Washington Post, Osama bin Laden

The Washington Post reporting Osama bin Laden’s death  Photo credit:  Justin Grimes / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
WhoWhatWhy exists in good part to serve as a kind of reality check. Its goal is to step outside the echo chamber, in which, no matter how improbable the “official” story, the media and the public reflexively accept it.

WhoWhatWhy exists to remind us that the powerful — whether corporations or presidents or national security agencies — often exaggerate, cherry-pick facts, and even construct total falsehoods in service of their agenda.

We see that again and again, with Vietnam, with Watergate, with Iraq, with the claimed reasons for invading AfghanistanLibya and, through surrogates, Syria.

The examples are legion. Each time the propaganda machine comes up with a new story, our society’s default response is to accept it. And the bigger the story, the harder it is for people to imagine they are being lied to.  And the more discomfort it causes, the more cognitive dissonance kicks in. Then we rally around the flag — and lash out at the skeptics.

Most recently, we encountered this with the Boston Marathon Bombing case, where so much doesn’t add up, but few seem to care.

An earlier case, which comes to mind now because this is its fifth anniversary, was the May 2, 2011, raid on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. On that occasion, we were told, the United States avenged the greatest terrorist attack ever on its soil, when U.S. special forces swooped into an allied foreign country and successfully killed the No. 1 archvillain of our time — Osama bin Laden.

While the full range of media organizations, mainstream and “alternative,” accepted the government’s account, within hours of the raid, we began raising questions — and we have kept on doing so. You can read those early articles here:

more here


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