Obama LIED when he said U.S. pulled off bin Laden raid without help

  • Journalist Seymour Hersh claims ‘lying’ is common in US counter-terrorism 
  • Quoted ex-CIA high-level source in article for the London Review of Books 
  • Alleges Obama’s speech was put together in a rush and created ‘chaos’
  • Source added there was an ‘agreement with the Pakistanis’ before operation 
  • Has also tried to poke holes in issues such as NSA spying and drone attacks

President Obama lied to Americans about the role of Pakistan special forces in the raid which killed Osama Bin Laden so he could take credit for the mission, an expose published on Sunday has claimed.

Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh has accused the the Commander-In-Chief of rushing to receive plaudits just hours after the Navy SEAL operation which killed the head of Al Qaeda and 9/11 mastermind four years ago.

In an article for the London Review of Books, where Hersh attacks a number of U.S. foreign policy areas, he says Obama’s address caused ‘chaos’ in the intelligence community and forced them to collaborate his story.

The former New York Times reporter quotes former American and Pakistani intelligence sources, as well as Navy SEALs as he claims that the White House and CIA repeatedly lied to the public about nearly every aspect of the bin Laden raid.

He says ‘high-level lying’ and ‘bypassing the chain of command’ is standard fare in U.S. counter-terrorism and those who stand up to the White ‘say no’ to the consensus are usually phased out.

Among the explosive claims that Hersh makes in the piece:

  • The Pakistanis had been essentially holding bin Laden captive at the Abbottabad compound for years.
  • The CIA learned of bin Laden’s location from a Pakistani intelligence official who tipped off American operatives hoping to claim the $25million bounty on the terror leader – not from interrogation of an al-Qaeda courier.
  • Top American officials negotiated with Pakistani officials to let them carry out the operation to kill bin Laden on Pakistani soil.
  • There was no vaccination program used to college the DNA from bin Laden’s compound – it was all made up as part of an elaborate cover-story after the fact.
  • The Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, cut power to the neighborhood where bin Laden was hiding on the day of the raid and made sure no Pakistani forces would not interfere with the American choppers flying into sovereign airspace.
  • There was no firefight during the SEAL raid – the only shots fired were those that killed bin Laden, whom Hersh described as a feeble, unarmed man.
  • Bin Laden was cut off from al-Qaeda at the time of his killing and was not running the terrorist group
  • There was almost no useful intelligence information found his compound.
  • After he was killed, bin Laden was not buried at sea, but instead buried in Afghanistan.
  • Obama publicly announced the commando raid and claimed public credit for it, despite agreeing with the Pakistanis to keep the action secret for seven days and eventually say bin Laden had been killed in a drone strike.
  • Obama’s announcement badly alienated Pakistani leaders and all but obliterated the military and intelligence ties between the two nations.

A supposed fabrication he singles out is that Pakistani military officials actually knew about the operation, even though the White House maintains it was purely an American affair.

Militant organisation: During his piece, Hersh claimed the threat of Al Qaeda, headed by Bin Laden (left), was hyped up in the weeks before the attack

Militant organisation: During his piece, Hersh claimed the threat of Al Qaeda, headed by Bin Laden (left), was hyped up in the weeks before the attack

In the piece he cites one anonymous source, a retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abottabad.’

He adds the high-ranking servicemen was also ‘privy to many aspects of the (Navy SEALs)’ training for the raid, and to the various after-action reports.’

‘Obama’s speech was put together in a rush,’ Hersh alleges.

‘This series of self-serving and inaccurate statements would create chaos in the weeks following.’

The White House has maintained Pakistani officials were not informed of the raid, but Hersh believes this is false as members of the Obama administration have contradicted the account.

He quotes his anonymous source as saying: ‘The fact that there was an agreement with the Pakistanis and no contingency analysis of what was to be disclosed if something went wrong – that wasn’t even discussed.’

According to Hersh the Abbottabad compound was surrounded by ISI guards keep watch over bin Laden and his wives and children around the clock.

‘They were under orders to leave as soon as they heard the rotors of the US helicopters,’ Hersh adds.

‘The town was dark: the electricity supply had been cut off on the orders of the ISI hours before the raid began.’

The official added that Obama’s advisers were forced to ‘make up a new cover story on the fly’ after hearing the speech.

A Special Operations Command consultant also allegedly told Hersh Bin Laden’s death was ‘political theatre designed to burnish Obama’s military credentials’.

Controversial: Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh claims the Commander-In-Chief rushed to take credit for the Navy SEAL operation which killed the head of Al Qaeda four years ago

Controversial: Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh claims the Commander-In-Chief rushed to take credit for the Navy SEAL operation which killed the head of Al Qaeda four years ago

Aftermath: Hersch also claims the details of the raid in Abbotobad, Pakistan, were exaggerated. Pictured is a piece of a downed helicopter outside Bin Laden’s compound

‘The Seals should have expected the political grandstanding. It’s irresistible to a politician. Bin Laden became a working asset,’ the source added.

Hersch also claims the details of the raid itself were exaggerated and the threat of Al Qaeda was hyped up in the weeks leading up to the operation.

‘The White House had to give the impression that bin Laden was still operationally important,’ the source adds.

‘Otherwise, why kill him? A cover story was created – that there was a network of couriers coming and going with memory sticks and instructions. All to show that bin Laden remained important.’

He adds the ‘lies, misstatements and betrayals’ were always going to create a backlash.

The source said: ‘We’ve had a four-year lapse in co-operation. It’s taken that long for the Pakistanis to trust us again in the military-to-military counterterrorism relationship – while terrorism was rising all over the world … They felt Obama sold them down the river.

‘They’re just now coming back because the threat from Isis, which is now showing up there.’

The White House is yet to respond to Hersh’s claims.

In 2013, Hersh first aired his opinion on Obama’s story of the 2011 operation, claiming it was ‘one big lie’.

During an interview with The Guardian, he savaged the US media for failing to challenge the president on a number of issues – from NSA spying to drone attacks.

‘It’s pathetic. They are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama],’ he stated.

He has claimed the Obama administration has lied on a number of occasions.

President Obama announces death of Bin Laden in 2011

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Turn the Tables: Stopping Western Aggression in Syria

29.09.2014 Author: Tony Cartalucci

http://journal-neo.org

45345345As the US begins token airstrikes on both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border, the fighting capacity of the “Islamic State” or “ISIS,” has seen no visible setbacks. This is because ISIS is in fact the very proxy mercenaries intentionally created to fight the West’s proxy war against Iran and its arc of influence stretching from neighboring Iraq, through Syria, and into Lebanon. 

As early as 2007 – a full 4 years before the 2011 “Arab Spring” would begin – Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his New Yorker article titled, “”The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” would warn specifically (emphasis added):

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

After the West’s flooding of the region with billions of dollars worth of weapons, equipment, vehicles, training, and cash for the purpose of bolstering “moderate rebels,” what has emerged is precisely the “extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam” and are “sympathetic to Al Qaeda” Hersh warned about in 2007. The West has thus far otherwise failed to explain who else besides extremists could have received the aid, or who is funding extremists above and beyond the collective support provided by the US, Europe, and the West’s Middle Eastern partners, that have allowed these extremists to dominate the battlefield so decisively.

Now the US claims it must raise another army of “moderate” ground troops to augment its aerial bombardment of “ISIS.” But in reality, attacks on phantom enemies in the desert serve the singular purpose of creating a no-fly zone and no-drive zone for Syria’s military, preventing the final annihilation of the West’s terrorist mercenaries in Syrian territory and in fact giving them a second chance to finally march on the gates of Damascus with US airpower in tow.

For all intents and purposes, the US through its airstrikes has carved out a defacto buffer zone protected by US airpower. The ground troops it seeks to deploy “against ISIS” are intended instead for Damascus, the overthrow of the Syrian government, and the handover of Syria to sectarian warlords for the same genocidal conflagration still being suffered in Libya after a similar “intervention” by the US and its NATO allies.

Turning the Tables 

Despite this diabolical, criminal conspiracy unfolding before the world’s eyes – a verbatim repeat of the crimes against humanity committed by NATO in Libya – there still exists an opportunity to turn the tables on the West, using its propaganda and the precedents it has set against it and its insidious agenda. 

While in all actuality ISIS and other extremist factions already constitute the ground component of the West’s campaign against Damascus, now enjoying sanctuary under the cover of US airpower, the general public neither knows this, nor would ever accept this should they find out. The rhetorical hysteria surrounding the “awesome threat” ISIS suddenly poses to the world still has considerable momentum.

In a move of geopolitical redirection, Syria’s allies can cite that “awesome threat” of ISIS as impetus for their own actions in Syria – and more specifically – an overt, wide-ranging, arming, training, and funding regiment for forces already on the ground, already guaranteed not to be extremists, and the only legitimate force in Syrian territory – the Syrian Arab Army.

The Syrian Arab Army or More “Moderates?” – A Clear Choice 

5290a6b3d0e58Indeed, the biggest quandary facing the West’s next attempt to overthrow Syria is the creation of its “ground force.” These troops would by necessity need to be indeed “moderates,” and not simply “more moderate” than the boogeymen Western propaganda has created under the name “ISIS.” Already, terrorists factions confirmed to have been armed with heavy weapons by the US have condemned airstrikes on ISIS and have openly admitted they fight alongside and within the ranks of Al Qaeda itself.

The Daily Beast would report in its article, “Al Qaeda Plotters in Syria ‘Went Dark,’ U.S. Spies Say,” that (emphasis added):

One Syrian rebel group supported in the past by the United States condemned the air strikes on Tuesday. Harakat Hazm, a rebel group that received a shipment of U.S. anti-tank weapons in the spring, called the airstrikes “an attack on national sovereignty” and charged that foreign led attacks only strengthen the Assad regime.The statement comes from a document, purportedly from the group, that has circulated online and was posted in English translation from a Twitter account called Syria Conflict Monitor. Several Syria experts, including the Brookings Doha Center’s Charles Lister, believe the document to be authentic. The Daily Beast would report in its article, “Al Qaeda Plotters in Syria ‘Went Dark,’ U.S. Spies Say,” that (emphasis added):

Before the official statement, there were signs that Harakat Hazm was making alliances in Syria that could conflict with its role as a U.S. partner. In early Septemeber a Harakat Hazm official told a reporter for the L.A. Times: “Inside Syria, we became labeled as secularists and feared Nusra Front was going to battle us…But Nusra doesn’t fight us, we actually fight alongside them. We like Nusra.”

Harakat Hazm is the rule, not the exception. Beyond the nebulous title “moderates,” the West has thus far failed to name any of these actual groups – because they do not exist. Weapons and cash it is pouring into Syria have ended up “alongside” Al Qaeda’s al-Nusra front and ISIS, just as groups like Harakat Hazm have.

Russia, China, and Iran have an opportunity to cite the Syrian Arab Army as the most capable and appropriate force in the region with which to fight ISIS – a task the Syrian Arab Army has been demonstrably doing since at least 2011. It was the US State Department itself that stated in their official designation of Jabhat al-Nusra as a foreign terrorist organization that Al Qaeda and other hardcore sectarian terrorists had been fighting the Syrian government, spearheading the violence in Syria since the conflict began in 2011.

The US State Department’s official press statement titled, “Terrorist Designations of the al-Nusrah Front as an Alias for al-Qa’ida in Iraq,” stated explicitly that:

Since November 2011, al-Nusrah Front has claimed nearly 600 attacks – ranging from more than 40 suicide attacks to small arms and improvised explosive device operations – in major city centers including Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr. During these attacks numerous innocent Syrians have been killed.

It is no stretch then to characterize Syria’s conflict as one between a secular government and a menagerie of foreign-backed sectarian extremists. Without even mentioning these extremists’ foreign sponsors, Syria’s allies can use the current hysteria created by the Western media itself to offer overt and wide-ranging military and political support to the Syrian government and above all, the Syrian people. Beyond the buffer zone the West is struggling tactically, strategically, and politically to establish and maintain, will be a Syrian nation-state backed with the resources necessary to stop further aggression in its tracks and roll back the terrorist hordes the West is clearly perpetuating within Syria’s borders and all along them. 

The US is Not the Only Nation Entitled to “Defend” Itself Against ISIS 

The US appears to believe it is entitled to unilaterally attack, invade, and even occupy nations to “defend” itself against supposed threats. In the case of Syria, it is clear that after multiple failed attempts to sell regime change under the pretext of supporting “democracy,” multiple manufactured “humanitarian” pretexts, and the threat of “chemical weapons,” neutralizing ISIS is simply the latest excuse in a long line of verified, increasingly desperate lies being used to advance the West’s agenda in the Middle East.

Russia – threatened explicitly by ISIS terrorists – and China are both demonstrably facing sectarian extremists within their own borders – many of whom are directly linked to Al Qaeda. Both could easily make a case for assisting the Syrian government in eliminating the “ISIS threat.” Moscow and Beijing – and many others – could argue that clearly the West’s strategy of arming “moderates” has failed, and their latest plan to arm and train between 5,000-15,000 more is a disaster in the making.

Instead, the secular nation-state of Syria should be given the resources and support it needs to finally bury the threat of extremism it itself has warned the world of since the West began disingenuously both stoking and perpetuating the conflict in 2011. If the West can unilaterally begin military operations within a sovereign nation and without a mandate from either Syria or the UN, surely Syria’s allies can offer substantial and overt material and political support if given Damascus’ approval.

For the so-called “moderates” – if any in fact exist – an opportunity to join the Syrian government in its fight and broker a truce with government forces could be an attractive alternative to the zero-sum and zero-gain scenario Washington has planned for Syrians on both sides of the conflict.

A Syrian soldier needs only look at the current state of Libya to understand the necessity to continue fighting on, and any genuine rebels there may be can do likewise, understanding the ploy against their own nation they have been used and abused for, and the ignoble end their fight is leading toward.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.
First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2014/09/29/turn-the-tables-stopping-western-aggression-in-syria/

 

America’s Covert Re-Invasion of Iraq

Image: ISIS clearly did not materialize spontaneously within Iraq, it has
clearly redeployed from its NATO-sponsored destruction of Syria to
northern Iraq, perhaps in an attempt to justify a NATO incursion and the
creation of a buffer zone straddling Syrian, Iraqi, and even possibly
Iranian territory with the goal of targeting Iran directly with ISIS.  

http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com                                                           Originally posted June 13, 2014 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) – Heavily armed, well funded, and organized as a professional, standing army, the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) swept southward into Iraq from Turkey and northeastern Syria, taking the cities of Mosul and Tikrit, and now threaten the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad itself. The United States was sure to prop up two unfounded narratives – the first being that US intelligence agencies, despite assets in Iraq and above it in the form of surveillance drones, failed to give warning of the invasion, and that ISIS is some sort of self-sustaining terror organization carving out a “state” by “robbing banks” and collecting “donations” on Twitter.

The Wall Street Journal in its report, “Iraqi Drama Catches U.S. Off Guard,” stated:

The quickly unfolding drama prompted a White House meeting Wednesday of top policy makers and military leaders who were caught off guard by the swift collapse of Iraqi security forces, officials acknowledged.

In another WSJ post, “U.S. Secretly Flying Drones Over Iraq,” it claimed:

A senior U.S. official said the intelligence collected under the small [secret US drone] program was shared with Iraqi forces, but added: “It’s not like it did any good.” The rapid territorial gains by the Islamist forces loyal to Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, an al Qaeda offshoot, caught the U.S. by surprise, the officials said.

Image: ISIS has convoys of brand new matching Toyota’s the same
vehicles seen among admittedly NATO-armed terrorists operating
everywhere from Libya to Syria, and now Iraq. It is a synthetic, state-
sponsored regional mercenary expeditionary force.

Despite drone flights collecting intelligence, and a 3-year ongoing CIA program (here, here, and here) all along the Turkish-Syrian border to “monitor” and “arm” “moderate” militants fighting the Syrian government, the US claims it was caught “by surprise.” If drones and CIA operatives operating in ISIS territory weren’t enough to detect the impending invasion, perhaps the CIA should have just picked up a newspaper.

Indeed, the Lebanon Daily Start in March 2014 reported that ISIS openly withdrew its forces from Latakia and Idlib provinces in western Syria, and redeployed them in Syria’s east – along the Syrian-Iraqi border. The article titled, “Al-Qaeda splinter group in Syria leaves two provinces: activists,” stated explicitly that:

On Friday, ISIS – which alienated many rebels by seizing territory and killing rival commanders – finished withdrawing from the Idlib and Latakia provinces and moved its forces toward the eastern Raqqa province and the eastern outskirts of the northern city of Aleppo, activists said.

The question remains, if a Lebanese newspaper knew ISIS was on the move eastward, why didn’t the CIA? The obvious answer is the CIA did know, and is simply feigning ignorance at the expense of their reputation to bait its enemies into suspecting the agency of  incompetency rather than complicity in the horrific terroristic swath ISIS is now carving through northern Iraq.


Described extensively in the full New Eastern Outlook Journal (NEO) report, “NATO’s Terror Hordes in Iraq a Pretext for Syria Invasion,” the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, have funded and armed terrorists operating in Syria for the past 3 years to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars – coincidentally the same amount that ISIS would require to gain primacy among militant groups fighting in Syria and to mobilize forces capable of crossing into Iraq and overwhelming Baghdad’s national defenses.

Image: The most prominent routes into Syria for foreign fighters is depicted, with the inset graph describing the most widely used routes by foreign fighters on their way to Iraq, as determined by West Point’s 2007 Combating Terrorism Center report Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” (page 20).  These same networks were then used to invade and attempt to overthrow the Syrian government itself in 2011, with the addition of a more prominent role for Turkey, and today in 2014, to re-invade Iraq once again. 

The NEO report includes links to the US Army’s West Point Countering Terrorism Center reports, “Bombers, Bank Accounts and Bleedout: al-Qa’ida’s Road In and Out of Iraq,” and “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq,” which detail extensively the terror network used to flood Iraq with foreign terrorists, weapons, and cash to fuel an artificial “sectarian war” during the US occupation, and then turned over to flood Syria with terrorists in the West’s bid to overthrow the government in Damascus.

What’s ISIS Doing in Iraq? 
The NEO report would also post Seymour Hersh’s 2007 article, “The Redirection,” documenting over the course of 9 pages US, Saudi, and Israeli intentions to create and deploy sectarian extremists region-wide to confront Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hersh would note that these “sectarian extremists” were either tied to Al Qaeda, or Al Qaeda itself. The ISIS army moving toward Baghdad is the final manifestation of this conspiracy, a standing army operating with impunity, threatening to topple the Syrian government, purge pro-Iranian forces in Iraq, and even threatening Iran itself by building a bridge from Al Qaeda’s NATO safe havens in Turkey, across northern Iraq, and up to Iran’s borders directly. Labeled “terrorists” by the West, grants the West plausible deniability in its creation, deployment, and across the broad spectrum of atrocities it is now carrying out.

Image: ISIS’s alleged territory spans across both Iraqi and Syrian
territory. If it is able to establish a NATO-backed buffer zone, it will be
able to launch attacks with impunity into Syria, Iraq, and Iran – in a
region-wide sectarian war the West has been engineering for years. 

It is a defacto re-invasion of Iraq by Western interests – but this time without Western forces directly participating – rather a proxy force the West is desperately attempting to disavow any knowledge of or any connection to. However, no other explanation can account for the size and prowess of ISIS beyond state sponsorship. And since ISIS is the clear benefactor of state sponsorship, the question is, which states are sponsoring it? With Iraq, Syria, and Iran along with Lebanese-based Hezbollah locked in armed struggle with ISIS and other Al Qaeda franchises across the region, the only blocs left are NATO and the GCC (Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular).

With the West declaring ISIS fully villainous in an attempt to intervene more directly in northern Iraq and eastern Syria, creating a long desired “buffer zone” within which to harbor, arm, and fund an even larger terrorist expeditionary force, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and others are offered an opportunity to preempt Western involvement and to crush the ISIS – cornering and eliminating NATO-GCC’s expeditionary force while scoring geopolitical points of vanquishing Washington’s latest “villain.” Joint Iraq-Iranian operations in the north and south of ISIS’s locations, and just along Turkey’s borders could envelop and trap ISIS to then be whittled down and destroyed – just as Syria has been doing to NATO’s proxy terrorist forces within its own borders.

Whatever the regional outcome may be, the fact is the West has re-invaded Iraq, with a force as brutal, if not worse than the “shock and awe” doctrine of 2003. Iraq faces another difficult occupation if it cannot summon a response from within, and among its allies abroad, to counter and crush this threat with utmost expediency.

Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the ‘pathetic’ American media

theguardian.com

Friday 27 September 2013

By Lisa O’Carroll

Seymour Hersh

Seymour Hersh exposed the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam war, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. Photograph: Wally McNamee/Corbis

Pulitzer Prize winner explains how to fix journalism, saying press should ‘fire 90% of editors and promote ones you can’t control’. 

Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider.

It doesn’t take much to fire up Hersh, the investigative journalist who has been the nemesis of US presidents since the 1960s and who was once described by the Republican party as “the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist”.

He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth.

Don’t even get him started on the New York Times which, he says, spends “so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would” – or the death of Osama bin Laden. “Nothing’s been done about that story, it’s one big lie, not one word of it is true,” he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.

Hersh is writing a book about national security and has devoted a chapter to the bin Laden killing. He says a recent report put out by an “independent” Pakistani commission about life in the Abottabad compound in which Bin Laden was holed up would not stand up to scrutiny. “The Pakistanis put out a report, don’t get me going on it. Let’s put it this way, it was done with considerable American input. It’s a bullshit report,” he says hinting of revelations to come in his book.

The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.

“It’s pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama],” he declares in an interview with the Guardian.

“It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight. Now that doesn’t happen any more. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president.

He isn’t even sure if the recent revelations about the depth and breadth of surveillance by the National Security Agency will have a lasting effect.

Snowden changed the debate on surveillance

He is certain that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “changed the whole nature of the debate” about surveillance. Hersh says he and other journalists had written about surveillance, but Snowden was significant because he provided documentary evidence – although he is sceptical about whether the revelations will change the US government’s policy.

“Duncan Campbell [the British investigative journalist who broke the Zircon cover-up story], James Bamford [US journalist] and Julian Assange and me and the New Yorker, we’ve all written the notion there’s constant surveillance, but he [Snowden] produced a document and that changed the whole nature of the debate, it’s real now,” Hersh says.

“Editors love documents. Chicken-shit editors who wouldn’t touch stories like that, they love documents, so he changed the whole ball game,” he adds, before qualifying his remarks.

“But I don’t know if it’s going to mean anything in the long [run] because the polls I see in America – the president can still say to voters ‘al-Qaida, al-Qaida’ and the public will vote two to one for this kind of surveillance, which is so idiotic,” he says.

Holding court to a packed audience at City University in London’s summer school on investigative journalism, 76-year-old Hersh is on full throttle, a whirlwind of amazing stories of how journalism used to be; how he exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, how he got the Abu Ghraib pictures of American soldiers brutalising Iraqi prisoners, and what he thinks of Edward Snowden.

Hope of redemption

Despite his concern about the timidity of journalism he believes the trade still offers hope of redemption.

“I have this sort of heuristic view that journalism, we possibly offer hope because the world is clearly run by total nincompoops more than ever … Not that journalism is always wonderful, it’s not, but at least we offer some way out, some integrity.”

His story of how he uncovered the My Lai atrocity is one of old-fashioned shoe-leather journalism and doggedness. Back in 1969, he got a tip about a 26-year-old platoon leader, William Calley, who had been charged by the army with alleged mass murder.

Instead of picking up the phone to a press officer, he got into his car and started looking for him in the army camp of Fort Benning in Georgia, where he heard he had been detained. From door to door he searched the vast compound, sometimes blagging his way, marching up to the reception, slamming his fist on the table and shouting: “Sergeant, I want Calley out now.”

Eventually his efforts paid off with his first story appearing in the St Louis Post-Despatch, which was then syndicated across America and eventually earned him the Pulitzer Prize. “I did five stories. I charged $100 for the first, by the end the [New York] Times were paying $5,000.”

He was hired by the New York Times to follow up the Watergate scandal and ended up hounding Nixon over Cambodia. Almost 30 years later, Hersh made global headlines all over again with his exposure of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Put in the hours

For students of journalism his message is put the miles and the hours in. He knew about Abu Ghraib five months before he could write about it, having been tipped off by a senior Iraqi army officer who risked his own life by coming out of Baghdad to Damascus to tell him how prisoners had been writing to their families asking them to come and kill them because they had been “despoiled”.

“I went five months looking for a document, because without a document, there’s nothing there, it doesn’t go anywhere.”

Hersh returns to US president Barack Obama. He has said before that the confidence of the US press to challenge the US government collapsed post 9/11, but he is adamant that Obama is worse than Bush.

“Do you think Obama’s been judged by any rational standards? Has Guantanamo closed? Is a war over? Is anyone paying any attention to Iraq? Is he seriously talking about going into Syria? We are not doing so well in the 80 wars we are in right now, what the hell does he want to go into another one for. What’s going on [with journalists]?” he asks.

He says investigative journalism in the US is being killed by the crisis of confidence, lack of resources and a misguided notion of what the job entails.

“Too much of it seems to me is looking for prizes. It’s journalism looking for the Pulitzer Prize,” he adds. “It’s a packaged journalism, so you pick a target like – I don’t mean to diminish because anyone who does it works hard – but are railway crossings safe and stuff like that, that’s a serious issue but there are other issues too.

“Like killing people, how does [Obama] get away with the drone programme, why aren’t we doing more? How does he justify it? What’s the intelligence? Why don’t we find out how good or bad this policy is? Why do newspapers constantly cite the two or three groups that monitor drone killings. Why don’t we do our own work?

“Our job is to find out ourselves, our job is not just to say – here’s a debate’ our job is to go beyond the debate and find out who’s right and who’s wrong about issues. That doesn’t happen enough. It costs money, it costs time, it jeopardises, it raises risks. There are some people – the New York Times still has investigative journalists but they do much more of carrying water for the president than I ever thought they would … it’s like you don’t dare be an outsider any more.”

He says in some ways President George Bush‘s administration was easier to write about. “The Bush era, I felt it was much easier to be critical than it is [of] Obama. Much more difficult in the Obama era,” he said.

Asked what the solution is Hersh warms to his theme that most editors are pusillanimous and should be fired.

“I’ll tell you the solution, get rid of 90% of the editors that now exist and start promoting editors that you can’t control,” he says. I saw it in the New York Times, I see people who get promoted are the ones on the desk who are more amenable to the publisher and what the senior editors want and the trouble makers don’t get promoted. Start promoting better people who look you in the eye and say ‘I don’t care what you say’.

Nor does he understand why the Washington Post held back on the Snowden files until it learned the Guardian was about to publish.

If Hersh was in charge of US Media Inc, his scorched earth policy wouldn’t stop with newspapers.

“I would close down the news bureaus of the networks and let’s start all over, tabula rasa. The majors, NBCs, ABCs, they won’t like this – just do something different, do something that gets people mad at you, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing,” he says.

Hersh is currently on a break from reporting, working on a book which undoubtedly will make for uncomfortable reading for both Bush and Obama.

“The republic’s in trouble, we lie about everything, lying has become the staple.” And he implores journalists to do something about it.