Seymour Hersh

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Seymour Myron Hersh is a distinguished journalist whose relentless coverage of defects in U.S. intelligence and military information has ranged from disclosing the My Lai massacre in Vietnam to investigating the U.S. war on terrorism. Dubbed a "dean of investigative reporting," he is the author of critical books on Henry Kissinger, the CIA, and John F. Kennedy.

In 1969, as a freelance journalist, he wrote the first account of the My Lai massacre in South Vietnam. In the 1970s, he worked at the New York Times in Washington and New York; he has rejoined the paper twice on special assignment. He has won more than a dozen major journalism prizes, including the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting and four George Polk Awards.

Hersh was born in Chicago and graduated in 1958 with a B.A. from the University of Chicago. He began his career in journalism as a police reporter for the City News Bureau in 1959. He later became a correspondent for United Press International in South Dakota. In 1963 went on to become a Chicago and Washington DC correspondent for the Associated Press. Five years later, Hersh was hired as a reporter for The New York Times Washington Bureau, where he served from 1972 to 1975 and again in 1979.

His book The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House won him the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times book prize in biography. Hersh has written a total of eight books and contributed to the PBS television documentary, Buying the Bomb (1985).

Hersh currently contributes regularly to The New Yorker on military and security matters. A 2004 article investigated exactly how Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld circumvented the normal intelligence analysis function of the CIA in their quest to make a case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

His coverage of Richard Perle in another article, Lunch with the Chairman, led Perle to say that Hersh was the "closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist." Hersh exposed Perle's business connections in Trireme Partners LP, a private fund that manages Saudi Arabian investment in homeland security companies, and the Autonomy Corporation, a British company that sells surveillance software to the FBI and to US, British and Italian intelligence.

Subsequently, Perle resigned as chairman of Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Policy Board. Perle publicly threatened to sue Hersh for libel in England where the standard of proof is much lower, but failed to file suit before the statute of limitations ran out.

In May 2004, Hersh published a series of articles describing and showing with photos the torture by US military police of prisoners in the Iraqi prison of Abu Ghraib. There are allegations that private contractors contributed to them as well and that intelligence such as the CIA ordered them in order to break prisoners for interrogations. It is said to be a usual practice in other US prisons as well, e.g. in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. Hersh went on to publish an article claiming that the abuses were part of a secret interrogations program, known as "Copper Green", expanded to Iraq with the direct approval of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in an attempt to deal with the growing insurgency there.

He is on the board of advisors of the Center for Investigative Reporting.


James Petras, a professor of sociology at SUNY Binghamton, argues that much of what Seymour Hersh uncovers is due to leaks or high-level insider information. Getting verbatim quotes of what Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Dick Cheney or even various presidents have said requires some high level sources. The question arises as to why these sources would want to expose certain incidents or give their version of events. What is in it for the persons disclosing information? Prof. Petras queries the nature of one of Hersh's reports, and the same questions should be asked about all his esposés.
Source: James Petras, Seymour Hersh and the Missing Zionist-Israeli Connection,, May 25, 2004.

Related SourceWatch Resources

Published Works

  • The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House, Summit Books, 1983.

Articles & Commentary by Seymour Hersh

External links