Sy Hersh is an Intel Asset and Therefore No Gary Webb

If nothing else, the Sy Hersh OBL story is yet one more event that exposes who I needn’t take seriously unless I’m in a really good mood. The following will mark you as someone whose self-conception of savvy knowing knowingness is at such odds with what you actually know, I will, in future, only seek out your thoughts when I need that frisson of disgust and embarrassment a dipshit making an ass of themselves elicits:

1. Likening Sy Hersh to Gary Webb.

2. Sneering at any suggestion that regardless of his own intentions, Sy Hersh is effectively an asset of the U.S. security apparatus and always has been.

Let’s start with number two first, since accepting that Sy Hersh is self-evidently an intel asset undermines the Gary Webb comparisons all by itself.

To say that Hersh is an intelligence asset is not to reveal some dark secret. It is simply to concisely, and more bluntly, restate Chomsky’s caveat about Hersh’s stable of high-level sources inside Empire: “Their task is not to tell people the truth. Their task is to tell people what they want them to hear.” It follows that how Hersh sees himself or how others see him is entirely irrelevant to the question of precisely how he makes his living.

Hersh’s sources seek him out, or cooperate, for the very same reason members of the same community seek out Walter Pincus, known infamously as “The CIA’s man at the Washington Post:” To advance their own interests, or the interests of a faction within the security apparatus, or within the so-called Deep State, to which they belong. These people are in the business of misdirection, deception, manipulation, incitement and destabilization. At their most usefully dissident, they are reformists who simply want the U.S. to rule the world with less mess.

At the moment, all the disparate media factions agree for sure on one thing: There is the “official” account of the OBL raid, and there’s Hersh’s account. But Hersh relies for 90% of his account on a “retired senior intelligence official” whose practically omniscient grasp of the minutiae surrounding the raid suggests he breathes the thinnest air in the Intelligence Community. In other words, his account is, for all intents and purposes, another official account, despite being at odds — in mostly trivial ways — with the official official account. That Hersh’s primary source is a “retired” official is absolutely irrelevant,  since the norm for retired intelligence officials is consulting work for the Intelligence Community.

The source’s omniscience — and commensurate status — also suggests that anyone with a pretty good grasp of who’s privy to what in the Intelligence Community could probably guess who he is — or narrow it down to a small few — since surely very few intelligence officials are privy to that kind of top secret information. This suggests that he probably doesn’t truly fear discovery as much as Hersh thinks, or pretends to think, he does.  In fact, one can only speculate, but I reckon the identities of at least some of Hersh’s sources over the decades have been easily inferred by at least a knowledgable few, including the officials their leaks implicate. But until these sources create huge problems for equally or more powerful elements within the same realm, it’s more advantageous for all concerned that they remain officially anonymous, and Hersh consistently useful.

Here are some reasons that a retired intelligence official like the one who spoke to Hersh would never have for speaking to him:

1. In the leisure of retirement, he came to realize how perfectly evil his life’s work was, and has dedicated his remaining years to undermining the security apparatus.

2. He thinks letting the people know of some egregious thing is of such vital importance, any damage to the security apparatus is entirely beside the point.

3. To simply set the record straight because lies have been told and telling the truth is good in itself.

One can imagine that there may be cases where number two might hold; for instance, whoever leaked MKULTRA to Hersh years ago might have been genuinely horrified. But Hersh’s OBL story is clearly nothing like that, and not simply because a security analyst floated a strikingly similar story in 2011 without incident. Where U.S. officials are concerned, its revelations are fairly minor, especially given the way Hersh generously provides alibis for why U.S. officials did what they did. He doesn’t even accuse Obama of lying, but rather believing what various unnamed others told him.

Now, at the risk of inducing eyerolls in the dispiritingly large group of people who seemingly think the Intelligence Community does something much more philanthropic than what its various elements were established to do and have historically done, I offer the following plausible reasons a senior retired intelligence official might talk to Hersh about the OBL raid. I’m not going to elaborate on these, because I don’t really care which one of them, if any, it is:

1. To corroborate the increasingly untrusted official official story in all the ways that matter. With a story that self-authenticates by creating a minor scandal over the ways in which it differs, Hersh usefully confirms that Bin Laden had indeed been killed that night; that he could not be taken alive; and that his corpse was discarded.

2. To discredit The Obama Administration for whatever reason.

3. To set the limits of permissible skepticism about the raid.

4. To piggy-back other messages on top of the ostensible main story, in pursuit of another objective. Hersh’s unflattering details about Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and his amplification of them in interviews suggest something like this might be going on.

5. To distract attention from something worse or to simply maintain control of the news cycle while burnishing Hersh’s reputation, in anticipation of injecting more messages into the ether.

6. To create internal conflict in the Intelligence Community that works to the advantage of the faction to which the retired official belongs.

There could well be something I haven’t considered but the main point is this: there is absolutely nothing going on here to cheer anyone to the left of liberal Hersh’s basic faith in the system he tells tales on and obvious sympathy for the individuals that keep it running. As with the original story, we’re being manipulated, with information from a single government official we are to accept on faith. Falling for this crap and Hersh’s chest-beating does not make you a renegade. It makes you a rube.

Which brings us around to why the comparisons to Webb are so very stupid if not downright offensive. I’ve written quite a lot about Webb already and I won’t recapitulate everything here. It should suffice that there is a moral chasm between embellishing the OBL story and flooding Black communities with crack. But if that’s not enough, consider that, unlike Hersh, Webb hadn’t spent decades writing stories based on tips from intelligence, military and State Department lifers; his big story was not 90% dependent on the extensive knowledge of a single retired intelligence official, but on myriad court documents, congressional records, eyewitnesses, all of which he procured with a massive amount of legwork and assistance from a Nicaraguan journalist; his story disclosed CIA complicity in drug trafficking, a secret that according to journalist Alexander Cockburn is among those the CIA guards the most vigilantly; his low status made envious colleagues particularly malicious; and, finally, and possibly most importantly, his story stirred up tremendous unrest in the Black community.

When the worst part of Webb’s ostracism concluded, he had no high-status allies and couldn’t even get another newspaper job. While it’s certainly true that there are Establishment elements who seem bent on discrediting Hersh, there are a number of others who are vindicating parts if not all of his story, both on the big television news outlets and in large newspapers like the New York Times. Hersh, of course, also has the full backing of Pierre Omidyar’s Fearless and Adversarial Inc., which is one more way in which he differs from Gary Webb even ten years after Webb’s death. While Hersh is clearly disgusted with colleagues maligning him, he is just as obviously delighted with having stirred so much shit. He looks like a man with nothing to fear, and rightly so. The scandal will come and go — very soon probably — and Hersh will continue to act as a useful and widely respected conduit for powerful career imperialists.


Hey everybody, apologies for indulging the Trojan Glennbot down in comments. I deleted all but the very beginning. Trust that “Jeffrey” will be indulged no more and I’ll thank you all in advance for ignoring him also.

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79 Responses to Sy Hersh is an Intel Asset and Therefore No Gary Webb

  1. I admire your ability to sort through these kinds of complex, multiply-angled situations and come up with the key, salient points. Your lists of likely vs. impossible reasons the official might have had for talking to Hersh are great examples of this ability.

    Here are some reasons that a retired intelligence official like the one who spoke to Hersh would never have for speaking to him
    It’s notable, I think, that all these motives would get a movie greenlit immediately in Hollywood. They’re stupid and unlikely but attractive to a certain mindset.

    Your defense of Webb against the Hersh comparison is lovely — entirely, thoroughly factual, without any rhetorical flourish (which I, for one, would find hard to resist).

    Quick typo spotting: faith in the system he tells tails on

    • Tarzie says:

      Thanks for this lovely series of compliments and for the proofreading.

      • Don says:

        Just two more quick typo notes: the second list has 2 #2’s and the penultimate paragraph ends in a semi-colon–which is a typo in and of itself or means the material that was supposed to follow that semi-colon isn’t showing up in the actual page.
        Also wanted to reiterate the praise from above. You, as well as Arthur Silber and Chris Floyd, consistently make me rethink issues and identify my own assumptions. I appreciate that although, I’m sure, my friends, in conversation with me, find it increasingly exhausting.

      • Tarzie says:

        Thanks! Go easy on your pals. I’m only this prickly on the internets (most of the time).

  2. zardoz says:

    Great analysis and fully concur with @tinyfist’s comment.

    The fact that people are failing to see where Hersh sits in the larger propaganda / information control apparatus, means that he is an effective weapon and an asset for the intelligence community.

    I don’t think it is a contradiction to identify instances where his reporting is useful. (e.g. potential legal hopes for Manning / exposing MKULTRA) He is dangerous if he is falsely perceived as outside of and at odds with establishment and power.

    Hopefully clear sighted analysis like this will help neutralise him as an intelligence asset.

  3. Goldfish Training Institute says:

    I don’t think it is a contradiction to identify instances where his reporting is useful.

    I don’t know, I’ve experienced so many instances both on the ground watching and interacting with, and reading about groups and individuals on line, and giving them a pass for this one thing they said, or that one thing they did, or giving passes on more than one thing. . Or saying yeah her message is liberal as fuck but she’s reaching some folks, or whatever. Hell, I’m still guilty of falling for liberal apologists depending on the circumstances, the context, whether my blood sugar is too low, if Ive only had 4 hours sleep, whatever.

    I’d like to hear what other people think of this vis-a-vis the on-line stuff. In organizing, it’s “a kook or a spook.” If they’re just crazy and can’t be disciplined, or they’re a cop or a plant, you have to deal with them. I guess on-line it’s not so clear. Is Hersh more disruptive than helpful to revolutionary organizing? Is he more beneficial to liberal imps, bourgeois government supporters? . Does he say things that make sense sometimes or that can be construed as radical? Yes, but what is his overall contribution to an anti-imperialist project?

    Same about Scahill, Greenwald, this Crabapple person, and other empire cheerleaders. And it ties in directly with what tarzie’s been writing about – this co-optation of radicalized thought.

    • Tarzie says:

      Is Hersh more disruptive than helpful to revolutionary organizing?

      As with the others you name further on, I think their patronage by powerful capitalists and imperialists answers the question. If Hersh were a problem, he’d have been gone long ago. Of course, there’s risk of unintended consequences. The missing treasure trove may create problems around the treasure trove documents that were used against Chelsea Manning. That’s unlikely, but it does point to how these events be accidentally useful.

      But for the most part, all of Hersh’s stories create a little stir and then it dies down until the next one. Guy’s protected. I think a lot of the utility of these people is to simply keep people wedded to a largely passive politics revolving around the disclosure of state secrets. It’s effectively a non-politics most of the time, and when it isnt, you get things like Hersh expressing his bizarre faith in this system he’s been exposing for decades. In theory this shit is reformist, except reforms rarely happen because of it.

      • Goldfish Training Institute says:

        Thanks for that, those are really good points and I agree, the guy’s been writing since the 70s, they would have disappeared him decades ago if he were a threat.

        I was also responding to the commenter above me who said sometimes these writers are useful because they write occasionally about Manning or some other issue that can hit a nerve with people. But so do Greenwald and other assorted imperialists.

        I personally don’t want to give these imperialists a pass because they might hit a nerve with people on certain issues. It is not their intent to radicalize. They write constantly about the symptoms of the disease, but not the disease itself – class struggle, U.S. imperialism and its impact on the working class and oppressed around the world, and in response to that the necessity of a revolutionary project.

        I think it’s safe to say that these writers are not going to ever radicalize, for sure Hersh won’t, he’s been benefiting from his bourgeois position for over 40 years. Greenwald and the rest of them are just as bourgeois.

        Good discussion, I like your commenters!

      • Tarzie says:

        Good discussion, I like your commenters!

        Yeah, me too. I feel very lucky that way. Most comment sections are terrible but mine really isn’t. Some of the best writing and insights on the whole blog are down here. And people genuinely engage rather than talking at each other or to themselves.

      • jason says:

        passive spectatorship of a contrived dialectic within the State as “radical politics”? because the state is not a monolith, there is real movement, tension, conflict between, what shall we call them, nodes of power? some of us like to have our neurons fired a little more, but maybe it’s kind of like watching TV, “House of Cards” or whatever, for the more “radical” media consumer? it’s usefully disorienting to titillate an LRB reader with the conflict between S Hersch & the Zero Dark Thirty crowd, so, professor, pay attention to this esoteric knowledge, rather than the ACTUAL dialectic b/n, say, Black Lives Matter & the cops, where people’s bodies are in real, open conflict with state agents?

        still, when i first heard about this Hersch article, i won’t lie that i felt a little glee at this morsel of insider dope confirming what i already knew was BS. aren’t I smarter than the rubes AND the educated libs? smugger too.

      • Tarzie says:

        aren’t I smarter than the rubes AND the educated libs? smugger too.

        Yeah, I’m sure this a major part of the infocult’s appeal and a strong inducement to suspend skepticism. If you go beyond that and come out here where we are, you just feel lonely, you get trolled and slimed, and you even doubt yourself from time to time. The only incentive really is getting free of that overwhelming bullshit smell. There’s a small payoff in smugness, I guess, but you have to work at it and it in no way compensates for the downside. It’s way more fun to believe.

      • jason says:

        the appearance of conflict within the State is an indispensable part of the show. we get Big Brother fighting with Big Sister, or Big Mom & Big Dad squabbling, in front of us kids.

        that doesn’t mean there is not conflict but maybe who the DOJ decides to prosecute or hound to death (A. Schwartz) is a better guide to arenas of real struggle? or who Big Media decides to hound into submission or worse (G Webb)? (i am referring to conflicts mediated to us by the tube or internet or what have you.) not that this is an infallible guide for, i think, an element of arbitrariness in the exercise of power is indispensable to instilling the requisite fear in us all. and some “big” fish on occasion get to fry too (B. Madoff, D. Petraeus), smaller big fish for sure and they don’t fry enough or fry for reasons anyone should be sceptical of (who gives a shit what Petraeus said to his girlfriend?)

      • Tarzie says:

        I think that’s an entirely accurate and concise description of how it all works together. The realization that you discern the real struggles by where the state violence or media ostracism is was key for me. It appeals entirely to commonsense but it wasn’t something I always saw clearly. I might differ on arbitrariness. I think it’s fairly consistent. Anything or anyone that provokes the Ruling Class or its state agents is going to get into trouble unless they’ve been extremely stealthy. I don’t think true resistance from anyone with a public profile is possible. That’s why I think people like Greenwald and Hersh are genuine frauds, regardless of how see themselves.

        Big Fish generally fry when they fuck with other big fish or are in another one’s way toward a goal, and the punishment is rarely as severe as it is for the lowers.

      • jason says:

        Perhaps i should say the “appearance of arbitrariness.” blowing up wedding parties is surely not arbitrary on the large scale, but the individuals concerned will undoubtedly feel otherwise. how much does one have to cower in order not to be “arbitrarily” blowed up? the goat herder in Waziristan does not know what an “unacceptable” behavior is & cannot know how to avoid Sauron’s eye in the sky. what behavior does an American black youth exhibit in order not to get shot by a death squad member or not get tossed into one of our concentration camps? how not to have some bureaucratic, even by mistake, a “Tuttle vs. Buttle” thing, fuck your life up at the IRS, DMV, Verizon, or Chase (to compare mountains with mice)? what websites are you not supposed to visit at work (uh oh!) in order not to get fired? how not to piss off a prospective employer by something on FB or whatever? etc., etc. christ, do we ever need to be burn this fucking system to the ground. that’s how not to have this shit happen. or try to be a little boy/girl scout & blame the other person when the bank’s robo-foreclosure or pentagon’s hellfire missile falls on them.

  4. Jeffrey says:

    If I had to guess on the second list, I’d say #4 and the alien apparatii mentioned therein. Haven’t even read the original exposé or whatever, but yeah- seems most likely.

    • Tarzie says:

      Of course it could be many or none of those things, but my gut feeling is also that it’s about Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or both. In interviews, Hersh has been emphasizing Pakistan’s nuclear capability and how it gives them leverage in its relationship with the US. This coincides with an uptick in anxiety about Pakistan’s increasingly close relationship with China.

      • Jeffrey says:

        For some odd reason the powers most connected with OBL seem to be distancing themselves from one another. I think your gut is right on this one.

  5. Jeffrey says:

    As far as Greenwald being an imperialist (let me say in advance: please hold on to your shit!), I really think “they” would absolutely have disappeared him if they could, but at this point in time they just don’t have the “juice”, and so things stand as they are.

    Pierre is Pierre: presumably playing both sides and not sent from anarchist heaven with a halo attached.

    Not going to go to bat for Scahill, for other reasons, but Glenn deserves the benefit of the doubt at this point in time, in my very humble opinion.

    • Tarzie says:

      Glenn deserves the benefit of the doubt at this point in time, in my very humble opinion.

      Don’t troll me, bro.

      • Jeffrey says:

        Sorry– I will watch it. I know I am on thin ice.

      • Tarzie says:

        Honestly I think you’re completely misapprehending how the filtering works: how early it weeds dangerous people out and why and how quickly it can recover from errors. There is nothing dangerous about a political chameleon’s handwringing.

    • babaganusz says:

      at this point in time they just don’t have the “juice”

      you really think that whole “this Utterly Damning Information, if triggered by My Untimely Death Or Other Silencing, would inevitably gut the power and/or reputation of those who would prefer I kept my Uber-Investigative Trap shut” trope-schtick is even remotely plausible?

      • Jeffrey says:

        I haven’t heard that trope, no. I just think that at this point if his plane crashed (or whatever-) it would be quite clear to a lot of people it wasn’t an accident and thus be “bad pr” for a government that has been riding quite near its “bad pr” limit since the financial crisis, etc. cue the “oh you’re so naive, that’s not how it works…” comments. (But that is how it works.)

      • Tarzie says:

        Ok, let’s close discussion on this. Topic isn’t Greenwald this time, and much evidence has already been produced here that not only does the Ruling Class tolerate Greenwald, they like him a great deal. This blog is a refuge from Greenwald’s self-mythology and the rubes that buy it. We’re not gonna go back to square one. This is a derailment which would be ok if it promised something relatively new and interesting but it doesn’t. So, change of subject. What do you think about the idea that Hersh is objectively an intel asset?

  6. Jeffrey says:

    Well, if I might speak my mind, let me at least get a reply in:

    Greenwald is an ex corporate lawyer. Corporate lawyers *are* the filter. In the rare case they change their “chameleon” in another direction, there is a limit to what can be done to reign them in. It’s like when the cops or soldiers stop following orders or whatever. It’s so unsettling they just let it happen lest it really, *really* turn.

    • Tarzie says:

      Lawyers are the filter. Good one.

      There’s definitely a lesson in Greenwald’s stint as a corporate lawyer, but not the one you take.

      You’re very confused. Take two aspirin, read some Chomsky and comment in the morning.

      • Jeffrey says:

        I *will* take some (acetomenaphin!) because my back hurts from being in jail,approximately 35% of last week (street cred fa’ sho!),
        and then I will read some of the Chomsky in my email inbox,
        regarding Glenn Greenwald,
        In the affirmative!

        If my mind has changed in the morning- I will let you know? This is fair.

      • Tarzie says:

        approximately 35% of last week (street cred fa’ sho!)

        Well hush my mouth.

      • Jeffrey says:

        One of the older female lawyers thought I was fancy or something and the mexican genius of the bunch I was in with was like “Hey bro, SHE WANTS to KIKE with you.”.
        True story. Talk about the deep state- been there!

      • babaganusz says:

        some conflation of ‘cipher’ and ‘filter’, maybe? eh, weird even then…

  7. Jeffrey says:

    From the early 90’s ‘flick’ (if I may,) “School Ties”:

    “Dr. Bartram: …and the meek shall inherit the earth.
    David Green: I wonder how meek they’ll be when they do, sir.”

    ^On the subject of GG’s status as a ‘dangerous’ or ‘not a dangerous’ person…

    • thombrogan says:

      GG and his loyal army of fudgesticks pose no danger to higher ups of any faction, nor are they being groomed to continue those legacies. Their role is to make it look like they’re shining a bright light on injustice and then praise the CEO of the company that made the light.

      And we’re never supposed to wonder why starry-eyed libertarian Ed Snowden ever joined a statist organization nor be cynical about a participant in and recipient of government interference in economies around the world that’s now funding an ‘adversarial’ news service.

      • Jeffrey says:

        OKAY, starry eyes. Which CEOs have they been praising?

      • Tarzie says:

        I’m gonna answer this and then we’re going to stop. That bit about CEOs was clearly figurative, based on Greenwald’s corporate friendly politics, which make adversarial investigative journalism compatible with Wikileaks-blocading billionaires, the personhood of corporations (see Citizens United), and proposed neutralization of global surveillance by commercial improvements to encryption, among many other things.

      • Jeffrey says:

        I’m not an expert on Hersh but from reading a quick list of his writing I would say,

        1) I wouldn’t group all his stories in the same category as either subservient, or not.

        2) The timing and language which I have read from the latest OBL piece (deference to Obama, and other aspects), puts him perhaps, more in league with the intel establishment (or whatever) on this story, than he is seeking to appear, which is not a category I would put Webb in, so I appreciate that distinction. I don’t know that I would put it in the terms you put it, of “objectively being an intel asset”, but I would say skepticism seems warranted.

      • Tarzie says:

        I don’t know that I would put it in the terms you put it, of “objectively being an intel asset”, but I would say skepticism seems warranted.

        I wondered if perhaps I put it too strongly — so I’m glad you raised this objection — but I don’t think I did. Do you agree with Chomsky’s assessment of the community of insiders Hersh has relied upon for his stories for decades? If so, how is he not, then, effectively an asset?

        I agree with your distinction between stories. Certainly the more corroboration Hersh has from additional sources –preferably named, preferably not members of the imperial bureaucracy or its security apparatus — the less they amount to outright propaganda. However, the fact remains, that his stories result from tips that come from inside, which is at the very least, an attempt by the intelligence community to direct Hersh and his readers to certain events and people and not others.

        I don’t think Hersh would have the stature and stable of sources he has if he ever seriously fucked with power. He’s clearly got friends and protection in the highest of places, and you don’t get that by crashing gates and having dangerous thoughts.

  8. john says:

    or to simply maintain control of the news cycle while burnishing Hersh’s reputation, in anticipation of injecting more messages into the ether


    “Even the Germans are trying to get in on the act. I think it would be fantastic if Brazil and Zimbabwe and Venezuela and Sweden and India and North Korea and Peru and Australia and Sri Lanka and Bolivia all chimed in with their intel to make this a real party. It would be a fun way to state once and for all these psychopathic fucks are getting to be unspeakably boring.”

    lifted from here.

  9. Jeffrey says:

    Is there a reason I can’t reply directly to a certain of your comments and not others? I find this odd as I’m trying to just directly reply but I don’t think It will thread things that way. Anywhoo.

    After perusing the wikipedia on Hersh and the OBL story section, I tend to think the story itself is very likely factually true, but, again, I still like your, and this blog’s, skepticism, because I think the context and timing, and what isn’t included in the story of course, are important things.

    I would say I give a qualified agreement with Chomsky’s assessment of the insider community in the sense that, these people will absolutely make every effort to use you in any which way in which they are able, using access and whatever else to manipulate etc. That being said, Chomsky uses, I think, plenty of official pronouncements and sources and such and uses them towards his own ends, and I think a good writer of any kind can try to use his access for his own purposes. People can get seduced by other agencies and nations, they can certainly occasionally get seduced to just do something in the public interest from time to time. I don’t think it’s categorically impossible, just unlikely and not to be taken as a given.

    One thing that you may sometimes miss in your analysis also, IMHO, is just the role of pressure, which is somewhat constant, on any large institution or public figure, to maintain credibility and stay with the “news cycle” as I’ve seen it referred to here. It’s possible the stink of the official OBL story just got too strong and so “they” were kind of compelled to leak a more accurate version.

    I do think you are too quickly dismissive of people with access and “stature”. Just to play counterpoint, most people do not go through the pains of digging up dirt and all unless they at least somewhat believe in what they are doing. Not to say they aren’t compromised in one or another ways, but the central curiosity behind it can still be real…

    • Tarzie says:

      I do think you are too quickly dismissive of people with access and “stature”.

      Have you read very much of this blog? You seem like someone who hasn’t.

      I’m not being dismissive of anyone. I may not like the people I write about, but that’s not the main point. Whatever Hersh’s reliance on official shady sources says about him as a person is of no interest to me. I simply observe that he is dependent on those sources and what the ramifications are. I think Chomsky’s assessment is entirely correct and I think its logical conclusion is that Hersh is an asset for professional imperialists, regardless of how it all feels to Hersh.

      people do not go through the pains of digging up dirt and all unless they at least somewhat believe in what they are doing.

      Yeah, you’re really not paying attention if you think this is responsive to anything I’ve said here. Really not crazy about spoonfeeding in comments what I’ve already written several times. Putting that aside, I’m sure many people I criticize are very committed and hardworking and well-intended, and some aren’t. But it doesn’t matter. They are dealing with a system of constraints that lets certain people/ideas in and works assiduously at keeping others out. It’s like Chomsky said to the British interviewer who asked him something like: “Are you saying I don’t believe anything I say” Chomsky’s answer was (paraphrasing): “No. I’m sure you believe everything you say, and if you didn’t you wouldn’t be sitting there.”

      To me the system is very consistent and effective at eliminating dangerous ideas and dangerous idea havers. A lot of people like to make cases for there being exceptions but I find all these cases extremely weak. Stupid even. Magical thinky. Genuine subversives who can’t be contained by obscurity get ostracized, jailed or murdered. There are absolutely no exceptions to this. Why would there be? People in journalism become rich and famous for one reason only: they serve power.

      There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if Hersh weren’t playing ball with the intel community, he would not be a celebrated journalism Dad today, with regular gigs in the New Yorker and the LRB. He might not be dead or ostracized, but he wouldn’t be rich and celebrated either. I find this so blindingly obvious, I get really impatient having to spell it out all the time.

      While there are certainly problems with Chomsky, his use of official pronouncements and sources is not at in the least bit akin to the intelligence community guiding Hersh’s attention and nudging him to write about certain things and not others and providing him with most of his material. That’s just silly. The critique isn’t of using official sources. Obviously.

      I can’t imagine why you find Hersh’s OBL story credible, but I also don’t care enough to press you.

      • Jeffrey says:

        I read your blog all the time. Just because I don’t draw the conclusions you want or share all of your assumptions doesn’t mean I’m not reading it. I would characterize that as dismissive as well.

        I, and others, understand the system of constraints and filtering, some to a very high degree, and some more or less just intuitively, and yes, sure, some very little, or not at all, like let us say the British guy in the chair. I do think I remember watching the clip. Let’s say for the sake of argument, that guy was kind of a tool. Not everyone in the institutions are that. That is all. You don’t have to read Chomsky or Hermann discussing the filters or economic theories to realize you are being used or manipulated. Some people just see it and get it. I’m not defending Hersh on the grounds of being an honest curious hack, I’m saying he may well understand the constraints more than you give him credit for. I don’t really know in his case, I am just saying that some do.

        Chomsky using the official pronouncements is different but not outside the realm of analogy. Those pronouncements are to some extent designed to bolster the system which puts them out, but a savvy person can glean other things from them/ take them in a different direction- is all that I am saying. I think the analogy makes sense.

        I find the story credible, from what I read, just because the idea that no one in Pakistan knew that OBL was there seems far fetched. Also the idea of flying into a nuclear state with no contact with the military there-in is just so insane… if they did, I’m glad they are lying about it now because maybe they at least realize **how bad of an idea that is** lol.

        You got a nice blog here and I appreciate being allowed to partake.

      • Tarzie says:

        read your blog all the time. Just because I don’t draw the conclusions you want or share all of your assumptions doesn’t mean I’m not reading it.

        That’s not what I’m suggesting. I don’t object when someone disagrees with me. I do object when they attribute things to me that I never said. I don’t think this blog could be more fucking clear on how completely uninterested I am in discerning just how good or bad people are. Whether or not I think they’re dismissible or not. You think splaining how hard-working people are is somehow germane to what I write on this blog. This suggests to me that you’re not getting me. By that I don’t mean you’re not agreeing. I mean you’re not understanding me. Which puts me in a position of having to explain myself. Which is weird because I express myself fairly directly. And I repeat myself.

        If you want to get along here think/talk about constraints. systems. institutions. How they operate on people. How they don’t. How people can or can’t circumvent them. Please do not attempt to make these conversations about individuals and their merits, or their secret good or evil essence. This blog is not about that. Never was. Never will be. Chomsky, Greenwald and the rest interest me because they are particularly illustrative of how the usual constraints operate on the so-called “left”. I may like them or not, and it will show — I despise Greenwald, obviously — but that’s just a side effect and largely beside the point. Put another way, I don’t show how Greenwald operates within these constraints to prove he’s an asshole. I show how well-suited an asshole like him is to the system of constraints in which he operates.

      • Tarzie says:

        that guy was kind of a tool. Not everyone in the institutions are that. That is all.

        It doesn’t matter that everyone’s not a tool. What matters is they operate under the same constraints and have to pass through the same filters. In the same conversation, Chomsky talks about people who go about their business with more self-awareness. That they “play the system like a drum.” But this will only get you so far. The ruling class and its instruments know their interests. There are ways to throw a wrench in the works, but playing the media like a drum isn’t it. They have spent years working on Psy Ops and indoctrination. There is no beating them on their turf.

      • Jeffrey says:

        I am trying to get along!

      • Tarzie says:

        S’ok. Just lately it seems like I’m always arguing with people over things I didn’t say. Not just you. Believe it or not, I do like people who push back against me. I just want them to push back on things I actually said. I appreciate your thick skin. You’re always welcome here, but I’m gonna pop off occasionally. It’s part of the deal.

  10. Jeffrey says:

    Even when u iz wrong u iz right. amazin’!

    • Tarzie says:

      ok, smartass.

      It’s hard to remain annoyed with you. I guess because I know you’re not fucking with me.

      • Jeffrey says:

        I really think I am pushing back on things which, if you have not directly said, you are probably thinking and are fair game, but I will keep an open mind.

        Also, I understand what you are saying about talking about institutions and contraints, not people, but… sometimes they go hand in hand and it’s not *neccesarily* inconsistent with the one to discuss the other (I think it can potentially add quite a bit, actually). So… yeah. Not trying to stir it up! It just happens?

        // Love the calm vibe when u can find it! Har-har.
        & Thanks for the thick skin compliment and “pop-off” acknowledgment. More than ‘I could ask for’, as they say.

      • Tarzie says:

        Yeah, certainly systems and individuals are inseparable.

        What I object to is a focus on value judgments about people, which is what pointing out how well-intended or hardworking people are suggests. If, say, Sy Hersh is a person who understands the constraints, I’m interested in how that plays out. I don’t care that it makes him less of a tool than Chomsky’s interlocutor in that British interview. How these people see themselves, or the amount of self-awareness or calculation they take into it is largely irrelevant.

      • Jeffrey says:

        I really don’t see where I have made any of these supposed value judgements about people. I think to be perfectly honest you are missing the point a little regarding Chomsky’s point about what people think of themselves. He isn’t saying its irrelevant (even though he may claim this I think it’s an exaggeration, if you will) he is saying it’s not ‘dispositive’. Saddam thinks Saddam is a great humanitarian. Doesn’t make it so. Doesn’t make it not so, it’s just that someone’s own view of themself is like… the “null” hypothesis. Sorry if this sounds like I’m personalizing it (’tis how I see it) and also sorry to Saddams out there who were not brutal historical Iraqi heads of state. Y’all got it hella rough on the analogy circuit.

      • Tarzie says:

        Yeah, you’re still missing my point. I’m gonna bail after this. I’m over it. It’s gaslighty even though I’m sure that’s not your intent.

        I didn’t accuse you of making value judgments. My objection was that you are more interested in merit than I am because you credit merit with more impact than I do. Hence you say I am too dismissive. You reminded me that people work hard. I am saying that if you are getting me, you know how entirely unresponsive to anything I’m saying here those observations are. I realize our culture makes it very hard to understand people like me who aren’t quasi religious about individuals, but try.

        One more time: Peoples motives, or how earnestly they go at this stuff or don’t is not an area that interests me. Because like I said, I am not attempting to show whether or not Hersh or Chomsky are good people and I strongly discourage others from going anywhere near anything that unutterably tedious. My only interest in what you think sets them apart from others — like from that “tool” in the interview — is in the effect that difference produces, which you have not done, or even attempted it seems. The discussion my blog post invites is Sy Hersh: Intel asset or not? In fact, it’s the question I posed to you because you were tediously derailing with Greenwald. It is not a question you have usefully addressed.

        As for missing Chomsky’s point, it’s not Chomsky’s point I’m making. It’s my point. I don’t care if he thinks what people think of themselves is relevant. What I am saying is I don’t think its relevant. I introduced that interview as counter to your little speech about hard work, which was apparently an attempt at refuting my generally cynical take on these people. And you are doing this because you think these individual distinctions matter and that I should recognize that. The point Chomsky was making in that interview, and that I was making, is that many if not most of these people, are where they are because they adapt to the constraints very easily. How earnestly or diligently they go about is beyond trivial to me.

        In reply you wanted to stress that not everyone is such a tool, even though my point wasnt that the guy is a tool. You introduced Hersh’s greater awareness of the constraints and filters as if its useful information all by itself. But I am not interested in your assessment of his self-awareness or my presumed underestimation of it if you are not showing me how this particular virtue affects his work. For instance, how it tempers his relationship to the professional imperialists who largely direct his efforts. How it makes him less of an intel asset to people who have largely built his career and made him an icon by feeding him leads and information they don’t provide to anyone else. It may well do, but you haven’t demonstrated it. I would like you to do that if you want to continue down this road of noting individual distinctions.

        Your point about Saddam eludes me, and no, that’s not an invitation to explain it.

      • Jeffrey says:

        Sorry for the shitty spelling grammar and I bid you adieu. Come on Apple! Thou hast forsaken the ipad1 and I dissent from this!! J’accuse!

  11. Jeffrey says:

    I think I am getting what you are saying. As regards my “little speech on hard work”, I’m not sure where you are referring with this, but I can see how your characterization of my comments on Hersh and his state of mind might kind of be aside from the frame of the conversation you are looking to have.

    I remember reading, in regard to film production, the phrase: “Commonly, capital rents labor, in order to finance a film, however, sometimes labor rents capital.”. I take this to mean that, under certain circumstances, the power relation between the creatives on a film project is sometimes subservient to the money side, but sometimes the creatives have such a lock on a project or idea, that the capital side agrees to finance a film from a more or less subservient position, power-wise, meaning, the creatives are calling the shots.

    Regarding Hersh, or someone in his institutional position, if you will, I think the same can be said. On some stories and under some circumstances, the journalist can have more power than the institution or person in power he or she is covering. In many circumstances not. Obviously I haven’t layed out a greatly detailed map of how and where and according to what constraints these things happen, but I’m not writing a book nor focused on the issue as a personal mission, I am only trying to state that I believe such things happen, and explain it in institutional terms, as requested by the community here-in, you being the leader of said community as far as I can see/tell. Maybe this clears up nothing, maybe it clears up something. I hope I am not wasting my breathe but it’s just electrons, right?
    The Saddam thing was just for fun, lighten up.

  12. Jeffrey says:

    I should add that, in the film example, the film might be legitimately “subversive” as might be thought of, in a forum like this, and be financed anyways, because it makes enough business sense *to the particular people* behind that project.

    Kind of a “boss the bosses” school of thought regarding political reform is, I would argue, similarly conceivable, and in fact historically observable. The discussion of personality thins becomes relevant to determine whether the person is successfully playing said game successfully or not (the archetypical “tool” being the latter).

    • Tarzie says:

      sometimes labor rents capital

      Yeah, this is more like it. I don’t agree, but this is what I mean.

      I think this phenomenon of “labor renting capital” is a nicely concise way of describing how people who get giddy when someone like Hersh ruffles feathers see things. I also think it’s likely what people like Greenwald tell themselves, as they go from awards ceremony to awards ceremony and take stock of the items in their Oscar gift bag and negotiate pay rises.

      Unfortunately I see no evidence of this ever happening in journalism without eliciting punishment. I think this is akin to Chomsky’s remarks about journalists he knows who “play the system like a drum” where they toe the line, mostly, but grab opportunities here and there to sneak something a little more subversive in when the boss isn’t looking. I’m sure that this happens, but certainly not on a scale that matters a whole lot. In the present case, I can see how perhaps the missing treasure trove may impact cases like Manning’s and a few others who were nailed in part by evidence allegedly in that trove. This would likely be a totally unintended consequence but I don’t think its impact will be great.

      Even if I conceded that labor renting capital is a common occurrence, I don’t think you could possibly explain Hersh’s decades long career in those terms, but wildly speculating might be interesting. I would like to get some idea of how you think this works. But, I’m likely to remain unconvinced because, like I keep saying, the ruling class and its instruments know their interests and hold all the cards. Additionally, there is the problem of Hersh’s politics, which are clearly very much in sync with The War on Terror. Look at his comment about atrocities. It’s Cheney with weasel words. So even if this guy has been hoodwinking imperialists into going against their own interests all this time — something for which there is absolutely 0 evidence — it’s a big so what? for me.

    • Tarzie says:

      I should add that, in the film example, the film might be legitimately “subversive” as might be thought of, in a forum like this, and be financed anyways

      Yeah this is akin to capitalism will sell us the rope to hang itself. I don’t think profit motive ever gets in the way of peddling orthodoxy, not consequentially anyway. I would like you to name a Hollywood film made in the last 20 years that’s subversive. Not a rhetorical question. I’m genuinely curious.

      I think in the early days before media consolidation and when the public relations industry was still in its infancy this might have happened. Orson Welles films come to mind, but if you look at them, they’re really just liberal. Caine isn’t about capitalism so much as a particular individual being corrupted by it. Touch of Evil is about a bad cop, not an assault on police as an institution. Douglas Sirk snuck things into his melodramas that were pretty out there for the time I guess, but when the message is buried under layers of melodrama, just how subversive is it? The most radical film makers in commercial cinema — arguably Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, Kubrick — peddled cynicism and misanthropy I think more than anything else. I strain to think of a genuinely subversive US film that was made and distributed in the usual way. But I would love to be wrong on this one.

      • Henry says:

        > I would like you to name a Hollywood film made in the last 20 years
        > that’s subversive. Not a rhetorical question. I’m genuinely curious.

        (Almost) anything made by Costa-Gavras? Or is he not ‘Hollywood’ (enough)?

      • Tarzie says:

        Last 20 years? Very few movies done in the States since 1995, and while, of his recent films I’ve only seen Capital, there’s nothing in that period that looks subversive based on what I know about them. Capital certainly wasn’t.

        Riskiest film of his that I ever saw was Missing (1982), and that got shelved for many years because of pressure from lawsuits by former officials.

  13. Hieroglyph says:

    I wonder if the term ‘asset’ is sometimes misunderstood. An asset can of course be an individual who works for the CIA in some capacity, without declaring this openly. This type of asset knows fine well their role, and is compensated in some way, in the form of money or career, or their personal secrets being kept, well, secret. Other types of assets do of course exist, and it’s perfectly possible to be an asset without full-knowledge. Say the Chief Finance Officer of a medium size company, he\she is told to do something a little suss by their CIA Asset CEO, but think, well, that’s corporate life, then they too can be an asset. They don’t know it – but the CIA does.

    Journalists may well be assets. The phrase ‘a spook in every newsroom’ is well-known, and, whilst true, also slightly deceptive. There may well be a CIA-guy in the newsroom, but actually their is a roster of other assets, informants, ‘observers’, interviewees, lawyers, ad-men, etc etc. I almost feel sorry for the decent-journalists, they don’t have much of a chance.

    Am I an asset? Of a kind, perhaps. I’m a wishy-washy lefty posting on the internet. A nobody really, though my friends like me, and I don’t live in a basement. People like me can happily comment all we please on the internet, and this, collectively, adds to a vague patina of ‘free speech’ and ‘democracy’. The CIA are generically pleased with my work, if not my grammar. They don’t know me, or care about me, but that doesn’t matter.

    This kind of thinking, of course, is decried as conspiracism. A rational observer, however, looks at the US and thinks this is a proto-police state, then wonders if the ‘proto’ is perhaps being a touch kind. I look at the various demented, corrupt, puppets of militarism and Big Oil – aka, Congress and the Senate – and wonder how some don’t notice that these people are completely nuts. The way they speak, the words that come from their mouths, their relentless PR-bullshit, and their bizarre Christian hard-right views – nuts. And that’s before the corruption. Being nuts is kinda ok, as long as nobody gets hurt, but the corruption is a problem. I don’t believe that leaders are innately positive actors of change, or are truly representative of a nation-state, and to an extent am happy to totally ignore these freaks. However, I do believe that the quality of men and women in leadership postions tells us something of the state of the nation. One look at these freaks, Houston we have a problem.

    So, it’s perfectly fair to say Sy Hersh is an asset, and Webb is not. And I wonder if actually it’s dead easy to tell the difference, as other posters have also noted. An asset will not end up dead, in poverty, or with some disgrace associated with his\her name, at least not till they are long-dead. A non-asset, well good luck to them. Pretty simple really. Pleasingly exact.

    Also, the Webb vs Hersh equivalency is an obvious piece of fake-imputation, or ‘trolling’. It’s an engaging post as ever, but it unintentionally kind of made me slightly weary, like we now have to defend ourselves if we say, ‘the sun is hot’, or ‘the body needs water’. For neocons, I guess there are no facts.

    • Hieroglyph says:

      The last para about fake-imputation is not about Tarzie’s post. More about those who made the equivalency, which clearly wasn’t Tarzie. May have put myself badly there. All good.

    • Bitman says:

      Great stuff, Hieroglyph. This is very close to the position I take with my college students after they hear me lecture about the propaganda model and how media (and most other transmitters of cultural heritage, like universities) serve the murderous interests of elites. They naturally wonder why I can say the things I say without running afoul of same. The answer is a version of what you’ve said: I and my lefty university brethren are entirely functional to the system in that we make a considerable contribution to that democratic ‘patina’ or ‘affect’. We can be proffered as proof the system is inherently fair, since we get to pronounce on the system’s horrific injustices while standing before impressionable young minds paying to listen to us, and we get to do so with many of the trappings of cultural authority. It’s a big asset in its way.

      So I’m an asset. But the whole point of pointing out my asset-hood to students is to try to diminish how much of an asset I wind up being. And i don’t pretend I get around being an asset by so doing.

      Since Webb is part of the topic here, we should note that by your expansive definition of an “asset,” Webb almost certainly was an asset for a good, long time himself. As Webb said in 2002:

      “If we had met five years ago, you wouldn’t have found a more staunch defender of the newspaper industry than me. I’d been working at daily paper for 17 years at that point, doing no-holds-barred investigative reporting for the bulk of that time … If there was ever a true believer, I was one. My first editor called me “Woodstein,” after the pair of Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story . . .I was winning awards, getting raises, lecturing college classes, appearing on TV shows, and judging journalism contests. So how could I possibly agree with people like Noam Chomsky and Ben Bagdikian, who were claiming the system didn’t work, that it was steered by powerful special interests and corporations, and existed to protect the power elite?

      And then I wrote some stories that made me realize how sadly misplaced my bliss had been. The reason I’d enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn’t been, as I’d assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my job … The truth was that, in all those years, I hadn’t written anything important enough to suppress.”

      The suppleness of the propaganda system is such that it’s very, very difficult to avoid being an asset to it in some way at some point. Webb is a journalistic hero because he clearly wouldn’t allow himself to be managed the way Hersh does. Webb wasn’t content to be an asset – and he paid dearly for it.

      • Goldfish Training Institute says:

        They naturally wonder why I can say the things I say without running afoul of same. The answer is a version of what you’ve said: I and my lefty university brethren are entirely functional to the system in that we make a considerable contribution to that democratic ‘patina’ or ‘affect’. We can be proffered as proof the system is inherently fair, since we get to pronounce on the system’s horrific injustices while standing before impressionable young minds paying to listen to us, and we get to do so with many of the trappings of cultural authority. It’s a big asset in its way.

        Yep, this is one of the reasons imperialism exists – to buy off the labor aristocracy.

      • Tarzie says:

        I like this expansive definition of asset for the most part — it’s really illustrative — at the same time it’s a little binary for my tastes. It’s basically suggesting that anyone who’s not hacking the Pentagon to render it nonfunctional or something similar is an asset if only by being alive and writing etc and leaving the impression that democracy and liberty are possible and going entirely unnoticed by state violence doers. It’s true up to a point, in that, as I’ve stressed on this blog, there are no exemptions from the Propaganda Model and related constraints. But “everyone is an asset” is somewhat akin to calling myself an architect because I’m not blowing up construction sites and I happily comply with “sidewalk closed” signs. Or that prisoners who don’t riot every day are wardens.

        But I don’t think blogging in obscurity or teaching the Propaganda Model in a college course is being an asset in the same way Sy Hersh is and I also don’t find it entirely useful in the end to equate pre-Dark Alliance Webb with him either. I get what you’re saying certainly, but I think there is some utility in noting that Hersh, this great icon of rebel journalism, is in actual fact a stenographer for the imperial bureaucracy to a uniquely great, history-making, politics-altering extent. I think it makes a stronger point of just how fraudulent left media culture is and how extremely indoctrinated people are who take it at face value. Surely there’s a difference between reporting the My Lai massacre and thus leaving the impression of a robust, free press, and reporting it to deflect attention from greater atrocities.

        I’m inclined to see this everybody’s an asset thing as less binary and more of a continuum — varying levels of service — in every respect but one. There’s the paid asset and there’s everyone else. It’s the paid, conventional assets that make sure everyone else is an unpaid asset in the expansive sense too. Without the paid assets — and by that I mean those who professionally coerce, manipulate and abuse on behalf of the state — things would start to fall apart fairly quickly. An important distinction. It’s unlikely Hersh receives compensation from the apparatus itself the way a genuine infiltrator does, but his career and reputation are entirely reliant on his utility to professional imperialists. I think that puts him just one level below the spook in the newsroom and I think that’s meaningfully distinct from “Hersh is an asset because we’re all assets.”

    • Tarzie says:

      Lovely. Thanks for this.

      I wonder if actually it’s dead easy to tell the difference, as other posters have also noted. An asset will not end up dead, in poverty, or with some disgrace associated with his\her name, at least not till they are long-dead.

      I think it truly is that easy. The Ruling Class has absolutely no cause to indulge even a chronic inconvenience and all the means to eliminate it.

  14. davidly says:

    Yeah. Hersh is to ‘Obama got Osama’ what Mark & Matthew are to Luke & John — how we know that bin Laden brought the towers down and that Jesus rose from the dead.

  15. Hulot says:

    Some interesting reasons given here for why Hersh’s story came out.

    “Finally the story of the “walk-in” and the $25 million reward going to the individual is a story line that serves the interests of some high-ranking CIA officials – including then-CIA Director Leon Panetta – who had come to view ISI as the enemy because of a cluster of conflicts that involved suspicions about its protecting bin Laden, as well as ISI restrictions on CIA spying in Pakistan; the detention of CIA contractor Raymond Davis for shooting two Pakistanis; and finally, ISI complaints about US drone strikes. The CIA had increased its unilateral intelligence presence in Pakistan tremendously in 2010-11, and ISI demanded that the increase be rolled back.

    In January 2011, CIA operative Raymond Davis had been arrested for killing two Pakistanis who had apparently been tailing him, and the CIA had put intense pressure on the ISI to have him released. Then on March 17, one day after Davis had been released thanks to the intervention of ISI chief Shuja Pasha, the CIA had carried out a drone strike on what was supposedly a gathering of Haqqani network officials, but it actually killed dozens of tribal and sub-tribal elders who had gathered from all over North Waziristan to discuss an economic issue. A former US official later suggested that the strike, which had been opposed by then-Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, had been carried out then because the CIA had been “angry” over the detention of Davis for several weeks.”

    • Tarzie says:

      Likely something to that, I think. My first hunch upon concluding very early that there was an agenda, was that it was aimed primarily at Pakistan. And there’s been quite a lot of talk in the foreign policy mags about the relationship with Pakistan in the GWOT alongside anxiety about their increasingly cozy relationship with China.

      But I think there’s a number of agendas, and foreclosing on more theories about OBL’s death is among them.

  16. Tarzie says:

    god, you’re a diehard. I thought yinz were already in search of another savior. I guess savior Glenn endures since all he has to do is yap to keep his acolytes enthralled. Better never run for office.

  17. RUKidding says:

    Interesting as always. Knew forever that Sy Hersh is part of the “machine.” No surprises there for all the reasons elaborated within this post and comments. Mainly: Hersh is still there and still doing what passes for a very degraded scribbling called “journalism.”

    When Hersh’s story/legend/fairy tale came out recently, my first thought was: why now? Why bother? It really didn’t say a lot other than mostly refuting that other legend put forward by the “Hollywood Liberals” in that POS “movie” Zero Dark Bullsh*t.

    So allegedly conflicting “stories,” but why now? No idea. Maybe to cover up for something else going on. Who knows? At this point, I’ve stopped considering the WHYs of these things bc it’s all fully crazy all of the time. Hersh got his bonus or whatever, and the bs talking heads had something to breathlessly hyperventilate over for a day or 2… and now? Does anyone even remember? Certainly the US sheep really don’t care, do they? That they’ve been lied to endlessly and are still being lied to. Are they cognizant of that? Does it matter?

    Maybe that was the main point: here we go… lying to you again about the formerly great boogeyman Osama bin Laden. Do you care?

    I go with what Benazir Bhutto said quite a while ago: that ObL had died a long time ago. Then she got taken out for saying that. But isn’t that why W infamously said that he “didn’t care” about ObL anymore (or words to that effect)? Because ObL has been pushing up daisies for a long long time. He was very ill. I doubt that he had much to do with 9/11. Who knows how much of a “leader” of Al Qaeda he was… didn’t the CIA create and arm Al Qaeda anyway? Have you duly noticed that almost no one talks about Al Qaeda anymore… now it’s all about ISIS…. another CIA mercenary “army” funded by the USA tax payer in order to benefit the 1% and the fully nutbar crazoids in the District of Criminals.

    If some kind of skirmish happened in Pakistan, I question whether it had anything to do with ObL… at most, possibly with some of his family members and that’s it.

    But my speculation and $5 might get ya a cuppa coffee somewhere.

    • Tarzie says:

      At this point, I’ve stopped considering the WHYs of these things bc it’s all fully crazy all of the time

      That’s pretty much how I feel. I think you get diminishing returns after you’ve been convinced that of course there’s a why — probably several — and that by extension Hersh is a propagandist, and a Psy Op (Sy Op?) whether he believes everything these people tell him or not. So there is no good reason to do anything but call bullshit on it and move on. I find the giddiness this bullshit inspired on people I would expect to know better really disagreeable.

      I tend not to speculate on anything regarding terrorism and 9/11 because practically everything we know comes from the source that has the keenest interest in keeping us confused, so as to keep conjuring up stories and crises as the need arises. Terrorism is so much more useful as a boogeyman than the use of communism during the cold war, because it imposes almost no narrative constraints, no geographical constraints and powerfully leverages racism and boredom.

      Every now and then I go with hunches for lack of something else, and yeah, I’m inclined to see OBL as a largely fictional character — largely, not entirely — and my hunch is that the shell of a man on which this story is based has been dead for a long time. Even if he really was killed in this raid, this story just reeks in so many other respects, for instance, the disposal of the body and the reason they couldn’t take him alive. For all its grittiness, it still just closes up all the holes the same way the official official story did.

      • RUKidding says:

        For quite a while, I was intrigued & interested enough in trying to figure out “what is really going on.” I have had some good “conversations” on different blogs with others who kinda sorta had the same mindset and saw things in a similar fashion to me. We have shared some useful info. At the end of the day, though, it’s all a shifting sand, and really seems to me that the so-called Powers that Be are a bunch of rich maniacs who are certainly not in concert with each other have their own power grabs/plays, etc. Plus then you throw the Alphabet Spooks and the Military into the equation (from various countries), and they have their own power base, power grabs, and so forth. Nothing is unified, IOW.

        I have found, fwiw, recently that more and more people are speaking out loud that 9/11 was a fraud. If it wasn’t *directly* created/managed by the USG, then the USG knew about it and permitted it. But, of course, it’s taken us 14 years to get to this point of reality. But: then what? And: so what?

        These monsters are so glib – think again of W saying “I don’t care about Osama bin Laden anymore” – and such psychopaths and/or sociopaths, that we have little recourse to actually DO anything. Certainly those at the top, who do actually pull some of the strings, clearly could give a sh*t about anything… apparently including their own lives (think climate disaster, which most of these jerks must know is true and not a “left wing fantasy”). They simply Do. Not. Care. Apparently for them, it’s all about amassing ever more gargantuan fortunes, but really all about Power and the ability to get whatever they want.

        So, really, I’ve reached the conclusion that trying to “figure it out” is a mug’s game. Well really, many of us have “figured it out.” The USG really doesn’t exist anymore, and we rubes are truly on our own, so good luck with that. I gave up writing to Senators and Representatives a looooooong time ago bc they’re gonna do what their paid to do by the 1%. They could give a sh*t what the rubes want. Voting a the Federal level Is essentially meaningless and becoming more meaningless at the state and local level.

        And so on… Once in a while I may, like with the Sy Hersh “story,” go: WHY NOW? or some such. Then I shrug and go: whatever…

      • Tarzie says:

        Yup. I do this here to make/attract more non-rubes, mostly because I prefer their company.

        I think I am slightly less pessimistic than you. I think ridding ourselves of this vermin is actually possible, though not easy or likely, at least not soon. I think it has to be a global effort and strongly aligned with labor.

        With respect to Empire as a collection of little kingdoms, sometimes very much at odds with each other: I have a little trouble with this increasingly common conception if stated too broadly, since I see it put again and again in service to shrugging at things like all the defense and alphabet money going into projects — like Tor — ostensibly aimed at protecting us from The Deep State. I also see it used to roll eyes at anything remotely suggestive of conspiracy. Yes, it’s true Empire is factionalized, but these factions are united in ways that count, like prosecuting the Ruling Class war on people, and some of these little kingdoms have vastly more power than others, which also lends a certain amount of consistency to how things go.

        I also can’t agree that there is no longer a USG just because it is more inclined now to control by routine brute force and psychological manipulation, than the throwing of social program bones of the past. If service to the Ruling Class at the expense of the people is the benchmark for the government no longer existing, then it’s never existed. Far from not existing, the USG is indispensable to the death grip of the Ruling Class.

        It’s interesting what you say about 9/11. I’ve noticed the same thing, mostly in the course of more serious discussing of Saudi complicity which is much more common now, at least in the penumbra of the mainstream. There is less dismissing of links between U.S. elites and the Saudis in these discussions.

      • RUKidding says:

        I agree that blogging or communicating in other fashions in order to *educate* others about the facts of what’s “really going on” is worthwhile and something to continue. In my own small way, it is also what I do. And uphill battle, though, as many people want to cling and grasp to clearly outdated notions about how the govt works.

        I probably stated things a bit to broadly about the USG not existing. I guess it does exist, but it’s very debased and mainly only in service to the PTB. How factionalized it is, where the power bases are, are hard to figure out. Can we 99s wrest at least some control back? I’m truly not sure anymore. Yes, I feel very cynical and jaded. I would like to believe I’m wrong and that somehow there are solutions to making things at least somewhat more fair, sane and rational. But I don’t see how.

        What I see is what I call Kabuki Show in the US congress, courts and exec branch. Once in a blue moon some teensy tiny piece of legislation is passed that may have some collateral benefit for the 99s, but the overall bulk of legislation, court rulings. Exec Agency activities solely and only benefit the rich and the powerful.

        Take the TPP – it’s been “discussed” for quite a while now, but one only knew about if one spent time on blogs and other alternative news sources. Even then, the full extent of the TPP has been kept in the dark, certainly from the 99s, but allegedly even from the Crooks & Liars in Congress. Then there was the Kabuki Show of Senators voting against it, with the usual so-called “liberals” making noises about it. Then some tiny teeny part of the TPP is allegedly “changed,” and then the majority passes it. It’s bogus. When I heard about TPP some years ago, I knew it was foregone conclusion that it would be “passed.”

        Although I’m stating it badly, what TPP basically is – is global rule by the corporations. It ain’t gonna be good for the 99s. And all the shitty crappy stuff that’s happened in the US – with offshoring boatoads of jobs to the other countries, insisting on zillions of H1(b) visas to bring in “better qualified” workers from other countries (all done to drive down wages and do away with any benefits for US workers) – is just going be magnified and intensified x 1million. And there’s going to be less and less “nice things,” like any semblance of pollution control (air, water, etc), job safety requirements, etc. It’s gonna be a big old honking money-maker for the 1% per usual at the expense of the 99s, who’re going to enjoy worse and worse working conditions… for those “lucky enough” to have jobs… of course all whilst dissing those “lazy slackers” who can’t find work.

        In my eyes, that’s a lack of a true USG that functions to serve the needs of “we the people,” and my concern is that we’re not going to see any improvements in my lifetime (I am old, but not that old). I hope I’m wrong, and I hope some improvements can be made. I’m willing to do what it takes, if feasible. However, TPP is not a good thing, and I fear that we’re really swirling down the sewer now. Sorry to sound so negative. Good luck to us all. I’m open to any and all ideas.

      • Tarzie says:

        that’s a lack of a true USG that functions to serve the needs of “we the people,” and my concern is that we’re not going to see any improvements in my lifetime

        Oh I completely agree. My only objections were that saying there is no USG sort of erases the mechanism that holds this shit together and also the implication that the government wasn’t set up from day one to favor rich white guys. The deck has always been stacked against the people, but there were periods obviously when communities and movements coalesced to create leverage against some of the Ruling Class’s excesses. But that leverage is all gone now. The decline of the labor movement was probably the death blow, because only labor really has leverage that goes beyond lobbying, voting and the occasional riot. It can shut the whole thing down. I don’t see how there can be any relief until labor gets back on its feet, which doesn’t seem likely, though the living wage and Fast Food Strike efforts are inspiring at least.

  18. Jan Stickle says:

    Chris Floyd mentioned your name, and the door was open so I wandered in. Lots of words in here. I suppose it is remotely possible that Sy really believes that OBL was killed that night, and since he writes as if the killing really happened, then he must be an active asset since a person of his intellectual/journalistic ability would have already done the requisite reading and would know that OBL was a CIA asset and had little or nothing to do with the 9/11 false flag, and quite probably died, as reported in the press, in 2002. On to the next guy: Snowden, GG and Assoc. Self exposure as assets from the git go, as they never call out 9/11 for what it is ( it is the gift that keeps on giving,) content to fiddle around the gaping wound with Q-tips and antibiotic cremes. That the creature is still alive and pretty damn well after all these years gives an unholy testament to the power of the lie. Gary Webb would be amazed! But here we are and we have Peter Dale Scott and David Ray Griffen’s works (to mention only a few) all over the place, and while they are still ridiculed as “conspiracy theorists,”) anyone who has the ability to read and possesses a modicum of mental acuity can, without much trouble or expense, ascertain for themselves that 9/11 was, indeed, a government operation with none other than Dick Cheney manipulating the levers in the PEOC that fateful morning, whilst the GOP/Neocon’s most illustrious smirking goober-chimp fiddled aimlessly in that Florida elementary shool, as immortalized forever in Michael Moore’s cruelly embarrassing 11 minute classroom scene in “Fahrenheit 9/11.” In case a person should still be in doubt and/or denial of the 9/11 truth, it is recommended that they watch “Loose Change” for elucidation. Not that America’s primary policy of warmongering, invasion and murderous atrocities began with the 9/11 event as anyone who reads any credible history texts will readily affirm, or one could simply look about the globe and count the dead, dismembered and damaged human beings and their animals that we have attacked directly or indirectly through proxies.

    Well the sun is up and the beans need watering. I could come back, I like the dialogues and dilemmas here, but maybe you’d rather I didn’t. Most sites don’t want commenters whose perspective is focused through the lens of 9/11. It all started innocently enough, but after I started opening the doors, all I found were more doors. If I open enough of them, I may come to grasp the nature of humankind, maybe somewhat.

    • Tarzie says:

      Hi. Like you say, Hersh could really believe everything he writes — per Chomsky’s assessment — or he could be more calculating and in on the gag. My point has always been with these people that the extent to which they’re being officially “run” is largely irrelevant. The results are the same. We know enough about Hersh to conclude is an asset in all functional respects — including regard for him as such by his sources — whether or not he believes everything he writes. My guess is someone that intelligent can’t possibly not know the racket he’s in but there’s no knowing and I don’t care much.

      As to sites that shun Truthers, I’m sort of in the middle on that. I don’t have any problem with Truthers or their theories, but I think some of the pushback I give and they get elsewhere is as much due to their inclination to make everything about 9/11 and have arguments with others and each other that are much better conducted on sites dedicated to that purpose. I like people to stay on topic here, and that’s everybody, not just Truthers.

      I also think that conspiracists have an intellectual preoccupation with origin stories as opposed to the events and effects the conspiracy (or whatever it is) produces. Hence, in examining, say, Snowden, everything he does will be assessed for evidence of his being an operative rather than assessed for their effects. My regard for the media is such that Snowden would functionally become a limited hangout, whether he was in on it or not. Hence, I see a lot of conspiricism as bad appleing that actually underestimates the extent of manipulation and propaganda that are baked into the system and require very little extra intervention from spooks.

      This Fran Lebowitz quote about children fits a lot of conspiracy theorists, I think:

      Notoriously insensitive to subtle shifts in moods, children will persist in discussing the color of a recently sighted cement mixer long after one’s interest in the topic has waned

      • Jan Stickle says:

        I shall sit quietly at the children’s table and observe the adults from time to time. Somehow I don’t trust Fran Lebowitz’s analysis of children’s perceptive abilities, and It it should be noted, in their behalf, that it was a child who pointed out to the assembled adults that the emporer had no clothes. If interest in the topic of the 9/11 cement mixer has waned for you, I suspect that coming events may well rekindle your inquisitive adult minds.

      • Tarzie says:

        You’re misreading. Lebowitz isn’t disparaging “children’s perceptive abilities.” She is disparaging their “[Notorious insensitivity] to subtle shifts in moods”, which makes them talk about things long after others have signaled a lack of interest. These are not the same thing. In the same essay, she says that children ask better questions than adults.

        You needn’t stay at the children’s table if you’re not insensitive to shifts in mood. Also, go light on the Truther “Wake up, sheeple!” thing or variations. Some people have thought about these things as much as you and reached different conclusions in good faith.

  19. Pingback: “Kill your idols”: Chelsea Manning and the reactionary “left” – Leftist Critic

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