He's Just Barely Exaggerating


Brad DeLong writes: "Either Sy Hersh has gone completely insane, or the House needs to vote to impeach George W. Bush tonight."

Click here to find out why.

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  1. Saddam was much worse.

    We’re draining the swamp.

    Sy Hersh hates America.

  2. If said video can be shown to exist and not be doctored, yeah. But there’s a lot of ifs.

  3. Si, Sy.

  4. Yeah, Saddam did it while their feet were in the shredder. We was just showin em how good it can be with the right man…

  5. He called the prison scene “a series of massive crimes, criminal activity by the president and the vice president, by this administration anyway?war crimes.”

    Wow. George Bush personally sodomized young boys? Oh, wait, that’s just the impression he’s trying to convey. Most of the rest is similarly his opinion.

    “we still know nothing about them… we have no tactical information.?

    I recall reading that somewhere else. From him? Or, is he just quoting someone else? If the latter, who?

    Of course, it does start off a jolly “liberal” circle jerk in the comments, so it least it kept them occupied. I’d suggest waiting for Hersh to put down some facts before starting the impeachment proceedings.

  6. My Gawd!

    What is it gonna take?
    Do you have to have beat over your head?
    Please try to see past your partisan blinders and really look at this administration.
    Do you really want yourself represented by this?
    When do you have enough evidence?
    When will you finally let go of this hubris?
    Do you hate Democrates so much that you will tow the party line until we finally start WWIII?

    Ok I’m calm now. End of Socratic method.

  7. How hard do you think it is to doctor a child porn video well enough to fake out Sy Hersh?

    I’m gonna wait for more, I think.

  8. No matter what we see, a lot of Americans will find a way to rationalize it, or at least a reason to not blame the leaders whose watch it happened on.

    And I firmly believe that if this had happened on Clinton’s watch a lot of people on the other side would have rationalized it away as well.

    Kind of sad. No, wait, scratch out “kind of”.

  9. “The allegation here is that the President of the United States ordered American troops to carry out a secret policy of covert homosexual child rape for absolutely no reason at all other than, presumably, the sheer joy of being evil.”

    I don’t think anyone’s taking that momentary exaggeration seriously. The question of import is whether or not child rape was a covert policy among interrogators in Iraq. If it was, even I, who think Bush is a terrible president, wouldn’t think he should be charged with anything. However, the way he responds to it (if it’s true) will say much about his character.


    Bush has given us reason to be much more skeptical of what he says than Hersh has. Bush has produced a long, documented list of lies on a variety of subjects. The same can’t be said for Hersh.

  10. The torture, rapes, etc. may be awful; but they are justified. After, the terrorist bombings of Iraqi police stations, the mass murder of civilians, and the killings of U.S. military personell have all stopped.

  11. The statement “a series of massive crimes, criminal activity by the president and the vice president, by this administration anyway?war crimes” is loony-pamphleteer-found-at-an-A.N.S.W.E.R.-protest-territory. Why should I believe what he says if he says it in such an inflammatory, accusatory manner?

    Let me try to translate it into non-loony language: >”a series of massive crimes by personnel in Iraq, perhaps with the knowledge of higher-up members of the administration (strike if false), perhaps including the president and the vice president (strike if false)”

  12. Sound to me like RUMSFELD should be impeached, not Bush. (Yes, you can impeach Cabinet officials.) Bush should not be impeached for this unless you think he is culpable. Bush should, of course, be kicked out in November for allowing Rumsfeld to continue in his job.

  13. Lonewacko, we can agree that a covert policy of child rape (if it existed) is more important than Hersh’s emotional, verbal exaggerations, can’t we?

  14. You’re right, syd, Bush hasn’t done anything impeachable per se here, but he should get booted whether or not he impeaches Rumsfield (which he won’t).

  15. Rephrased question: “Why does Sy Hersch deserve more of the cocked-eyebrow treatment than your typical investigative reporter?”

    That, I’m on board with.


    You have to be careful. Bush has an army of people and all major press outlets trying to catch him in a lie 24/7. I’m not excusing anything, just making a point about highly public figures. Also, just for my benefit, what would a list of documented lies from Bush look like? Things we know were lies at the time of utterance only please.


    The original question was why should we take Hersch claims with a grain of salt, and my answer was that we should take all claims from everyone with a grain of salt. If it isn’t good for Pachyderm Faithful to assume pristine motives for all actions of their man, but it is equally bad for opponents to assume nefarious involvement in anything unpleasant, too.

  16. I don’t doubt Sy’s word on this–I think he’s probably telling the truth. That said, I would like to know more about the situation, know more about who knew what, and know more about what steps have been taken to correct the situation.

    If there were some actual policy of child rape attached to this administration’s interrogation policy, then, yes, Bush should be impeached. If Bush ordered the rapes, he should be impeached. If Bush knew about it and patted the rapists on the back, he should be impeached.

    How can the buck stop with Bush if there was no knowledge of the event and if there were action taken against the abusers?

    Calling for investigation, calling for long sentences for the offenders, and calling for changes in policy are all the right things in this situation. Calling for an impeachment hearing is just wishful thinking by people who have been practicing their ax grinding techniques for months now.

  17. As far as the (alleged) rape goes, I read all of the witness statements from Abu Ghraib a few weeks ago and do remember a mention of this incident. However, the impression I had at the time (don’t have time to check, so I’m going from memory) was that it sounded more like a prisoner was raping another one. In which case, the military is responsible for allowing it to happen, but not committing the act.

    If someone finds the exact reference, and I’m obviously mistaken, please let me know.

  18. Nope, found the reference and I must have misremembered it:

    “I saw [blank] fucking a kid, his age would be about 15-18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard the screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [blank] who was wearing the military uniform putting his dick in the little kid’s ass. I couldn’t see the who the kid was because his face wasn’t in front of the door. And a female soldier was taking pictures. [blank], I think he is [blank] because of his accent, and he was not skinny or short and he acted like a homosexual.”


  19. Jason,

    You’re a reasonable fellow. Here’s a short list:

    “You know, when I was running for President, in Chicago, somebody said, would you ever have deficit spending? I said, only if we were at war, or only if we had a recession, or only if we had a national emergency. Never did I dream we’d get the trifecta.”

    (He repeated this claim, despite the fact that he never said it anywhere at anytime. Al Gore did.)

    ?I was almost finished with my commitment in the Air National Guard and was no longer flying because the F-102 jet I has [sic] trained in was being replaced by a different fighter.?

    ?If I?m the president . . . people will be able to take their HMO insurance company to court.”

    (Okay, maybe that’s just a broken promise.)

    “And as to whether or not I make decisions based upon polls, I don’t. I just don’t make decisions that way…”

    ?It was [Saddam?s] choice to make, and he did not let [the inspectors] in.?

    ?We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories.”

    “?The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was . . . enriching uranium for a bomb.?

    (This was particularly dispicable because the report he’s mentioning was from 1990, before the first Gulf War. In January of 2003, the IAEA said, ?we have found no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons program since the elimination of the program in the 1990?s.?)

    “In 2002, our economy was still recovering from the attacks of September the 11th, 2001, and it was pulling out of a recession that began before I took office.”

    “When Bush was asked about [the Environmental Protection Agency’s report] last week, he dismissively remarked: ‘I read the report put out by the bureaucracy.’ …White House press secretary Ari Fleischer fessed up: President Bush didn’t actually read that 268-page Environmental Protection Agency report on climate change, even if he said he did. Fleischer was asked Monday at his daily White House briefing about Bush’s comments that he’d read the report. “Whenever presidents say they read it, you can read that to be he was briefed,” Fleischer said, producing laughter. –AP, June 10, 2002

    “First of all, Ken Lay is a supporter, and I got to know Ken Lay when he was a head of the — what they call the Governor’s Business Council in Texas. He was a supporter of Ann Richards (former Texas governor) in my run against her in 1994, and she named him head of the Governor’s Business Council and I decided to leave him in place, for the sake of continuity. And that’s when I first got to know Ken and worked with Ken, and he supported my candidacy . . . ”

    (Lay says it was 1989 “when I probably spent more quality time with George W. Bush.”)

    “Just after the governor’s reelection in 1998, [Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne] Slater pressed Bush about whether he had ever been arrested. ‘He said, ‘After 1968? No.'”

  20. If it were anyone but Sy Hersh saying this, perhaps you could believe it. Sy Hersh isn’t the only investigative reporter in the world and certainly not the only one who do anything to get a story like this. Why isn’t anyone else picking up on it? My guess is that Sy Hersh really is insane and the story has so little credibility that no other reporter will touch it. Think about it. The same people who believed Joe Wilson hook line and sinker, appartently don’t believe this.

  21. Either Sy Hersh has gone completely insane, or the House needs to vote to impeach George W. Bush tonight

    The possibility that Hersh might be dishonest, mistaken, or hopelessly biased is just too exotic a concept for DeLong to wrap his mind around, I guess? This reminds me of the old fundamentalist argument that Jesus must have been either “a lunatic, a liar, or the Lord”. It leaves about about a jillion other possible explanations (“he was mistaken” and “witnesses got it wrong” being the obvious two).

    Click here to find out why

    Ok, I clicked there, and I still don’t see why.

    Let’s assume that Hersh is rational, honest, reasonably unbiased, and in possession of the facts (unlikely on all counts, but stranger things have happened). So what? I don’t see anything in this article suggesting Bush ordered these things to be done.

    Hersh makes a hysterical claim that Bush has committed “massive crimes” and “war crimes” — but before he’s even finished the *sentence*, he’s backed off and switched to the weasel-worded claim that it’s only “this administration” that is criminal. Although exactly what they’ve done that’s “criminal” isn’t clear.

    we can agree that a covert policy of child rape (if it existed) is more important than Hersh’s emotional, verbal exaggerations, can’t we?

    Stop for a minute and think about that “if”. The allegation here is that the President of the United States ordered American troops to carry out a secret policy of covert homosexual child rape for absolutely no reason at all other than, presumably, the sheer joy of being evil.

    So, yes, “if it existed” it would be bad.

    And if Bill Clinton had Vince Foster murdered because he possessed knowledge that a secret lesbian alliance led by the secretly-married Hillary Clinton and Janet Reno was planning to institute martial law under the cover of the Federal Emergency Management Authority — that, too, would be bad.

    So, yes, Hersh’s vitriolic hyperbole isn’t as bad as a covert policy of child rape. But the thing is, the former actually exists.

  22. Perhaps Dan and Wacko can spend the weekend in the garage making Bush a “The Buck Doesn’t Stop Here” sign.

  23. Did anybody answer Les’s question about why Sy Hersch’s to be taken with a grain of salt?

  24. That article certainly establishes that people he accuses of doing things subsequently call him a liar, but doesn’t do much to establish that he’s lying. The fact that Kennedy finds it convenenient to believe him one minute and not the next? That says more about Kennedy than Hersch. Have you got anything else? I’m willing to be convinced, but that wasn’t it.

  25. c,

    “I’m willing to be convinced,…”

    You are a rare person (most have made up their ‘minds’, such as they are)
    Congratulations 🙂

  26. I can’t tell if zorel is being sarcastic congratulating me about being open minded . . . mostly because I can’t tell if I’m being sarcastic claiming to be open minded. Such as it is indeed.

  27. Other than the Marilyn Monroe letters, there’s nothing in the NRO article that shows Hersh was genuinely wrong about anything. Let’s review:

    Hersh says bad things about the Kennedys in a book. And the book “was denounced by scores of Democrats”. That doesn’t even *begin* to prove Hersh’s allegations about the Kennedys were wrong.

    Hersh says Charles Peters, a W.Va. politician, took bribes. Charles Peters says he didn’t (i.e., a politician denies being corrupt). This looks like he said-he said at best. Given that falsely accusing someone of a crime is grade-A material for a defamation suit, I have to think Hersh at least had good reason to think Peters took the bribes.

    Hersh says bad things about Kissinger in a book. The editor of the “New Republic” says the contents of the book are “suspect”. Again, that doesn’t start to approach proving Hersh was wrong.

    Hersh accuses troops under the command of then-Gen. Barry McCaffery of firing on unarmed and surrendering Iraqis during the first Gulf War. McCaffery replies:

    “Hersh and his article lack integrity. That’s the bottom line. He maligns the characters of 26,000 great young soldiers who conducted a 400 kilometer attack successfully, where thank god we only lost eight killed and 36 wounded… What he’s doing is recycling charges that were investigated in 1991.” (ellipses in original)

    So, in other words, McCaffery doesn’t actually *deny* that his troops fired on unarmed or surrendering Iraqis. He just says that Hersh “lacks integrity” and “maligns the characters” of soldiers for bringing it up.

  28. “Did anybody answer Les’s question about why Sy Hersch’s to be taken with a grain of salt? ”

    Because it is always prudent to verify sources? Because authoritarian knowledge tends to be crap?

    Come on guys. You should question Hersch as much as you should question Bush. And if Kerry becomes president you should quesiton him.

  29. Come to think of it, of coursr you should question Kerry now, whether he wins or not …

  30. WHy not to take anything Hersh says seriously:

    This presumes I should take anything I read in NRO seriously.

  31. I’m not denying the importance of some level of standard issue scepticism. Rephrased question: “Why does Sy Hersch deserve more of the cocked-eyebrow treatment than your typical investigative reporter?”

  32. Jason, even if you think Hersh made up the unnamed military officer’s quote, that still leaves the witness testimony from the Taguba report, which wasn’t made public until almost two weeks after Hersh’s first story. That one of the witnesses appears to have given the name of a rapist, or other identifying information sufficient to justify blacking it out in the published version, in one case suggests that this is more than just a figment of Hersh’s imagination. That doesn’t prove that rape in Abu Ghraib was widespread, of course, but I don’t think it can be brushed off either.

  33. Besides almost publishing (but not publishing) fake letters from Marilyn Monroe, on what occasions has Hersh been “faked out”? If there are reasons I should doubt what he says, I’d sincerely appreciate any and all relevant information. Thanks in advance.

  34. I didn’t mean to imply that I wouldn’t wait for more info before believing it, but people often treat Hersh like he’s published a lot of demonstrably false stuff and I haven’t seen any examples, yet.

  35. Seymour Hersh says the US government has videotapes of boys being sodomized at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

    “The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking,”

    Is this depravity what the senators who have viewed more of the Abu Ghraib prison photos and characterized them as, “sickeningly cruel”, “much worse” and “barbaric” were talking about? We have got to make all of this public so that we can know the truth and punish those those responsible, however high up the chain if command they are.

    I want with my every fiber for these stories of torturing children not to be true. But if they are and those responsible go unpunished, our national character will also have been molested. If libertarians are the only people in our nation who will stand up for justice, we had better do it now before it’s too late.

  36. Yeah, honestly, why doubt what Hersh says? We’ve already seen enough other appalling shit, this isn’t that much of a stretch. And Lonewacko, while Bush didn’t personally rape those boys (that we know of 😉 ) he still should be held responsable for the mess that he caused, directly or not. There’s way too little accountibility among the elite in this country and it is sickening.

  37. I’m not sure why so many people are surprised about this. Hersh reported on this originally back at the beginning of May, when he quoted an unnamed military official as saying there was footage of boys being raped:

    http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?040517fa_fact2 (scroll about halfway down)

    Additionally, this also fits with the testimony of an eyewitness, released on May 22 as part of the official Taguba report, who saw a female soldier photographing a teenage boy being raped by military personnel:

    http://www.antiwar.com/rep/hilas.pdf (scroll to page two)

    (You’ll note that the witness actually seems to have “named names” on the rapist, based on the blacked-out text.)

  38. You ever take a ink-blot test, Les?

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