Friday, January 28, 2005

 

Seymour Hersh: Irresponsible Lunatic.

To anyone who thinks those two words are too strong, I ask you to read his remarks here at CounterPunch.

When you read it, keep this in mind: Seymour Hersh is one of the top military journalists in the nation. He is widely respected by the likes of the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, and others. When he writes a story, it gets covered throughout the mainstream media. His perspective is influential in many Washington circles.

The American people are routinely done a disservice by Hersh's reporting.

Max Boot at the L.A. Times takes apart the Hersh discussion in a lot less detail, but I figured I'd have my own fun with it. So please permit me to put on my hipwaders and troll through the muck for some of Hersh's choicest remarks in the CounterPunch interview.

Let's begin with Sly Sy's latest hallucination: That the White House has been taken over by a cult:

[Bush] is absolutely committed -- I don't know whether he thinks he's doing God's will or what his father didn't do, or whether it's some mandate from -- you know, I just don't know, but George Bush thinks this is the right thing.
I think so too. God didn’t tell me to think that, and I don’t know Dubya’s dad. I guess my motivation must be a desire to read more of Seymour Hersh war fantasies, and as long as there's a war on, you can always bet there will be more Hersh fantasies.

And it's sort of silly to, but the question is: How do you go to him? How do you get at him? What can you do to maybe move him off the course that he sees as virtuous and he sees as absolutely appropriate?
The question is, how do you go to Seymour Hersh? How do you get at him? What can you do to maybe move Hersh off the course that he sees as virtuous and he sees as absolutely appropriate?

Let's all forget this word "insurgency". It's one of the most misleading words of all. Insurgency assumes that we had gone to Iraq and won the war and a group of disgruntled people began to operate against us and we then had to do counter-action against them. That would be an insurgency. We are fighting the people we started the war against. We are fighting the Ba'athists plus nationalists. We are fighting the very people that started -- they only choose to fight in different time spans than we want them to, in different places. We took Baghdad easily. It wasn't because we won. We took Baghdad because they pulled back and let us take it and decided to fight a war that had been pre-planned that they're very actively fighting.
Fantasy. The conventional phase of the war was nearly a complete victory. Most of the forces that did melt away into the countryside never again picked up a rifle. The pre-war planning for a post-war insurgency by the Saddam Fedayeen was nowhere near as complex as Hersh believes. What’s really driving the insurgency are two separate elements: Shiite allies of hostile clerics (ala Sadr), and ex-Baathists in loose coalition with foreign fighters such as Zarqawi.

If the current insurgency was the result of a single, unified strategy, the insurgency would have been as bad in May 2003 as it is today. Unfortunately, it’s worse—but that indicates that the insurgency gained momentum and organization after the fall of Saddam, not before.

One of the ways -- one of the things that you could say is, the amazing thing is we are been taken over basically by a cult, eight or nine neo-conservatives have somehow grabbed the government. Just how and why and how they did it so efficiently, will have to wait for much later historians and better documentation than we have now, but they managed to overcome the bureaucracy and the Congress, and the press, with the greatest of ease. It does say something about how fragile our Democracy is. You do have to wonder what a Democracy is when it comes down to a few men in the Pentagon and a few men in the White House having their way.
It’s called the United States Constitution, Seymour. It places the Commander-in-Chief powers in the hands of the Executive. And the “cult” that grabbed the government did it through a process I like to call an “election.” These “elections” decide the policy of our nation—not the bureaucracy. If Congress wants to change national policy, they can pass things some Americans refer to as “laws.” If Seymour needs more information on how laws come to be, I suggest he listen to this explanation.
What they have done is neutralize the C.I.A. because there were people there inside -- the real goal of what Goss has done was not attack the operational people, but the intelligence people. There were people -- serious senior analysts who disagree with the White House, with Cheney, basically, that's what I mean by White House, and Rumsfeld on a lot of issues, as somebody said, the goal in the last month has been to separate the apostates from the true believers. That's what's happening. The real target has been "diminish the agency."
Interesting that Hersh defends the intelligence analysts at the C.I.A. As if anyone needs to be reminded, these are the same intelligence analysts that failed to predict the size of the Soviet economy, the fall of the Shah of Iran, the collapse of communism, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the North Korean nuclear program, the Pakistani nuclear program, the Iranian nuclear program, the presence of WMD in Iraq, and, oh yeah, one last thing:
Today's C.I.A. is not up to the job. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, in 1991, the C.I.A. has become increasingly bureaucratic and unwilling to take risks, and has promoted officers who shared such values. ("The consciousness of kind," one former officer says.) It has steadily reduced its reliance on overseas human intelligence and cut the number of case officers abroad—members of the clandestine service, now known formally as the Directorate of Operations, or D.O., whose mission is to recruit spies. (It used to be called the "dirty tricks" department.) Instead, the agency has relied on liaison relationships—reports from friendly intelligence services and police departments around the world—and on technical collection systems.
Take a guess what Hersh said in May 2002:
"We didn't win the war in Afghanistan; I don't care what George Bush says.
Oh really? Over two years later, here’s Afghanistan, 2005.

Moving on:
July, August, September, October, November, every month, one thing happened: the number of sorties, bombing raids by one plane, and the number of tonnage dropped has grown exponentially each month.
Exponentially?? Boy, I’d love to see him produce statistics supporting that statement.
There are no embedded journalists at Doha, the Air Force base I think we're operating out of. No embedded journalists at the aircraft carrier, Harry Truman.
that's the aircraft carrier that I think is doing many of the operational fights.
He thinks? Aren’t journalists supposed to know? Hey, Seymour, I think you’re an opportunistic fraud.
I have a friend in the Air Force, a Colonel, who had the awful task of being an urban bombing planner, planning urban bombing, to make urban bombing be as unobtrusive as possible. I think it was three weeks ago today, three weeks ago Sunday after Fallujah I called him at home. I'm one of the people -- I don't call people at work. I call them at home, and he has one of those caller I.D.'s, and he picked up the phone and he said, "Welcome to Stalingrad." We know what we're doing. This is deliberate. It's being done. They're not telling us. They're not talking about it.
Huh. Sy and I have something in common: we both have a friend in the Air Force. Actually, I have lots of friends in the Air Force. I don't think Sy has more than one or two friends in the military, given how much he hates the military. Anyways, I don’t understand what Hersh is talking about here. War is bad? War involves bombs? War hurts bunnies? What?
We know what happened. We know about Abu Ghraib. We know, we see anecdotally.
Anecodotally? Again, I ask: is Hersh a journalist, or a gossip columnist?
So here's the upside of the horrible story, if there is an upside. I can tell you the upside in a funny way, in an indirect way. It comes from a Washington Post piece this week. A young boy, a Marine, 25-year-old from somewhere in Maryland died. There was a funeral in the Post, a funeral in Washington, and the Post did a little story about it. They quoted -- his name was Hodak. His father was quoted. He had written to a letter in the local newspaper in Southern Virginia. He had said about his son, he wrote a letter just describing what it was like after his son died. He said, "Today everything seems strange. Laundry is getting done. I walked my dog. I ate breakfast. Somehow I'm still breathing and my heart is still beating. My son lies in a casket half a world away."
Wow. Sy and I have quite different opinions of what comprises a funny story. I usually tell a bawdy limerick; Hersh talks about dead American soldiers. Laugh riot, that Sy.
There's going to be -- you know, when I did My Lai -- I tell this story a lot.
Nooo. . . really? Hersh has been busy re-writing that story for thirty-five years.
On the macro, we're hopeless. We're nowhere. The press is nowhere. The congress is nowhere. The military is nowhere. Every four-star General I know is saying, "Who is going to tell them we have no clothes?" Nobody is going to do it. Everybody is afraid to tell Rumsfeld anything. That's just the way it is. It's a system built on fear. It's not lack of integrity, it's more profound than that. Because there is individual integrity. It's a system that's completely been taken over -- by cultists.
First off: "on the macro?" What kind of schmuck talks like this?

Second: Any flag officer that feels this way has a duty to resign. Are they brave enough to do so? Or is Hersh inserting his own bias into the story?
Another salvation may be the economy. It's going to go very bad, folks. You know, if you have not sold your stocks and bought property in Italy, you better do it quick.
Sy Hersh, ever the optimist.
And the third thing is Europe -- Europe is not going to tolerate us much longer. The rage there is enormous. I'm talking about our old-fashioned allies. We could see something there, collective action against us.
Oh no, not collective action! What will that entail? Cheese boycotts? Dumping California wines into the Bay of Biscay? I believe Mister Burns said it best.

Ya know, for once-- just once-- I'd love to hear a European journalist tell a European audience that America is no longer going to tolerate them much longer if they keep pulling their shit.

Sigh.

This is where we get our news, people. This is a nationally-respected reporter, who is touted by the likes of CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times and others.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

---
This posting was made on my personal computer.

Comments:
That's some good smack-down.
 
My question is: Is there such a thing as a responsible lunatic?
 
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