Did new evidence clear Osama Bin Laden of involvement in the 9/11 terrirust attacks and did the CIA posthumously issue him a formal apology? No, that's not true: the story was made up by a satirical website that often gets mistaken for real news.
The story originated from an article published by The Onion on January 9, 2019 titled "CIA Issues Posthumous Apology After New Evidence Clears Osama Bin Laden Of Involvement In 9/11 Attacks" (archived here) which opened:
LANGLEY, VA--Admitting that the organization had erroneously rushed to judgment in response to an unimaginable tragedy, CIA director Gina Haspel issued a posthumous apology Wednesday to the family of Osama bin Laden in light of new evidence which conclusively clears the former Al Qaeda leader of any involvement whatsoever in the 9/11 attacks. "The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency extends its most sincere and heartfelt apologies not only to Mr. bin Laden, but also to his grieving family and the many friends who stood by his side," said an emotional Haspel, acknowledging for the first time that the CIA had based its entire 9/11 investigation on the testimony of a single, questionably reliable eyewitness who later recanted.
The CIA website makes no mention of an apology at all.
The Onion is one of the oldest and best known satire websites on the internet. Their about page claims:
The Onion is the world's leading news publication, offering highly acclaimed, universally revered coverage of breaking national, international, and local news events. Rising from its humble beginnings as a print newspaper in 1756, The Onion now enjoys a daily readership of 4.3 trillion and has grown into the single most powerful and influential organization in human history.
In addition to maintaining a towering standard of excellence to which the rest of the industry aspires, The Onion supports more than 350,000 full- and part-time journalism jobs in its numerous news bureaus and manual labor camps stationed around the world, and members of its editorial board have served with distinction in an advisory capacity for such nations as China, Syria, Somalia, and the former Soviet Union. On top of its journalistic pursuits, The Onion also owns and operates the majority of the world's transoceanic shipping lanes, stands on the nation's leading edge on matters of deforestation and strip mining, and proudly conducts tests on millions of animals daily.
If you somehow find that hard to believe: you are right. Scroll down a bit futher on that page and you'll find this:
What if I want to sue The Onion?
Please do not do that. The First Amendment protects satire as a form of free speech and expression. The Onion uses invented names in all of its stories, except in cases where public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental. The Onion is not intended for readers under 18 years of age.
Articles from The Onion are frequently mistaken for real news by people on social media that only see the headline, short description and thumbnail image. Being one of the best known satire sites their articles also frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites that don't carry a satire disclaimer. Always Google before sharing something that sounds improbable!
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