On Monday, just a few hours after the world learned that Osama bin Laden had been killed in a special mission authorized by President Obama, White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan shared some details about the operation at a televised press conference. Among them was this one: bin Laden had used one of his wives as a human shield to protect himself during the firefight with U.S. commandos. Said Brennan:
“From a visual perspective, here is bin Laden … living in this million dollar-plus compound … hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield. I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years.”
The image was a powerful one. All at once, it seemed to offer further proof of the depths to which the world’s #1 terrorist could sink (not that we needed it), and also serve as deeply personal, oddly relatable reference point in an event that couldn’t be further removed from our daily lives--we may never have boarded a Black Hawk chopper or stormed a luxe hideout in Pakistan, but everyone knows what it means to hide behind a loved one. Perhaps that’s why the fact was reported widely on Monday, gained traction on social media, and even took up residence in the pop cultural cannon, as evidenced by its addition to the someecards roster.
Turns out, though, that it likely wasn’t true. By Monday evening, the White House was revising the narrative of the raid, with Politico reporting that an “official familiar with the operation said it did not appear that any woman was used as a human shield.” By Tuesday, Brennan’s original report was being publicly revised by Press Secretary Jay Carney, and the detail was nixed along with several other key points.
Despite its having been discredited, the wife-as-shield image seems to have captured the attention of the Twitter-verse, with users insisting they knew the point was wrong all along, wondering if it'll remain indelibly imprinted in our collective consciousness despite being incorrect, and even joking about the experience ("I was just on plentyoffish.com...disappointed they don't have a listing for Human Shield in the "looking for" category Tweeted one). Below, a few of the most compelling tweets. Add your own thoughts in the comments, or tell us what you think about the fracas by tweeting with #humanshield.