Seymour Hersh

American investigative journalist, conspiracy theorist, and genocide denier

Seymour Myron "Sy" Hersh (born April 8, 1937) is an American investigative journalist and political writer. He first gained recognition in 1969 for exposing the My Lai Massacre and its cover-up during the Vietnam War, for which he received the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. In the 1970s, Hersh covered the Watergate scandal for The New York Times, and in 2004, he reported on the U.S. military's torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq for The New Yorker. Hersh has won five George Polk Awards and two National Magazine Awards. He is the author of 11 books, including The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House (1983), a biography of Henry Kissinger that won the National Book Critics Circle Award.
In 2013, Hersh disputed the claim that Bashar al-Assad's government used chemical weapons on civilians at Ghouta during the Syrian Civil War, and in 2015, he reported that the U.S. had lied about the events around the killing of Osama bin Laden, both times attracting controversy and criticism from other reporters.
In 2023, he reported that the U.S. had sabotaged the Nord Stream gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, again stirring controversy.

Seymour Hersh in 2004

Quotes edit

1969 edit

An Atrocity Is Uncovered: The My Lai Massacre, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 13, 20, & 25, 1969 edit

  • William L Calley Jr., 26 years old, is a mild-mannered, boyish-looking Vietnam combat veteran with the nickname “Rusty:’ The Army is completing an investigation of charges that he deliberately murdered at least 109 Vietnamese civilians in a search-and- destroy mission in March 1968 in a Viet Gong stronghold known as “Pinkville.” Calley has formally been charged with six specifications of mass murder. Each specification cites a number of dead, adding up to the 109 total, and charges that Calley did “with premeditation murder… Oriental human beings, whose names and sex are unknown, by shooting them with a rifle.” The Army calls it murder; Calley, his counsel and others associated with the incident describe it as a case of carrying out orders... One man who took part in the mission with Calley said...We were told to just clear the area. It was a typical combat assault formation. We came in hot, with a cover of artillery in front of us, came down the line and destroyed the village. There are always some civilian casualties in a combat operation. He isn’t guilty of murder.”
  • Calley’s attorney said in an interview: “This is one case that should never have been brought. Whatever killing there was was in a firefight in connection with the operation.... You can’t afford to guess whether a civilian is a Viet Cong or not. Either they shoot you or you shoot them" This case is going to be important—to what standard do you hold a combat officer in carrying out a mission?... Calley’s friends in the officer corps at Fort Benning, many of them West Point graduates, are indignant. However, knowing the high stakes of the case, they express their outrage in private. “They’re using this as a Goddamned example,” one officer complained. “He’s a good soldier. He followed orders. There weren’t any friendlies in the village. The orders were to shoot anything that moved.” Another officer said “It could happen to any of us. He has killed and has seen a lot of killing. ..Killing becomes nothing in Vietnam. He knew that there were civilians there, but he also knew that there were VC among them.”
  • Three American soldiers who participated in the March 1968 attack on a Vietnam village called Pinkville said in interviews made public today that their Army combat unit perpetrated, in the words of one, “pointblank murder” on the residents. “The whole thing was so deliberate. It was point-blank murder and I was standing there watching it,” said Sgt. Michael Bernhardt, Franklin Square, N.Y., now completing his Army tour at Fort Dix, N .J .... This is his version of what took place: “They (Calley’s men) were doing a whole lot of shooting up there, but none of it was incoming — I’d been around enough to tell that. I figured they were advancing on the village with fire power. I walked up and saw these guys... setting fire to the hootches and huts and waiting for people to come out and then shooting them up... They were gathering people in groups and shooting them. As I walked in, you could see piles of people... all over. They were gathered up into large groups. I saw them shoot an M-79 (grenade launcher) into a group of people who were still alive... They were shooting women and children just like anybody else. We met no resistance and I only saw three captured weapons. We had no casualties. It was just like any other Vietnamese village—old Papa-san, women and kids. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember seeing one military-age male in the entire place, dead or alive. The only prisoner I saw was about 50.”
  • Bernhardt, short and intense, told his story in staccato fashion, with an obvious sense of relief at finally talking about it. At one point he said to his interviewer: “You’re surprised? I wouldn’t be surprised at anything these dudes (the men who did the shooting) did.”.. Bernhardt also said he had no idea whether Calley personally shot 109 civilians, as the Army has charged. However, he said, “I know myself that he killed a whole lot of people.” Residents of the Pinkville areas have told newspapermen that 567 villagers were killed in the operation.
  • In a private letter dated Aug. 6, 1969, Col. John G. Hill, a deputy for staff action control in the office of Army Chief of Staff William C. Westmoreland, wrote that Medina acknowledged that he had requested Bernhardt to wait until a brigade investigation of the incident was completed. Nothing came of the investigation. ... Bernhardt said that about 90 per cent of the 60 to 70 men in the short-handed company were involved in the shootings. He took no part, he said. “I only shoot at people who shoot at me,” was his explanation. “The Army ordered me not to talk,” Bernhardt told the interviewer. “But there are some orders that I have to personally decide whether to obey; I have my own conscience to consider...” he said.
  • A former GI told in interviews yesterday how he executed, under orders, dozens of South Vietnamese civilians during the United States Army attack on the village of Song My in March 1968. He estimated that he and his fellow soldiers Shot 370 villagers... Paul Meadlo, 22 years old... gave an eyewitness account—the first made available thus far—of what happened when a platoon led by Lt... Meadlo, Who was wounded in a mine accident the day after Pinkville, disclosed that the company captain, Ernest Medina, was in the area at the time of the shootings and made no attempt to stop them... Meadlo is back at a factory job now in Terre Haute, fighting to keep a full disability payment from the Veterans’ Administration. The loss of his right foot seems to bother him less than the loss of his self-respect. Like other members of his company, he had been called just days before the interview by an officer at Fort Benning, Ga., where Calley is being held, and advised that he should not discuss the case with reporters But, like other members of his company, he seemed eager to talk. “This has made him awful nervous,” explained his mother, Mrs. Myrtle Meadlo, 57, New Goshen, Ind. “He seems like he just can’t get over it. I sent them a good boy and they made him a murderer.”
  • Meadlo said he crashed through the door and “found an old man in there shaking. “I told them, ‘I got one,’ and it was Mitchell who told me to shoot him. That was the first man I shot. He was hiding in a dugout, shaking his head and waving his arms, trying to tell me not to shoot him.” After the carnage, Meadlo said, “I heard that all we were supposed to do was kill the VC. Mitchell said we were just supposed to shoot the men.” Women and children also were shot... He has some haunting memories, he says. “They didn’t put up a fight or anything. The women huddled against their children and took it. They brought their kids real close to their stomachs and hugged them, and put their bodies over them trying to save them. It didn’t do much good,” Meadlo said.
  • The whole operation took about 30 minutes, Meadlo said. As for Calley, Meadlo told of an incident a few weeks before Pinkville. “We saw this woman walking across this rice paddy and Calley said, ‘Shoot her,’ so we did. When we got there the girl was alive, had this hole in her side. Calley tried to get someone to shoot her again; I don’t know if he did.” In addition, Calley and Medina had told the men before Pinkville, Meadlo said, “that if we ever shoot any civilians, we should go ahead and plant a hand grenade on them.” Meadlo is not sure, but he thinks the feel of death came quickly to the company once it got to Vietnam. “We were cautious at first, but as soon as the first man was killed, a new feeling came through the company...almost as if we all knew there was going to be a lot more killing.”

1974 edit

Huge C.I.A. Operation Reported in U.S. against Antiwar Forces, Other Dissidents in Nixon Years, New York Times, December 22, 1974 edit

(Full text)

  • The Central Intelligence Agency, directly violating its charter, conducted a massive, illegal domestic intelligence operation during the Nixon Administration against the antiwar movement and other dissident groups in the United States, according to well‐placed Government sources.
  • An extensive investigation by The New York Times has established that intelligence files on at least 10,000 American citizens were maintained by a special unit of the C.I.A. that was reporting directly to Richard Helms, then the Director of Central Intelligence and now the Ambassador to Iran.
  • As part of its alleged effort against dissident Americans in the late nineteen‐sixties had early nineteen‐seventies, The Time's sources said, the C.I.A. authorized agents, to follow and photograph participants in antiwar and other demonstrations. The C.I.A. also set up a network of informants who were ordered to penetrate antiwar groups, the sources said.
  • At least one avowedly antiwar member of Congress was among those placed under surveillance by the C.I.A., the sources said.
  • Other members of Congress were said to be included in the C.I.A.'s dossier on dissident Americans.
  • Another former official characterized counterintelligence as “an independent power in the C.I.A. Even people in the agency aren't allowed to deal directly with the C.I. [counterintelligence] people. “Once in it,” he said, “you're in it for life.”
  • One former C.I.A. official who participated in the 1969 and 1970 White House‐directed studies of alleged foreign involvement in the antiwar movement said that Mr. Angleton “undoubtedly believes that foreign agents were behind the student movement, but he doesn't know what he's talking about.”
  • The official also raised question about the bureaucratic procedures of the C.I.A. under Mr. Helms and suggested that his penchant for secrecy apparently kept the most complete intelligence information from being forwarded to the White House.
  • The former C.I.A. official said that he could not reconcile Mr. Angleton's decision to permit the studies, which reported no evidence of foreign involvement, while being involved in an elaborate and secret domestic security operation to root out alleged foreign activities in the antiwar movement
  • A number of former F.B.I. officials said in interviews' that the C.LA.'s alleged decision, to mount domestic brew sins, wiretaps and similarly illegal counterintelligence operations undoubtedly reflected, in part, the long‐standing mistrust between the two agencies.
  • In 1970, Mr. Hoover reportedly ordered his bureau to break off all but formal liaison contact with the C.I.A, forcing lower level C.I.A. and F.B.I, officials to make clandestine, arrangements to exchange information. By the late sixties, one former F.B.I. official said, all but token cooperation between the, two agencies on counterintelligence and counterespionage had ended.
  • “The C.I.A. was never satisfied with the F.B.I. and, can't blame them,” the former official said. “We did hit or miss jobs... “We just went through the motions on our investigation. It was just a brushoff.”

1991 edit

The Samson Option: Israel's Nuclear Arsenal & American Foreign Policy (1991) edit

(full text)

  • America's most important military secret in 1979 was in orbit, whirling effortlessly around the world every ninety- six minutes, taking uncanny and invaluable reconnaissance photographs of all that lay hundreds of miles below. The satellite, known as KH-11, was an astonishing leap in technology: its images were capable of being digitally relayed to ground stations where they were picked up — in "real time" — for instant analysis by the intelligence community. There would be no more Pearl Harbors.
  • The Carter administration followed Ford's precedent by tightly restricting access to the high-quality imagery: even Great Britain, America's closest ally in the intelligence world, was limited to seeing photographs on a

case-by-case basis... The intensive security system was given a jolt in March 1979, when President Carter decided to provide Israel with KH-11 photographs. The agreement gave Israel access to any satellite intelligence dealing with troop movements or other potentially threatening activities as deep as one hundred miles inside the borders of neighboring Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and Jordan.

  • The KH-11 was at the time known to be the most significant advance in outer- space reconnaissance. The key element of the sixty-four-foot-long satellite was a down- ward-looking mirror in front of the camera that rotated from side to side, like a periscope, enabling the satellite to track a single location as it moved across the atmosphere. p. 5
  • Israel, as the British may have suspected, did have a secret agenda in its constant maneuvering for KH-11 access, but that agenda only became clear to a few top Reagan administration policymakers in the fall of 1981. The unraveling began with a bombing raid in Iraq.
  • It was a Sunday afternoon in early June 1981, and Richard V. Allen, President Ronald Reagan's national security adviser, was taking it easy, sipping iced tea on the sundeck of his suburban Virginia home and shuffling through a week's worth of unread cables, many of them highly classified.
  • An aide in the White House situation room, which is staffed around the clock, telephoned to report that the Israelis had informed Washington that they had successfully bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak, twelve miles southeast of Baghdad. Allen immediately telephoned Reagan... The President, he was told, had just boarded his helicopter for the trip back to the White House. "Get him off," Allen ordered. It was, after all, the new administration's first Middle East crisis.... "Mr. President, the Israelis just took out a nuclear reactor in Iraq with F-i6s." Israel, aided by long-term, low-interest American credits, had been authorized in 1975 to begin the purchase of seventy-five F-16s "for defensive purposes only." p. 8
  • The next morning, according to Allen, there was a meeting of Reagan's high command at which Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger proposed canceling the F-16 aircraft sale. Others at the meeting, including Vice President George Bush and Chief of Staff James A. Baker III, agreed that some sanctions against Israel were essential. Reagan glanced at Allen at one point and with a gesture made it clear he had no intention of taking any such step: "He rolled his eyes at me," Allen said.
  • That afternoon the State Department issued a statement, said to have been cleared by the President and Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr., formally condemning the bombing, "which cannot but seriously add to the already tense situation in the area." Nonetheless, recalled Allen, "Reagan was delighted . . . very satisfied" by the attack on the reactor at Osirak. "It showed that the Israelis had claws, a sense of strategy, and were able to take care of problems before they developed. Anyway, what did Israel hurt?" Haig similarly was forbearing in private.
  • The Israeli bombing triggered worldwide protest, and a few days later the White House announced the suspension of a scheduled delivery of four more F-i6s, a continuation of the 1975 sale. Two months later, with little fanfare, the administration's real policy emerged: the suspension was lifted and the aircraft were delivered without incident.
  • There was controversy inside Israel, too, over the bombing, which had been debated at the highest levels of the Israeli government since late 1979. Yitzhak Hofi, the director of Mossad, and Major General Yehoshua Saguy, chief of military intelligence, both opposed the attack, primarily because there was no evidence that Iraq was as yet capable of building a bomb.
  • The mission planners, anxious to avoid international protest, had gone to extremes to mask the operation: it was hoped that Iraq and the rest of the world would be unable to fix blame for the bombing on the unmarked \ Israeli Air Force planes. The attack had been carried out, as planned, in two minutes, and the likelihood of any detection was slight. But Menachem Begin, buoyed by the success, stunned his colleagues on June 8 by unilaterally announcing the Israeli coup.... On the next day, as Israel was besieged with protests, the prime minister defended the operation and vowed that Israel was ready to strike again, if necessary, to prevent an enemy from developing the atomic bomb. p. 9

  • America's policy toward the Israeli arsenal, as we have seen in this book, was not just one of benign neglect: it was a conscious policy of ignoring reality.
  • In September 1988, Israel launched its first satellite into orbit, bringing it a huge step closer to intercontinental missiles and a satellite intelligence capability — no more Jonathan Pollards would be needed to steal America's secrets. Scientists at Z Division concluded that the rocket booster that launched the Israeli satellite produced enough thrust to deliver a small nuclear warhead to a target more than six thousand miles away. Epilogue p. 319
  • Israeli physicists are still at the cutting edge in weapons technology and involved, as are their American and Soviet counterparts, in intensive research into nuclear bomb-pumped X-ray lasers, hydrodynamics, and radiation transport — the next generation of weaponry. Epilogue p. 319
  • None of this has ever been discussed in the open in Israel, or in the Knesset. Meanwhile, Israeli field commanders have accepted nuclear artillery shells and land mines as battlefield necessities: another means to an end. The basic target of Israel's nuclear arsenal has been and will continue to be its Arab neighbors. Should war break out in the Middle East again and should the Syrians and the Egyptians break through again as they did in 1973, or should any Arab nation fire missiles again at Israel, as Iraq did, a nuclear escalation, once unthinkable except as a last resort, would now be a strong probability. Never again. Epilogue p. 319

1999 edit

  • In the last decade, Jonathan Pollard, the American Navy employee who spied for Israel in the mid-nineteen-eighties and is now serving a life sentence, has become a cause célèbre in Israel and among Jewish groups in the United States. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a consortium of fifty-five groups, has publicly called for Pollard's release, arguing, in essence, that his crimes did not amount to high treason against the United States, because Israel was then and remains a close ally.... Pollard himself, now forty-four, has never denied that he turned over a great deal of classified material to the Israelis, but he maintains that his sole motive was to protect Israeli security.
    • The case against Jonathan Pollard, The New Yorker, January 18, 1999
  • Last December, after Saddam Hussein threatened to end seven years of United Nations arms-control inspections, President Clinton ordered American attacks on Iraq. Once again, the world watched, on television, as missiles fell on carefully picked targets. The purpose of the attacks, Clinton told reporters, was to "degrade" Iraq's capacity for waging war, and he added, "I gave the order because I believe we cannot allow Saddam Hussein to dismantle UNSCOM and resume the production of weapons of mass destruction with impunity." The President was mistaken. The United Nations Special Commission for Iraq, known as UNSCOM, had already been effectively dismantled, by the shortsighted policies of his own Administration.
    Then, a few hours after Clinton spoke, William Cohen, the Secretary of Defense, appeared on television. "One thing should be absolutely clear," he told reporters. "We are concentrating on military targets." That, too, was a misstatement, for two of the targets were sites where Saddam was known to entertain mistresses, and they were specifically struck in the hope of assassinating him.
    Saddam responded to the bombing--and the bungled assassination attempt--by formally ousting UNSCOM and turning anew to Russia, historically his most important trading partner. Today, eight years after the Gulf War, American policy has collapsed in Iraq, and a Cold War mentality has returned.
    • Saddam's Best Friend, How the C.I.A. made it a lot easier for the Iraqi leader to rearm, By Seymour M. Hersh The New Yorker, April 5, 1999, p. 32
  • The National Security Agency, whose Cold War research into code breaking and electronic eavesdropping spurred the American computer revolution, has become a victim of the high-tech world it helped to create. Through mismanagement, arrogance, and fear of the unknown, the senior military and civilian bureaucrats who work at the agency's headquarters, in suburban Fort Meade, Maryland, have failed to prepare fully for today's high-volume flow of E-mail and fibre-optic transmissions -- even as nations throughout Europe, Asia, and the Third World have begun exchanging diplomatic and national-security messages encrypted in unbreakable digital code. The N.S.A.'s failures don't make the headlines...
    Last month, General Hayden agreed to speak to me, at his unpretentious top-floor offices at Ops 2, the N.S.A. headquarters building. He is an affable spymaster, who laughs easily, offers no slogans, and promises no quick fixes... "The issue is not people but external changes. For the N.S.A., technology is a two-edged sword... In its forty-year struggle against Soviet Communism," Hayden noted, "the N.S.A. was thorough, stable, and focussed." Then he asked "What's changed?" and he answered, "All of that."
    • The Intelligence Gap: How the digital age left our spies out in the cold, The New Yorker, December 6, 1999

2002 edit

The Debate Within: The objective is clear—topple Saddam. But how? The New Yorker, March 11, 2002 edit

  • After a year of bitter infighting, the Bush Administration remains sharply divided about Iraq. There is widespread agreement that Saddam Hussein must be overthrown, but no agreement about how to get it done.
  • The President has given his feuding agencies a deadline of April 15th to come up with a "coagulated plan," as one senior State Department official put it, for ending the regime.
  • There is strong debate over how many American troops would be needed, whether Baghdad should be immediately targeted, which Iraqi opposition leader should be installed as the interim leader, and—most important—how the Iraqi military will respond to an attack: Will it retreat, and even turn against Saddam? Or will it stand and fight?
  • There is also no certainty about how Israel will respond if Saddam launches weapons of mass destruction toward Tel Aviv and Jerusalem—as many officials believe he will do, or try to do, once an American invasion takes place.
  • The normal planning procedures have been marginalized, according to many military and intelligence officials. These usually include a series of careful preliminary studies under the control of the National Security Council and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But now there is far less involvement by the Joint Chiefs and their chairman....
  • The Pentagon's conservative and highly assertive civilian leadership, assembled by Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, has extraordinary influence in George W. Bush's Washington. These civilians have been the most vigorous advocates for early action against Saddam Hussein...
  • Pentagon officials, in turn, accuse Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy, Richard Armitage, of a loss of nerve.
  • "It's the return of the right-wing crazies, crawling their way back," one of Armitage's associates said, referring to Wolfowitz's team
  • In return, one of those detractors depicted the State Department... Their attitude is that we're yahoos—especially those of us who come from the far right. The American Enterprise Institute"—a conservative think tank in Washington—"is like Darth Vader's mother ship for them."
  • By June, a Presidential decision on how to proceed against Saddam should have been made. But there are some Administration supporters who see little evidence of long-range thinking.
  • "The central American premise is that you deal with Iraq and everything else will fall in place," said Geoffrey Kemp, the N.S.C.'s ranking expert
  • "...Iraq is a proud country that has been humiliated, and it's madness to think that these people, while hating Saddam, are in love with the United States. Latent nationalism will emerge, and there will be those who want to hold on to whatever weapons they've held back..."
  • Officially, the Pentagon says that about five thousand American troops are stationed in Kuwait, but a senior Administration consultant told me that by mid-February there were, in fact, many times that number on duty there, along with an extensive offshore Navy presence.
  • The President's "axis of evil" language in the State of the Union Message and the steadily expanding American arsenal have prompted many anxious diplomatic inquiries in recent weeks from the Middle East and Europe. One of Cheney's goals will be to explain the U.S. position to allies and attempt to build a coalition for another invasion of Iraq—a daunting task... The only likely ally at this point is Tony Blair's Britain.
  • With regard to the attack on Iraq, not everyone on the inside is sure that the President can get what he wants: a successful overthrow with few American casualties and a new, pro-Western regime.

2005 edit

The Coming Wars - What the Pentagon can now do in secret, The New Yorker, January 16, 2005 edit


  • George W. Bush... his national-security advisers have consolidated control over the military and intelligence communities’ strategic analyses and covert operations to a degree unmatched since the rise of the post-Second World War national-security state... The C.I.A. will continue to be downgraded, and the agency will increasingly serve, as one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon put it, as “facilitators” of policy emanating from President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney...
  • Bush and Cheney may have set the policy, but it is Rumsfeld who has directed its implementation ... [Rumsfeld's] reappointment as Defense Secretary was never in doubt... In interviews with past and present intelligence and military officials, I was told that the agenda had been determined before the Presidential election, and much of it would be Rumsfeld’s responsibility.
  • The President has signed a series of findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as ten nations in the Middle East and South Asia.
  • The President’s decision enables Rumsfeld to run the operations off the books—free from legal restrictions imposed on the C.I.A. Under current law, all C.I.A. covert activities overseas must be authorized by a Presidential finding and reported to the Senate and House intelligence committees. (The laws were enacted after a series of scandals in the nineteen-seventies involving C.I.A. domestic spying and attempted assassinations of foreign leaders.)
  • “The Pentagon doesn’t feel obligated to report any of this to Congress,” the former high-level intelligence official said. "...They’re not even going to tell... the regional American military commanders-in-chief. (The Defense Department and the White House did not respond to requests for comment on this story.)
  • [Phillip] Giraldi, who served three years in military intelligence before joining the C.I.A., said that he was troubled by the military’s expanded covert assignment. “I don’t think they can handle the cover,” he told me. “They’ve got to have a different mind-set. They’ve got to handle new roles and get into foreign cultures and learn how other people think. If you’re going into a village and shooting people, it doesn’t matter,” Giraldi added. “But if you’re running operations that involve finesse and sensitivity, the military can’t do it. Which is why these kind of operations were always run out of the agency.”
  • Rumsfeld will no longer have to refer anything through the government’s intelligence wringer,” the former official went on. “The intelligence system was designed to put competing agencies in competition. What’s missing will be the dynamic tension that insures everyone’s priorities—in the C.I.A., the D.O.D., the F.B.I., and even the Department of Homeland Security—are discussed.
  • The most insidious implication of the new system is that Rumsfeld no longer has to tell people what he’s doing

2013 edit

Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the 'pathetic' American media, The Guardian (September 27, 2013) edit

By Lisa O'Carroll, The Guardian Full text)
  • It's pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama]... It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight. Now that doesn't happen any more. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president...
  • Duncan Campbell [the British investigative journalist who broke the Zircon cover-up story], James Bamford [US journalist] and Julian Assange and me and the New Yorker, we've all written the notion there's constant surveillance, but he [Snowden] produced a document and that changed the whole nature of the debate... Chicken-shit editors who wouldn't touch stories like that
  • He [Edward Snowden] changed the whole ball game... But I don't know if it's going to mean anything in the long [run] because the polls I see in America – the president can still say to voters 'al-Qaida, al-Qaida' and the public will vote two to one for this kind of surveillance, which is so idiotic...
  • I have this sort of heuristic view that journalism, we possibly offer hope because the world is clearly run by total nincompoops more than ever … Not that journalism is always wonderful, it's not, but at least we offer some way out, some integrity.
  • Do you think Obama's been judged by any rational standards? Has Guantanamo closed? Is a war over? Is anyone paying any attention to Iraq? Is he seriously talking about going into Syria? We are not doing so well in the 80 wars we are in right now, what the hell does he want to go into another one for?
  • What's going on [with journalists]?... Too much of it seems to me is looking for prizes. It's journalism looking for the Pulitzer Prize...
  • There are other issues... Like killing people, how does [Obama] get away with the drone programme, why aren't we doing more? How does he justify it? What's the intelligence? Why don't we find out how good or bad this policy is?...
  • Our job is to find out ourselves, our job is not just to say – here's a debate' our job is to go beyond the debate and find out who's right and who's wrong about issues. That doesn't happen enough....
  • The New York Times still has investigative journalists but they do much more of carrying water for the president than I ever thought they would … it's like you don't dare be an outsider any more.
  • I would close down the news bureaus of the networks and let's start all over... The majors, NBCs, ABCs, they won't like this – just do something different, do something that gets people mad at you, that's what we're supposed to be doing...
  • The republic's in trouble, we lie about everything, lying has become the staple.

2015 edit

Q & A Seymour Hersh on My Lai and the state of investigative journalism, Jared Malsin, Columbia Journalism Review, April 1, 2015 edit

(Full text)

  • It’s amazing how much reporting you can do from America. People retire. Two stars retire very angry that they didn’t make three stars. Three stars retire angry that they didn’t make four. Four stars retire angry that they weren’t [Joint Chiefs of Staff]. There’s always a lot of room to talk to people when they get home.
  • I can tell you is that there’s an awful lot of good people in the government, believe it or not—an awful lot of people who don’t like lying. A lot of people in the military who get up to high positions and can’t stand what they had to do to get there and try to stop what they’re doing. A lot of people in the intelligence community that, you know.
  • I worked for The New York Times for nine years, under Abe Rosenthal, who was a very conservative guy. I always joke, he used to come into the newsroom in Washington and tap me on the top of my head and say, “How’s my little commie?” The next sentence would be, “What do you have for me?”
  • Our reporting should speak for itself. I really do believe that. You know who the good reporters are around the world. There’s people you stop and read even if it’s something you’re not interested in, because they know how to report.
  • There will probably always be a New York Times. And The New York Times, for all my kvetching, it’s still the paper. And it still does great investigative reporting. I can’t stand some of its foreign coverage because it’s instinctively anti-Russian, anti-Iran, anti-Syrian. I don’t like that.
  • My own preference and my own view is: Things are more complicated than you think.

The Killing of Osama bin Laden, London Review of books, May 21, 2015 edit

  • It's been four years since a group of US Navy Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden in a night raid on a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The killing was the high point of Obama’s first term, and a major factor in his re-election. The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account.

    The White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll: would bin Laden, target of a massive international manhunt, really decide that a resort town forty miles from Islamabad would be the safest place to live and command al-Qaida’s operations? He was hiding in the open. So America said.
  • The most blatant lie was that Pakistan’s two most senior military leaders – General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the army sta, and General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of the ISI – were never informed of the US mission. This remains the White House position despite an array of reports that have raised questions, including one by Carlotta Gall in the New York Times Magazine of 19 March 2014. Gall, who spent 12 years as the Times correspondent in Afghanistan, wrote that she’d been told by a ‘Pakistani Official’ that Pasha had known before the raid that bin Laden was in Abbottabad. The story was denied by US and Pakistani Officials, and went no further.
  • In his book Pakistan: Before and after Osama (2012)], Imtiaz Gul, executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies, a think tank in Islamabad, wrote that he’d spoken to four undercover intelligence officers who – reflecting a widely held local view – asserted that the Pakistani military must have had knowledge of the operation. The issue was raised again in February, when a retired general, Asad Durrani, who was head of the ISI in the early 1990s, told an al-Jazeera interviewer that it was ‘quite possible’ that the senior officers of the ISI did not know where bin Laden had been hiding, ‘but it was more probable that they did [know].
  • The idea was that, at the right time, his location would be revealed. And the right time would have been when you can get the necessary quid pro quo – if you have someone like Osama bin Laden, you are not going to simply hand him over to the United States.’ This spring I contacted Durrani and told him in detail what I had learned about the bin Laden assault from American sources: that bin Laden had been a prisoner of the ISI at the Abbottabad compound since 2006; that Kayani and Pasha knew of the raid in advance and had made sure that the two helicopters delivering the Seals to Abbottabad could cross Pakistani airspace without triggering any alarms; that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward and that, while Obama did order the raid and the Seal team did carry it out, many other aspects of the administration’s account were false.
  • 'When your version comes out – if you do it – people in Pakistan will be tremendously grateful,’ Durrani told me. ‘For a long time people have stopped trusting what comes out about bin Laden from the official mouths. There will be some negative political comment and some anger, but people like to be told the truth, and what you’ve told me is essentially what I have heard from former colleagues who have been on a fact-finding mission since this episode.’ As a former ISI head, he said, he had been told shortly after the raid by ‘people in the “strategic community” who would know’ that there had been an informant who had alerted the US to bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad

2016 edit

  • Seymour Hersh I respect a lot. He broke the My Lai story. I know him, and he’s got great intelligence. People talk to him from all over the world. It’s like the JFK killing. You cover this sh*t up, man...There’s a lot of other lies going on. Read the book, The Killing of Bin Laden by Seymour Hersh.
    • Oliver Stone, quoted in Oliver Stone On ‘Snowden’ And How Spy Movies Today Are Glorified Propaganda, Mike Fleming Jr, Deadline, September 16, 2016

2018 edit

Seymour Hersh on the Future of American Journalism, JSTOR Daily, October 2, 2018 edit

  • There is no middle ground anymore. There’s no standard. If you like Trump, you watch Fox. If you don’t like Trump, you watch CNN] or MSNBC, or read The [New York] Times.
  • I've been a freelancer since 1979. There’s something good about it, because I can pick what I want to do, within limits, assuming I can turn in enough good stories and my ideas are good enough. I’m not at the mercy of an editor. When I did it, you could do long-form reporting as a freelancer. Once I began to get connected with The New Yorker, everybody assumed I was working for it, but I was always on contract. I wanted to be. I could have changed it, but then I would have had the editors have control over me, so I didn’t want that. On the other hand, they still had control over me, because I would do an assignment. They were the editor and they paid the bills. I don’t know if I was being silly or not, but whatever happened, it turned out that it was all fine. Serendipity, I guess.
  • I just flunked out of law school. I worked all the time through college, and I got into law school because the father of one of my good friends was a professor there... But anyway, the bottom line is I bummed around and I finally heard about a job as a police reporter. The requirements were a BA and you were alive and willing to work for $40 a week or something like that. It was 1960... So that’s how I started. Sheer serendipity. And I learned my own way. I assume that I was a better reporter for having worked as I did for w:United Press InternationalUnited Press International and then for the AP. And come up being a police reporter in Chicago. I thought I was more equipped to deal with the dirty world that existed than some guy that was editor of Harvard Crimson or the Yale Daily News... On the other hand, I met a lot of people who were editors of the Harvard Crimson or worked for David Halberstam [editor of the Crimson] who were great reporters... I’d like to think that being on the street like I was for years helped.
  • Young kids still see journalism as a viable way of dealing with the problems of society––particularly with a president who’s tone deaf on so much stuff.
  • There’s a limit to what I could do. But sure, if I had my way, there would've been much more awful stuff about oil companies too. How they manipulate information. And I don’t have my way. I have to work within the confines.
  • Here’s the White House that, you have a president that’ll do a 20 minute interview and somebody will sum up what he said, and he’ll say, "I didn’t say that!" The reporter will say, "No, you just said that 15 minutes ago!" "No, I didn’t!" You have a president that does that.
  • Then there’s a crisis, whatever the president says about what’s going on with the chemicals in Syria or whatever, it’s immediately jammed into a headline on the cable news! CNN, Fox News––immediately it’s "the president says this!" And whether they screw it up or not doesn’t matter. It’s there. It’s a bully pulpit, and he uses it very effectively because he sets the agenda. And so we’re really in trouble now.

2019 edit

  • I gave a talk at a journalism school recently and I told them they must read before they write. It's amazing. Even with Wikipedia, people don't know obvious things. In terms of journalism just get the hell out of the way of the story. Do the work. There is a dispute between two people about an issue. That is not the story. The story is which one of the two people is right. But reporters and journalists are apparently just happy to say, "So-and-so said this today." That's how it goes now.... I worry about people who still think the world is flat when in reality the world is round. If I want to tell them it's round and they don't want to hear it, what do I care? I can't worry about it.
    • Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh: The world is "run by ignoramuses, wackos and psychotics", by Chauncey DeVega, Salon, July 23, 2019
  • I want the American people to stop believing everything they hear and to ask more questions, to become more skeptical. I think it's the one reason a guy like Donald Trump ran. They understood where he was coming from. That Trump is just a blowhard. They laughed at him. They knew Trump doesn't know what he's talking about. But Trump wasn't the same old big smile and a lot of good words. The Democrats have been going around saying, "We're for the people, we're for the little guy." And all they do is run to Wall Street for money. And the one guy that didn't, [Bernie] Sanders, was sabotaged by the Democratic National Committee.
    ... What did these hacked messages from the DNC say, anyway? It was about cutting off money for Sanders. Everything that was leaked showed that the Democratic Party was working against the one guy who wasn't running on campaign funds from the big corporations.
    • Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh: The world is "run by ignoramuses, wackos and psychotics", by Chauncey DeVega, Salon, July 23, 2019

2023 edit

Why Substack? A message for you, the readers, about me and Substack, Feb 8, 2023 edit

(Full text)

  • I’ve been a freelancer for much of my career. In 1969, I broke the story of a unit of American soldiers in Vietnam who... were ordered to attack an ordinary peasant village.. and told to kill on sight. The boys murdered, raped and mutilated for hours, with no enemy to be found.
  • The crime was covered up at the top of the military chain of command for eighteen months—until I uncovered it... but getting it before the American public was no easy task... [It was] initially rejected by the editors at Life and Look magazines. When the Washington Post finally published it, they littered it with Pentagon denials and the unthinking skepticism of the rewrite man...
  • Here [at Substack], I have the kind of freedom I’ve always fought for. I’ve watched writer after writer on this platform as they’ve freed themselves from their publishers’ economic interests, run deep with stories without fear of word counts or column inches, and—most importantly—spoken directly to their readers. And that last point, for me, is the clincher.
  • I’ve never been interested in socializing with pols or cozying up to money types at the self-important cocktail get togethers—the star-fu----- parties, I always liked to call them.
  • I’m at my best when I swig cheap bourbon with the servicemen, work over the first-year law firm associates for intel, or swap stories with the junior minister from a country most people can’t name.
  • What you’ll find here is, I hope, a reflection of that freedom. The story you will read today is the truth as I worked for three months to find, with no pressure from a publisher, editors or peers to make it hew to certain lines of thought—or pare it back to assuage their fears. Substack simply means reporting is back . . . unfiltered and unprogrammed—just the way I like it.

How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline, February 8, 2023 edit (Full text February 8, 2023)
  • The New York Times called it a "mystery," but the United States executed a covert sea operation that was kept secret—until now
  • The U.S. Navy’s Diving and Salvage Center can be found in a location as obscure as its name... The center has been training highly skilled deep-water divers for decades... to do the good—using C4 explosives... as well as the bad, like blowing up foreign oil rigs, fouling intake valves for undersea power plants, destroying locks on crucial shipping canals...
  • Last June, the Navy divers... planted the remotely triggered explosives that, three months later, destroyed three of the four Nord Stream pipelines, according to a source with direct knowledge of the operational planning.... Two of the pipelines... had been providing Germany and much of Western Europe with cheap Russian natural gas for more than a decade...
  • Asked for comment... a White House spokesperson, said in an email, "This is false and complete fiction."... a spokesperson for the Central Intelligence Agency, similarly wrote: "This claim is completely and utterly false."
    Biden’s decision to sabotage the pipelines came after more than nine months of highly secret back and forth debate inside Washington’s national security community about how to best achieve that goal. For much of that time, the issue was not whether to do the mission, but how to get it done with no overt clue as to who was responsible.
  • There was a vital bureaucratic reason for relying on the graduates of the center’s hardcore diving school... The divers were Navy only, and not members of America’s Special Operations Command, whose covert operations must be reported to Congress and briefed in advance to the Senate and House leadership — the so-called Gang of Eight. The Biden Administration was doing everything possible to avoid leaks as the planning took place late in 2021 and into the first months of 2022.
  • President Biden and his foreign policy team—National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, and Victoria Nuland, the Undersecretary of State for Policy—had been vocal and consistent in their hostility to the two pipelines... Action that could be traced to the administration would violate US promises to minimize direct conflict with Russia. Secrecy was essential....
  • America’s political fears were real: Putin would now have an additional and much-needed major source of income, and Germany and the rest of Western Europe would become addicted to low-cost natural gas supplied by Russia—while diminishing European reliance on America.
  • Many Germans saw Nord Stream 1 as part of the deliverance of former Chancellor Willy Brandt’s famed Ostpolitik theory, which would enable postwar Germany to rehabilitate itself and other European nations destroyed in World War II by, among other initiatives, utilizing cheap Russian gas to fuel a prosperous Western European market and trading economy...
  • Tensions were constantly escalating between Russia and NATO, backed by the aggressive foreign policy of the Biden Administration. Opposition to Nord Stream 2 flared on the eve of the Biden inauguration in January 2021, when Senate Republicans, led by Ted Cruz of Texas, repeatedly raised the political threat of cheap Russian natural gas during the confirmation hearing of Blinken as Secretary of State. By then a unified Senate had successfully passed a law that, as Cruz told Blinken, "halted [the pipeline] in its tracks." There would be enormous political and economic pressure from the German government, then headed by Angela Merkel, to get the second pipeline online. Would Biden stand up to the Germans? Blinken said yes, but added that he had not discussed the specifics of the incoming President’s views. "I know his strong conviction that this is a bad idea, the Nord Stream 2," he said. "I know that he would have us use every persuasive tool that we have to convince our friends and partners, including Germany, not to move forward with it."
  • Planning In December of 2021, two months before the first Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, Jake Sullivan convened a meeting of a newly formed task force—men and women from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, and the State and Treasury Departments—and asked for recommendations about how to respond to Putin’s impending invasion, the first of a series of top-secret meetings... what became clear to participants, according to the source with direct knowledge of the process, is that Sullivan intended for the group to come up with a plan for the destruction of the two Nord Stream pipelines—and that he was delivering on the desires of the President.. the participants debated options for an attack... CIA argued that whatever was done, it would have to be covert...
  • If the attack were traceable to the United States, "It’s an act of war."...
  • Over the next few weeks, members of the CIA’s working group began to craft a plan for a covert operation that would use deep-sea divers to trigger an explosion along the pipeline....
  • Still, the interagency group was initially skeptical of the CIA’s enthusiasm for a covert deep-sea attack... Throughout "all of this scheming," the source said, "some working guys in the CIA and the State Department were saying, 'Don’t do this. It’s stupid and will be a political nightmare if it comes out.'"...
  • What came next was stunning. On February 7, less than three weeks before the seemingly inevitable Russian invasion of Ukraine, Biden met in his White House office with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who, after some wobbling, was now firmly on the American team. At the press briefing that followed, Biden defiantly said, "If Russia invades . . . there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it." Twenty days earlier, Undersecretary Nuland had delivered essentially the same message at a State Department briefing, with little press coverage. "I want to be very clear to you today," she said in response to a question. "If Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another Nord Stream 2 will not move forward." ...
  • Several of those involved in planning the pipeline mission were dismayed by what they viewed as indirect references to the attack. “It was like putting an atomic bomb on the ground in Tokyo and telling the Japanese that we are going to detonate it,” the source said. “The plan was for the options to be executed post invasion and not advertised publicly. Biden simply didn’t get it or ignored it.”...
  • According to the source, some of the senior officials of the CIA determined that blowing up the pipeline “no longer could be considered a covert option because the President just announced that we knew how to do it.”..
  • The plan to blow up Nord Stream 1 and 2 was suddenly downgraded from a covert operation requiring that Congress be informed to one that was deemed as a highly classified intelligence operation with U.S. military support. Under the law, the source explained, “There was no longer a legal requirement to report the operation to Congress. All they had to do now is just do it—but it still had to be secret...
  • The source recalled, “Bill Burns [CIA Director]comes back and says, ‘Do it.’”...
  • “The Norwegian navy was quick to find the right spot, in the shallow water a few miles off Denmark’s Bornholm Island . . .” Norway was the perfect place to base the mission... In the past few years.. the Pentagon has created high paying jobs and contracts, amid some local controversy, by investing hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade and expand American Navy and Air Force facilities in Norway...
  • Today, the supreme commander of NATO is Jens Stoltenberg, a committed anti-communist, who served as Norway’s prime minister for eight years before moving to his high NATO post, with American backing, in 2014. He was a hardliner on all things Putin and Russia who had cooperated with the American intelligence community since the Vietnam War. He has been trusted completely since. “He is the glove that fits the American hand,” the source said....
  • On September 26, 2022, a Norwegian Navy P8 surveillance plane made a seemingly routine flight and dropped a sonar buoy. The signal spread underwater, initially to Nord Stream 2 and then on to Nord Stream 1. A few hours later, the high-powered C4 explosives were triggered and three of the four pipelines were put out of commission. Within a few minutes, pools of methane gas that remained in the shuttered pipelines could be seen spreading on the water’s surface and the world learned that something irreversible had taken place.
  • In the immediate aftermath of the pipeline bombing, the American media treated it like an unsolved mystery. Russia was repeatedly cited as a likely culprit, spurred on by calculated leaks from the White House—but without ever establishing a clear motive for such an act of self-sabotage, beyond simple retribution.
  • Asked at a press conference last September about the consequences of the worsening energy crisis in Western Europe, Blinken described the moment as a potentially good one: “It’s a tremendous opportunity to once and for all remove the dependence on Russian energy and thus to take away from Vladimir Putin the weaponization of energy as a means of advancing his imperial designs. That’s very significant and that offers tremendous strategic opportunity for the years to come, but meanwhile we’re determined to do everything we possibly can to make sure the consequences of all of this are not borne by citizens in our countries or, for that matter, around the world.”
  • More recently, Victoria Nuland expressed satisfaction at the demise of the newest of the pipelines. Testifying at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in late January she told Senator Ted Cruz, Like you, I am, and I think the Administration is, very gratified to know that Nord Stream 2 is now, as you like to say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea.

The Crap on the Wall, February 16, 2023 edit

(full text)

  • First, many thanks for your interest in what the pipeline story was all about: a very dangerous Presidential decision. You are careful readers.
  • I’m an old hand at dropping bombshell stories that are based on the disclosures of sources I do not, and cannot, name.
  • There is a pattern to the response by the mainstream media.
  • It dates back to my breakthrough story: the My Lai massacre revelation... Editors... wanted nothing to do with a story about a massacre committed by American soldiers.
  • It was a frightening time for me, in terms of my faith in the profession I had chosen.... I was more than a little rattled—make that terrified—by the failure of senior editors at prominent magazines to jump at a story that would get international attention, especially when those editors professed to deplore the war and want it to end.

Interview: Joe Biden blew up Nord Stream because he didn't trust Germany, Berliner Zeitung, February 14, 2023 edit

Translation by google, (full text)
  • The operational staff, the people who do "kinetic" things for the United States, they do what the president says, and they initially thought this was a useful weapon he could use in negotiations. But at some point, after the Russians invaded and then when the operation was completed, the whole thing became increasingly repugnant to the people who were doing it. These were people who worked in top positions in the intelligence services and were well trained. They turned against the project, they thought it was crazy.

    Shortly after the attack, after they had done what they were ordered to do, there was a lot of anger about the operation and repudiation among those involved. That’s one of the reasons I learned so much.

  • I don't think they've thought this through thoroughly. I know that sounds strange. I don't think Secretary of State Blinken and some others in the government are deep thinkers...
  • I'm sure there were some people who thought, Boy, is this going to give the American economy a long-term boost...
  • I think they've always been obsessed with re-election, and they wanted to win the war, they wanted to win a victory, they wanted Ukraine to somehow magically win. There might be some people who think that maybe it's better for our economy if the German economy is weak, but that's crazy.
  • I think we got caught up in something that won't work, the war won't end well for this government.
  • The people involved in the operation saw that the President wanted to freeze Germany for his short-term political goals, and that horrified them. I'm talking about Americans who are very loyal to the United States.
  • The CIA, as I put it in my article, works for power, not for the constitution... But even that community is appalled that Biden has decided to expose Europe to the cold to support a war he will not win. This is nefarious to me.

Seymour Hersh on “How America Took Out the Nord Stream Pipeline”: Exclusive TV Interview, Democracy Now!, February 15, 2023 edit

(full text)

  • What I did was really deconstruct the obvious. I mean, you have to hear what the president said. But, of course, there were secret plans, that I’m writing about, and they include — there was a committee set up. Jake Sullivan was directly involved. He was the national security adviser, still is. They set up a team to look at options about how to put pressure on the Russian government to back off.
  • The threat the president had yet to make had not been made, and this is December, before New Year’s Day, of the year before, 2021. And the question inside the committee, and it included the usual — CIA, NSA, Treasury Department, State Department, you name it ... The option was: Do you want us to do something kinetic or something not kinetic? In other words, not kinetic would be more sanctions, and something kinetic would be, you know, taking out the pipeline
  • Victoria Nuland’s statement, that you mentioned, came actually before the president’s... at that time, I think, the committee involved — a lot of sophisticated people in the intelligence and operation community concluded you could do it... that led to the comments, which really, of course, made the people on the inside go half-crazy, because it was supposed to be completely covert... it was simply described as a classified operation. None of the rules of reporting to Congress involved are involved — were involved.
  • It’s a tiresome game to me... I’m embarrassed to say it after all those wonderful years I had at The New York Times. I wasn’t even thinking of taking a story like this to The New York Times. They’ve decided that the Ukraine war is going to be won by Ukraine, and that’s what its readers get, and so be it. That’s their call. So, I just did my reporting.
  • Nord Stream 1 was a godsend for the German economy and Western Europe. They produce so much gas at such low prices that the German government was actually able to resell some of the gas the Russians were providing at a profit, without Russia objecting.
  • And so, the German economy is huge. It’s booming. You know, the cars, we know about. Germany has the largest chemical company in the world, BASF. And everybody is — right now it’s hell to pay. It’s gotten very cold there. There’s a lot of anger
  • The world has taken a very bizarre turn. I also — you know, it doesn’t matter what I think.
  • There’s no question there’s been a polarization of the press since Trump got in. We’re now on two sides — you know, right, left, Democrat, Republican, however you describe it.
  • We’ve got a president, a Democratic president, that has done some good stuff domestically, but I can tell you I’m not understanding the total commitment to Ukraine. And I’m not understanding what I read, because, obviously, I have access to a lot of people who see things.
  • I’ve been... writing about covert activities for — am I that old?...the stories I’ve been getting about the war... have been pretty dire.
  • I think the end is just a question of time. Right now it’s a question of how many more people Zelensky wants to kill of his own people. It’s going to be over.
  • There’s also an enormous continuing of hatred of all things Putin in this country, which is — foreign policy disagreements are one thing, but it’s very personal here.
  • I don’t think there’s any chance that Putin wants to take over Europe. I don’t think he wants to take — he wants to have Ukraine tamed, but he’s not interested in doing anything more.
  • Here’s what Biden did... the ultimate point of the story, why so many people, even the intelligence community, are very troubled by it... he said, “I’m in a big war with Ukraine. It’s not looking good. I want to be sure I get German and West European support. And I know winter is coming, and if it’s going to be bad, I don’t want the Germans to say, ’We’ve got to check out, because we’re getting massacred. We’ll be massacred with no cheap fuel, and our economy will go bonkers. We’re going to check out, and we’re going to open up the gas line,’” which they could do. So he took away that option.
  • This goes back to the Bush-Cheney years... they began to talk about the threat... of cheap energy for Europe, was always seen as a threat to make Europe... more willing to trade with Russia. We always wanted to isolate Russia. This has been a theme of the last decades.
  • And I think the consequences of this for the Europeans are going to be horrific. They really — this has cut into the notion that they can depend totally on America, even in a crisis.
  • It’s going to undercut NATO, which I always found to be supremely useless,
  • I know people that are paying five times as much now for electricity. People are paying three or four times more for gas. There’s not enough of it. It’s very expensive.
  • I think the consequences politically for us in the long run, looking at even potential some countries walking out of NATO. If that’s what he thinks, that our being cold is less important than him keeping a war going that he’s not going to win
  • As for the source question, you know, I’ve been doing this so long.... you know, I’m lucky. I’ve had, for 20 or 30 or 40 years, people inside who not only are faithful to what they’re doing, but also are not afraid to be critical of it. And so, that’s the kind of source that, you know, reporters dream about. And I’ve had people like that for forever. And I still do.

Seymour Hersh: The US Destroyed the Nord Stream Pipeline, Jacobin, February 15, 2023 edit

(full text)

  • I don’t think that Blinken and some others in the administration are deep thinkers.
  • Joe Biden decided not to blow them up. It was in early June, five months into the war, but then, in September, he decided to do it.
  • What’s courageous about telling the truth? Our job isn’t to be afraid. And sometimes it gets ugly. There have been times in my life, when — you know, I don’t talk about it. Threats aren’t made to people like me; they’re made to children of people like me. There’s been awful stuff. But you don’t worry about it — you can’t. You have to just do what you do.

About Seymour Hersh edit

2013–2018 edit

  • He is certain that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden "changed the whole nature of the debate" about surveillance. Hersh says he and other journalists had written about surveillance, but Snowden was significant because he provided documentary evidence – although he is sceptical about whether the revelations will change the US government's policy... He isn't even sure if the recent revelations about the depth and breadth of surveillance by the National Security Agency will have a lasting effect...
  • Despite his concern about the timidity of journalism he believes the trade still offers hope of redemption... For students of journalism his message is put the miles and the hours in. He knew about Abu Ghraib five months before he could write about it, having been tipped off by a senior Iraqi army officer who risked his own life by coming out of Baghdad to Damascus to tell him how prisoners had been writing to their families asking them to come and kill them because they had been "despoiled".
  • His story of how he uncovered the My Lai atrocity is one of old-fashioned shoe-leather journalism and doggedness. Back in 1969, he got a tip about a 26-year-old platoon leader, William Calley, who had been charged by the army with alleged mass murder. Instead of picking up the phone to a press officer, he got into his car and started looking for him in the army camp of Fort Benning in Georgia, where he heard he had been detained. From door to door he searched the vast compound, sometimes blagging his way, marching up to the reception, slamming his fist on the table and shouting: "Sergeant, I want Calley out now." Eventually his efforts paid off with his first story appearing in the St Louis Post-Despatch, which was then syndicated across America... He was hired by the New York Times to follow up the Watergate scandal and ended up hounding Nixon over Cambodia. Almost 30 years later, Hersh made global headlines all over again with his exposure of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
  • How did Hersh get the stories that other reporters seemed to miss? The first point is his attitude. He cultivated scepticism about governmental and corporate power. Hersh was not awed by the leadership or eager for its approval. This allowed him to ask questions that it did not want asked and that it prevented from being asked by using every means. It is because he did not believe that the U.S. was always good or right that he was able to do the landmark stories that he did. Hersh’s Reporter should be read by young journalists. It is itself an education. There is buried in this book a manual for how to do good journalism.
    • Vijay Prashad "America’s Reporter: the Hersh Method" CounterPunch (July 23, 2018)
  • Hersh grew up in the Chicago suburbs and was forced to take over the running of the family laundry business in his teens after his father died of lung cancer. He did not shine at school and was not destined for an intellectual life, seemingly stumbling into a career as a newspaper man. Serendipity would have it that he answered the phone the morning after an all-night poker game in which he lost all of his money. The call was from City News. He happened to be staying at his old apartment that night having forgotten to inform his future employers that he had changed address. And so began inauspiciously one of the most remarkable careers in journalism. If it was not for Hersh’s penchant for all-night poker games, we may never have known about all manner of deep state malfeasance.
  • It is not long before we discuss contemporaneous events including the alleged Russian hacking of the US presidential election. Hersh has vociferously strong opinions on the subject and smells a rat. He states that there is “a great deal of animosity towards Russia. All of that stuff about Russia hacking the election appears to be preposterous.”... Hersh quips that the last time he heard the US defense establishment have high confidence, it was regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He points out that the NSA only has moderate confidence in Russian hacking. It is a point that has been made before; there has been no national intelligence estimate in which all 17 US intelligence agencies would have to sign off. “When the intel community wants to say something they say it… High confidence effectively means that they don’t know.”

Seymour Hersh and the ambiguities of investigative reporting edit

By Michael Massing, The Nation (September 27, 2018 Full text)
  • Over the past half-century, Hersh has been one of America’s premier investigative journalists. But unlike, say, Bob Woodward, who specializes in getting those in power to talk, Hersh has been an untethered operator whose scoops have resulted from veering from the pack. In describing how it’s done, Reporter [Reporter: A Memoir (Autobiography). New York, NY: Alfred Knopf, 2018 ISBN 978-0307263957] offers a best-practices guide to journalism as well as an implicit critique of the way it’s practiced today... Reporter exposes a structural weakness in American journalism.. Hersh first encountered this weakness while working at the City News Bureau in Chicago... As Hersh writes, learning to fit in in that neighborhood would make it possible for him to mix easily later in life with a wide variety of people, including scientists, generals, legislators, and intelligence officers.
  • After attending a two-year junior college, he transferred to the University of Chicago, where his ability to write helped him get his degree and eventually earned him a position at City News, which covered the courts and police for Chicago’s newspapers. According to Hersh, the mob ran the city, the cops were on the take, and reporters mostly ignored the corruption in return for access to crime scenes and the right to park wherever they wished.
  • One night, when Hersh was on duty at police headquarters, he overheard two cops in the parking lot discussing a robbery suspect who’d been shot dead. “So the guy tried to run on you?” one of the cops asked. “Naw,” said the other, “I told the nigger to beat it and then plugged him.” Leaving the scene undetected, Hersh called an editor at City News and told him what he’d heard. The editor urged him to ignore it; it would be his word against theirs, and the cops would accuse him of lying. Hersh decided to wait a few days and ask for the coroner’s report; it showed that the man had been shot in the back. With a feeling of unease, Hersh let the story drop. It was, he recalls in Reporter, a shameful example of a practice he would witness time and again throughout his career: self-censorship...
  • When his book on chemical and biological warfare appeared, The New York Review of Books ran an excerpt, and The Washington Post covered the findings on its front page. Hersh spent the summer promoting the book in talks on campuses and at bookstores. With the US military’s defoliation program in South Vietnam gaining attention, the debate became ever more emotional. Congress held a hearing, and in November 1969 President Nixon announced that the United States would end the production of offensive biological-warfare agents and destroy its existing stockpiles. Without lobbying anyone in Congress or the White House, Hersh writes, he had helped “force a change [through] persistent reporting on an issue that needed public exposure.”
  • The press’s reluctance to report such discomfiting realities became even more glaring as Hersh pursued his next big story, which makes up the dramatic centerpiece of Reporter. In the fall of 1969, while working out of a small office in the National Press Building, he got a tip from a young lawyer named Geoffrey Cowan about a soldier who was being court-martialed for the murder of 75 civilians in My Lai, a village in South Vietnam. Cowan didn’t give the name of the perpetrator, an Army lieutenant, but Hersh, running into a colonel at the Pentagon, asked if he’d heard about the mass murder of civilians in Vietnam. “This Calley is a madman, Sy,” the officer said, noting that he’d even killed babies. “There’s no story in that.” But Hersh knew there was and, now supplied with the name of the officer, set out to track him down...

2023 edit

  • Seymour Hersh, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, has claimed that US deep-sea divers, using a Nato military exercise as a cover, planted mines along the pipelines that were later detonated remotely.
    • US bombed Nord Stream gas pipelines, claims investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, The Sunday Times (London, February 8, 2023)
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh has alleged US Navy divers laid bombs that destroyed the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea last September, drawing a denial from the Pentagon Wednesday... Hersh, who scooped journalism’s top award more than five decades ago for exposing the My Lai massacre of Vietnamese civilians by US troops in 1968... [reported in Feb 8, 2023] that Americans planted remotely triggered explosives that wrecked three of the four pipelines built to carry natural gas from Russia to Europe... Hersh, a former reporter for the Associated Press and New York Times as well as a longtime contributor to the New Yorker... previously drew the wrath of the US government when he claimed in a 2013 interview that the official story of the operation that killed Osama bin Laden was “one big lie.” Two years later, Hersh published an account in the London Review of Books that claimed the Al Qaeda kingpin was a prisoner of Pakistani authorities at the time he was killed and that the CIA was tipped off to his whereabouts by a member of the country’s powerful intelligence service — rather than bin Laden’s courier, as the Obama administration claimed.
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published a story Wednesday alleging that the United States was behind the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline system last year... Hersh... over the course of his decades-long career has famously exposed U.S. forces' massacre of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians and shined light on the torture of detainees at the U.S-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
    • Common Dreams, Seymour Hersh Report Alleges US Was Behind Nord Stream Pipeline Sabotage, The Biden White House adamantly denied the veteran investigative journalist's reporting, calling it "complete fiction.", Jake Johnson (February 8, 2023)
  • Ishaan Tharoor, a foreign affairs columnist for The Washington Post, wrote on Twitter that while he is "not going to wade into debates over the sourcing and reporting" in Hersh's story, "it is without a doubt a bit odd how this whole story quietly went away once it became clear it didn't make any sense as an act of Russian sabotage... And of course, when the explosion actually happened, some folks in the transatlantic, anti-Kremlin space cheered it happily as a successful act of anti-Russian sabotage," Tharoor added, an apparent reference to a European member of Parliament's since-deleted tweet thanking the U.S. for the Nord Stream explosions.
    • Common Dreams, Seymour Hersh Report Alleges US Was Behind Nord Stream Pipeline Sabotage, The Biden White House adamantly denied the veteran investigative journalist's reporting, calling it "complete fiction.", Jake Johnson (February 8, 2023)
  • Hersh is a famous Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. More than 50 years ago, his report that exposed the US military's massacre of Vietnamese civilians significantly pushed the anti-war movement in the US. He was also behind the investigation of the notorious incident of Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse in 2003 and contributed to revealing the Watergate scandal, one of the most disgraceful political scandals in Washington's history. Hersh's latest report is not comparable to conspiracy theories in public opinion, nor are they something Washington can just gloss over.
  • Now, this was an act of war, pure and simple... against Germany. And... President Joseph Biden, at a press conference in the presence of the chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz, said this is going to happen if Russia invaded Ukraine. And, of course, he was asked, well, how do you do this? I mean, how can you how can you be so confident that Nordstrom will be killed and Biden said, well, just, you know, trust me, it’s going to happen.
    And so she, bilingual, the Reuters reporter, turned to Scholz – and this is not widely available now for obvious reasons – and she said, well, I mean, do you agree with that? I mean, hello, how do you feel about this? And this hack, this political hack said: we do everything together. We do everything together. We will be together on this now. So... that interview is available in Germany.
  • Well, all I can say is that Sy Hersh has proven for about 40 years now that he is a trusted journalist. And when someone – and I suspect it aptly pertained to this particular source – when someone sees that an act of war has been has been committed by our government against all the… well, against the Constitution, maybe not against the U.S. designed “rules based order,” but, you know, we all swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Now this guy took that seriously. I suspect he went to that little corner in that bar where Sy...meets his sources and told him this whole story. Sy said it only took him three months. I believe that. And American people… it’s eminently believable. The question is the fallout and whether the mass media can prevent this story from sneaking into the consciousness of Americans who have been taught...over the last seven hate Russia.
  • We have corroboration now from Gil Doctorow in Brussels, Larry Johnson in Tampa, it’s coming in. And so I applaud the source that told Sy Hersh all this information. I believe it implicitly. Sy has never been wrong on really important issues like this. As I say, he’s meticulous... He and... my mentor, Robert Parry, Consortium News – used to commiserate... Can The New York Times and the major media suppress this indefinitely?... The fact that that Sy had to go on Substack to do this is really a lurid manifestation of the fact that not even the most prized, the most meticulous investigative reporter in the United States, could not get this published elsewhere. That speaks volumes.
  • Former NSA whistleblower Snowden has gone on record accusing the US government of engineering the "balloon wars" scare to detract attention away from Seymour Hersh's explosive investigative report detailing how the US White House plotted and blew up the Nord Stream pipelines - an act of terrorism or war against Russia and Germany.
    • Snowden: UFO Balloons 'Engineered Panic' To Distract From Nord Stream Revelations by Daniel McAdams, The Ron Paul Liberty Report (February 14, 2023)

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Articles by Seymour Herse at the New Yorker