THOLOS OF ATHENA

Thursday, May 12, 2005

HERSH SAYS PRESIDENT BUSH IS UNREACHABLE

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Veteran journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, Seymour Hersh


Go and read Amy Goldman's interview with Seymour Hersh at Democracy Now!.

Here is a sample, an exerpt:
"We have always had spinning of the press. And, as Bob mentioned earlier, that's all part of the game. We have had the horrible tragedy of the Pentagon Papers, which showed that the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, particularly Kennedy, and Johnson, too -- I can't differentiate that much between them -- lied and lied and lied and got away with it. You have to understand it's not that hard inside the government to tell a lie. So, this is an administration that has brought that art, the art of lying not only to the world, not only to foreign reporters, but lying to the American press, systematic misrepresenting and lying, they brought it to a new art form."

"For example, after the elections -- yeah, they were interesting elections because if anybody -- not to get into and dwell too much on it, but what did we vote for? Anybody in Iraq, they were voting not for an assemblyman or a legislator, they were voting sectarianism, sectarian lines. They were voting a religious track. It was an election solely based on religion, ethnicity. That was the issue. And it was the strangest election. You know, you don't need me to tell you, what plays out today shows that the election doesn't work."

"[I]n the paper today, it's the lead story in the Times, 100 rebels killed in western Iraq. We're back in the body count, by the way. Sometimes we call them "insurgents" or "rebels," that's a great word because -- I'm wacko on this word "insurgency." Just so you know, an "insurgency" means, suggests you've won the war and there are people who disagree. They're rebels or they're insurgents, as I said. No. We're still fighting the war we started, folks. We started a war largely against Sunnis and Ba'athists, in many cases tribal groups that supported Saddam or were at least frightened enough to support him. We started a war against the people we're still fighting. They gave us Baghdad very quickly. They retreated."

"They simply are not fighting the war in the way and the manner we want them to, that our press, you know, wants to tell you they did, that the government wants to tell the press, wants to suggest that we won and that an insurgency broke out again. We're fighting a resistance movement. The irony is it's a resistance movement that probably -- and has been for years, more than a year -- trying to find ways to talk to us, that just like, you know, the way we deal with most of the -- this administration deals with the Iranians or the Syrians or the North Koreans. And the resistance, you don't talk to them. It's an amazing -- This is a government that absolutely says, we won't talk to anybody we disagree with and gets away with it on a daily level, consistently, no criticism, no suggestion, no pressure to have bilateral talks with people in any case."

"I know, since I did Abu Ghraib, lots of emails from lots of kids involved. It's complicated because what happens is we're going along -- the way the war is, it's sort of this dreary pattern. We're going along, our troops, and they're going down roads. It's really sort of astonishingly stupid. We patrol, which is stupid to begin with. What good does that do? They go down roads, certain fixed roads, certain times, certain places, usually in groups of three, four, five Humvees, Bradley tanks, Strikers, other heavy vehicles. One gets blown up. The Americans start screaming in pain. The other vehicles stop, run out. The soldiers are jammed into the back. You've seen some tapes or TV stuff about how they do it. They come running out and they shoot at anything that runs. And that's the war."

"There is good reporting. It's not just me. The Washington Post has done good stuff. Knight-Ridder newspapers has done good stuff, Amy Goodman's show, Naomi Klein have done a lot of brilliant stuff about the war. It's not as if there's any monopoly on critical reporting about the war. Even in The New York Times had a marvelous story a month ago about a group of Marines that came back disillusioned with the lack of equipment, the stupidity of their mission. It was an amazing story. It went down, it just went down. No stories seem to have bounce anymore, in part because, I guess, because of the networks and their cowardness, which is, you know, duh. You know, I'm tired of worrying about the networks. They just are what they are."

"[T]his Bush, absolutely believes in what he's doing. He's not like a nervous Richard Nixon, worried about, you know, "They're coming after me," or Lyndon Johnson quitting over Vietnam with great uncertainty about whether he is doing the right thing. This guy is absolutely convinced. This guy for -- I don't know -- I don't know what's in his mind. I don't know whether he -- God talks to him or whether he's undoing what the mistakes his father made, but he is convinced that he has got to bring democracy to Iraq, and then change -- they altered the plan a little bit. No, I don't think they're so big anymore into democracy in Syria or Iran, they just want to get regime change. I think moving Wolfowitz out was a sign of sort of diminished ambitions. And it's good. I'm happy. I'm one of those people that said, "Yes, World Bank, yes." Then you can just, you know, starve people, change societies, change economic structures, force everybody from any socialist program to private enterprise, but he's not killing people, and that is a plus."

"So, [Bush] can't be reached by us. Not just me. I mean, they can ignore me, but the networks, any time there's a good story, not a blip. And what does that mean? That means, you know, the body bags aren't going to stop him. This is a guy who is convinced for whatever reason that even 1,000 or another -- you know, the body count goes on. It just goes on. Of course, nobody counts the Iraqis. I love the stories -- every time you talk about Vietnam, it's always -- the Vietnam war is summarized this way, "58,000 American killed and anywhere between 2 and 3 million Vietnamese." There is a distinction between 2 and 3 million, but that's okay. I used to joke all the time -- racism in America, you know, is so endemic and so hard to see, but I was always -- I used to joke that I was very proud of Bill Clinton because he was the first president in Kosovo, the former Yugoslavia, since World War II to actually bomb white people."

"I have a friend who is a major player who went to Iraq recently. There's been a series, unreported, a series of missions in Iraq that have all been there to study the war -- where are we? -- and they've all come back pretty negatively. This guy came back and he saw the President months ago. And he said, "Mr. President, we're losing the war in Iraq." And there was a sort of a three-second beat and Bush said, "You mean we're not winning"."

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