Talk:Death of Osama bin Laden

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Good article Death of Osama bin Laden has been listed as one of the Warfare good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
May 2, 2011 Articles for deletion Kept
October 14, 2011 Good article nominee Listed
Current status: Good article
This article has been mentioned by multiple media organizations:
  • John Moe (2011-05-02). "For bin Laden news, it's not Twitter's moment, it's Wikipedia's". American Public Media. Archived from the original on 2011-05-03. Retrieved 2011-05-03. I read the Wikipedia page about the attack and it was comprehensive. Wikipedia gets slammed sometimes for being unreliable and a place where any yahoo can alter reality to anything they like. The page about the attack is extensive, well sourced, and incredibly informative.... In high profile cases like this, these pages are being extensively edited and also extensively policed. Good stuff.  (details)
  • Thomas Rid (2011-05-02). "Death of Osama Bin Laden on Wikipedia". Department of War Studies, KCL. Archived from the original on 2011-05-09. Retrieved 2011-05-09. So the man’s dead. Quite an event. As Europeans are waking up and catching up with the big news, one question is: who’s got the best coverage? Believe it or not, but Wikipedia is one of the candidates. In less than five hours and in an impressive 400 edits, a dedicated team of self-appointed authors and editors has come up with a pretty good (and protected) article.  (details)

Lead Seymour Hersh[edit]

What Seymour Hersh thinks shouldn't really be in the lead, with an 8-line paragraph, should it? I'm not even certain it warrants a section anywhere on the page.Oxr033 (talk) 21:25, 19 May 2015 (UTC)

You clearly haven't followed this story: crucial aspects of Hersh's report have been confirmed by AFP, NYT and Pakistani news. Also, even if they hadn't, Hersh's reporting and the LRB venue would be enough to justify some kind of coverage. -Darouet (talk) 22:56, 19 May 2015 (UTC)
Confirmed is a strong word; has a NYT reporter said her sources told her the same thing? Yes. That's not quite confirmation. Hersh's reporting deserves mentioning, but not in the lead. What is for now a conspiracy theory doesn't belong in the lead.--danielfolsom 07:25, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
Confirmed is the correct word: Agence France-Presse, NBC and The New York Times Magazine all reported that sources also informed them the United States did learn of Bin Laden's location through a walk-in by a defector from Pakistani intelligence. If you read Carlotta Gall's piece, or this from The Intercept, you see that many have been working on the story for some time. AFP was told be two former senior Pakistani military officials that a defector did indeed help the U.S. in its hunt for Bin Laden, but didn't know "his target was bin Laden," which seems highly implausible given the bounty. And three sources speaking to NBC News said that the Pakistanis did know Bin Laden was in Abbottabad, and that the defector "provided vital information in the hunt for bin Laden" but didn't reveal his compound's location.
The walk-in is one of the only aspects of the story that has been really "confirmed," all other aspects coming from largely worthless official sources that have repeatedly either contradicted one another, or been disputed and been contradicted by sources off the record. You call Bin Laden's discovery by walk-in a "conspiracy theory;" it's about as much a conspiracy theory as the My Lai Massacre at this point, and Trevor Timm's analysis at the Columbia Journalism Review is the most appropriate response to that allegation. -Darouet (talk) 17:13, 14 June 2015 (UTC)

The meaning of confirmed[edit]

Confirmed does not mean subsequently reported on. Confirmed does not mean having sources saying similar things. I'm checking the links to see if one actually confirms, as I go I'll be removing sources from the article and explaining why here.--danielfolsom 07:33, 14 June 2015 (UTC)

New York Times[edit]

The New York Times has not confirmed Hersh's account - here is the article linked to as a reference - NYTM. Note that this is not even a newspaper article, but rather a New York Times Magazine piece. It's effectively an op-ed by a fellow journalist who is saying her sources said similar things to Hersh's.--danielfolsom 07:33, 14 June 2015 (UTC)

The New York Times Magazine is known for long-format journalism, and Carlotta Gall, an journalist and expert in this area, notes that she first heard aspects of the story after the raid occurred four years ago, and in 2013 received information from a Pakistani source that the ISI had been holding Bin Laden in Abbottabad. She writes, "I was confident the information was true, but I held off publishing it. It was going to be extremely difficult to corroborate in the United States…"
Gall continues that Hersh had simply "[followed] up on a story that many of us assembled parts of." She notes that active CIA officers told a retired friend of the defector within days of the raid. Gall writes of Hersh's piece that "this development is hugely important."
Lastly, with regards to the word "confirm," Gall writes that she "cannot confirm Hersh’s bolder claims," but "would not necessarily dismiss the claims immediately." -Darouet (talk) 17:22, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
There is a huge discrepancy between what's essentially a gonzo op-ed that admits the author "can't confirm" the claims while suggesting she had sources that backed up other parts of the claims ... and the New York Times confirming a story.--danielfolsom 05:04, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
"Gonzo" is way off considering who wrote the piece and where. How about this: Carlotta Gall's piece in the New York Times Magazine is one of a series of sources that has confirmed aspects (some of them the critical) of Hersh's story. -Darouet (talk) 21:10, 18 June 2015 (UTC)


The NBC story has been update - here's the link to the article that is referenced - note the first paragraph, which I'll include here:

Editor's Note: This story has been updated since it was first published. The original version of this story said that a Pakistani asset told the U.S. where bin Laden was hiding. Sources say that while the asset provided information vital to the hunt for bin Laden, he was not the source of his whereabouts.

See again we're running into language and what the story is. Even if this note had not been attached, the story was merely that sources had conveyed to NBC that a walk-in had been critically important; that's still not necessarily confirmation: we need to be careful about that kind of language. But - with the update attached - Hersh's story is not at all validated: if the asset was not the source of bin Laden's whereabouts, then the asset either isn't the one Hersh spoke of, or Hersh's story is flawed. I've tried to update the article to reflect these realities---danielfolsom 07:37, 14 June 2015 (UTC)

The NBC story is somewhat ambiguous about what the defector actually provided. In the article body, the authors write that according to their sources, "while the Pakistani intelligence asset provided vital information in the hunt for bin Laden, he did not provide the location of the al Qaeda leader's Abottabad, Pakistan compound." They also write that "Three sources... said that some officials in the Pakistani government knew where bin Laden was hiding all along." -Darouet (talk) 17:30, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
Even given that - which is now ambiguous from that update - that's not NBC confirming.---danielfolsom 05:05, 18 June 2015 (UTC)

The first sentence[edit]

How is Obama involved in the death of Osama bin Laden? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:43, 20 May 2015 (UTC)


A French official praised American persistence. This should be in the article somewhere. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:57, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

Sarkozy praised the tenacity of the United States.

A wife?[edit]

Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah a woman? Ahmed a wife? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:40, 11 August 2015 (UTC)