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Registered: 04/23/05
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Torture and Rumors of Torture
    #4327613 - 06/23/05 07:02 AM (13 years, 3 days ago)

Torture and rumors of torture. In my email inbox this morning...

If what it reports is true, then once again it looks like the Bush administration is worse than I had imagined--even though I thought I had taken account of the fact that the Bush administration is always worse than one imagines. Either Seymour Hersh is insane, or we have an administration that needs to be removed from office not later than the close of business today. The scariest part: "[Hersh] said he had seen all the Abu Ghraib pictures. He said, 'You haven't begun to see evil...' then trailed off. He said, 'horrible things done to children of women prisoners, as the cameras run.' He looked frightened."

UPDATED: I failed to note that the taker of these notes is the excellent Rick Pearlstein, whose book about Goldwater is in my to-read pile:

Seymour Hersh spoke... at the University of Chicago.... I took some scattered notes. The remaks will be disjoined--as will be the notes--but chilling. He asserted several things that he says he didn't have nailed down enough to write, but that he was confident of....

He then turned to the 40th president, referring obliquely to 138 names, then began to list them, saying those with long memories will catch on: they were the Reagan administration figures accused, indicted, or convicted of wrongdoing....

He talked about Carl Levin (though he didn't use his name) telling him about high officials lying to him in closed hearings, and how frustrating it was to be lied to, in classified settings, when the liars know the senators know they are lying. Levin said he'd never seen such brazenness in Washington....

He waits after the My Lai story broke mid November 1969, one week, two weeks--then, by Thanksgiving 1969, other correspondents finally write about the atrocities THEY had seen in Vietnam: an outpouring that made him feel strange that it took little old him, the police reporter who had flunked out of law school, 11 years after winning his B.A. in English, to unleash this outpouring of truth....

From My Lai, the transition to the current scandals was seemless. He connected the dots, and spoke of the CIA secret prisons we haven't heard about yet: "We're basically in the disappearing business." He made the first of several criticisms of our humble profession: "there's no learning curve in America. There's no learning curve in the press corps."...

Unsurprisingly, he flagged the extraordinary importance of the WSJ memo revealing the government's plans to torture, including its assertion that it's not against the law if the president approves it, and mocked the New York Times headline "9 Militias Are Said to Approve a Deal to Disband," suggesting in its stead, "Bush Administration Offers Hoax in Hopes of Convincing U.S. There's Some Peace." His assessment of the postwar settlement: "It's going to come down to who has the biggest militia will win."...

Then a story from one of his intelligence sources, whom Hersh says didn't find it an unflattering story: some time in 1986 or 1987, Reagan was given a long chart presentation of what actually happened with Iran/Contra and began sleeping five minutes in to it, then snoring on Nancy's shoulder. After twenty minutes it was over, the helicopter was fired up for the Friday trip to Camp David, Nancy aroused him, he awoke with a start, glanced at the charts, and asked, "What's that." Sy said something like "That's MY Ronald Reagan."...

"NATO's falling apart in Afghanistan now."

And this was one of the most stunning parts. He had just returned from Europe, and he said high officials, even foreign ministers, who used to only talk to him off the record or give him backchannel messages, were speaking on the record that the next time the U.S. comes to them with intelligence, they'll simply have no reason to believe it.... He lamented of his journalistic colleagues, "I don't know whey they don't just tell it like it is."...

He said the people most horrified by the way the war was planned were the military commanders responsible for protecting their troops.... He talked about the horror of the 1000 civilian deaths in Fallujah (but was careful to note the Marines were doing their job, placing the blame with their superiors)....

He talked about how hard it is to get the truth out in Republican Washington: "If you agree with the neocons you're a genius. If you disagree you're a traitor." Bush, he said, was closing ranks, purging anyone who wasn't 100% with him. Said Tenet has a child in bad health, has heart problems, and seemed to find him generally a decent guy under unimaginable pressure, and that people told him that Tenet feared a heart attack if he had to take one more grilling from Cheney. "When these guys memoirs come out, it will shock all of us."...

He said that after he broke Abu Ghraib people are coming out of the woodwork to tell him this stuff. He said he had seen all the Abu Ghraib pictures. He said, "You haven't begun to see evil..." then trailed off. He said, "horrible things done to children of women prisoners, as the cameras run."

He looked frightened.


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