The Nudnik File

Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

              Hersh's Fables
A week or so ago there was a lot of fuss about an article that Seymour Hersh had written in The New Yorker alleging that US and Israeli special forces units were in Iran looking for nuclear sites for possible airstrikes. As I said at the time, Hersh has generally not been a reliable source. Now, Michael Ledeen shows that Hersh seems to be peddling an old story, only with some names changed.
Slightly more than three years ago (in the issue dated November 5, 2001), he wrote something for the New Yorker (lightheartedly labeled "FACT") called "Watching the Warheads." It's about Pakistan; and Hersh warns us that our hunt for Osama "has evolved into a regional crisis that has put Pakistan's nuclear arsenal at risk, exacerbated the instability of the government of General Pervez Musharraf, and raised the possibility of a nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India." And of course, Hersh darkly notes that the smart guys in Washington (the "government's intelligence and diplomatic experts") and the fools in town ("the decision-makers of the Bush Administration") are at odds over the matter. Indeed, it's led to "a serious rift."

That's one of the main themes of his more recent piece. The only difference is the target of opportunity. Then it was Pakistan; now it's Iran. Now, as then, according to Hersh's vision, Rumsfeld's guys are sneaking around: "In recent weeks an elite Pentagon undercover unit — trained to slip into foreign countries and find suspected nuclear weapons, and disarm them if necessary — has explored plans for an operation inside Pakistan." And then, as now, the Israelis are in it too: "The American team is apparently getting help from Israel's most successful special-operations unit, the storied Sayeret Matkal, also known as Unit 262, a deep-penetration unit that has been involved in...the theft and destruction of foreign nuclear weaponry."

The Israelis in this case were said to be helping our guys "at undisclosed locations," maybe in the United States. But it's the usual tandem. Do you think Hersh has a template for this story, and just changes the name of the country according to the evening news?
I would hope that there are US special forces units in Iran (as well as many other places), and in all likelihood they are there. That is, after all, one of their jobs. But Hersh's hysterical hyping of stories, using his "unnamed" sources, does not make him a credible journalist.
|| Nudnik 11:19 AM
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