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Seymour Hershs Summary of the Bush Administrations War on Terror

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 04:32 PM
Original message
From his breaking of the Mai Lai massacre during the Viet Nam War in 1969 to his recent attempts to prevent a catastrophic war with Iran through his publicizing of the Bush administrations war plans and the discontent of high level military officers with those plans, Seymour Hersh is one of the greatest journalists ever to cover the crucial events and actions of our nation. His coverage of the Mai Lai massacre produced a quantum leap in public awareness of the horrors of the Viet Nam War, and was undoubtedly an important factor in our eventual withdrawal from that war. With some luck, his exposure of our administrations plans for Iran may help to end that war before it starts.

In Chain of Command The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, Hersh chronicles numerous violations of international and domestic law committed by the Bush administration since the 9/11 attacks, including how they twisted and manipulated intelligence to provide an excuse for war, and how they actively condoned and even positively encouraged the abuse of prisoners of war, including torture.

Following his painstaking and detailed documentation of the above noted abuses throughout his book, Hersh uses the Epilogue and Afterward of the book to try to put the whole thing into some sort of perspective. These final portions of his book are part summary, part controlled rant, and part a desperate attempt by Hersh himself to try to make sense of what has happened to our country.


On the administrations manipulation of intelligence data to make a case for war, and the Senates cover-up of that scandal

Hersh goes into great detail in his book to describe how the administration twisted and manipulated intelligence data to provide an excuse for war, as described in this post. Here is how he sums up that issue in the concluding section of his book:

Many of the failings were in plain sight. The Administrations manipulation and distortion of the intelligence about Iraqs ties to Al Qaeda and its national security threat to the United States was anything but a secret in Washington, as the pages of this book make clear. And yet the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee, after a year-long investigation, published a report, in July 2004, stating that the critical mistakes were made not in the White House, but at the CIA


Then, after Hersh notes that three Democratic Senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee (Levin, Rockefeller, and Durbin) signed a separate statement that disavowed the central findings of the report, Hersh continues:

And yet, Rockefeller, Levin, and Durbin put their names on the report, helping to make it appear unanimous and bipartisan. There are, once again, unanswered questions. Why didnt the Democrats take a stronger stand? How much influence did the White House exert on the Republican members of the committee? Why didnt the press go beyond the immediate facts?



On the administrations encouraging of the abuse and torture of prisoners of war

There is much more to be learned. Public interest groups such as Human Rights Watch and the ACLU continue to churn out report after report demonstrating that systematic military abuse of American prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan, and at Guantanamo, Cuba, is widespread and tolerated..

Thus, we are confronted with a gap between what we read and hear about what is really going on from prisoners and human rights groups and what the official inquiries tell us We have a President who assures us that there is no American policy condoning or abetting torture when, as we can see with our eyes, the opposite is true

What do I know? A few things stand out. I know of the continuing practice going on as this is being written of American operatives seizing suspected terrorists and taking them, without any meaningful legal review, to interrogation centersThe officer testified that, yes, his men had done what the photographs depicted, but they and everybody in the Command understood that such treatment was condoned by higher-ups.


Hersh goes on to explain why only the lowest level bad apples have been held responsible for this scandal:

The ten official inquiries into Abu Ghraib are asking the wrong questions, at least in terms of fixing the ultimate responsibility for the treatment of prisoners. The legal and moral issue is not high-level knowledge of the specific events in the photographs The question that never gets adequately asked or answered, though, is this: What did the President do after being told about Abu Ghraib?....

Its what was not done at that point that is significant. There is no evidence that President Bush, upon learning of the devastating conduct at Abu Ghraib, asked any hard questions of Donald Rumsfeld and his own aides in the White House. . There was no evidence that they had taken any significant steps upon learning in mid-January of the Abu Ghraib abuses to review and modify the militarys policy toward prisoners. I was told by a high-level former intelligence official that within days of the first reports the judicial system was programmed to begin prosecuting the enlisted men and women in the photographs the bad apples of Abu Ghraib and to go no further up the chain of command.


And what did we get out of all this, other than the pretense that our administration is fighting a War on Terror?

There was no secret about the interrogation practices used at Abu Ghraib In fact, representatives of one of the Pentagons private contractor firms at Abu Ghraib, who were involved in prisoner interrogation, were told that Condoleezza Rice had praised their efforts. Its not clear why she would do so there was no evidence and none today that the American intelligence community has been able to accumulate any significant intelligence about the operations and procedures of the resistance.



Can it be that our President is a liar?

George Bush repeatedly reassured audiences that his policies had made America safer. Weve turned the corner,. Were moving America forward by extending freedom and peace around the world America, he added, would engage its enemies around the world so we do not have to face them here at home. The president did not mention the missing weapons of mass destruction, the growing G.I. death toll, the civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the devastation to all aspects of civil life in Iraq. He did not mention the adverse Supreme Court decisions in June of 2004 that challenged the legal basis of his postwar prison system, and told him that foreigners, as well as American citizens, were entitled to due process even in a time of war

We have a President who spent months terrorizing the nation with dire warnings about mushroom clouds emanating from Saddam Husseins arsenal and then could say, as he did in a campaign speech in August of 2004, that it didnt matter.

There are many who believe George Bush is a liar, a President who knowingly and deliberately twists facts for political gain. But lying would indicate an understanding of what is desired, what is possible, and how best to get there. A more plausible explanation is that words have no meaning for this President beyond the immediate moment, and so he believes that his mere utterance of the phrases makes them real. It is a terrifying possibility.



Questions

In the end, after all his remarkable investigations, Hersh has more questions than answers (which is probably part of the reason why he is such a great journalist):

There is so much about this presidency that we dont know, and may never learn. Some of the most important questions are not even being asked. How did eight or nine neo-conservatives who believed that a war in Iraq was the answer to international terrorism get their way? How did they redirect the government and rearrange long-standing American priorities and policies with so much ease? How did they overcome the bureaucracy, intimidate the press, mislead the Congress, and dominate the military? Is our democracy that fragile?

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saltpoint Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 04:34 PM
Response to Original message
1. Thanks for this post, Time for change. Sy Hersh is solid gold.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 05:46 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. Yes he certainly is
Too bad we don't have more reporters like him. If we did, we wouldn't be in the situation we're in today -- not by a long shot.
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BIgJohn83 Donating Member (127 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 04:40 PM
Response to Original message
2. Thanks for the post... n/t
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 11:35 PM
Response to Reply #2
10. Hersh summarizes his mission as
"to hold the people in public office to the highest possible standard of decency and of honesty...to tolerate anything less, even in the name of national security, is wrong."

He tries his best. More than any other U.S. journalist alive today, he embodies the statement that "a patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government,"

http://www.yopyop.com/citizens/comments.php?id=854_0_1_...

We certainly need more journalists in this country who think like that.
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 04:41 PM
Response to Original message
3. this is a great paragraph. Horrible thought

..There are many who believe George Bush is a liar, a President who knowingly and deliberately twists facts for political gain. But lying would indicate an understanding of what is desired, what is possible, and how best to get there. A more plausible explanation is that words have no meaning for this President beyond the immediate moment, and so he believes that his mere utterance of the phrases makes them real. It is a terrifying possibility.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 07:48 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. That is about the only opinion he gives in his book that I disagree with
Essentially, he is saying that he suspects that Bush is too stupid to lie.

I don't buy that. It doesn't take many brains to lie, especially if you don't do it well. Bush doesn't lie well at all - his lies are almost transparent. But he has the force of the corporate media behind him to protect him. And they've done a very aggressive job at that.
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stellanoir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 10:10 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. I didn't interpret it as though he is saying
that * is too stupid to lie.

I feel he is more suggesting that * has absolutely no concept of the truth. Which is even more "terrifying."

If * says it he thinks it makes it so.

It's only one of the many ways * is just totally bonkers.

IMHO
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-20-06 01:24 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. Yes, you may be right about that
Anyhow, I guess there's not much difference between being a liar and 'having no concept of the truth'.

But I do think of him more as evil than as being bonkers.

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 06:35 PM
Response to Original message
5. Rec'd. Mr. Hersh is the real deal-Thanks! nt
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 09:00 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Thanks
He also exposed the conflicts of interests of Richard Perle in his boosting of the Iraq War in early 2003:

http://www.dawn.com/2003/03/22/fea.htm

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Imagevision Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 10:01 PM
Response to Original message
8. Democratic Senators are as guilty as Bushco for not making waves
but Feingold, he didn't go along with Bush going to war plan based on phoney and/or fabricated intel courtesy of Cheney.

Bush is wrong -- Feingold is only making a valid point on Censuring Bush, the man has proved he can't be trusted!
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-20-06 06:35 AM
Response to Reply #8
12. Feingold was right and courageous to try to censure Bush
If the Dems sweep the Congressional elections this fall, hopefully they'll proceed with impeachment and conviction. They certainly have way more than enough grounds to do that.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-20-06 08:06 AM
Response to Original message
13. If you Google Hersh you see a lot of right wing attacks on him
Here's one by Tim Graham.

http://newsbusters.org/node/4923

The only thing he can think of to attack Hersh with, however, is name calling and whining about the fact that Hersh's sources are anonymous.

He calls Hersh a "severe Bush hater" and a "hard-left anti-war reporter". What are those names based on, Tim, the fact that Hersh reports facts?

And then he applauds Wolf Blitzer for "challenging" Hersh by asking him to name his sources -- as if failure of a reporter to name his sources (who may be subject to severe retaliation by the Bush administration) is some sort of black mark against him.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-20-06 11:37 AM
Response to Original message
14. Kick n/t
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