I saw Zero Dark Thirty, the movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, today. While getting critical reviews, it has also been rather controversial for its depiction of torture. I don't want to get too much into the politics but I thought that was rather silly. Yes, it depicted some rather gruesome interrogations, but they were hardly glamorizing it. The main character Maya, seems to have trouble with the methods used, although she never does anything about it, and with the main source the movie starts with, they only start getting information after they stop abusing the guy and use subterfuge and rapport building instead.
Anyway, amidst all this it should come as no surprise that the Truthers would be all over this. And in fact on 911 Flogger there have been several posts on the movie. I was particularly drawn to this one though, linking to some kooky conspiracy site called The Cabal Times.
Here are some particularly egregious examples.
Disinformation # 8
There were only two helicopters involved in the raid.
The film tries to shamelessly peddle this myth because it helps maintain the myth that Pakistan is an independent nation, not a surrogate state, and therefore would not tolerate a full scale assault. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:
The SEALs flew into Pakistan from a staging base in the city of Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan [……] provided the two modified Black Hawk helicopters that were used for the raid itself, as well as the much larger Chinook heavy-lift helicopters that were employed as backups [..….] The Chinooks kept on standby were on the ground “in a deserted area roughly two-thirds of the way” between Jalalabad and Abbottabad, with two additional SEAL teams consisting of approximately 24 DEVGRU operatorsfor a “quick reaction force” (QRF). The Chinooks were equipped with M134 Miniguns and extra fuel for the Black Hawks. Their mission was to interdict any Pakistani military attempts to interfere with the raid. Other Chinooks, holding 25 more SEALs from DEVGRU, were stationed just across the border in Afghanistan in case reinforcements were needed during the raid. The 160th SOAR helicopters were supported by multiple other aircraft, including fixed-wing fighter jets and drones. According to CNN, “the Air Force had a full team of combat search-and-rescue helicopters available”.
This also became a major plot hole in the story. We are told that Pakistan has scrambled jet fighters and the American forces quickly leave the area with the one working helicopter and the body of Osama. But would they all fit in one heavily modified helicopter?
But they didn't all fit in one helicopter. In fact if the author had continued reading the post in Wikipedia, he would have seen:
Since the helicopter that had made the emergency landing was damaged and unable to fly the team out, it was destroyed to safeguard its classified equipment, including an apparent stealth capability. The pilot smashed "the instrument panel, the radio, and the other classified fixtures inside the cockpit," and the SEALs "[packed] the helicopter with explosives and [blew] it up". Since the SEAL team now had only one helicopter, one of the two Chinooks held in reserve was dispatched to carry part of the team and bin Laden's body out of Pakistan.
The movie, in a minor error, actually depicts another UH-60 coming in to pick up the rest, but the idea that this is some sort of smoking gun is rather silly.
And even more ridiculous.
Disinformation # 9
The Pakistani army did not facilitate the raid in any way.
According to neighbourhood accounts, several men ran through the neighbourhood, shouting out in Pashtu (using loudspeakers) instructing residents to stay inside. These could have been none other than members of Pakistan’s Armed Forces. To quote,
Late on Sunday night, locals heard the clatter of helicopters, gunfire and loud explosions. Most residents emerged from their homes turning on their lights. “I saw soldiers emerging from the helicopters and advancing towards the house. Some of them instructed us in chaste Pashto to turn off the lights and stay inside,” Gul Khan told India Today .
The film tries to cover up this widely reported fact by showing one member of the US Special Forces as an ethnic Pakistani, who goes around the compound singlehandedly, with a loudspeaker in his hand, instructing locals in Pashtu to stay inside.
He was actually their interpreter, not a SEAL, and is written about in the book No Easy Day, going by the name Ali. The plan was for him to go around with a bullhorn and tell the locals that this was all part of a police operation and to stay inside.
You have got to love truthers. They believe that we have the ability to blow up skyscrapers with super secret explosives and fly missiles into the Pentagon in broad daylight without being discovered, but apparently outfitting your interpreter with a bullhorn that you can pick up on Amazon.com for $29.95 is beyond the capabilities of the United States Special Operations community.