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tv   After Words with Seymour Hersh  CSPAN  August 20, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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we were sort of a no man's land. we cannot find him this was late 2001. and moved away we were still
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in this war and how are we doing in that war. that's another question. it seems no end. basically in the book most of them are written for the london review of books and not well known here. the argument is that that the president of the united states followed the cheney bush policy. the story is that the white house story is we have wonderful careers and once he left tora bora he was the energetic runner.
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i guess worldwide that was the implication. with the use of tort jerk it begins with the torture. we got the evidence we wanted. and then we did not tell the pakistanis. they could invade the radar. the initial story he have an ak-47 when they confronted him. they have to shoot him. on a compound there. we have a chopper that blew up and since the blackhawks to
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squads the navy seal even though they haven't been there for years they still move in groups of six. it was a nice touch because they have gone crazy with the fact that they're not going in there anymore. many of them leave because that's not what they're trained to do. they have to kill them. the rescue chopper came in. it was a two engine chopper i forgot the name of it a curious 85 passengers. maybe 130 miles per hour at most and they took that out along with the black hawk because they didn't have enough room and they threw out -- flew out that way. they went gung ho for it.
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it was a great night. that was the words. he was killed in the war on terror is over and the americans emerged in the marched in the streets. i celebrated also. i knew this guy it was at a business for ten years. it was not going to end the war in the next week or so it's what happens when you get a story like this. they are begging for briefings. everyone wants an exclusive. and they're dealing out facts. after a little while then they went with weapons protecting them. there was a firefight a lot of people were shot and killed. they haven't really backed off that. and if you remember his wives and children were taken away and we were going to interrogate them. they go back to saudi arabia.
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all of them the press was still tell us more my favorite story was one of the seals have brought a dog in. they met the dog. and one of the stories was when it crashed they have to blow it up in a big explosion. the people came in this is very sort of elegant area of pakistan and there was no story that would it go. it was very skilled. it did not show up at all. even though the time ended up being 40 because they have to fly in the rescue chopper.
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again without the pack of any knowledge. it was such a bad story. one of my complaints chronically when i speak to journalism skills. but still the annual meetings i speak to a lot of schools the first thing i always say is you have to read before you write. and so one of the things you need to do is take a look at the radar that they have and i will just take a second to tell you how it began we know that bin laden works for us in the early '80s when we decided that they were going to drive the russians can have a proxy war with the russians. we thought we had been in
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vietnam. we used other fundamentalist to fight and win the war. we also brought in and began paying a lot of money to the intelligence service. and now it's become one of the great services of all-time. it is like the egyptian military. they own things. they are building a huge housing project. they're big and tough we all know that. on the other groups inside afghanistan. and what happened that is the one thing that happened when they got in there is a long entity when the russians began
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to move they have an embassy but they set up consulates. when they began to fight on our side one of the things they did they invaded some of the consulates and began killing the diplomats. while then in the early 85 or so when they were active helping us eat the russians. at that point the indians have nuclear weapons and could deliver them. they weren't were able to what benign yet. they said help us we put up money over eight or ten years to build a very sophisticated signal and system when i
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looked at it was over $900 million. we built the great radar system for them. there is one flight a week now it's about an hour flight. all you have to do was look up the kind of radar system they have and you knew the story that are black hawk helicopters could invade. i began looking at all of this what you said in the book to suggest some things. it wasn't brilliance intelligence. it was a walk-in and a tip from the pakistani officer that we took that and said now we know where he is. they cleared the decks we
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moved into pakistan knowing that they were basically standing down in and around the compound there was no firefight as the administration says it was one of guy he was a blue braided by the fire. the command center in a nearby facility to glide -- guide the whole operation. it was a complete miss that was greeted by the ministration in order to protect pakistan is that about right. the man that walked in i could be less coy about him now. they obviously know who he is. he was a colonel and not in
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the isi but in military intelligence who had we offered that much money. integer you how naïve i am i made a point early in the piece of writing that he went to our station and what i did in the article was i wrote that he was there because he had been mentioned earlier particularly in the press because there had been a flap involving the cia and we have to move him out of the country. it's against the law to write that. it is a law. even mentioned i mentioned to my name for the simple reason that i thought the way you can really go after this it was checked very carefully the
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london review hired some of my better checkers. it took weeks of the stuff it cost a lot of money to do this which they are famous for doing. by leaving his name in i knew i was can it jeopardize him because of his many people that think because he was named he was a source. i thought the way i could really be hurt on a story i knew there was a tax by the white house. if they could convince john banks to go public three or four days after my story go public and say i don't know what he's talking about. the press would appreciate the dog that didn't bark was really important. they were too busy chasing it. to really pay attention to who wasn't talking about it.
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the other point is of course the underlying point in the critical point is when all of this is been being planned when we confronted the pakistanis we were in raids with them. their answer. they were going to look the other way we were to take them out we have a take the body out and we were not gonna talk about it for a week or ten days it was all a grade the president then would announce we have a drone raid. on the pakistani on the afghan side making clear it was on the afghan side we hit wooden house we found a long tall guy there. we got him. that would've been just as good but that night and i remember this vividly because it was a sunny night here in washington there were reports
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all over the media that the president have a special announcement to make and by 10:00 there were stories that it may have to do with bin laden but he didn't go public until almost three hours after the first word. there was pressure on him not to wait the seven to ten days they were very angry at robert gates who he said as you remember he had been allowed to stay he was very close to the bush family and when obama came in he was reappointed him. there was tension inside and gates was very much against some of the things that happened in the operation. he thought we should just bomb the place and let it go. if something had been gone -- gone wrong they have no protection.
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they were basically committing a war crime. they went into a country without any notice of the authorities that's theoretically what happened. anyway, here's what the issue was for gates. what is so important about pakistan. why do we spend so much time cozying up to the generals who run it. when i wrote about it in the new yorker in 2009 it was more than 100 nuclear weapons and we worry about their weapons. there is a huge muslim population. the reason that they have never have indicated anything about that was when they walk in and may or may not be correct. it might be earlier. the pakistanis kept them
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secretly because the public would go nuts. the public loved bin laden. 40% of the country saw him as a hero so as long as they have bin laden they could tell the groups we got your guy. pay more attention to us. keep us informed. that was the argument. the second argument they made was explanation for keeping him was they paid him a lot of money. he came from a very wealthy family. there were major constructionists in building. in the assumption we make and i make is that nobody wanted an american interrogation team to talk to them. so the whole deal once the leadership what we did for
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them. if you want to go play golf we will fix it up. we did that stuff because we wanted them to trust us enough to let us know where the bombs were and it was a cat and mouse game going on. of course we didn't tell him what we planned. the word in the intelligence committee was that some of the bombs that they were telling us about they were hidden in the tall grass along the runway. it was just natural suspicion. that night when the president decides to violate the agreement he is jeopardizing the relationship that i will tell you until today has not been fully resolved. there is still bitterness.
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about being hung out to dry. >> if they were holding captive in the public enemy number one and not only holding him captive but protecting him and using him to their advantage they obviously have a lot to answer for your story in the book and in the london review has been disparaged by a lot of people. there were people there that confirmed details of what you reported are you surprised that there has been so little follow-up in other words that so few journalists since this piece first came out to have picked up one or another piece of it and try to confirm or disprove what you wrote? >> when i was at the new york times for seven or eight or nine years i was a hotshot lead investigative reporters
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writing about watergate and vietnam and all that stuff. a lot of wonderful stories there was a great story published by the la times i would've said i don't follow other people's stories i do my own. for the really good reporters they don't want to follow someone else's stories it's just the reality and the thing that really got me was within a week of the story there was an interview show with a senior reporter for the foreign policy who doesn't like following other stories in this reporter was asked about my story and the reporter said well actually he
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said, we knew right away. this is in five or six days a publication of my story we knew that they were have to know where he was. that part of the story doesn't work. so what was being said essentially we have that that's how you get rid of a story i used to work for the ap covering the pentagon. as a reporter if anyone broke a good story they would call me and me wake me up at 1130 at night can you match up. the first thing i would do was caught the press secretary who i concluded was a liar after dealing with him i really did. he didn't even know how much he was lying. the wonderful movie by a great
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movie maker. i would call up and say can i have your denial i will tell you it was that petty. that's a bit sheet we are in the business. this came out in london. i went for a few days to london. i did a couple of big events with the senior editor of a major newspaper there. there were a lot of people there. i turned tables on them. i asked them i said it was a royal economy. we've all of the water between us. what did you guys think he said i'm not exaggerating well, we have meetings and we concluded right away. it was impossible for them not to know that he was there
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because among other things they happen to be in the center of not only the secret base you mentioned about in which we work with the intelligence service and our cia but also a base at which they train the guards for the nuclear arsenal to reactors and they have a plutonium reactor. a major air base. if you draw a circle in the middle he wasn't there by accident. they had total coverage. and also they made it clear in the early reporting and you have to go back to the first things that were said he have no internet he have no electronic communication. he was completely isolated the fact that our guys when we landed we would walk into his prison by an isi official.
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we have to blow it to steel doors. he was clearly a prisoner of war. not a prisoner of love. >> there's been a lot of criticism on the story not just lack of follow-up but i took down a few quotes i'm sure you have heard them mark bowed and said, it's a fake moon landing territory. the washington post talked about it being even kind of crazy what is this all about. why was there so much not only failure to follow up but the nastiness of being a
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conspiracy monitor? >> most of my stories it has been an enormous amount of criticism. we have a document there. a lot of the stories if you look at the original story i wrote about the spine in the new york times for three months they were attacking me. and saying it wasn't right. that there weren't files. and all of that stuff eventually you tell me. and i want to describe what it's about. it's pretty obvious in some cases. they should've been written by others much earlier.
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and you quote him in your book a couple of times. first you have to know something. in the cia when you have a walking you protect the walk in. here you head in the basement of your intelligence bureau a bunch of people working on tracking careers. if you pay attention less year if you remember they published a major report on terror if you remember that it was a 6,000 page report. only 500 pages were cleared but 500 pages were published. there was a section on careers. it described how the cia was trying to attract them but they could not get it.
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some of the muslim names. it is literally impossible to track. according to the cia not so much in the initial state but a day or two later from the senior intelligence officials john brennan later went to the cia and gave briefings which they talked about how we tracked it by courier's and all got into the torture business. saying don't start lying about torture because the cia is worried about the fact that the legal findings about what we did. the cia with was killing people in torture. there was a lot of murder going on. in some cases there were murders.
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there were a couple of cases where nobody got punished for anything. you have that issue. you were trying to justify using the couriers and the problem was you have to contradict the earlier stories about this guy was isolated at one point. they showed a picture of this man watching pornography. the element the people doing the tracking were told you helped us find him. it was your work. you want them to think so because then reporters could talk to them and the people giving the briefings work in dicta they have. not any one even inside the
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agency. the other element is he had written a piece what they call a tick tock piece. he saw all of those people what a wonderful operation. a long piece and in it he included the photo of him buried at sea. i knew mark and i didn't want to embarrass him i waited till a week before the piece was published, first of all i knew a lot i knew where he was taken to. a forward base. at that time there were no fixed wing airplanes there. the aircraft carrier they went to was 800 miles away. how do you get him there. that was a problem. i know from ways i don't want
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to talk about i don't want to get some navy officer and barrett's -- embarrassed. the aircraft carrier never turned around. that's very important and they have to do that. there was no such report in the logs. and they have since been classified the third thing is i did not know they were ready to do the official muslim narrate. i know that there was impossible that that happened. i said to mark eyman ask your question to which i think the answer is no here's the question did you actually see those photographs you described so vividly in your article he said no. i was given a briefing about them.
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why do you say you have seen them. he wish he have or the editors didn't want too. if i left that out. i'm telling you that's tiny that's what happened. i can understand look, he didn't seem. it didn't happen. i'm sorry. they did not know what to do. they were only supposed to fire a few shots. they come in grube six. one guy guarded the door and by the way when they used that they have learned in advance exactly the dimensions. if you use too much of it will kill you.
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they have just might -- right amount. how do they know just enough to lock the door down. all because they were giving us that kind of intelligence. in so what they did they fired a lot of bullets at him. each of them took some shots. there wasn't much left of the body. they produce one sort of torture. i have to tell you there were a lot of holes in the guys had. i don't have to tell you how easy it is to make a photograph depict anything you want. some movie that described how he faked the war. anyway, what happened is i
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remember change the color to this. i don't know why people don't pay more attention to that stuff. i found a quote from hillary clinton when she just became secretary of state secretary of state on the first visit to pakistan, this is the first part of 2009 and she said this in pakistan. nobody knows where osama bin laden is. i'll think she would say that in 2009 in pakistan if she didn't have some assurance from the intelligence community there she is on
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record saying we heard this and after the rate in 2011 just three years later there is absolutely no evidence that anyone at the highest levels of the pakistani government knew so she went back on what she said after the raid and i don't want to introduce politics into this discussion but what does that say about secretary clinton. it's not going to be ask as it involves too much. it's a simple question. she said this once and then two years ago later she said that. that is an uncomfortable thought. i will tie something more. when they decided that they want out. he made a public statement.
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i don't know if he knew everything he was saying was untrue. they read a speech. he described bin laden as having been confronted with weapons we have a treasure trove of documents. one of my favorite stories. they talk about all the books. if they had times to carry out bags of books. most of them are there. i can't imagine that they are after them in a panic. it is comical some of the stuff they did. you have to buy into that story. but that night the president also said i wanted think the counter terrorism sources. within days they were saying
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the president misspoken and then the next week he went on television and by the same moon i knew the day after the race that there was trouble. i did know that from someone high up in the white house. and then, what people don't want to know about me is that in 2009 wrote a piece for the new yorker. i spent weeks and i got into some interesting stuff to the point where here's what happens in the government. you come in with some issues that this is the obama administration that are uncomfortable. it's just what they do. so they denied that. i set our goal basically was to make sure that they could not fire a bomb without our
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approval and if they ever tried to we wanted to be in a position to knock out the whole system. so they couldn't fire. they attacked the igloos. it's a pretty tough thing to say. after denying all of this. the white house called up my editor and david called me to say he got a call from someone high in the government the night before the story closed somewhere in tennessee. he said they're very concerned and if the story goes one of the things we did at the new yorker and we do at the london review we share what we are writing. they said just because of the
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position have told him if the story is published as it was we would have to close our embassy immediately and move the people out. the fundamentalist would attack us for alleging that. i had contacts in pakistan. and within a day that there was problems in river city. he was seen as someone who was not on the team on this. i heard then from somebody close to the intelligence. a three-page e-mail that described what i ended up writing. i waited until the middle of
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the week and i went to some americans who would have known everything about it. as a journalist we all had to depend on briefings. we have to do have on access. if to maintain good relationships. in the thing you want is someone who in the government and there's many people who like this. his loyalty and when they signed the oath of office as to the constitution and not the president. when you have something like that on the inside who is appalled by the line in the misdirection and also leaving at the 20 -- senior generals we left them with two options. one option was to tell everything to the people and we knew he was there. they were very vigorous there.
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we screwed up and we did not know. a radar system did not work. you can find it all you have to do was some work if you are the reporter the next week. go take a look at what's online. the contract that are left. they have to be announced they may be announced for this no more details but you can find that. they have to be announced somewhere in the government. so nobody did that. all you have to do was due at the research and see the stories about the radar not working. their national defenses including the protection against a nuclear attack it is capable of being so easily defeated and it was a terrible
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position. it has the underlying position. you are messing with the two guys that control of the bombs. you are under cutting of the faith and confidence in us. and that to me is the reason my the real issue is we have jeopardized the relationship with we had been so frightened with. i want to shift gears a little bit. a large part it is a five sided rubik's cube. they are supporting some rebels and other rebels.
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and they support that. it's a mess. you talk a lot about syria in the gas attack. what are the points that really struck me. you talk about how the military essentially on its own initiative the joint chief undertook to sabotage because they didn't agree to that. we do this without going through political channels. the next page you say it was not some plot to go around obama but a few pages later you say that they understood
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this message that we can stop presidential policy you say it doesn't sound like military. regardless of what you think about that policy is in it a kind of scary that the military as you report undertook to provide intelligence indirectly while u.s. official policy was to support the over three -- the overthrow. i think this happened you are asking a complicated question. you are have done a close read on it. she make it's. >> is not complicated. the military did something independently without informing the white house to essentially support i don't
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want to call him an enemy but someone we didn't like the issue was for the military it was very complicated. there was a tremendous amount of disagreement one of the articles i also wrote it was about that. and we now know pretty well known. just in the last day or so. they're raising questions about the murder of the operation courage that's going on daily. there is no question we have intelligence on that. it's very hard to get the right house -- white house to switch the military point of view.
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what ever existed in 2012 they have pretty much been overtaken by the crazies. the group supported bus by saudi arabia in so to the alleged moderates who had lost a lot of leverage and many of them by the way at the last count there groups. he's been making accommodations with those groups. they were maybe rebels but they were disinfected because the control was in the hands of people who if they'd taken over the country would have caused enormous trouble. it was very difficult for them to get a reading in the white
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house. they were stuck on a policy and the president was isolated in my understanding was that a lot of issues general dempsey would just disappear into a void. at something you hear quite a bit. it doesn't get to the president. and so yes they did decide that it was very important for them to maintain leverage. if an election process goes on he would be out of office. he was getting shaky. and we also were very concerned by the fact and is a fact i have good documents it doesn't matter i even mentioned at the documents in one story. by early spring of 2013 we knew that saudi arabia were passing they were transporting
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that. we knew they have that capability. there were huge studies done about it in may and june and july about how many trips it would take to wipe out all of the chemical weapons. we thought about doing that. this was before the august event in which we claimed murdered his own people with nerve gas. the issue was we have the kind of intelligence that he needed we have satellite intelligence and the germans were there helping them and so we passed it and ask for help and once they ask for help we give you the rationale.
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not just your assessment of what the import was and what was understood i will tie something about that. he majored in english at the academy into the army which does us often recognizing it. his quite skilled i guess as a student. they allow him to spend two years at duke. he is known for his reading knowledge and for his knowledge about yates. in the day he retired instead of joining the 14 boards of the defense corporations he went back and was given an appointment at duke. he made the call with the help of others inside the joint chief to start helping the
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president of syria with intelligence that would help them turn the corner on the war. and he did. and the other thing that happened in the war to deliberately undercut the president's policy. you can quit if your general you can speak out but you have to salute and say yes sir if you are in the joint chief. i find it pretty refreshing that we have a chairman of the joint chief who tried to express a view and in that same article in the next paragraph i i find it pretty refreshing that we have a chairman of the joint chief who tried to express a view and in that same article in the next paragraph i the former one by name. the former head of the defense intelligence agency.
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i was going to ask you about that. you say him as a source one of the few people on the record that you talk about and you portray him as a truth teller. he was fired as have of dia a couple years ago. here's the thing about it he is recently emerged as an advisor and one of the top advisers to donald trump he has written a book with michael ledeen it comes out pretty soon. the title is field of a fight. how we can win the global war so flynn has clearly put himself in the camp of an
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extremist on fighting islam and the global war against terrorism i don't know why he was fired from the dia but from the sounds of it he was fired because he was insubordinate he was a radical who wanted to go after these guys and he accused the president i'm not waiting -- wanting to fight hard enough. you quote him as a truth teller. one of the issues was about him as you know he also worked as the have of intelligence for the joint special operations command. and he worked with him in iraq during the most brutal of the times when they were just fascinating people by the hundreds by the counter insurgency effort there.
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>> there was a lot of stuff going on that is considered to be wonderful. he was promoted by obama after years of iraq. and so on all of that flynn was always there. he was very active with the press corps a lot of people have his e-mail the issue for me there was you describe someone who is very conservative and got pushed out but the fact of the matter is what he said was very consistent with everything i knew he was willing to say it on the record. there was a whole series of reports that summer that isis as it emerged about how dangerous they were and how they had access to chemical weapons also. on that basis i will tell you that obama he was shoved out
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and they wanted him shoved out earlier but when you get a source on the record and he's saying something that you know from documents that you have and if you make it a point to make sure that he was someone who was held if you go back and look he's been quoted by so many journalists along the way and so he wasn't necessarily in this case summary on the record who was saying something. he and the chairman of the joint chief were some pedicle on this issue. he created dissent internally. he was reorganizing things on
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the inside. i think he was calling it -- calling it as he sought. they have documents that demonstrated it. they went to his office of the reports that were going on about the amount of nerve agent potential in the opposition before what happened in august in the incident in the sub erred -- suburb of damascus. it's a tough go. someone on the record and what he's saying is consistent. >> i'm checking what he said. in terms of that narrow issue his political views are way off the chart. but on the issue of what he was seeing and what they were saying he was very consistent
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so the argument against him was he was mouthing and he was a very conservative guy and he always said things. he was used as an authority by all of the major media despite the fact he was known to be a right wing sort of guy many officers are you live and die i think it was about an inability to get the white house to recognize something that have been reported and reported which is the moderates don't really exist. it's been reported consistently by all sources inside. i think at that point the chairman of the joint chief made a call that makes some sense to me. the argument that if the
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chairman of the joint chief is always beholden to the white house again he is beholden to the constitution. he saw that it was not paying attention. for out the bureaucracy. not too many generals are constitutional lawyers. that's what i was really getting at. i don't know if they know what the constitution says it's certainly not her job to interpret it. we have to wrap up here it looks like. about the legacy. at least on foreign-policy i guess a kind of starts with the iran deal.
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they tried to avoid getting tangled in syria. where do you come down on the legacy when it comes to foreign policy. it indicates in the case of iran in which he was bragging about having manipulated the press. it's wonderful what he did but the critical thing wasn't about sanctions and pressures was about the fact that after 12 or 13 years of consistent intelligence we will discuss a nuclear deal with you when you stop in richmond. we made it known you can keep
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on enriching. and that's when the deal got going. there's nothing wrong with saying in the case of the steel when the attack took place they now they have intelligence galore. they all had one suspect. the have of the director of the overriding agencies they couldn't be sure that they have a case. it's not a slamdunk. it doesn't match what we know to be in the arsenal. he doesn't tell the world that.
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the whole story has not been told by the white house. you can't get to votes. we love those hitler's. we've had millions of them. i will take a second to say this to you. he is fighting a life and death war. in the square. i know a country that used those bombs for seven years in a war in which they were not at stake. the number.
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we use it for seven years. it 63 gallons. and it's cheaper than dropping a 500 pounder. first we did it. and secondly is it really better if we use those which have maybe three times as much lethal stuff. i'm not make it a case for the guy. ..


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