Seymour Hersh's new book—made possible by the disgruntled
Joe Courter
January 2006

The praise for Seymour Hersh on the back of his most recent book Chain of Command; the Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib makes even starting a review a daunting task. What this one person has done through his career is to establish a level of credibility and trust coupled with an ethical position that the public needs to know when governments lie and do wrong. It is the sources who trust Hersh with information and analysis who make his work, and especially this work, possible.

A few years ago Time magazine made the whistleblower their person of the year. It cited three women; Coleen Rowley of the FBI, Sherron Watkins of Enron, and Cynthia Cooper of World Com. All three sacrificed their employment to speak up and speak out, exposing the truth about management-tolerated practices within their respective organizations which were, to say the least, unsatisfactory.

I think Time was right on the money with the choice that year. The folks we have in power in this country, be it corporations or the government, are in some cases as offensive to the people with whom they are working as to those of us outside. Those brave souls who step forward and whistleblow on their superiors are essential to the struggle to put our country on to a more humane and sustainable path.

But not everyone who sees corruption around them removes themselves from the workings of the machinery. It's from these essential people that a trusted and incisive reporter such as Seymour Hersh can piece together information to expose the inner workings, the bad practices and erroneous leadership, which take an institution in a direction it should not be going.

For Seymour Hersh Chain of Command; the Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib was a fertile field with many high placed sources willing to share their concerns for where and how the Bush administration was taking the country. Their voices and information, shaped by Hersh's skill and knowledge, present an indictment of the Bush Administration and its policies since 9/11. There are sections of the book dealing with Afghanistan (the other war), the runup to the Iraq war and its use of bogus defectors and "stovepiped" information (questionably sourced information which attained credibility principly because it fit what the administration wanted to or was expecting to hear), and the sordid and damning Abu Ghraib prison scandal, which Hersh's played a major role in exposing.. Intelligence failures leading up to 9/11 and the dangerous and unstable diplomacy going on with Pakistan and with neighboring countries in the Middle East are also addressed.

Hersh is an essential voice for anyone trying to understand US foreign policy. Actually, hearing his voice is important and enhances ones reading of his words. He's gruff, direct, sincere, and demanding. A search on or C-Span's website will present multiple opportunities to hear him.

His pieces continue in the New Yorker (where some of the book Chain of Command previously appeared); the most recent looking ahead to the coming air war in Iraq once US troops do finally withdraw, when Iraqis on the ground will be the ones targeting US bombs, giving the US supported factions the upper hand as the "Iraqi democracy" unfolds.

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