tv After Words with Seymour Hersh CSPAN August 22, 2016 12:00am-1:01am EDT
the narrative and the media reports. can you start by summarizing what you found in this piece? >> the president did authorize the execution i execution of thf osama bin laden and the seals did kerry get out and that is a fact it was done in the resort town about 50 or 60 miles uphill from islamabad and it's a place that in the summer it's the 120.
i call it the martha's vineyard of pakistan. the generals and senior bureaucrats it is a sort of upscale area in beit described as a lewis carroll story because the white house said this was all done and we were looking for them in th the mountains between pakistan and afghanistan. we were looking for him and couldn't find him. they went on to attack iraq and moved away. how are we doing in math that was another question. all in another 15 years. we are doing the same policies
in the buck. they are not that well known here. the argument is that the president of the united states, they have the cheney bush policy and the story is we had wonderful careers and bin laden once he left he was the energetic runner directing worldwide that's sort of the implication and then the amazing skills with the use of torture if anybody has seen the movie that was generated out of this
it begins with torture, enhanced interrogation, we got the evidence we wanted, and then he went in by ourselves and did the mission and in the initial session to protect themselves they had to shoot in a room in the compound of air and we fled out and we had a chopper that accidentally cross landed and the navy seals even though they had the number of years they move in groups of six which that's how many fit in so it's a nice touch because they've gone
crazy with the fact they are not going into the water anymore and many of them leave because that is and what they trained to do but anyway. it was a twin-engine chauffer i forgot the name of it. it's v baby 130 miles per hour t most and they took that out along with the black hawk and they flew out that way without being detected by their radar td the american press went gung ho. basically he was killed and the war on terror is over and i celebrated it, to back.
everybody wants an exclusive. they had a weekend after a while and then they had to back that off and a lot of people had been shot and killed. that sort of diminished and if you remember they were taken away and were going to interrogate them. all the stories disintegrated over the couple of weeks that nobody paid attention. one of them brought a dog in on the mission and described how
one of the stories was when their chopper crashed he had to pull over that and a big explosion and they came into this elegant area of pakistan. they had at the local. so the fire department in this area that's very skilled didn't show up at all. they had to rescue chopper that was also part of pakistan in the knowledge so it's such a bad story.
i speak to the schools in europe but still the annual meetings are the investigative reporting group and i speak to a lot of schools you have to read before you write. i will just take a second to show how it began. in the early '80s when we decided we were going to drive the russians and have a proxy war we thought we had been in vietnam if we were going to go and use bin laden and other fundamentalists to help fight the war. he also began paying a lot of money to the pakistani source of
all time. it's like the egyptian military. they have great investment and buy a property in the housing business complex in islamabad. they help us win the war against russia. they began to move and the indians moved in and they had an embassy and set up the consulates. in the news clips they invaded
some of the consulates that began killing pakistani diplomats and even hanging some. pakistan had a reactor in the enriching uranium they were not able to weaponize. it means you can't erase the signal. as the main contractor and it was over 900 million. he built a great radar system and between islamabad there's one or two flights a week now and it's about an hour flight from a 350 miles or so and so my
god, all you have to do is look at the kind of system they had. had. the basic story that the helicopters could evade radar is ludicrous. i began looking at all -- >> host: what you said in the article in the book le buck lete suggest some things that it wasn't really intelligence that discovered spare bin laden was that it was a walk in and a tip from the officer that we took that to the pakistanis and said that now we know where he is. so you cooperate or else. they cleared the decks for the operation. operation. we moved into pakistan knowing that they were basically standing down in and around the compound and in the skies of pakistan. there was no firefight it was
just one who wasn't shot once or twice. this was a complete myth created by the administration in order to protect pakistan from the consequences among other things. is that about right? >> guest: i could be less coy because the pakistanis already know who he is, he was a pakistani kernel in the army intelligence and there were $25 million on the table. we offer that much and he did come in 2010. and to show you how sort of naïve i am, i made a point early
in the piece of writing that he went directly to the station chief named jonathan banks. what i did in the article is wrote that bank was there because particularly in the urdu press involving the cia we had to move them out of the country. his name was mentioned. it is the law did i mention him by name for the simple reason that i thought the way you can be in the story it was 10,000 words checked very carefully just as when i worked for the new yorker they let me be higher sum of checkers and it took weeks of this stuff and cost a lot of money to do this right. in any case, i thought by
leaving his name in there i knew i was going to jeopardize it because there were many people. in any case, i thought the way that i could really be heard on this story, i knew ther, and arh the attacks by the white house, but if they could somehow convince john banks, it attracted enormous attention as we all knew it would. i thought the press would appreciate but they were too busy chasing the white house briefing. the one guy that was directly involved certainly had -- the other point is, the critical point is when all of this is being planned and we confronted the pakistanis, of course their
answer to the whole point is they were going to look the other way, we had to take the body out and we were not going to talk about it not for a week or ten days. the president then was announced we do it all the time on the afghan side and we hit the house with a hellfire missile. we did dna and that would have been just as good but that night was a sunday night in washington and by 7:30 there were reports all over and by 10:00 there were stories that might have to do with bin laden but he didn't do public until after the first word of what was going on was a
fight because there was political pressure from the political advisers not to wait e the seven or ten days. they were very angry at the republican secretary of defense who if you remember had replaced rumsfeld by george bush and was close to the family. when obama came and reappointed them about two and a half years later there was tension inside. at that jeopardizethat jeopardif something had gone wrong with they would be accused and have protection and they were basically committing a war cri crime. they went into a country with any notice of the authorities so anyway, here's what the issue was basically what's so
important about pakistan, why do we spend so much time cozying up to the generals that run it? when i wrote about it in 2009 it was more than a hundred nuclear weapons and we worry about their weapons and about their safety. there is a huge fundamentalist population in pakistan. and in fact, the reason that the pakistanis have never said anything publicly about having been so sick they found them in the 06 which may or may not be correct but in any case that's what it told us. the pakistanis kept them secretly because the public would go nuts. many elements of the public, 50%, 40% saw him as a hero so as long as they had bin laden they
could tell the groups in pakistan and afghanistan we've got your guy pay more attention. the assumption that we make and i make is the whole deal once the pakistani leadership who r ran, my god what we did for them. you want an armored car, helicopter, you want to play golf with jack nicholas in ohio, 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 did and told them what he planned and some of the bombs they were telling us about some were hidden in the tallgrass into there was a natural suspicion this is what is on the table. that night when the president decided to violate the agreement, he's jeopardizing the earnest about being hung out to dry. hispanic if they were captive and public enemy number one and not only letting him captive but protecting and using him to their advantage, they have a lot to answer for.
your story in the book and the london review has been disparaged by a lot of people but there were some other folks that confirmed the details of what you reported. are you surprised that there's been so little follow-up in other words so few journalists since the piece first came out have picked up one or another piece of it. >> guest: writing about watergate and vietnam and all that stuff, kissinger wiretapping and the domestic spying and a lot of wonderful stories. activity at the times had said
there is a great story that was published and they want you to follow that i would have said i don't follow other people's stories, i do my own. so for the really good investigative reporters a repore times and the post etc., they don't want to follow someone else's story it is just the reality. the thing that got me is within a week of the story, there was an interview show, there was a senior reporter for the "washington post" one of the reporters who doesn't like following other stories he was asked about my story and the reporter said while we all knew and it didn't make sense that part of the story didn't work
but yes, what was being said essentially as we have that and that's how you get rid of the story. the on-the-job training if anybody got a good story they would wake me up at 11:30 sometimes at night to say can you match it and i would call the press secretary for robert mcnamara. i didn't even know how much he was lying but there was a great movie made and i would say i'm telling you it's fat -- that
petty. i did a couple of big events in one case the senior editor of the major newspaper and i turn the tables and it' into taking y you go to india and pakistan and have much more ties and are sophisticated. he said yes. i'm not exaggerating. we could conclude right away that it was for the pakistani isi because you know how confident they are key was there because among other things after being in the center of the secret dates that you mentioned earlier in which we work with the pakistani intelligence sources and also they trained
the guards for the nuclear arsenal and pakistan now has a plutonium reactor and a major airbase if you circle in the middle he wasn't there where they had total coverage and also they made it clear in the early reporting he had no internet or electronic communication he was completely isolated. we would walk into the prison by an isi official and even in the story we had to blow to the steel doors. he was clearly a prisoner of war, not of love. >> there's been a lot of
criticism. i am sure you've heard this fake moon landing territory. peter berger called it long since. the "washington post" talked about it being kind of crazy. what's this all about not just the failure to follow up but this accusing you of being a conspiracy monger. there's been an enormous amount of criticism and when i did a story we had a document but if
you look at the original that i wrote it was late december, 1974 the "washington post" three months was attacking me saying it wasn't right. it's the obvious in some cases what it is. i've been doing this a long time writing stories. you quoted him in your book a couple of times. >> cost one to know something. in the cia when you have a
walked in you protect the bureau and have a bunch of people working on tracking the couriers and if you pay attention the committee was last year they published a major report and if you remember that it was a 6,000 page report. 500 were published and if you read those as i did there was a section that described how they got there. how we have so many problems with ie and the ama name. according to the cia it's not just the initial statement.
they don't start blogging about torture because maybe the congressional hearings into thercongressional hearings and e may be legal findings. there is a lot of murder going on and they torture people and in some cases there were murders. there were a couple cases nobody got punished for anything and so you had that issue you are tryinyou're tryingto justify ans
you had to contradict the earlier stories that he was isolated. they talked about him sitting around watching video pornography. he could say anything he wanted. everything was taken. so, that element the couriers and the people doing the tracking were told you helped us. it was your work. then they could talk to them and be convinced you don't tell them. that is the sacrosanct secrets not even in the agency. as with the other element is five months later us you saw all those people about the operation
and it includes a kind of photograph being buried at sea in a carrier and described vividly. so i knew him and i didn't want to embarrass him. first of all, i knew a lot where he was taken to the base in pakistan close to the hindu kush mountain. at that time the only used choppers. it was something like 800 miles away. how did you get him there was the problem. second, i knew from ways i don't want to talk about because i don't want to get some navy officers embarrassed that i knew everything was reported and that night the aircraft carrier never turned around to recover any of you are told at the command of the art picking up a chopper or airplane. it's important they have to do that.
there is no such report in the blog's and they are since classified. third, i didn't know they were aboard the aircraft carrier. so i asked, i knew that it was impossible that happened. so he's teaching at the university of delaware and i said i'm going to ask you a question that i think the answer is no and here's the question. did you see those photographs in the article and he described how they looked and then he said no. i was given a briefing about them from somebody i trust it and htrusted himhe described th. why did you say you had seen them and he said something to the affect he wished he had.
so that's what i understand. it didn't happen. let me tell you why the body was asked because they were only supposed to fire a few shots and they came in groups of six. one guarded the door and by the way they had learned the dimensions because if you use too much of it it will kill you. one of the questions, how do they learn enough without anybody getting hurt all because they were giving up that kind of intelligence once they decided to play ball and so what they
i went back and found a quote from hillary clinton on the first visit to pakistan this was in 2009. this was a quote from her in pakistan nobody knows where osama bin laden is. she wouldn't have said that in 2009 if she didn't have some assurance from the intelligence community that they did know where he was. after the raid she said there is no evidence anyone at the highest levels of the government knew so in other words she went
back. what does that say about secretary clinton and do you think this is something she should be asked if running for president? >> guest: it's complicated. >> she said this one and then she said that. >> you have to be somebody that buys into the questions of what happened and that is an uncomfortable spot. when he decided they wanted out i write a lot about it. i don't know whether he knew everything he was saying was untrue because sometimes you get a speech and he described bin laden as having been confronted with weapons and the treasure
trove of documents on the run. sometimes they say they took them out at night or as if most of them some of them are very bright but i can't imagine that after having a chopper crash which one do i take first commits, cold some of the stuff they did say you have to buy into their story but that night the president also said i want to thank the pakistani intelligence and they had to get rid of that. this within the next week he went on television and by this time within a week, i knew the day after that there was troub
trouble. what people don't want to know about me is i wrote a piece about a bomb and i spent the weeks and got into some interesting stuff to the point where here's what happens in the government you do a story and come in with some issues that are comfortable it's just what they do. this basically not to fire a bomb without our approval. they wanted to be in the position to knock out the whole system. electronically actually attack the eg egg blues and desist him it's a tough thing to say.
so after denying all of this, the white house called up my editor, david called me to say we got a call from someone high in the government the night before it closed it must have been a thursday night. he said that they are very concerned and if the story goes one of the things we did at the new yorker we share what we are writing with people and they said he respected a new if the story published we would have to close the embassy immediately into the consulates and moved me people out of fear of a riot because the fundamentalists
would attack us but h we toned down the story quite a bit. so i have a contacts in pakistan and he heard the day after that there were problems in river city with bob gates seen with somebody who wasn't on the team. i heard them from somebody close to the surface a three-page e-mail that described pretty much what i ended up writing. i had to wait a day or so i went to some americans who would know everything about it. as a journalist we have to depend on access. you can't go off the wagon too
much. you can be aggressive but not too far. there are a lot of wonderful people in the government whose loyalty when they sign the oath of office is in the constituti constitution. we have somebody like that on the inside was appalled by the misdirection and also leaving the generals who control the bomb with a reason to hate us. one option was to tell everything to the people we knew he was there and have them not able to walk to school because the fear by the fundamentalists who are very vigorous there. the other option is to do what we did. our radar system didn't work. here's a system we paid for and all you have to do is some work if you are a reporter instead of
calling up for another briefing, take a look at what's on the line. you can find us that even the most top seed crude contracts have to be announced. a top-secret process for this, e detailed you can find it. nobody did that. all you have to do is go through the research and you would see that stories about the radar networking. we left in this horrible position including the protection against a nuclear attack, the first strike is capable of being defeated and that there was a terrible position all along so i believe you are missing the two but are controlling the bomb and to me
that's the power behind what i'm writing and we've jeopardized the relationship of the islamic bomb. i'm sorry, go ahead. >> i wanted to shift gears a little bit. it's a five sided rubik's cube difficult to see through the whole of mirrors supporting some rebels and not others and iraq supports the government and the iraqi and the syrian government. you talk a lot about the gas
attack and a number of other things that what struck me is the chapter you call military to military and how it's all in initiative they undertook to sabotage because they didn't agree with it and you say we did this without going through the political channels and the next page it wasn't a joint chiefs plot but a few pages later he understood this message we could stop the presidential policy. you say that it doesn't sound like military independence action but does sound a lot like
that regardless what you think and i've done my own reporting on that isn't it kind of scary as you report they undertook to provide intelligence while the u.s. official policy was to support the overthrow? >> i think this happened because yoyou're asking a complicated question. >> you say directly that military did something independently without informing the white house to the centrally support i don't want to call him an enemy that somebody we didn't like and were trying to get rid of. >> there was a tremendous amount of disagreement.
one of the articles that was the good line was about the shipping of five things into turkey that was pretty well known and it was crazy just in the last day or so they are raising questions about the opposition going on daily and he is also supported them very much. it was hard to get the white house to switch from the military point of view. whatever existed in 2012 by early 2013 they had been overtaken. the group supported by saudi
arabia meanwhile we are still shipping arms to the moderates who lost a lot of leverage and many of them in the different tribal groups made an accommodation in the last six or so months because the control for the opposition was in the hands of people that would have caused enormous trouble because they would have been the next target so it was difficult for them to get a start in the white house and the president was isolated and my understanding was on a lot of issues, general dempsey who is now retired wered disappear into a void and you would hear quite a bit
bureaucratic stuff doesn't get to the president he was isolated and removed so they did decide that it was important to maintain leverage and this doesn't mean if the process goes on he would be out of process but he was getting shaky in 2013 and we also were very concerned. i even mentioned the documents i have it up by early spring of 2013 the new saudi arabia was passing, calls that created a powerful nerve agent. there were huge studies done about it in june and july and
even one study about how many my would it take to wipe out all the chemical weapons in the opposition of 60,000 troops it was too many. this was before the august event when he murdered his own people with nerve gas. we had the kind of intelligence he needed. we had intelligence intercepts. once we ask fo asked for help in getting the rationale. we always think about the generals. he majored in english at the academy and the army that does
this often recognizing he was quite skilled a lot of them spend two years getting a masters and he is renowned among his friends and peers previous reading knowledge about yeats and he is a passionate devotee and he retired october 31 of last year and instead of joining the 14 boards of the defense as many chairmen do and make $500,000 or more a year he went back and was given an appointment at duke and his teaching their. he made the call with the help of others to start helping the intelligence that would help
them turn the corner and he did and the other thing in the last year -- >> host: that doesn't seem like treason to undercut the policy? you can quit if you are a general and then speak out but he pretty much have to say yes sir if you are in the joint chiefs, don't you? >> i found it pretty refreshing to explain that and in the same paragraph i quoted the individual by name. and i mentioned the dempsey by name, the defense intelligence agency quoted my name -- michael flynn. >> host: you cite him as a source one of the few people on the record and you portray him
as a truth teller that resisted obama. he was fired as the head a couple of years ago but here's the thing about flynn. he's emerged as one of the top advisers to donald trump. he's written a book with michael ledeen -- >> guest: they are writing the book now. the title is fear of the fight how we can win the global war against radical islam and its allies. so he has put himself in the camp of an extremist fighting islam and the global war on terrorism. i don't know why he was fired from the dia but from the sound of it, h cuba's insubordinate ad wanted to go after these guys
and accuses the president of not wanting to fight hard enough just the way the ultra conservatives do. >> host: you quoted him as a truth teller. >> guest: as you know he also worked at had intelligence for the joint special operations command. >> host: and he worked in iraq during the most brutal time when they were assassinating people by the hundreds. >> guest: there was a lot of stuff going on considered to be normal. he was promoted by obama to be
in ahead of the war in afghanistan. he was always there and active in the press corps. the issue you for being there as you describe someone conservative and got pushed out but the fact of the matter is what he said that that was consistent with what i knew and there was a series of reports that summer about how dangerous they were and how they have access to chemical weapons so on that basis i will tell you that they wanted him shoved out earlier but when you get a source on the record and he is saying something you know from
>> there was all this going on about the amount of potential in the opposition before what happened in august and the incident. i'm checking with what he says and there were other people involved. in terms of that issue on the issue of what he would see he was consistent and not be that he was usebut hewas used as an e media working for j. and he was
known to be a sort of right-wing guy like many officers are. i think it was about in inability to get the white house to recognize something that had been reported which is being reported consistently by all sources inside and they were not paying attention to it. at that point they made a call that makes some sense to me and if the joint chiefs is beholden to the white house is pulled into the constitution and that's what he saw obama for better or
worse throughout the bureaucracy the one complaint is you have a hard time getting stuff to him. not too many generals are constitutional lawyers. that's what i was getting at when i asked the question i don't know what it says or means that it's not their job to interpret it. let me ask you mentioned in the introduction about obama's legacy based on foreign policy. tough foreign policy. i would say it starts with a video and he pledged to end the war in iraq and afghanistan and maybe he tried his best to avoid getting entangled when clinton and kerry were pushing for a greater escalation of the fight.
on the other hand, where do you come down to the legacy of the party? >> guest: key indicates them roots in "the new york times" last sunday which he was bragging about having manipulated the press on the deal. it's wonderful what he did in iran but the critical thing wasn't about the sanctions and pressures, it was the fact after 12 or 13 years of telling them we will discuss a nuclear deal with you and when you stop the enrichment that was the requirement that you stop about two or three years ago he made it known and that's when the deal got going and you can keep saying that. there's nothing wrong in the case of the deal when we still accuse the shower of assad -- the shower and they knew that
they had intelligence galore potentially and also al-assad's military. they also didn't tell them that the dempsey the chairman of the joint chiefs and general clapper who was the director of the overall intelligence e. the overriding agency for all the services have both told the president they couldn't be sure they have a case. it's not a slam dunk because what we have seen doesn't match the arsenal and so i don't like not telling the truth about the critical issues. he may have done what he may not have done and i just say the whole story hasn't been told by the white house. you can't get two votes for
al-assad in the congress today. we have millions of hitler's. i will take a second to say this to you he's fighting a life and death for. if isis or one of those people get in power, he and his wife and beautiful children will be hung up like mussolini with their throats cut in the square. i know a country that uses there'll bombs which the national security wasn't at stake. it was us. it serves consequences for all sorts of people as you know now the number of deformities in vietnam. seven years ago we dropped there'll bombs because they are cheaper. oil comes at 63 a gallon and it's cheaper than dropping a 500-pound or so i wonder first
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