Monday, April 16, 2007

Seymour Hersh On Bush Co. The Delayed War On Iran And The Gutless Modern Media

Interesting interview with legendary investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in Rolling Stone.

Seymour Hersh has been a thorn in Dick Cheney's paw for more than 30 years. The story reveals that Cheney wrote a list of options in 1975 for how to deal with Hersh's publication of 'The Pentagon Papers' in the New York Times for then White House chief-of-staff Donald Rumsfeld. Option number three was "Search warrant : to go after Hersh papers in his (apartment)".

How little times have changed.

Here's some of the key quotes from the Rolling Stone interview :

"If there's a Kissinger person today, it's Cheney....Kissinger always had some back-channel agenda. But in the case of Bush and this war, what you see is what you get. We buy much of our fuel from the Middle East, and yet we're at war with the Middle East. It doesn't make sense."

"Bush is a true radical. He believes very avidly in executive power. And he also believes that he's doing the right thing. I think he's a revolutionary, a Trotsky. He's a believer in permanent revolution. So therefore he's very dangerous, because he's an unguided missile, he's a rocket with no ability to be educated. You can't change what he wants to do. He can't deviate from his policy, and that's frightening when somebody has as much power as he does, and is as much a radical as he is, and is as committed to democracy -- whatever that means -- as he is in the Mideast. I really do believe that's what drives him. That doesn't mean he's not interested in oil. But I really think he thinks democracy is the answer."

Hersh denies that he ever said the US was about to go war on Iran, only that large-scale military planning for the attacks had been done....

"Planning is planning, of course. But in the last couple of weeks, it has become nonstop. They're in a position right now where the president could wake up and scratch his....nose, and say, "Let's go." And they'd go. That's new. We've made it closer. We've got carrier groups there. It's not about going in on the ground. Although if we went in we'd have to send Marines into the coastal areas of Iran to knock out their Silkworm missile'd have to take out a very sophisticated radar system, and a guidance system for their missiles. You'd have to knock out the ability of the Iranians to get our ships....I think Bush wants to resolve the Iranian crisis. It may not be a crisis, but he wants to resolve it.

"One of the things this administration has shown us is how fragile democracy is. All of the institutions we thought would protect us -- particularly the press, but also the military, the bureaucracy, the Congress -- they have failed. The courts . . . the jury's not in yet on the courts. So all the things that we expect would normally carry us through didn't. The biggest failure, I would argue, is the press, because that's the most glaring.

On the media's inability to bust the Bush administration's chops over Iraq War lies and deceptions....

It's very discouraging. I've had conversations with senior people at my old newspaper, the Times, who know that there are serious problems there. It's not that they shouldn't run the stories that they run. They run stories that represent the government's view, because there are people at the Times who have access to senior people in the government. They see the national security adviser, they see Condoleezza Rice, and they have to reflect their view. That's their job. What doesn't get reported is the other side. What I always loved about the Times when I worked there is that I could write what the kiddies down the line said. But that doesn't happen now. You're not getting broad, macro coverage from the White House that represents anything like opposition. And there is opposition -- the press just doesn't know how to deal with it.

" hard is it to hide things from the press? They don't care that much about the straight press. What these guys have figured out is that as long as they have Fox and talk radio, they're OK in the public opinion. They control that hard. It kept the ball in Iraq in the air for a couple of years longer than it should have, and it cost Kerry the presidency. But now it's over -- Iraq's done. A lot of the conservatives who promoted the war are now very much against it. Some of the columnists in this town who were beating the drums for that war really owe an apology. It's a sad time for the American press.

How to fix the problems with media in the age of Bush Co?

You'd have to fire or execute ninety percent of the editors and executives. You'd actually have to start promoting people from the newsrooms to be editors who you didn't think you could control. And they're not going to do that.

When Clinton went to war...

"You have to give Bill Clinton his due: When he bombed Kosovo in 1999, he became the first president since World War II to bomb white people."

Here's a selection of Hersh's feature stories from the New Yorker on the past two years. All make for fascinating, troubling and insightful reading :

Hersh On 'The Iran Plans' : Will President Bush Go To War To Stop Iran From Getting The Bomb?

New Yorker Story By Hersh On 'The Coming Wars

Hersh : How The 'War On Terror' Is Helping The Terrorists Win The War

New Yorker : The US Military's Big Problems With Bush & The NeoCons Plans For Iran