Hersh doesn’t like to speculate. The legendary investigative
reporter has a reputation for sticking to the facts. That’s
why he has won more than a dozen major journalism awards,
including the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting.
But when I was interviewing
Hersh on Weekly Signals, a KUCI
talk radio program I co-host with Mike Kaspar, I decided
to ask the journalist who broke the My
Lai Massacre story what the future holds — or
more specifically, does he think Bush will ease back from
Iraq as a 2006 election year ploy?
asking me to guess about the future,” Hersh warned.
I am. Speculate away.
don’t think Bush gives a wit about ’06,” Hersh
said. “He does care about ‘08. So whatever
business he’s going to do — whether he wants
to go into Iran; he wants to go into Syria; he wants
to take care of Lebanon or Hezbollah — whatever
he’s going to do, he will do by the end of ’07.
That’s because I do think he’d like to see
somebody who’ll carry on his policy elected in ‘08.
But in ’06? I don’t think he cares at all.”
Bush doesn’t care about electing a Republican Congress
think he sees his mission as a much higher plain than
day-to-day politics,” Hersh continued, “because
he’s certainly left the Republican Party in a
real shambles for this fall.”
blowback from Enron, Plamegate, Katrina, the Medicare fiasco,
Abu Ghraib, illegal surveillance and the “long war” against
terrorism has discombobulated the GOP. Conservatives are coming
unscrewed even in the pro-Bush bastion of Orange County, California
where Hersh is lecturing Friday and Saturday, February 10 and
11 at the upscale Newport
Beach Public Library. Blowback may be why Hersh’s dates
at the library have been sold out for weeks.
the OC beginning to question itself? Is the hometown of Richard
Nixon, hollowed ground of John Wayne and birthplace of the modern
conservative movement losing faith in the Dub? Hersh will
be at the Fashion Island locale discussing his book Chain
of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib and Beyond. His
remarks about the absurdity of this Republican presidency will
sting some Orange County pro-Bush/Cheney ears.
have this amazing position,” said Hersh about Bush’s
Middle East policy. “We’re hostile to Iran and yet
the people we support in Iraq — the people who’ve
been elected; the people we’ve been working with all along — are
the Shi'a and the Shi'a in Iraq are pro-Iran. So the logic of
it is confounding. You hear recently about our government trying
to talk to the Sunnis. We could end up negotiating with the
Sunnis and end up being their allies — the same Sunnis
that are involved desperately with the insurgency.”
foreign policy grows curiouser and curiouser. While the situation
in Iraq was presenting fundamentalists with affirmation of their
belief in Armageddon, our fundamentalist president was using his
State of the Union address to boast about bringing democracy to
the Middle East. Which is it? End times or good times?
hallucinatory, of course,” said Hersh. “That speech
was a little scary because, among other things, besides glossing
over the mess in Iraq that’s pretty much intractable at
this point, Bush also talks about regime change in Iran as opposed
to simply slowing down the nuke process there — the nuclear
weapons system that they seem to be building.”
there a logic to these regime change threats? Is National Intelligence
Negroponte really truly cross-his-heart concerned about Iran’s
nuclear program or is he part of another mega-hoax? Are we about
to be distracted by Weapons of Mass Destruction yet again?
doing reporting on it,” said Hersh. “If you want
to get worried, that’s a very good reason to get worried.
The future isn’t bright. It’s just not. We do have
a president who thinks he has a mission. And it’s not
clear how intelligence or other issues are going to matter.”
is three times the size as Iraq. It has three times the population.
Its military, unlike Iraq’s, wasn’t destroyed in a
war and then saddled with a decade of economic sanctions. Iran
is a functioning oil-based economy with serious ties to the global
economy. Simply put, Iran is not Iraq. And yet, Hersh seems to
be speculating that the Bush administration might be crazy enough
to attack Iran.
asked Hersh to speculate some more. He laughed.
and I aren’t ready to become a expatriates — at
least not yet. But as things continue to unravel stateside, having
passport sounds like a pretty good Plan B. Passports in hand,
we pose some more speculative questions to Hersh.
me go. You guys are torturing me,” he said.
of torture, Has the Bush administration blown that issue away?
Is torture off the table? Last week’s news?
policy has been to get rid of it. Drop it. Let it go,” said
Hersh about Bush’s attitude toward Abu Ghraib and extraordinary-rendition. “I
think there’s been a conscious effort to tamper it down
by the administration. It’s been quite successful. The
next question is: Are we still torturing? Has anything really
stopped because of the legislation signed by McCain and passed
by the president? You remember the president issued a statement
when he signed it saying this is well and good, but he can decide
what he wants to do based on his inherent power as Commander-in-Chief.
I think the answer is: Nothing’s really changed. It’s
just nobody’s talking about it anymore.”
someone — like Congress — bring the matter up again?
Is there a chance that a majority of our 535 representations will
grow a backbone, stand up to the president and try to restore
our standing in the world?
what I say about Congress when I’m asked,” Hersh
said. “On any given day I can’t tell you whether
they’re supine or prone, but they’re down.”
future isn’t bright. Speculate on that for awhile — even
if you live in Orange County. When Hersh brings his message to
the Newport Beach Library, the sold-out crowd might not like what
it hears, but my guess is that at least some of them will keep
their second passports alive.
Callahan, February 8, 2006