April 14, 2006
An Argument for Cloning a Human

Julian Borger uses a quote from Seymour Hersh, “I feel like I did in the Vietnam days — I hate to pay taxes just so they can go and bomb more people”, as the title for his profile:

This week’s extraordinary report alleging that George Bush had not only made up his mind to topple the Iranian government, but was also toying with the idea of doing it with a tactical nuclear weapon, was a telling example of his influence. If any other journalist had produced the story, it would almost certainly have been laughed off. Because Hersh wrote it, it was front-page news around the world, notwithstanding Mr Bush’s insistence it was all “wild speculation”. The White House stopped short of denying the story, saying only that the Pentagon was conducting “normal military contingency planning”.

The problem for the president is that the man known in Washington as Sy has become an institution with more credibility than the administrations that come and go in this fickle city.

Of course Hersh has long been primus inter pares. From My Lai to Abu Ghraib, he’s a trustable source. Not right one hundred percent of the time, but as reliable as reporters can be, it seems to me.

One thing Hersh is quoted as saying did surprise me: “They’d be crazy to wiretap me,” because his informants would learn of the tap and alert him. That does not strike me as overwhelmingly convincing.


The theory has been advanced at The Poor Man Institute that Hersh could have been played on this issue. If the question switches from attacking Iran to using nukes on it, the basic idea gains some public acceptance. It’s possible the pro-war contingent planted appropriate leads; it’s very much their style.

This theory is not crazy; but one would have to expect that Hersh has considered the question. And the publicity that has accompanied his article has made the issue of attacking Iran impossible for the media to avoid. Discussion of the possibilities should be done very publicly, and this story has started people talking. Plus, his contention that high-level military people are prepared to resign if the nuclear option is not taken off the table validates my current world-view: the military is not the problem.

Fans of Jay McInerney have enjoyed stories about young writers working as factcheckers at The New Yorker.

Before his stories are published, his sources are called by New Yorker factcheckers to verify every detail. “I can’t deal with people who can’t talk to the factcheckers,” he said. “My people will explain to the factcheckers things they think I already know or understand, so they explain things much better, and come out with details I hadn’t even thought of.”

Finally, Hersh sets out on late-night drives, dropping drafts of his stories through the letterboxes of his sources to give them a chance to confirm he has interpreted their information correctly and that he is not going to publish anything that will put the US at risk.


Posted by Chuck Dupree at April 14, 2006 01:29 AM
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Well, this is all very interesting. However, old men, often (but not always) have more than young men to lose as they age.

I would want to know who Hersh's heirs are, what he has to lose, who might be blackmailing him, what are the skeletons he hs, if any, in the closet? All of these things and much more I'd want to know before I'd make broad judgements about him.

Who knows? We may never know.

On the other hand, the bunker buster nuclear theory has the ring of truth. I've read about them in the media for several years now. Surely Bush wants to use another toy.

Bush is no Eisenhower. Bush is a pawn and spokeman for of the military industrial complex. Eisehower at least resisted as much as he could.

Posted by: Buck on April 14, 2006 2:55 AM

that's an interesting list of bona fides you
demand of journo's, buckster; who else do you
demand that of ? ? ?
hee hee hee

seriously, hersh *could* be a willing/unwilling,
witting/unwitting victim/perpetrator of gummint
memes/propaganda via his highly placed sources/
insiders/military-types, but it seems HIGHLY
unlikely, given his LONG his story of 'HARMFUL'
(*not* helpful) reporting concerning gummint

your unique questioning of *his* sincerity is

however, the comment i was going to make, is that
he is being naieve (i presume, not having discussed
it with him, hh) in his presumption of how 'wiretapping'
works in a digital age...

besides echelon/magiclantern/etc type progs which
vacuum up virtually *all* electronic communications
to search for keywords/names/numbers/etc, there are
many methods available to track/bug either mr hersh,
and/or the high-ranking officers/etc who leak/vent
to him...

one presumes both parties take some precautions,
meet only in person, etc; but you never know
where people have holes in their knowledge, but
who can know all the state-of-the-art toys that
spooks use to spy on us...

that said, at *some* point, there are limits for
how many loudmouths can be bugged/blackmailed/
threatened or accidented; particularly the higher
the profile of the loudmouth/whistleblower...

art guerrilla

aka ann archy


Posted by: art guerrilla on April 14, 2006 8:44 AM

Nonsense. As you get older, you have less to lose. Freedom is having nothing left to lose. Unfortunately, I know. Gettin' old and all.

If we weren't so busy deciding the guilt or innocence of the Duke Lacrosse team and discussing yet another woman teacher child molester, we could have a serious discussion of why the use of nukes is unacceptable.

While might is right and all, seriously folks, we are not on the moral high ground on this. We don't have to be consistent but maybe we should try it.

Posted by: t on April 14, 2006 9:02 AM

So the theory has been posited that Hersh is just shilling for the administration, to put pressure on the Iranians.

Why not ask those questions? If I don't, someone else will. Or why not preemptively put them down the rathole where they belong.

alright, I'll admit to being intentionally controversial. However, that's what my second degree trained me to do. ...and by the way, this blog is called Bad Attitudes you know.

Posted by: Buck on April 14, 2006 9:12 AM

I've known Sy Hersh for going on forty years now. I've never looked into his soul, so I don't know him as well as Bush knows Putin. But insofar as I do know, you can take Hersh's integrity to the bank. Like every really good investigative reporter, he believes that every person of power is at least capable of, if not guilty of, being a crook. Since this is only mostly true, he occasionally trips over his inability to credit honesty in high places. This is the smallest of flaws in somebody who has defined his whole life by opposition to the high and the mighty.

And of course it is possible for crusaders to be personally corrupt. Jack Anderson was an example. But while Sy may once in a while be wrong, you can absolutely count on him never to roll over for his lifelong enemies. They play for different teams, but Sy is as stubborn as Bush. Except he's rightheaded.

Posted by: Jerry Doolittle on April 15, 2006 11:26 AM

Jerry's endorsement is proof enough for me.

Posted by: Joyful Alternative on April 16, 2006 8:48 AM

I agree. If Jerry vouches for him, that's good enough for me.

Posted by: Buck on April 16, 2006 5:57 PM
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