I’m out of my comfort zone here. It was never my intention to blog about anything other than issues relating to the unfairmess, the intrusiveness, the inanities, the injustices and the sheer utter stupidities of the modern British state as it wages its ideological war of control against its citizens. Yesterday’s blog about Osama bin Laden’s reported death was a brief and not altogether serious excursion into foreign affairs, an exception I thought justified by the significance of the event and an opportunity to spin a conspiracy theory from the myriad loose ends and missing threads of the official version(s) of Operation Save Obama’s Presidency.
That was to be it. But, as the doyenne of mystery thrillers, Agatha Christie, never put it, the plot thickens. And I cannot resist a mystery.
Today, we have some video, part of a “trove of material recovered from the compound in Abbottabad” helpfully collected by those brave SEALs in between pursuing OBL through his bunker for 30 minutes, shooting him, doing the DNA tests, bundling his lifeless corpse into a helicopter, destroying a downed helicopter and getting the hell out of there. It was all over in 40 minutes, apparently so they did well to collect anything in the 10 minutes they weren’t engaged in hunting down and killing OBL. Presumably, the Pakistani army and police didn’t feel the need to investigate several Black Hawks thundering into downtown Abbottabad (I’m aware of the claims of a stealth helicopter and will return to that later), or crashing into walls or being blown up or the resulting firestorm.
Good call, Pakistan..
Anyway, this is not the video that wasn’t watched by Barry and Hillary that didn’t show OBL’s execution but a touching collection of home videos featuring OBL watching himself: the audio track has been helpfully removed so as not to offend the Muslim population – or something. Why watching OBL watching himself is less inflammatory than watching OBL listening to himself you’ll have to work out for yourselves: I’ve consulted my copy of “Etiquette for Viewing Home Videos of the World’s Most Wanted Terrorist” and drawn a blank.
I’ve also drawn a blank on why anybody, let alone a group of supposedly sophisticated and deadly terrorists, would make such a stupidly inept film that is constantly and haphazardly panning… but within an artificially and tightly confined frame. What is it that we’re not permitted to see? And why would anybody have themselves filmed in such a fashion without showing their face direct to camera?
The Daily Telegraph describes the video as “extraordinary”. The only thing that is extraordinary about it is why it was released at all. If the US administration is so desperate to offer us evidence of the assault on OBL’s home and its outcome but are unwilling to show pictures of bin Laden’s corpse, why not show us the video that Barry and Hillary were supposed to be watching? The videos tell us nothing about bin Laden – who may, or may not, be the man in the videos – but they do speak very loudly of a feverish attempt to distract the world’s media.
The Telegraph also describes OBL as ‘frail’ looking. Is this the same man who had to be pursued through the building? Is this the same man who was claimed to be resisting capture? Is this the same man who earlier reports suggested was dragging his wife or another woman in front of him as a human shield?
“The compound was “an active command and control centre””, an unamed US intelligence official assures us but all we get to see are these lousy videos featuring a distinctly lo-tech TV. The active control and command centre wasn’t particularly active either if several Black Hawk helicopters can approach, crash and, seemingly, catch the house’s inhabitants so off-guard. In another article, we’re told that OBL had an AK-47 and a Makarov pistol within reach at the time of his death. Why only ‘nearby’ after hearing several helicopters steam in and a 30 minute gun battle? And a 30 minute gun battle with whom? Wasn’t only one of OBL’s men armed?
And now, those stealth helicopters. I spent a great deal of my younger life working in and around operational helicopters and they are very noisy – but then, you knew that as well, even if the closest you’ve come to one is hearing it in the distance. The best estimate that I’ve seen for noise reduction using stealth technology is 5 dB which leads me to believe that the use of the word ‘stealth’ in relation to helicopters is ambitious to say the very least.
The US has certainly worked on stealth helicopters – Wikipedia refers to the Boeing/Sikorsky RAH66 Comanche but this was abandoned in 2004 and a possible replacement, the Bell ARH-70, was similarly abandoned in 2008. We’re now supposed to believe that unlike the other projects, the stealth Black Hawk was so completely secret that we’ve never heard anything about it before and that unlike its rivals, it survived the cull and successfully passed all the prototype stages to become fully operational. However, it requires a huge leap of faith – or gullibility – to believe that whatever dropped in to Abbottabad would have done so with so much stealth that it would have remained undetected. Most definitely, it would not have been silent as claimed and it would have been impossible for OBL not to have had sufficient warning to have his AK-47 to hand rather than to be shot while lunging for it. While the tail section certainly has a superficial ‘stealth’ look, my guess is that the Comanche cowl would have been quieter.
And why wasn’t the tail section destroyed along with the rest of the aircraft? It wasn’t deliberately placed there and left was it?
And how did the SEALs get out? Did they bring another aircraft just in case? Or did they have to fly in another aircraft that the Pakistani military also missed? Or perhaps the aircraft that crashed was surplus to requirements? In which case, why was it there?
(Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this particular part of the story is just how many stealth helicopter experts and analysts have appeared overnight to explain precisely how these previously unheard-of, top secret beasts actually work…).
And there’s one further mystery (for now). We learn that the CIA had a safe house just round the corner from bin Laden’s place. They were gathering intelligence on bin Laden for several months, we’re told.
So how come that Obama’s team didn’t know whether OBL was in the house or not? And if the name of the game was to just to kill OBL, why wasn’t a more discreet – and considerably less risky – special forces attack launched from this ‘safe house’?
So many questions. What can they mean?