View Full Version : Journalist Sy Hersh Has Harsh Words For Bush

02-01-2007, 09:48 AM
Journalist Sy Hersh has harsh words for Bush


Kat Schmidt
Posted: 1/30/07

The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh closed out last week's symposium "The 'War on Terrorism': Where Do We Stand" with a scathing critique of President George W. Bush and his foreign policy in the Middle East.

"The fact of the matter is we have a government that will do what it wants to do for the next two years," he said. "The worst is yet to come. It's sort of like we're essentially powerless [and] just play it out."

One of the premier names in American investigative reporting, Hersh won the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the 1968 My Lai massacre and helped break the story about U.S. prison abuses at Abu Ghraib in 2004. He previously spoke about Iraq at Tufts in 2004 and about the Iran-Contra Affair in 1988.

On Friday, Hersh spoke at length about the administration's ambitions to cope with the threat of a nuclear Iran, drawing from his research for "The Iran Plans: Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb," published in the New Yorker on April 17, 2006.

He said that Bush and top aides have largely ignored the military intelligence presented to them on Iran's nuclear program.

"Whatever Iran has, they've shown us, they've showed the I.A.E.A. [International Atomic Energy Agency]," he said.

The article alleged - almost wholly through anonymous sources within the government - that the United States had begun formulating plans for an air strike against Iranian nuclear facilities and has even been considering a nuclear first strike, claims that the administration has denied.

"It may come down to the president making an order that the military will object to," Hersh said. "It would be devastating, but it may come down to it. My fear is that he will do what he wants."

At the same time, however, he said their belief in the mission is sincere.

"What [the White House is] doing now is not about the region, it's about us, protecting America. They really believe it. They say, 'We're protecting you, we're doing this for you,'" Hersh said.

He alleged that Bush sees his mission as timely and crucial even though international sources estimate that Iran is years away from developing a nuclear bomb.

Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the I.A.E.A., said on Friday that Iran is three to eight years away from being able to build an atomic bomb, according to the Agence France-Presse.

"He's a total radical, probably the most radical president we've ever had in terms of his definition of the power of the presidency," he said. "There's nothing more dangerous than a radical who doesn't have information, doesn't learn from information and doesn't learn from the past."

This radicalism, he said, has dangerous implications. "This is a guy who wants to leave office with the Iranian books clean," he said of Bush.

"None of this means it's going to happen," he told the hushed audience. "It could be better under [current Secretary of Defense Robert] Gates, but we'll have to wait and see."

Hersh said that not even negative press coverage has slowed the administration. "They couldn't care less about what we write. They're immune, inured to what The New York Times can write, what The New Yorker can write," he said.

Still, with hindsight on the war, he said the fourth estate should have pushed the administration harder on the intelligence concerning Iraq. "We in the press really failed you," he said. "We've missed the moral story. We all missed it."

During his remarks, Hersh was careful to limit his critique to policy concerning the war, not to people or the capacity of the armed forces. "We've got guys who have really learned to fight guerilla wars," he said.

"I'm completely sympathetic to our kids - the kids we send are as much victims as [civilians]," he said later in the speech.

Hersh also told stories about his inside view as a reporter, including his place in the events surrounding Abu Ghraib.

When researching the Abu Ghraib story, he said that a young woman had contacted him - one of her family members had just returned from Iraq, much changed.

"[The soldier] was completely different: sullen, withdrawn, clinically depressed. She left her family, left her husband," the relative told Hersh.

In an interview with Hersh, the relative recalled the soldier had taken a portable computer for games and movies to Iraq, but left it behind for others' use after she returned to the states.

A look at the hard drive found a folder marked "Iraq" which contained images of an Arab prisoner naked, hands suspended in the air. In the sequence of pictures, he is attacked by dogs.

"It's bloody and beyond belief," Hersh said.

The relative had one more insight about the soldier for Hersh, several months after the fact.

" 'I didn't tell you one thing,'" the woman told him. "[She] then went off to live by herself [and] every weekend began getting tattooed. She filled everything, her body, her face. It was as if she was trying to change her skin.'"

"You will not believe what's going to be happening in the next few years with returning vets," Hersh said.

02-01-2007, 09:48 AM
"What [the White House is] doing now is not about the region, it's about us, protecting America. They really believe it. They say, 'We're protecting you, we're doing this for you,'" Hersh said.


02-01-2007, 12:31 PM
I like the rest of America missed this....we all must have been watching Surreal World Allstars

02-01-2007, 02:30 PM
An Iranian-American from Boston called c-span and gave the reasons why Iraqis told him "America is behind the terrorist bombings going on in their country" during his medical research in Iran. (Washington Journal August 27, 2006)

These exact words were repeated two days later by President Ahmadinejad in his press conference on August 29, 2006, in which he stated why did the "Minister of Iraq say America is behind the terrorist acts and bombings in the country" in response to the question by David Ignatius of Washington Post. Ahamadinejad also repeated the caller's reasons.

Then in the U.S. Senate hearing on September 6, 2006, Senator Ted Kennedy (amongst others such Clinton) repeated the call's same idea and wording. For instance, Kennedy stated along the lines "I want to talk about the polarization of Iraqi soldiers....Roadside bombs are maiming our soldiers."
(Two of the reasons given by the Iranian-American were 1)how the Iraqis were regionally stationed along religious lines and 2) how the main way people were dying at a certain point of the war were roadside bombs. I am pretty sure the senators were trying to tell Khatemi, who was in the US at the time, what they wanted to hear from him since there were no other means of communication between them).

There were many other incidents in which the call's idea and/or wording were repeated. For instance, watch General Dana Pitard's military press conference on August 28, 2006 or listen to President Bush's September 1, 2006 radio address after you have listened to comments made by the Iranian-American. The Iranian has been in fear this whole time, unsure of why his call's idea and wording was repeated.

02-01-2007, 03:06 PM
Are you going to share those reasons with us?