They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Seymour Hersh: Draft constitution "guarantees civil war"

arizonarepublic: Abu Ghraib reporter calls sentence unfair

Army Pfc. Lynndie England, photographed humiliating Iraqi prisoners, didn't deserve the three-year sentence she was given this week, the journalist who broke the Abu Ghraib story said Wednesday in Tempe.

Seymour Hersh called the sentence "ridiculous" in view of lighter military punishments in other cases, such as a suspended sentence for manslaughter.

"I'm not minimizing what (the guards) did; it was horrible stuff, and they're responsible," Hersh said.

But it's "inconceivable" that the unsophisticated soldiers from West Virginia were not directed by higher authorities, who would have known how a Muslim would feel disgraced to be photographed naked, much less in simulated sexual positions, he said.

In an interview before delivering an address at Arizona State University, Hersh also said the idea that there were only nine people involved in the abuse "is just sad."

"I gave up trying to rationalize it," he said.

Hersh, who won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking the story of U.S. Army troops' massacre of 550 Vietnamese civilians in the village of My Lai in 1968, said he hopes his career of truth-seeking will inspire Americans to say, "Let's hold our president to a higher standard."

"This is an amazing country," Hersh said. "Whoever heard of a country like this?

"With immigrant parents and a public-school education, here I am as a freelance writer just 11 years out of college, sticking two fingers into the eye of a president (Richard Nixon) in the middle of a war," he said of his My Lai stories.

At 68, he has authored eight books and now writes for The New Yorker.

Approaching officialdom with skepticism and a nose for news that he calls heuristic reasoning - essentially making educated guesses on what to dig into based on incomplete information - Hersh has earned a reputation as a living lie detector who monitors the functions of government.

"I look at things differently," he said, going on to demonstrate just how different, and sometimes inflammatory, his thinking can be.

The White House may have had ulterior motives in leaking tales about President Bush "being asleep at the switch" during Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans, he said.

"The reason they put it out is that they'd rather be seen as incompetent, somebody who missed the boat, than to be described as somebody who chose not to act," he said, suggesting that the Bush administration was reluctant to give help to Democratic leaders in Louisiana.

Is that a conspiracy theory? "No. It's hardball politics," he said.

[db emphasis]
On Iraq: The draft constitution that will go to Iraqi voters "guarantees civil war," but the Bush administration will structure a U.S. withdrawal for its own political ends, he said.

After increasing troop strength for Iraq's elections, Bush will begin to pull back troops early next year, then accelerate withdrawals before the U.S. elections, Hersh said.

"Then he has two more years to get them all out." During that time, he said, the U.S. position will be, "It's their constitution, their problem."

A cynical view? "I would say realistic, based on the record."

On truth in government: "I don't think it's changed much" throughout his nearly 50-year career, he said.

Has he lied himself?

"Sure," he admitted. "I was press secretary for Eugene McCarthy," whose anti-war candidacy for president in 1968 helped drive President Johnson from seeking another term.

But in practicing journalism, Hersh emphasized, "it's never, never right" for reporters to lie or misrepresent themselves. Link