of bin Laden since December of 2001.
2002 Onwards: Efforts to Target bin Laden are Closed Down; bin Laden = “Elvis” In 2004, the LA Times quotes Donald Rumsfeld (who mixes up Hussein with bin Laden) as admitting: “We’ve not seen him [bin Laden] on a video since 2001.”
In 2006 the New York Times reports the CIA had officially closed down the unit focused on capturing bin Laden the previous year.
In 2006, U.S. and Pakistani officials say they have not received any information about bin Laden in years: “no tips from informants, no snippets from electronic intercepts, no points on any satellite image.” The article rehashes the December 2001 video of bin Laden as the most recent evidence (other than a second-hand claim from 2003) of bin Laden’s existence. Some commandos are now giving Osama bin Laden the codename “Elvis.”
The available reports overwhelmingly supports the view that bin Laden died of kidney failure in December of 2001. We have mainstream news reports from a variety of sources, and zero credible evidence since then, as admitted by top level officials. Even if you believe the official story, the evidence very strongly suggests some entity (either the CIA, Saudi Royal Family, the Pakistani government, or all the above) helped bin Laden survive long enough via medical treatments to be killed at a later point in time. This very well could be the “one big lie” Seymour Hersh has mentioned in The Guardian recently.