Seymour Hersh Describes “Battlefield Executions” in Afghanistan


May 11, 2010 — HERSH: The purpose of my [Abu Ghraib] stories was to take it out of the field and into the White House. It’s not that the President or the Secretary of Defense Mr. Rumsfeld, or Bush, or Cheney, it’s not that they knew what happened in Abu Ghraib. It’s that they had allowed this kind of activity to happen.

And I’ll tell you right now, one of the great tragedies of my country is that Mr. Obama is looking the other way, because equally horrible things are happening to prisoners, to those we capture in Afghanistan. They’re being executed on the battlefield. It’s unbelievable stuff going on there that doesn’t necessarily get reported. Things don’t change.

What they’ve done in the field now is, they tell the troops, you have to make a determination within a day or two or so whether or not the prisoners you have, the detainees, are Taliban. You must extract whatever tactical intelligence you can get, as opposed to strategic, long-range intelligence, immediately. And if you cannot conclude they’re Taliban, you must turn them free. What it means is, and I’ve been told this anecdotally by five or six different people, battlefield executions are taking place. Well, if they can’t prove they’re Taliban, bam. If we don’t do it ourselves, we turn them over to the nearby Afghan troops and by the time we walk three feet the bullets are flying. And that’s going on now.

Looking straight at it at

Seymour Hersh Describes “Battlefield Executions” in Afghanistan


May 08, 2010 — REPORTER: How do you check identity and credibility of sources from the intelligence community, mostly those who are working undercover?

HERSH: We’ve all been fooled. We’ve all been burned. As I said, at this stage I’m lucky enough that I don’t deal with anybody I don’t know. If you call me—there was a big story in the paper in America the other week about somebody in the National Security Agency who was accused of giving secrets away to the Baltimore Sun. He was accused of telling about wasteful management—they spent $20 billion [sic] on a computer system that didn’t work. This fellow had come to see me two years ago with a totally, completely story [sic], much more devastating, much more important. At to this day—because I just didn’t like the situation, and also it’s a story that’s very hard to prove, and I was doing other things. I can’t help but think is he caught on that story because he started to make noise about other things? I don’t know.

But essentially, it’s a bitch. A good undercover guy can get us. Because no matter what happens, we like stories.

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May 08, 2010 — REPORTER: You didn’t include Obama in your list of liar presidents. I’m wondering if you would include him also?

HERSH: To use a basketball or a football analogy, American football, fourth quarter—he may have a game plan. At this point he’s in real trouble. Because the military are dominating him on the important issues of the world: Iraq, Iran, Afghan and Pakistan. And he’s following the policies of Bush and Cheney almost to a fare-thee-well. He talks differently. And he’s much brighter, he’s much more of the world. So one only hopes he has a game plan that will include doing something, but he’s in real trouble, in terms of—he’s in real trouble.

In Iraq I don’t have to tell anybody the prospects—in the American press they never mention Moqtada Sadr, but look out. He’s going to be the kingmaker of that country. He’s now studying in Iran. And he’s going to be the next ayatollah-to-be. I don’t know how he’ll work it out with Sistani. But he’s going to be the force, the Shia. And so this is going to be very complicated for us because the two men we talk about, Allawi and Maliki, have about as much to do with the average Iraqi—they’re both ex-pats. Allawi, let’s see, he was certainly an American agent and a British agent, the MI-6, the CIA, the Jordanians ran him probably for Mossad. I’m not telling you anything that is not a fact. So who knows?

So Iraq is very problematical. There’s going to be much more violence. Whether it’s civil war or not it’s going to be much more violence.

He’s never going to be win, whatever that means, in Afghanistan. The only solution in Afghanistan is a settlement with the Taliban. And the only person to settle with is Mullah Omar, and he’s become another Hitler to the American public. So how we’re going to do that and survive politically?

And the same in Pakistan. He’s got the wrong policy there. So it is—and again for Obama, Iran’s not resolved, in terms of, Iranians have come out of this crisis stronger than ever. We don’t want to believe that. They have, politically.

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