From the Mixed-Up Files of Mr. Seymour M. Hersh

In “The Hersh file,” Michael Ledeen provides a lesson in how to read Seymour Hersh’s rigorously fact-checked New Yorker articles. Better yet, Ledeen saves you the trouble of reading Hersh while providing the ridicule that he so richly deserves:

Hersh even makes sources of on-the-record statements look bad. He fancies that lots of senior military officers in the Pentagon are fighting a desperate war against warmongers like Bush and Cheney, going all-out to stop tomorrow morning’s bombing run against the Iranian nuclear reactors. In this month’s episode, Hersh’s hero is Admiral William Fallon, briefly in charge of our Central Command until he was suddenly terminated. Hersh would have us believe that Fallon was fired because of his opposition to Administration policy. Hersh cites the following statement by Fallon as the sort of thing that got him into trouble in the White House:

…late last year he told the Financial Times that the “real objective” of U.S. policy was to change the Iranians’ behavior, and that “attacking them as a means to get to that spot strikes me as being not the first choice.”

But President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said precisely that, numerous times. Whatever the reasons for the firing, it certainly wasn’t a statement that was totally in sync with announced Administration policy. If Fallon was indeed fired for something he said, it’s more likely this sort of thing, which Hersh admiringly reproduces:

“Too many people believe you have to be either for or against the Iranians,” he told me. “Let’s get serious. Eighty million people live there, and everyone’s an individual. The idea that they’re only one way or another is nonsense.”

Again, one wonders where the editors have gone. Sure, everyone’s an individual; but in a dictatorship of the sort that rules Iran, only a few people matter. If I were the president, and I heard the head of Centcom talking like that, I too would want him out of there.

Ledeen has much more, all of it worth checking out.

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