15 October 2004

Hersch on the war

Why is Seymour Hersch on the fringe? Or rather: why does he appear to be on the fringe? For someone like me who despises both Bush and the war, Hersch is one of the most stalwart, informative journalists out there. Why then is his reporting only in The New Yorker or presented in locales such as Berkeley where he was recently interviewed? Both outlets have cachet, but the quality of his work should not be marginalized in liberal-land.

There's a chilling comment at the end of the article:

Then orders came down from Baghdad that the village would be "cleared." Another platoon from the soldier's company came and executed the Iraqi granary guards. All of them.
"He said they just shot them one by one. And his people, and he, and the villagers of course, went nuts," Hersh said quietly. "He was hysterical, totally hysterical. He went to the company captain, who said, 'No, you don't understand, that's a kill. We got 36 insurgents. Don't you read those stories when the Americans say we had a combat maneuver and 15 insurgents were killed?'
"It's shades of Vietnam again, folks: body counts," Hersh continued. "You know what I told him? I said, 'Fella, you blamed the captain, he knows that you think he committed murder, your troops know that their fellow soldiers committed murder. Shut up. Complete your tour. Just shut up! You're going to get a bullet in the back.' And that's where we are in this war."

It reminds me of a report on NPR after Abu Ghraib. The reporter was speaking with older veterans in Lynndie England's home town about the soldier who reported the abuses. One man who refused to be recorded said with some pride that if the whistleblower had been back in Vietnam he would have never gotten home alive.

[ posted by sstrader on 15 October 2004 at 12:06:55 AM in Culture & Society ]