Seymour Hersh’s London Review of Books story alleging that the United States and Pakistani authorities cooperated to more or less stage Osama Bin Laden’s May 2011 death in Abbottabad, Pakistan, has been widely criticized as unreliable. But shortly after the Hersh story’s publication, NBC News did seem to have confirmed one of its surprising details, namely that a “walk-in asset” from Pakistani intelligence had approached the CIA in 2010 and given it Bin Laden’s location. Hersh claims that this “walk-in” was a more important source of information on Bin Laden’s whereabouts than the courier who, in most other reports on the al-Qaida’s leader's death, was identified and followed by American intelligence until he unknowingly led them to Abbottabad. Here’s what NBC wrote earlier this week:
Two intelligence sources tell NBC News that the year before the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, a “walk in” asset from Pakistani intelligence told the CIA where the most wanted man in the world was hiding.
If true, that would be major news. But NBC now says it’s not actually true. Here’s what now appears atop NBC’s story on the walk-in:
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.
While NBC’s story doesn’t use the word correction or retraction, that’s what this appears to be. The walk-in “did not provide the location of the al Qaeda leader’s Abottabad, Pakistan compound,” the story now says.