New Yorker columnist Seymour Hersh harshly attacked President Obama and fellow journalists in comments from the summer published over the weekend.
The Pulitizer-winning Hersh, left, said of official accounts about the death of Osama bin Laden: ‘It’s one big lie, not one word of it is true.’'
The White House released a now-iconic photo at right showing Obama and cabinet reaction to a video of the 2011 raid.
The Hersh comments caused a stir over the weekend in journalism circles, although he noted to me Sept. 30 that his remarks were from a lecture in July on investigative journalism, and were just now being reported.
Lisa O'Carroll of the Guardian reported also that Hersh told his audience at the City University in London program on investigative journalism that most network broadcasters should be immediately fired to improve news coverage.
The acerbic Hersh, born in 1937, is best known for breaking the story of the My Lai Massacre by U.S. troops during the Vietnam War. The London-based Guardian headlined her story Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the 'pathetic' American media.
Publication of the Hersh comments comes at a time of increasing criticism of the White House, Congress, and the mainstream media.
Updates: Two American journalists known for their investigations of the United States' government said Saturday they've teamed up to report on the National Security Agency's role in what one called a "U.S. assassination program," the Association Press reported Sept. 28:
"Jeremy Scahill, a contributor to the Nation magazine and the New York Times best-selling author of Dirty Wars, said he will be working with Glenn Greenwald, the Rio-based journalist who has written stories about U.S. surveillance programs based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden."
Additionally, author and former NSA analyst Wayne Madsen reported Sept. 30 that the Navy War College in Rhode Island, which he attended as a Navy intelligence officer, is deeply involved in monitoring social media and using it to slant mainstream news coverage in pro-military directions.
Regarding activism on other topics, Ralph Nader attacked those in Congress who ignore the plight of an estimated 200 Americans who die needlessly each day on average for lack of health coverage, according to a major study. Also as amplified below, Madonna released a video calling for a major worldwide campaign to promote artistic freedom.
Hersh said he would describe details of the 2011 raid in a forthcoming book about intelligence services.
Hersh is the first American journalist who primarily publishes with the corporate-owned mainstream media to air such an allegation to the best of my knowledge.
Any discrepancies in the official story would implicate top leaders of the Obama cabinet. Among them would be 2016 Democratic presidential front-runners Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, who are portrayed in the photo, as is the former Obama Defense Secretary Bob Gates at lower right in the photo. Other major Republicans would be embarrassed. So would leading news organizations and other major corporations.
Yet others with significant media credentials have claimed for years on web media and radio talk shows that the raid was phony.
One of those skeptics has been Madsen, a frequent commentator on major TV and cable news shows in years past. Another is former Wall Street Journal associate editor Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, an author and conservative scholar. Two others have been free market radio host Alex Jones and left-wing author Dr. Webster Tarpley.
Their claims of inadequate or deceptive official government reports, including on 9/11, have brought heavy reprisals from major news outlets for the most part.
Madsen, widely published as an op-ed columnist on less controversial topics, quipped Sept. 28 that Hersh should be prepared to have his Pulitzer taken back. Madsen has withstood a campaign of coordinated disparagement by a few anonymous trolls who have submitted hundreds of adverse edits onto his Wikipedia bio.
Also, Dr. John Schindler, a U.S. Navy War college professor affiliated with the National Security Agency (NSA), has undertaken relentless efforts influence the news. One non-controversial way is by appearing on cable TV networks. Another, which has a sinister dimension, to use social media to mock an array of others in public life. These include President Obama (particularly notable for and a Utah congressman skeptical of the NSA's domestic spy program, whistleblowers and journalists such as Greenwald and James Bamford who report on whistleblowers and spy programs, as I described in a three-part series this summer excerpted below. One of Schindler's special targets is Madsen, who has found his normal outlets hit by anonymous but clearly concocted protests of those arguing he should not be quoted or employed.
Rather oddly, the leading society of editorial writers and other opinion writers, the Association of Opinion Journalists, has chosen to hold its annual convention near the War College's base in Newport, Rhode Island and bestow its highest annual award on Rear Admiral Walter "Ted" Carter, Jr., the college president who has presided over these kinds of faculty initiatives to mock and intimidate those in the media. The conference theme is water security, in which the college plays a significant role. No discussion is listed regarding press freedom or privacy issues raised by intelligence agencies dominating the news all summer following Edward Snowden's revelations..
The journalists' bestowal of their leadership award to Carter seems clearly in the realm of back-scratching to achieve access. He assumed command of the war college on July, and would have been unlikely to have achieved momentous achievements in water security during the few weeks before the award was announced in mid-summer.
The choice of Carter suggests either abject deference to the might, majesty and priorities of the military/security complex -- or a certain cluelessness to the behind-the-scenes struggles between the military/intelligence sectors and the vestiges of the traditional news profession.
The ultimate prize? Control over commentary about major issues in an era when, more than ever, mainstream news coverage of war zones and secretive agencies is primarily by journalists whose access requires, in effect, approval on an ongoing basis by government leaders whose actions are the subject of news stories.
Resisting that process are a few gutsy whistleblowers and columnists, including old hands such as Hersh and Bamford (author of three major books about the NSA) and a next generation that includes Greenwald.
Another is Madsen, left, a commentator, alumnus of the War College in a certificate (non-degree) program, and former NSA analyst who supported Obama's election in both 2008 and 2012.
Nonetheless, Madsen's challenge of the truth of the bin Laden raid undermined one Obama's major claims of first-term accomplishment, as well as the president's basic honesty and that of his cabinet.
In 2011, Madsen described the raid site in Pakistan, Abbottabad, as doubtless familiar to bin Laden in the 1980s when bin Laden worked with Americans and would have known the locale as heavily infiltrated by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency "and its CIA overseers" and U.S. Special Forces. Madsen wrote that special forces operated from the nearby Kalabagh air force base.
"Why Bin Laden would want to locate a massive safe house in the heart of Pakistani and American counter-insurgency and intelligence activity is curious," Madsen wrote in 2011.
"Bin Laden's body was reported by the Pentagon to have been buried somewhere in the north Arabian Sea from the aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson," Madsen continued on his subscription-only website, the Wayne Madsen Report (WMR):
The Pentagon has assured the public that they confirmed Bin Laden's identity through DNA sampling and are '100 percent' certain that the body they buried in the sea was that of Bin Laden. The question remains as to where Bin Laden's comparative DNA samples were obtained over the past several years when the terrorist mastermind was supposedly a phantom-like fugitive. However, the word from WMR sources at NSA is that no signals intercepts, from Pakistan or U.S. military sources, indicate that the man shot to death in Abbottabad was Osama Bin Laden.
Such claims raise further questions about self-censorship, pack reporting and reprisals against reporters who provide independent analysis.
The bin Laden raid held great symbolic importance for the nation and the Obama presidency. It was a centerpiece of news coverage and the major film Zero Dark Thirty when it was reported in the spring of 2011.
Also, it was a centerpiece of the 2012 re-election campaign. But even GOP politicians have refrained from publicly disputing the bin Laden death.
If problems arose from investigative reporting those missing the story could justify their actions by saying they have no one to quote if Republicans fail to dispute the raid.
But that is a stenographer's role for the media that Hersh is right to reject.
To my knowledge, no major reporter has ever insisted on obtaining thorough answers about precisely what the participants in the photo were watching. Nor have the major media reported why a DNA details of a positive ID of the raid's targets could not have been made public to assuage doubters who had long suspected that bin Laden died many years ago from kidney failure or an attack. The suspicion among skeptics is that bin Laden was kept "alive" in the popular imagination as a reason for continued war by the U.S. military/political establishment and their financiers of both parties.
Defenders from both parties of official accounts denounce such criticism and questions as "conspiracy theory." Obama adviser and friend Cass Sunstein, shown at left in a photo via Wikipedia, even advocated in a 2008 law review article that the government secretly hire journalists and academics to infiltrate professional circles to thwart such ideas.
Sunstein thought such deception such a good idea that he boasted of it in an academic working paper. But that level of government-orchestrated deception would be proof positive of a conspiracy, just by itself.
Obama placed Sunstein in charge of all federal regulation in the White House Office of Management and Budget, and hired his wife, Samantha Power, shown at right, for a series of high-level posts. She is currently U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and at the forefront of seeking the bombing of Syria until the Russia-brokered plan to destroy Syria's chemical weapons.
More recently, Sunstein returned to government as a member of the presidential commission to restore public confidence in the NSA following revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about its domestic spying program. Author James Bamford and Madsen are among those who have exposed the program vast scope and privacy violations for years.
Snowden's extensive documentation via reporting by Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian and Barton Gellman of the Washington Post gave the privacy violations wide exposure beginning in June.
My new book, Presidential Puppetry, focuses upon this and other important stories long under-reported, but not the Obama raid. I knew of the skeptics but was not in a position to nail down that particular story, in part because of the unprecedented secrecy now enveloping every kind of major military and intelligence story.
Puppetry makes the overall point that stories involving national security are becoming off limits for the media except for a few hand-picked reporters, who often are selected because of their cooperative demeanor to receive leaked government information shared with the rest of the media and public in ways that are unverifiable.
It's not possible for one reporter, even one of Hersh's stature, or book to examine all such mysteries. But every book and serious journalist should appreciate that it is high time to recognize that a crisis in self-censorship is occurring.
One of the biggest hidden stories is that news organizations, at the highest levels, are intimidated not by government and advertisers, but more importantly by ownership interests that can overlaps with donors to politicians and the biggest advertisers. Hence the concept of "puppet masters," or "Wall Street" or similar shorthand names.
The Mind Renewed, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts: Osama bin Laden -- The Man Who Died Twice, Julian Charles, Oct. 12, 2013. Dr. Paul Craig Roberts returns to the Podcast for a detailed analysis of the claimed "assassination" of Osama bin Laden by US Navy SEAL Team 6 in 2011, and to discuss the many disturbing questions surrounding the suspicious deaths of so many of that Team in the subsequent helicopter shoot-down in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. Dr. Roberts also discusses false-flag operations, gives an update on Syria, comments upon the ongoing revelations about the NSA and gives his reaction to the 2013 US Government Shutdown.
Related News Coverage
Guardian, Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the 'pathetic' American media, Lisa O'Carroll, Sept. 27, 2013. Pulitzer Prize winner explains how to fix journalism, saying press should 'fire 90% of editors and promote ones you can't control'. Seymour Hersh (shown at right in a file photo) has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider. It doesn't take much to fire up Hersh, the investigative journalist who has been the nemesis of US presidents since the 1960s and who was once described by the Republican party as "the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist."
Wayne Madsen Report, Bin Laden: Body buried at sea, shoddy proof of death -- another "Made in Hollywood" performance from "Ari Gold," Wayne Madsen, May 2, 2011 (Subscription required for access.) Bin Laden rabbit emerges from Obama's hat as his poll numbers plummet.
WMR, Special Report. Naval War College's involvement in personal cyber-attacks no mere aberration, Sept. 1, 2013 (Subscription required). The latest release of National Security Agency slides from whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals that the NSA is heavily involved in monitoring social media and the social networking activities of Americans.
AP via NPR, Glenn Greenwald Working On New NSA Revelations, Staff report, Sept. 28, 2013. Two American journalists known for their investigations of the United States' government said Saturday they've teamed up to report on the National Security Agency's role in what one called a "U.S. assassination program." The journalists provided no evidence of the purported U.S. program at the news conference, nor details of who it targeted. Jeremy Scahill, a contributor to The Nation magazine and the New York Times best-selling author of "Dirty Wars," said he will be working with Glenn Greenwald, the Rio-based journalist who has written stories about U.S. surveillance programs based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. "The connections between war and surveillance are clear. I don't want to give too much away but Glenn and I are working on a project right now that has at its center how the National Security Agency plays a significant, central role in the U.S. assassination program," said Scahill, speaking to moviegoers in Rio de Janeiro, where the documentary based on his book made its Latin American debut at the Rio Film Festival.
Washingtons Blog, NSA Central to U.S. Assassination Program, George Washington, Sept. 29, 2013. We’ve previously documented that the NSA isn’t just passively spying like a giant peeping tom, but is actively using that information in mischievous ways … such as assassinations. A lot more information is about to come out on the topic. JSOC, as well as the CIA, have been described as “the President’s private army“, which operate at the President’s beck-and-call with no real oversight. But a fourth agency is also centrally involved in both intelligence-gathering and assassinations: the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). NCTC is responsible for generating the “disposition matrix” of who to murder using drones or other means.
Justice Integrity Project, For Security, Beware of Wikipedia, Daily Beast, CNN, Poynter -- and Many More, Andrew Kreig, July 22, 2013. Media manipulators this month used Wikipedia and CNN to smear investigative journalist Wayne Madsen, a former Navy intelligence officer who often breaks important and/or controversial stories. Wikipedia's treatment of Madsen, a former NSA analyst, parallels its treatment eight years ago of First Amendment advocate John Seigenthaler, who suffered from an even worse Wikipedia bio than Madsen. An unidentified person created a false bio of Seigenthaler that described him as a onetime suspect in the assassinations of the Kennedy Brothers. (Part three of a three-part series.)
Justice Integrity Project, The Intelligence Community and the DC Media: A Brief Introduction, Andrew Kreig, July 16, 2013. Reporters face a daunting challenge if they seek to cover the CIA, NSA, and the nation's dozens of other intelligence bodies. Everyone knows the history of the Washington Post's Watergate reporting. Here is another side to government news coverage during that era. The snapshots below illustrate the tight and largely hidden ties between the Post, news outlets like it, and the powerful United States intelligence community. (Part two.)
Justice Integrity Project, DOJ Curtails Spy Charges Against Reporters; But Do Smears Continue? Andrew Kreig, July 16, 2013. The Obama Justice Department has announced that it will not assert spy charges against reporters during leak investigations except in special circumstances. The statement by Attorney Gen. Eric Holder July 12 reduces the tension between prosecutors and the mainstream media. Meanwhile, a smear campaign against a freelance investigative reporter raises new questions about the longstanding practice of intelligence agencies in the United States and United Kingdom, as elsewhere, of trying to shape public opinion via news organizations, quasi-academic non-profits, and other outlets that influence civic perceptions. (Part one.)
Wayne Madsen Report, Shilling for NSA 'Powered by Twitter,' Wayne Madsen, Aug. 6, 2013 (Subscription required). Twitter...appears to have another major function for NSA: funneling and directing NSA propaganda via Twitter to the Internet. On August 5 on the Sirius XM satellite radio network channel POTUS (Politics of the United State), a mid-afternoon program that is clearly sponsored by Twitter and called "Politics Powered by Twitter), featured Joshua Foust of the overwhelmingly neo-conservative magazine and website, the Atlantic. Foust was defending NSA on the Twitter show against charges that the NSA's surveillance program was unconstitutional and unnecessarily overarching. Foust was asked to name his favorite people he follows regularly on Twitter. Foust named as his first favorite person U.S. Naval War College professor John Schindler. Schindler, for the record, was a ringleader of the social media attacks, primarily using Twitter, that targeted this editor after he was quoted on the front page of the UK Observer newspaper. In addition to this editor ("conspiracy nut") and Snowden ("traitor" and "spy"), Schindler has primarily used Twitter to launch attacks on Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald ("Jim Jones" and "dumber than I thought"), NSA whistleblowers Tom Drake ("unpopular at NSA"), William Binney ("unhinged"), and Russell Tice ("fabulist," "Christie fat," "loon," "flake"), The Puzzle Palace and Shadow Factory author James Bamford ("doesn't always let facts get in the way of a good story," "facts wrong," "sensationalism"); McClatchy reporter Jonathan Landay (Schindler questioned in a Tweet whether the McClatchy DC bureau knew that Landay "can't read"), Secret Power author Nicky Hager ("fabricator"), "Overworld" author and former U.S. intelligence agent Larry Kolb, and more shocking, Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) ("Ayn Rand follower, dormitory BS"), who co-sponsored legislation that almost passed the U.S. House that would have curbed NSA's surveillance activities. The only person who has the ultimate authority to ensure that Schindler ceases violating the Hatch Act is the newly-installed Naval War College President, Rear Admiral Walter E. “Ted” Carter Jr., right.
Wayne Madsen Report, Exclusive: NSA chief Hayden saw warrantless wiretapping as driving to DC on highway shoulder, Wayne Madsen, July 22, 2013. (Subscription required; excerpted reprinted here by permission). General Michael Hayden, the director of the National Security Agency under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, saw requirements for warrants for the collection of the personal communications of Americans as akin to traffic on the highway that could be bypassed by driving with an emergency light on the shoulder of the road. That interpretation comes from a "For Official use Only" memorandum written by Hayden in the months after the 9/11 attack. WMR has obtained a copy of the undated memorandum. Hayden believed that NSA had an inherent right to eavesdrop on every minute the human species spent of the phone. The memo provides a rare look inside the decision-making processes of the Bush administration. Hayden's push to violate Fourth Amendment was revealed thanks to the actions of NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake, William Binney, Kirk Wiebe, Ed Loomis, Russell Tice, and Edward Snowden, as well as Justice Department whistleblower Thomas Tamm, AT&T engineer Mark Klein, and U.S. House Intelligence Committee staffer Diane Roark.
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Robert Feder.com, Tribune Co. confirms: ‘Everything is on the table,’ Robert Feder, Sept. 28, 2013. Plans to cut costs and reduce staff at Tribune Co. newspapers have been confirmed as the parent company of the Chicago Tribune prepares to spin off the publishing side of the business into a separate entity. A report here Thursday said Tribune Co. CEO Peter Liguori ordered executives to come up with $100 million in budget cuts at its eight daily newspapers. Slated to begin taking effect Dec. 1, the cuts are expected to affect all areas of operation, including the newsrooms, sources said. In addition to the Chicago Tribune, the company’s dailies include the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Orlando Sentinel, the Hartford Courant, the Morning Call and Daily Press.
FireDogLake, After 40 years in solitary confinement, Herman Wallace is dying and might be innocent, Jose Cornejo, Sept. 28, 2013. In his fantastic and thoughtful new piece in the Atlantic, Andrew Cohen argues that Herman Wallace, a man who spent four decades in solitary confinement in Louisiana’s infamous Angola prison “will become a symbol of a justice system that too often prizes finality over accuracy, but without the candor or courage to actually say so.” Wallace recently learned that he has late-stage liver cancer and only a few weeks to live. Incredibly well-researched and thorough, Cohen details Wallace’s trial and the egregious flaws that were present or have since emerged in the prosecution’s case. Perhaps most importantly, though, is how he dissects Louisiana’s unyielding refusal to acknowledge these flaws, exposing the legal backflips and procedural maneuvering the state has performed to avoid the possibility of admitting error.
Huffington Post, Judge Rimes' Sikh Slur In Mississippi Court, 'Remove That Rag,' Prompts ACLU Letter On Behalf Of Jagjeet Singh, Staff report, Sept. 27, 2013. The ACLU wrote a letter on Wednesday to decry the shocking treatment of Jagjeet Singh, a practicing Sikh, at the hands of the Mississippi Department of Transportation and the Pike County Justice Court. Singh was pulled over in January for a flat tire, and was harassed by the state's Department of Transportation officers who wrongly assumed that his kirpan, a small spiritual sword that is a religious article for Sikhs, was illegal. They taunted him as a "terrorist" and arrested him for refusing to obey "an officer's lawful command," reports the ACLU. The letter comes on the heels of yet another incident of Sikh harassment, as Columbia professor Dr. Prabhjot Singh was brutally attacked in Harlem on Saturday night, beaten by a hate mob who called him "terrorist," and "Osama."'
NBC News, 'Loveint': NSA letter discloses employee eavesdropping on girlfriends, spouses, Michael Isikoff, Sept. 27, 2013. National Security Agency employees improperly eavesdropped on the phone calls of girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, wives and spouses and engaged in other "intentional" abuses of their authority on 12 occasions since 2003, according to a newly released letter by the agency's inspector general, Dr. George Ellard, to U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).
FireDogLake, Inspector General Reports NSA Spied On Significant Others, DSWright, Sept. 27, 2013. The LOVEINT disclosures have expanded as the NSA Inspector General, in response to a letter from Senator Grassley asking for details of abuses, let it be known that spouses and lovers were often the chosen victims of NSA abusers. In eight of the twelve cases of “intentional and willful misuse” of agency surveillance a significant other of the NSA employee was the subject of the misuse of surveillance.