Date: Thursday, 16 February 2023
Seymour Hersh Responds to His Critics
The cover-up by the U.S.-and-allied ‘news’-media of Seymour Hersh’s blockbuster self-published February 8th investigative-news report that Joe Biden himself had ordered the destruction of the Nord Stream gas pipelines, wasn’t only the virtually total blackout of it that was engaged in by almost all ‘news’-media in The West — their failing to report that Hersh had issued any such news-report — but was ALSO the denigration of it by the very few that did mention it. Almost only non-mainstream news-media in The West DID report about it, and the four mainstream ones that did were treating it casually and briefly.
One of the four even had the nerve to describe Hersh — the world’s most celebrated and famous investigative news-reporter — under their headline “The claim by a discredited journalist that the US secretly blew up the Nord Stream pipeline is proving a gift to Putin”, which headline had nothing to do with his report’s truthfulness but was only a smear against Hersh, like Joseph R. McCarthy had infamously done against American progressives back in the 1950s as being ‘communists’ — as-if an investigative reporter ought to consider politics even before considering truth (if considering truth at all). That outright smear-job against Hersh cited a string of U.S.-UK-Netherlands-Government backed-and-financed sources (such as Eliot Higgins’s BellingCat) in order to charge that “In recent decades, he [Hersh] has come under criticism by those who call it [“it” referring to his articles that were published after the neoconservative New Yorker magazine effectively fired him] poorly-sourced, conspiratorial, and over-reliant on anonymous sources.” The New Yorker editor who virtually fired him as a reporter on controversial issues — after which Hersh was no longer able to get employed again as an investigative reporter on the top international matters — was David Remnick, the anti-Palestinian, anti-Russian, anti-Syrian, pro-U.S.-empire (i.e., neoconservative) liberal Editor-in-Chief of that magazine, who, for example, wrote in his magazine on 26 January 2003 headlining “MAKING A CASE” to invade Iraq (he said his purpose in the article was “furthering, and deepening, his [President George W. Bush’s] case for the use of force in Iraq.”), and citing there no facts, but only opinions, from other Democratic Party neoconservatives, such as Kenneth Pollack of the Democratic Party’s Brookings Institution (and now of the Republican Party’s American Enterprise Institute) to support invading Iraq — all of it on the basis of what were, even at that time, clear-cut lies, demonstrably false assertions of fact, whose falseness was systematically being hidden by the press from the public — but Remnick virtually forced out the world’s leading investigative jounalist. (Subsequently, at a 3 March 2009 “Seymour M. Hersh in conversation with David Remnick - The New Yorker Festival”, Remnick introduced Hersh by saying, “Sy Hersh is, quite simply, THE greatest investigative journalist of his era.” In 2001 Remnick had called him “talent at the highest level”. Even Remnick never said otherwise. People who do say otherwise aren’t even close to that level, and Hersh always has a credible (if not always quite convincing) answer to their objections. The question about Hersh’s Nord-Stream-bombings article isn’t whether it contains every truth, but whether it is entirely true — and the burden of anyone who would allege something in it to be false would be to prove the given allegation in it to be false, which no one has thus far done. And yet: the article is banned from publication or republication by all mainstream news-media in The West.
So, Hersh now is fighting back. On February 15th, Jacobin magazine headlined “Seymour Hersh: The US Destroyed the Nord Stream Pipeline: AN INTERVIEW WITH SEYMOUR HERSH”, and also Hersh separately posted at his blog-site, his self-defense as an investigative journalist, “The Crap on the Wall”.
In the interview, here are excerpts:
What I’ve done is simply explain the obvious. It was just a story that was begging to be told. In late September of 2022, eight bombs were supposed to go off; six went off under the water near the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, in the area where it is rather shallow. They destroyed three of the four major pipelines in the Nord Stream 1 and 2.
Nord Stream 1 has been feeding gas fuel [to Germany] for many years at very low prices. And then both pipelines were blown up, and the question was why, and who did it. On February 7, 2022, in the buildup to the war in Ukraine, the president of the United States, Joe Biden, at a press conference at the White House with German chancellor Olaf Scholz, said that we can stop Nord Stream.
The exact wording from Joe Biden was “If Russia invades, there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2, we will bring an end to it.” And when a reporter asked how exactly he intended to do it, given that the project was within the control of Germany, Biden just said, “I promise we will be able to do it.”
His under secretary of state, Victoria Nuland, who was deeply involved in what they call the Maidan Revolution in 2014, used similar language a couple of weeks earlier.
You say that the decision to take out the pipeline was taken even earlier by President Biden. You lay out the story from the beginning, chronologically from December 2021, when the national security advisor Jake Sullivan convened, according to your piece, a meeting of the newly formed task force from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, the State and the Treasury departments. You write, “Sullivan intended for the group to come up with a plan for the destruction of the two Nord Stream pipelines.”
This group initially was convened in December to study the problem. They brought in the CIA and so on; they were meeting in a very secret office. Right next door to the White House, there’s an office building that’s called the Executive Office Building. It is connected underground through a tunnel. And at the top of it is a meeting place for a secret group, an outside group of advisors called the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board. I only reported that to let the people in the White House know that I do know something.
The meeting was convened to study the problem: What are we going to do if Russia is going to war? This is three months before the war, before Christmas of 2022. It was a high-level group; it probably had a different name, I just called it the “interagency group” — I don’t know the formal name, if there was one. It was the CIA and the National Security Agency, which monitors and intercepts communications; the State Department and the Treasury Department, which supplies money; and probably a few other groups that were involved. The Joint Chiefs of Staff had representation as well. …
What role did Norway play in the operation?
Well, Norway is a great seaman nation, and they have underground energy. They’re also very anxious to increase the amount of natural gas they can sell to Western Europe and Germany. And they have done that, they’ve increased their export. So, for economic reasons, why not join with the United States? They also have a residual dislike of Russia. …
To do this mission, the Norwegians had to find the right place. The divers that were being trained in Panama City could go to three hundred feet underwater without a heavy diving tank, only a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen and helium.
The Norwegians found us a place off Bornholm island in the Baltic that was only 260-feet deep so they could operate. They would have to return slowly. There was a decompression chamber, and we used the Norwegian submarine hunter. Only two divers were used for the four pipelines.
One problem was how to deal with those people who monitor the Baltic Sea. It is very thoroughly monitored, and there’s a great deal of openly available information, so we took care of this; there were three or four different people for that. And what we then did is really simple. Every summer for twenty-one years, our navy Sixth Fleet, which has control of the Mediterranean and also the Baltic Sea, has an exercise for NATO navies in the Baltic (BALTOPS). And we’d bring a navy carrier or large ships around. It was a very open thing. The Russians certainly knew about it. We did publicity. And in this one, for the first time in history, the Baltic Sea NATO operation had a new program. It was going to have an exercise in dropping mines and finding mines for ten or twelve days.
Several nations sent out mining teams, and one group would drop the mine and another mining group from their country would go hunt and blow it up. So you had a period where there are things blowing up, and in that time the Norwegians could recover deep-sea divers. The two pipelines run about a mile apart; they’re under the dirt a little but they’re not hard to get to, and they had practiced this. It didn’t take more than a few hours to plant the bombs. …
They did it around ten days into June, at the end of the exercise, but at the last minute the White House got nervous. The president said he’s afraid of doing it. He changed his mind and gave them the order that he wanted the right to bomb anytime, to set the bombs off anytime remotely by us. You do it with just a regular sonar, actually a Raytheon build. You fly over and drop a cylinder down. It sends a low-frequency signal — you can describe it as a flute sound tone, you can make different frequencies. But the worry was that one of the bombs, if left in the water too long, would not work, and two did not — they only got three of the four pipelines. So there was a panic inside the group to find the right means, and we actually had to go to other intelligence agencies that I didn’t write about. …
Joe Biden decided not to blow them up. It was in early June, five months into the war, but then, in September, he decided to do it.
I’ll tell you something. The operational people, the people who do kinetic things for the United States, they do what the president says, and they initially thought this was a useful weapon that he could use in negotiations.
But at some point, once the Russians went in, and then when the operation was done, this became increasingly odious to the people who did it. These are well-trained people; they are in the highest level of secret intelligence agencies. They turned on the project. They thought this was an insane thing to do. And within a week, or three or four days after the bombing, after they did what they were ordered to, there was a lot of anger and hostility. This is obviously reflected in the fact that I’m learning so much about it.
And I’ll tell you something else. The people in America and Europe who build pipelines know what happened. I’m telling you something important. The people who own companies that build pipelines know the story. I didn’t get the story from them but I learned quickly they know.
I think that the reason they decided to do it then was that the war wasn’t going well for the West, and they were afraid with winter coming. The Nord Stream 2 has been sanctioned by Germany, and the United States was afraid that Germany would lift the sanctions because of a bad winter. …
I don’t think they thought it through. I know this sounds strange. I don’t think that Blinken and some others in the administration are deep thinkers. There certainly are people in the American economy who like the idea of us being more competitive. We’re selling LNG, liquefied gas, at extremely big profits; we’re making a lot of money on it. I’m sure there were some people thinking, boy, this is going to be a long-time boost for the American economy. ...
How do you think this war could end?
It doesn’t matter what I think. What I know is there’s no way this war is going to turn out the way we want, and I don’t know what we’re going to do as we go further down the line. It scares me if the president was willing to do this.
And the people who did this mission believed that the president did realize what he was doing to the people of Germany, that he was punishing them for a war that wasn’t going well. And in the long run, this is going to be very detrimental not only to his reputation as the president but politically too. It’s going to be a stigma for America. …
Your story was reported in Western media with some restraint and criticism. Some attacked your reputation or said that you have only one anonymous source, and that’s not reliable.
How could I possibly talk about a source? I’ve written many stories based on unnamed sources. If I named somebody, they’d be fired, or, worse, jailed. The law is so strict. I’ve never had anybody exposed, and of course when I write I say, as I did in this article, it’s a source, period. And over the years, the stories I’ve written have always been accepted. I have used for this story the same caliber of skilled fact-checkers as had worked with me at the New Yorker magazine. Of course, there are many ways to verify obscure information told to me.
And, you know, a personal attack on me doesn’t get to the point. The point is that Biden chose to keep Germany cold this winter. The president of the United States would rather see Germany cold [because of energy shortages] than Germany possibly not supportive in the Ukraine war, and that, to me, is going to be a devastating thing for this White House. For me, and I think also for the people on the mission, it was appalling. ...
I can tell you that the people involved in the operation saw the president as choosing to keep Germany cold for his short-range political goals, and that horrified them. I’m talking about American people that are intensely loyal to the United States. In the CIA, it’s understood that, as I put it in my article, they work for the Crown, they don’t work for the Constitution.
The one virtue of the CIA is that a president, who can’t get his agenda through Congress and nobody listens to him, can take a walk in the backyard of the Rose Garden of the White House with the CIA director and somebody can get hurt eight thousand miles away. That’s always been the selling point of the CIA, which I have problems with. But even that community is appalled. ...
Here is from Hersh’s February 15th article at his blogsite, which is paywalled and this is only the article’s opening, which isn’t paywalled:
15 February 2023
This a brief combat report from the battlefield here and abroad in the aftermath of the release last Wednesday of my story about Joe Biden’s decision to blow up the Nord Stream pipelines.
First, many thanks for your interest in what the pipeline story was all about: a very dangerous Presidential decision. You are careful readers.
I’m an old hand at dropping bombshell stories that are based on the disclosures of sources I do not, and cannot, name. There is a pattern to the response by the mainstream media. It dates back to my breakthrough story: the My Lai massacre revelation. That story was published in five installments, over five weeks in 1969, by the underground media group Dispatch News. I had tried to get the two most important magazines in America, Life and Look, to publish the story, with no success. Editors at both publications had earlier invited me to do some freelance writing for them, but they wanted nothing to do with a story about a massacre committed by American soldiers.
It was a frightening time for me, in terms of my faith in the profession I had chosen. I was allowed to read and copy by hand much of the Army’s original charge sheet accusing a sad sack 2nd Lieutenant named William L. Calley Jr. of the premeditated murder of 109 “Oriental” human beings. I also had tracked Calley, the Army’s only suspect, and interviewed him at a base in Georgia—he was tucked away—and gotten his assertion that he was merely doing what he was ordered to do. Given all this, I was more than a little rattled—make that terrified—by the failure of senior editors at prominent magazines to jump at a story that would get international attention, especially when those editors professed to deplore the war and want it to end. …
Also on February 15th, the very fine investigative journalist Alan MacLeod headlined online, “MEDIA IGNORE SEYMOUR HERSH BOMBSHELL REPORT OF US DESTROYING NORD STREAM II”, and he opened:
It has now been one week since Seymour Hersh published an in-depth report claiming that the Biden administration deliberately blew up the Nord Stream II gas pipeline without Germany’s consent or even knowledge – an operation which began planning long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Based on interviews with national security insiders, Hersh – the journalist who broke the stories of the My Lai Massacre, the CIA spying program and the Abu Ghraib torture scandal – claims that in June, U.S. Navy divers traveled to the Baltic Sea and attached C4 explosive charges to the pipeline. By September, President Biden himself ordered its destruction. According to Hersh, all understood the stakes and the gravity of what they were doing, acknowledging that, if caught, it would be seen as a flagrant “act of war” against their allies.
Despite this, corporate media have overwhelmingly ignored the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter’s bombshell. A MintPress News study analyzed the 20 most influential publications in the United States, according to analytics company Similar Web, and found only four mentions of the report between them.
The entirety of the corporate media’s attention given to the story consisted of:
A 166-word mini report in Bloomberg;
One five-minute segment on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Fox News);
One 600-word round up in The New York Post;
A shrill Business Insider attack article, whose headline labels Hersh a “discredited journalist” that has given a “gift to Putin”. [That headline is “The claim by a discredited journalist that the US secretly blew up the Nord Stream pipeline is proving a gift to Putin”.]
The 20 outlets studied are, in alphabetical order:
ABC News; Bloomberg News; Business Insider; BuzzFeed; CBS News; CNBC; CNN; Forbes; Fox News; The Huffington Post; MSNBC; NBC News; The New York Post; The New York Times; NPR; People Magazine; Politico; USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
Searches for “Seymour Hersh” and “Nord Stream” were carried out on the websites of each outlet, and were then checked against precise Google searches and results from the Dow Jones Factiva news database.
This lack of interest cannot be explained due to the report’s irrelevance. If the Biden administration really did work closely with the Norwegian government to blow up Nord Stream II, causing billions of dollars worth of immediate damage and plunging an entire region of the world into a freezing winter without sufficient energy, it ranks as one of the worst terrorist attacks in history; a flagrant act of aggression against a supposed ally.
Therefore, if Biden did indeed order this attack, it is barely possible to think of a more consequential piece of news. Indeed, according to Hersh, all those involved – from Biden, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan – understood that what they were doing was “an act of war.”
America now is at war not only against Russia, and not only against China, and not only against Iran, and not only against Venezuela, and not only against North Korea, and not only against Syria, and not only against Cuba, but also against Europe. America is the terrorist internationally dictatorial power that endangers peace everywhere and especially against the other two major nuclear powers (Russia and China) — thus endangering the entire world with World War Three. And the U.S.-and-allied ‘news’-media are its essential accomplices by hiding this reality. And that is the significance of their news-suppression against Hersh’s Nord-Stream-bombings article. It is being done in order to hide from Europeans that their enemy isn’t Russia but America (and including all European leaders who trumpet the converse).
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse’s new book, AMERICA’S EMPIRE OF EVIL: Hitler’s Posthumous Victory, and Why the Social Sciences Need to Change, is about how America took over the world after World War II in order to enslave it to U.S.-and-allied billionaires. Their cartels extract the world’s wealth by control of not only their ‘news’ media but the social ‘sciences’ — duping the public.