"Weapons of Mass Deception"


Annals of National Secrecy

Ari Berman

Last week in The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh broke one of his most revelatory stories to date, alleging that the Pentagon is running secret intelligence missions free from Congressional restraints on the CIA.

According to Hersh, these "black reconnaissance" operations--as the Pentagon calls them--are now active in as many as ten countries in the Middle East and South Asia, including Iran. In an effort to infiltrate terrorist organizations, the teams are doing CIA-type work without CIA restrictions or Constitutional checks. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld began lobbying for the secret teams over two years ago, winning authorization through a series of questionable legal interpretations and Presidential executive orders. "It's a finesse to give power to Rumsfeld--giving him the right to act swiftly, decisively, and lethally," a Pentagon advisor told Hersh. "It's a global free-fire zone."

Instead of denying the existence of the secret teams outright, the Pentagon and its attack dogs struck back with an extraordinary smear campaign. "Mr. Hersh's article is so riddled with errors of fundamental fact that the credibility of his entire piece is destroyed," wrote Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita in a sharply worded statement. Washington Times columnist Tony Blankley accused Hersh of espionage. Former White House speechwriter (and "Axis of Evil" originator) David Frum said Hersh had endangered US lives. Michael Ledeen, a tireless Iranian conspiracy theorist, called the article "plain crazy," and "classic Hersh incoherence." Richard Perle--who famously dubbed Hersh "the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist" in March 2003--told Charlie Rose: "It was a typical Sy Hersh piece. That is to say it was full of inaccuracy."

But then, the Washington Post confirmed Hersh's allegations in a front-page story last Sunday. According to Pentagon officials and documents, the Defense Department has indeed created a new espionage arm--the Strategic Support Branch--reinterpreting US law to give it the broadest possible powers with the least possible oversight. The new unit has existed in secret for two years and includes the Gray Fox forces mentioned by Hersh--operating in Iraq (news - web sites), Afghanistan (news - web sites) and other undisclosed countries, likely including Iran. The Pentagon is even recruiting "notorious figures" whose identities would embarrass the US government if disclosed.

The next day, The New York Times and CNN ran follow-up confirmations and DiRita quickly changed his tone. "It is accurate and should not be surprising that the Department of Defense (news - web sites) is attempting to improve its long-standing human intelligence capability," DiRita said in a classic non-denial denial. John McCain called for Senate Armed Services Committee (news - web sites) hearings. And Senator Chuck Hagel worried that the Pentagon had once again concentrated too much power in too few hands. "That's when a country gets into a lot of trouble, when you brush back the Congress and you don't have oversight and you don't have cooperation, and I see too much of that out of this Pentagon," Hagel said.

So Hersh was right. Now the Pentagon owes Congress an explanation, while Mssrs. DiRita, Blankley, Frum, Ledeen and Perle owe Hersh an apology.


This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Milton Frihetsson, 13:42


Post a Comment