Seymour Hersh and the Missing Zionist-Israeli Connection
By James Petras
Al-Jazeerah, August 17, 2004
An Exposé of an Exposé:
As I read Hersh s highly publicized and influential reports in the New Yorker Magazine on torture in US occupied Iraq (1), it became increasingly apparent that this was not a thoroughly researched exposé of the higher ups responsible for the policy of torture. Hersh s reportage was a selective account guided by selected question about selected officials. As one reads through Hersh s version of events with increasing incredulity it is clear that Hersh hangs his whole argument and exposé of US officials involved in the use of torture on one person Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - (important to be sure) and not on the other top Defense officials who were extremely influential and responsible for war policy, establishing intelligence agencies and co-coordinating strategy and tactics during the occupation. Rumsfeld was part of an elite, which sanctioned and promoted torture. Throughout his exposé Hersh deliberately omits the role of the Zionists (Wolfowitz, Feith numbers 2 and 3 in the Pentagon) who supported and promoted the war, torture-interrogation and particularly Israeli experts who led seminars teaching the US Military Intelligence their torture-interrogation techniques of Arab prisoners based on their half-century of practice.
In looking for documentary sources of torture interrogation Hersh relies on academic texts and 20 year old CIA manuals, not Israeli practice widely disseminated by the Mossad and Shin Bet advisers presently involved in torture in neighboring Palestine and Iraq today.
Hersh is presented in the mass media as an iconoclastic, investigative journalist, a role which gives his reportages and exposés a great deal of credibility. Yet it was Seymour Hersh who publicly defended torture of suspects and their family members as a method of interrogation, citing the Israeli examples in the wake of September 11, justifying torture in the same way as the Pentagon now justifies the torture of Iraqi suspects. Instead of citing an obscure professor at the University of Chicago, Hersh should have cited the influential tract defending torture by Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz (a fellow Zionist) widely read by the civilian militarists who run the Pentagon, and direct the chain of command leading to interrogation through torture.
Hersch s account fails to provide a political context in the Pentagon and in the Middle East for the systematic use of torture. To understand the issue of the US practice of torture and violent abuse of Iraqi prisoners and civilians requires an examination of the ideological demonization of the Iraqi population the Arabs and the US unconditional political and military support for the state of Israel, the principal long-term large-scale practitioner of torture against Arabs. The most vitriolic systematic denigration of Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East is found in the writings an speeches of influential US-based Zionist ideologues, like the Pipes (father and son), the Kristols (senior and junior), the Kagans, Cohens, Goldhagens and others. The first step toward justifying torture is to dehumanize the victim, to label them as untermensch (congenitally violent savages). The Zionists in the US were merely following the pronouncements of their ideological mentors in Israel who not infrequently proclaimed that the only thing the Arab understands is force (Sharon, Golda Meier, Dayan, Rabin etc&). The Zionist ideologues in the Pentagon were influential in arousing hatred of Arabs in several ways. First in their defense of Israel they deliberately distorted the nature of Israel s colonial war, blaming the Palestinian victims for the systematic violence which Israel inflicted on them. The ideologues defended every Israeli violent action: the massacre in Jenin, new Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the murderous assault on Rafah, the killing of UN aid workers and peace activists, the monstrous wall ghettoizing a whole people, the mass murder of hundreds of Palestinians and destructions of thousands of homes in Gaza. Israeli violence against Palestinians made a deep impression on US Zionists who generalized and deepened their animus to Arab Muslims throughout the Middle East, but particularly in Iraq where they were in a position to implement their policies.
The Zionists and Torture in Iraq
The Pentagon s main source of intelligence and propaganda for the invasion and occupation of Iraq was in part derived from the Office of Specials Plans (OSP) and Counter-terrorism Evaluation Group established by ultra-Zionist Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense (third in the Pentagon hierarchy) with strong support from Wolfowitz, Abrams and Rumsfeld. Feith put fellow Zionist, Abram Shulsky in charge of OSP. The Special Group bypassed normal CIA and military intelligence agencies and secured its own intelligence prior to the war and was involved in securing intelligence during the first stages of the occupation (before it was dismantled). As the Iraqi resistance increased its effectiveness and the US justification for the war (weapons of mass destruction) was proven to be a total fabrication of the Special Group, the top echelon of the Pentagon, Rumsfeld and the Zionists grew desperate they collectively passed the orders to intensify and extend torture to all Iraqi suspects in all the prisons. It is a gross simplification to say that the line of command was limited to Rumsfeld, when Wolfowitz, Feith and Abrams were also intimately involved in everyday policies prosecuting the war, defending the occupation and controlling intelligence.
Even more than Rumsfeld, the Zionist zealots in the Pentagon were the most ardent promoters of introducing Israeli methods of torturing and humiliating Arab suspects, lauding Israeli successes in dealing with the Arabs . They, not military intelligence, promoted the use of Israeli experts in interrogation; they encouraged Israeli led seminars in urban warfare and interrogation techniques for the US military intelligence officers and private contractors.
Nothing about the responsibility of the Pentagon Zionists in the torture of Iraqis appears in Hersh s expose . The glaring omissions are deliberate as they are obvious form a systematic pattern and serve the purpose of exonerating the Pentagon Zionists and Israel and hanging the entire responsibility for war crimes on Rumsfeld.
A Close Look at Hersh s Method
A close reading of Hersh s series of articles in the New Yorker reveals his premises and political perspectives, none of which have anything to do with democratic values or concern with human rights.
Hersh s principal concern is that Rumsfeld s blanket order to use torture disrupted the operations of an elite group made up of professional commandos involved in a secret special access program designed to murder, kidnap, torture terror suspects throughout the world. In other words by involving thousands of everyday US soldiers (referred to by one of Hersh s sources as hillbillies ) as torturers in Iraq Rumsfeld was endangering the operation of professional killers throughout the world. Hersh s second major concern was that the discovery of the torture would hurt America s (sic) prospects in the war on terror in other words a tactic he attributed (solely and wrongfully) to Rumsfeld was endangering the US empire-building capacity. Hersh s empire-centric view refuses to recognize the elementary rights of self-determination and international law. Hersh s third apparent concern is with Rumsfeld s bypassing the CIA and other intelligence agencies and attempt to monopolize intelligence. This is a bit ingenuous. Wolfowitz and Feith set up the special intelluigence agency that fed Rumsfeld the fabricated intelligence, they promoted Chalabi (known throughout Washington intelligence circles as totally unreliable) as an impeccable source of inside information , in Saddams non-existent weapons of mass destruction knowing in advance that they were passing phony data . As Wolfowitz latter cynically admitted the decision to launch the US invasion over banned weapons was because it was the only issue they could agree upon.
Hersh is not stupid, he knows what everyone else in Washington and out of government knows: the Zionists in the Pentagon were pushing for war with Iraq before 9/11 (even before they took office in Washington and were working with the Israeli state) and were intent on having the US destroy Iraq, at any price including the loss of American lives, budget busting deficits, imperiling oil interests and jeopardizing US global imperial interests.
They launched the invasion bypassing the military central command by deliberately falsifying the response of the conquered Iraqi people ( they will welcome us as liberators Wolfowitz and Perle) and intent on destroying civil and state structures (the so-called de-Baathification purges) in order to forever undermine Iraq s capacity to challenge Israel s domination of the Middle East.
None of Hersh s questions explore these well known facts about who is responsible for the atrocities against Iraqis. He didn t have to cite unnamed intelligence or Pentagon sources General Anthony Zinni and many non-Zionists insiders, as well as the CIA and Central Command knew about the Zionist promoters, plans and moreover knew the role Feith played in pushing for harsher interrogation techniques. But Hersh ignored these questions, those Zionists and their ideological supporters and advisers who did everything possible to undermine any Iraqi economic recovery and capacity to run their own education, health and electoral systems. De-Baathification was meant to turn Iraq into a backward tribal, divided desert country run by their protégé Chalabi, the only candidate who would recognize Israel, supply it with oil and support Mid-East integration under Israeli hegemony. The Zionist Pentagonistas succeeded in securing the war, they succeeded in destroying basic Iraqi social services, they destroyed the state (courts, military, civil services). However in their blind subservience to Israel they overlooked the fact that the disbanded professional soldiers and purged civil leaders and professionals would become part of an experienced armed resistance, that Iraq would become ungovernable, that US rule would crumble, that the US would become bogged down in a politically lost war, that its puppet regime would have neither legitimacy nor popular support. The Zionist did what they thought was best for Israel, even if it provoked greater opposition world-wide, including in the US, where a majority have turned against the occupation by May 2004. Only the Israeli transmission belt, AIPAC would cheer Bush and his continuation of the occupation and pledge allegiance to the Israeli war against Palestinians. When their self-serving prediction of an Iraqi welcoming committee turned into a valiant popular anti-colonial war, Feith and his underlings called for greater use of more forceful interrogation methods Rumsfeld and Feith encouraged Israeli type torture to humiliate the Arabs . Meanwhile Kagan s call to bomb the Arab street was tried and failed to intimidate the Iraqi resistance.
Hersh s exposé of Rumsfeld as the only top culprit turns up at a convenient moment: when US policy has failed and most knowledgeable officials are moving closer to identifying the role of the Pentagon Zionists. It was clever by half: Rumsfeld was universally despised in Congress, among the professional military and a host of others for his policies and arrogant public face. Even in exposing Rumsfeld however Hersh is careful to do so in a fashion that allows his Zionist colleagues to continue in office unscathed.
Hersh justifies some of Rumsfeld s acts of illegal terror by describing legalistic obstacles to eliminating terrorists. Hersh s support for Rumsfeld s resort to unaccountable commandos engaging in assassination, kidnapping and torture of suspects around the world is in effect a way to condone those tactics after Rumsfeld leaves office. If Rumsfeld resigns, torture will continue under colleagues Feith and Wolfowitz. Hersh drags in a fifth level functionary working under Feith, Stephan Cambone, who he tells us was deeply involved in the torture of prisoners more involved than his Zionist superiors? We might ask the peerless investigatory journalist: How is it that Hersh blames those above above (Rumsfeld) and those below (Cambone) but never focuses on Feith and Wolfowitz who designed and directed policy?
In setting up Cambone for the exposé, Hersh profiles Cambome in terms that fit with greater pertinence the Zionists: He advocated war with Iraq (following Wolfowitz, Feith, Perle and Abrams); he disdained the CIA who the Pentagon Zionists viewed as too cautious ; he attacked the CIA for not finding WMD. Since Cambone functioned under Wolfowitz and Feith he was simply repeating what his bosses wanted to hear and perhaps that s why they entrusted him with the relevant dirty tasks of extracting intelligence via torture.
Hersh tries to link Cambone with the extension of the torture practiced selectively by the Special Agency Program. SAP was already operative before Cambone took office and its operations were under the direction of Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith and Abrams. Hersh s dating of the torture in August 2003 with Cambone and Major General Miller (from Guantanamo) assignment is false. It started earlier under the SAP and with Israeli trained interrogators. Moreover the Pentagon headed by the same three (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith) ordered Miller s use of torture on suspects at Guantanamo who moved him to Iraq as a reward for exemplary work. Hersh does not explore Miller s links with Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith before going to Iraq. He simply aborts the analysis looks at the middle and lower levels of power: Cambone, Miller, interrogators, and enlisted soldiers. Out of this framework Hersh comes up with a detailed piece of selective investigatory journalism. Hersh exposes some but covers up for those most actively involved in invoking the war and directing it in a way that served Israeli interests. The cost in US lives and the degradation of young US servicemen forced to assume the role of torturers is of little concern to the Pentagon Zionists. Even after all the exposés of torture, killings and rapes, major Zionist ideologues like Kristol, Krauthammer, Rubin, Perle, Kagan and Frum have launched attacks on Bush for backing off from the war.
The Pentagon s Zionists are under attack. In the face of the US debacle in Iraq, the anti-Zionist coalition found in the State Department, the Military, the CIA and elsewhere have launched a counter-offensive. Marine General Anthony Zinni, Senator Fritz Hollings and other prominent political, diplomatic and military leaders have openly identified the role of the Pentagon Zionists in launching and directing the war to favor Israel. The most recent and visible move was the marginalization of the pro-Israel Chalabi the protégé of Wolfowitz, Feith and Abrams. The raid on his house and the carting off of his records, ostensibly to investigate financial irregularities is a symbolic setback. So is the US abstention in the Security Council on Israel s rape of Rafah much to the chagrin of the Israel First crowd at the AIPAC convention. In response all the major Jewish organizations and publications from the Forward, Anti-Defamation League, AJC and others have denounced the critics of the Pentagon Zionists.
Hersh attempts to head off the anti-Zionist headhunting coalition by focusing on the two Goyim Rumsfeld and Cambone has been to no avail. The knives are drawn. Because of Zionist power in and out of the government, the anti-Zionist coalition and their supporters use code words, the most common of which is neo-conservative , which everyone now knows means Wolfowitz, Feith, Abrams and other Zionists in and out of the government. AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League and other Israel Firsters sensing the danger to their co-thinkers have turned to labeling critics of the neo-conservative militarists anti-Semites and arousing Congress members, the media and their propaganda machine into silencing the coalition into submission..
But the Coalition is gaining influence Bush is insisting on handing over symbolic power to Iraqi Shias in a subtle game of cooption promoted by the State Department. Already the Zionists led by Kagan and Kristol have all but called Bush a traitor and coward for retreating.
The photos of torture, which have discredited the war policy, threaten to isolate the Zionist zealots. Faced with the indignation of the whole civilized world at the war crimes, the progressive Zionist apologists, like Hersh, take to isolating blame on Cambone and Rumsfeld and minimizing the responsibility to a few soldiers in a cell block , as did Senator Lieberman while the AIPAC elite cheer Bush on with the war ignoring the muck and blood of torture.
Rumsfeld has shrewdly tied his future to his Zionist partners in the Pentagon and outside, counting on riding on their coat tails and reaping the support of the powerful Jewish lobby and their leaders in the Israeli state, who stand behind them. He has few other influential allies.
In the final analysis even if Wolfowitz, Feith, Abrams, Rubin, Libby and the current crop of Zionist Pentagonistas are forced to resign it will only be a temporary setback. The Zionist political organizations remain intact, their influence over Congress remains overwhelming and they have pledges from both major presidential candidates that Israel s cause is America s cause (Bush and Kerry). The Zionist juggernaut grinds on, securing sanctions against Syria and calling for the bombing of Iran s supposed nuclear facilities. If you can t find a real threat to the US maybe the next crop of Zionists in power will cook up another consensual pretext . Holbrooke and Sandy Berger can tutor the US on multi-lateral wars of aggression.
Meantime among those who still deny Zionist power in US foreign policy, one only has to read the accounts of the AIPAC conference in Washington in May 2004. At a time when Israel was killing children in the streets of Rafah and destroying hundreds of homes under the horrified eyes of the entire civilized world, when an indignant UN Security Council finally rose to its feet and unanimously condemned Israel, US Congressional leaders and the two major Presidential candidates pledged unconditional support to Israel, evoking the bloodthirsty cheers of investment brokers, dentists, doctors, lawyers the cream of the cream of American Jewish society. The cause of Israel is the cause of America rings out from the mouth of every candidate as the Israelis bulldoze homes and snipers shoot small girls on their way to buy candy. Its almost as if Sharon wanted to demonstrate the power of the Zionists in the US, timing the vile destruction of Rafah to coincide with the AIPAC convention and the disgusting appearance of the spineless American politicians supporting ongoing crimes against humanity. Not one voice was raised in even meek protest. To those who claim that the Zionist are just one of a number of influential lobbies try explaining the unconditional support for Israel s genocide of the Palestinian people by the most powerful politicians in the US.
It is almost a perverse pleasure to watch Sharon smear the muck and gore of Rafah on the groveling faces of US politicians they deserve each other. But for those of us who support a democratic anti-imperialist foreign policy this is one of the most humiliating moments in US history. Something we won t read in the exposés of Hersh or the erudite Zionist treatises in defense of endless wars.
(1) Seymour Hersh, Torture at Abu Ghraib: American soldiers brutalized Iraqis. How far does responsibility go?, New Yorker, May 10, 2004; The Gray Zone: How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib, New Yorker, May 25, 2004, and Mixed Messages: Why the government didn t know what it knew, New Yorker, June 3, 2004.