Seymour Hersh, an investigative journalist famous for uncovering the 1968 My Lai massacre and the mid-2000s Abu Ghraib scandal, says there’s another scandal afoot, and it’s bigger than anything he’s previously reported. Perhaps even bigger than his story from this May alleging that the US staged its mission to kill Osama bin Laden.
In a lengthy London Review of Books piece, Hersh says that the top leaders of the Pentagon deliberately subverted American policy toward Syria, sabotaging US efforts to aid Syrian rebels and even sending US intelligence to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. From fall 2013 to September 2015, he says, US military leaders effectively conducted a secret alliance with Assad and with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom they saw as their best allies in fighting ISIS.
It is a fantastic and stunning claim. And Hersh, rather than condemning this all as what would appear to be the highest act of treason in modern American history, rather seems to portray it as necessary and appropriate. But, much as with Hersh’s now-notorious bin Laden story, it is backed up with no evidence beyond the word of one anonymous “former senior adviser” to the Joint Chiefs.
What follows is a simple guide to Hersh’s theory: what he says happened, what the article states, and how it squares with what we know.
I will be transparent with you: As with Hersh’s other recent stories, I came away deeply skeptical about his claims, particularly given what appears to be a fatal flaw in the story’s central theory. I have explained my skepticism below, but I would urge you to judge for yourself.