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McCaffery (Goliath) v. Hersh (David)


Saul Landau

I

found the May 15 NPR news very even-handed – as always. The host interviewed

Seymour Hersh, who wrote for the May 22 New Yorker Overwhelming Force, an expose

on General Barry McCaffery’s Gulf War conduct. Hersh interviewed soldiers and

officers and reviewed relevant documents that call into question McCaffery’s

battlefield conduct.

On

the morning of March 2nd, Hersh writes, "McCaffrey reported that, despite

the ceasefire, his division had suddenly come under attack from a retreating

Republican Guard tank division.” Officers assigned to McCaffrey’s headquarters

disagreed about the significance and strength of the Iraqi attack and indeed

about whether any attack had occurred. The officers heatedly argued over the

appropriate level for response. McCaffrey, after a delay, "ordered an

assault in force — an all-out attack,” Hersh writes. The strike destroyed some

seven hundred Iraqi tanks, armored cars, and trucks, said Hersh.

On

March 1 and 2, 1991, one and two days after President Bush declared a

cease-fire, US soldiers shot Iraqis who apparently posed no threat to them. On

February 27, US troops dispatched a group of Iraqis who had already surrendered.

The Army "investigated these episodes and, shockingly, found no wrongdoing.

Hersh, as he did three decades ago when he reported about the covered up My Lai

massacre in Vietnam, found witnesses and information the Army missed or ignored.

Then,

NPR interviewed McCaffery, who condemned Hersh for waging a vendetta against him

and for filing an outrageous assertion that he, McCaffery had ordered a virtual

massacre of defeated Iraqi soldiers after the Gulf War had ended. McCaffery

dismissed Hersh’s massive amount of evidence as lies and the NPR host threw a

few softballs at the powerful general before summing up and cojncluding nothing.

NPR

news reports stand on the political equivalent of the fifty yard line. NPR

treated reporter Hersh and Drug Czar McCaffery as equal combatants. Hersh

suggesting McCaffery may have committed a war crime; McCaffery calling Hersh a

liar. Then, Daniel Schorr opined. Hersh, he said, had taken on the powerful, the

Pentagon, Kissinger, the Kennedys, but had goofed by reporting in his last book

– THE DARK SIDE OF CAMELOT — that President Kennedy had paid for a Marilyn

Monroe abortion that didn’t happen. Hersh, you recall, had admitted that he’d

fallen for a bogus document and before publication had excised that part from

his book. Schorr also cited the Pentagon for its history of covering up war

crimes — like the My Lai massacre in Vietnam that Hersh had uncovered three

decades ago. Who’s right and who’s wrong? I don’t know.

I

have known Hersh for twenty five years. I have seen him scrutinize the evidence.

He interviewed more than two hundred enlisted men and officers over a six month

period doing research on these incidents. . And, The New Yorker also has the

world’s best fact checkers.

Weeks

before the article appeared, Drug czar McCaffery called in the media to accuse

Hersh of launching a personal vendetta. An intimidating move! Hersh doesn’t know

McCaffery, but he does have the nose to sniff out the odors that reek of high

level corruption. Most reporters inhale the perfumed aromas emitted by official

sources. If not for Hersh — and a few other reporters and free media outlets –

only Congress and the Courts would protect the public against the power of the

national security state and the corporation.

The

mainstream media has portrayed Hersh’s revelations of war crimes as a battle

between two gladiators, rather than as a reporter who represents public virtue

and a powerful government bureaucrat whose present operation — drug Czar — and

history during the Gulf War have escaped scrutiny.. So, thanks Sy Hersh for

investigating subjects too dangerous for most reporters to ponder. Young

journalists have you as a model.

Hugh

O. La Bounty Chair of Applied Interdisciplinary Knowledge, California State

Polytechnic University, Pomona mailto:[email protected] http://www.csupomona.edu/~slandau