Friday, May 13, 2005
A tale of two ravaged countries, from a speech Seymour Hersh delivered at a media conference on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
So she claims -- this not a woman familiar with Freud or the unconscious -- she claims at that point she just decided to look at [her daughter's] computer after hearing about Abu Ghraib. She said she had -- she just hadn’t looked at it. She just was going to clean it up and take it to her office as a second computer. No thoughts. And she is deleting files. She sees a file marked “Iraq.” And she hits it, and out comes 60 or 80 digital photographs of the one that The New Yorker ran of the naked guy standing against a cell in terror, hands behind his back so he can’t protect his private parts, which is the instinct. And two snarling German dogs -- shepherds. Somebody said they're Belgian shepherds, perhaps, but two snarling shepherds, you know, on each side of him. And the sequence -- in the sequence, the dogs attack the man, blood all over. I was later told anecdotally, I could never prove it. I am telling you stuff that is not provable -- I mean, at least -- that there was an understanding at least in the prison corps population that the dogs were specially trained to hit the groin area, which is one of the reasons there was so much fear of the dogs. This is – I will tell you right now why they believe among many senior officers that I know in the military, I can -- but again, it's not -- it's not demonstrable. There's no way of codifying that. In any case, the fear was palpable in the picture . . . .From a follow-up interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!:
But anyway, in 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 . . . .
But I think what’s more important than that is that this guy, this 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. And so, I -- you have got to applaud it. I mean, I would -- [ applause] Oh, hey! Bush for Pope. I don't care. I mean, let's do it.
AMY GOODMAN: And what about this issue of the Salvadorization, the idea that John Negroponte has been the US Ambassador -- of course, he’s head of National Intelligence now -- formerly in the early ‘80s, Ambassador to Honduras, the staging ground for the Contra War? Do you see a connection between the people that are being brought in now who worked Salvador, two decades ago working with paramilitaries?
SEYMOUR HERSH: I don't want to beat my breast, but I think I used the notion that it's an El Salvadorian war in an article in The New Yorker about six months ago, saying it's gone El Salvador. And Negroponte is a true believer. He really supports this administration and Bush. He's totally on the team. Somebody said to me when he was named head of the overall intelligence apparatus by Bush, you know, we all joked that everybody who goes to the White House has to drink the Kool-Aid in order to get there. In other words, you only want to hear from people who believe what you’re -- there's no opposition, no dissent allowed. I mean, there's just no dissent allowed inside. Any dissent is not just honest dissent, it's being a traitor. And somebody said to me, well, he's going to mix the Kool-Aid. That's his job now as head of intelligence. He’s very nice, a very pleasant man, he’s very articulate. And I think what he has done in terms of setting up a covert, off-the-books apparatus and a hunter-killer team, that's what we have now. We’re taking down -- the idea is, I think it’s ungodly in a way, really, what he has done. The idea is right now in Iraq, the goal they have now is they want to go into the various major cities in the Sunni heartland, the four provinces of Iraq that are considered to be pro-Saddam or pro-Ba'athist, and which what 40% of the population reside, around Baghdad. The idea is to go to major cities. They did Fallujah, they're doing Ramadi right now, take it down, make the people of the Sunni heartland more afraid of the American/Iraqi Mukhabarat than they are of the resistance. That's the idea. And Abizaid, so I have been told, has made it clear that he thinks he can, within a year, he can take down four or five of the major strongholds. And I think the plan is to go from Ramadi to another major city of 300,000 or 400,000 and begin the same kind of operation.