Interesting Links: May 14, 2015
Here are links to some interesting news articles that I came across today. They are about the ongoing controversy about Seymour Hersh’s recent article on the Osama bin Laden killing.
Hersh has pissed off some very powerful people and institutions with this story, and that means the inevitable media pushback to discredit his reporting is already underway, with the attacks on Hersh led by Vox Media’s Max Fisher, CNN’s Peter Bergen, and even some on the left like Nation Institute reporter Matthieu Aikins. Yesterday Slate joined the pile-on, running a wildly entertaining, hostile interview with Hersh. Such attacks by fellow journalists on a Sy Hersh bombshell are nothing new—in fact, he used to relish them, and probably still does. He got the same hostile reaction from his media colleagues when he broke his biggest story of his career: The 1974 exposé of the CIA’s massive, illegal domestic spying program, MH-CHAOS, which targeted tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of Americans, mostly antiwar and leftwing dissidents.
Hersh’s exposés directly led to the famous Church Committee hearings into intelligence abuses, the Rockefeller Commission, and the less famous but more radical Pike Committee hearings in the House, which I wrote about in Pando last year. These hearings not only blew open all sorts of CIA abuses, assassination programs, drug programs and coups, but also massive intelligence failures and boondoggles.They also revealed to the public for the first time the NSA’s secret programs targeting Americans, including co-opting all the major US telecoms and cable telex companies— AT&T, ITT, Western Union and RCA—in a program “vacuuming” all electronic communications, as well as “Project Minaret,” in which the NSA wiretapped hundreds or perhaps tens of thousands (depending on the source) of antiwar and leftwing American dissidents. Those hearings led briefly to some real reforms and some half-assed reforms in the intelligence community during the Carter years, all of which were undone as soon as Reagan came to power.
Link 2: Podcast Extra: Seymour Hersh
This week legendary investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published an account of the killing of Osama bin Laden that directly contradicts the official narrative. Hersh’s use of anonymous sources have led many to cast doubt on the assertions in the article; CNN’s Peter Bergen called his story a “farrago of nonsense”. Bob talks with Hersh about the swirling controversy in this On the Media special podcast.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015 – 05:56 PM
GUESTS: Seymour Hersh
HOSTED BY: Bob Garfield
What’s neither appropriate nor useful is to give former government officials the chance to attack Hersh’s story without giving readers the context of their track record of veracity. But that’s exactly what Politico did in this piece, “U.S. officials fuming over Hersh account of Osama bin Laden raid”: “If you were to believe Sy, you would have to believe this massive conspiracy that President Obama, Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Mike Morell were all lying to you,” said Bill Harlow, the [CIA]’s former top spokesman, referring to two recent secretaries of defense and a former acting CIA director. “It makes absolutely no sense.” … The next paragraph would have been the right place for Politico to say this: In 2003, Harlow himself participated in a massive conspiracy to lie to you about Iraq’s purported WMD. Indeed, he personally engaged in some of most egregious government dishonesty on the issue when he blatantly lied about a Newsweek story published just before the war that strongly suggested Iraq had no remaining banned weapons. Since leaving the CIA, Harlow has co-written three books with former top CIA officials, all of which defend the agency’s use of torture, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein recently accused Harlow of making “false charges” about the Senate’s torture investigation.
Asked who had provided him with the misinformation in 2003, Harlow responded: “I genuinely do not recall” and “I have no intention to engage in an exchange about that single answer to one of the thousands of questions I handled in that job more than a decade ago.” However, Harlow said, he is not misinformed about Hersh’s bin Laden story because “The information on the bin Laden case is based not only on Mr. Morell’s participation in nearly every meeting at the CIA and White House leading up to the raid — but also detailed accounts from others like Leon Panetta, Robert Gates, and many others.” The website of 15 Seconds, Harlow’s communications consulting firm, states that it can give clients advice on “Methods of deflecting difficult questions designed to bait you.”
What do you think? Comments?