Seymour Hersh

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Person.png Seymour Hersh   Sourcewatch SpartacusRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Seymour Hersh.jpg
"Why don't we say to the Russians: Let’s Work Together?"
BornSeymour Myron Hersh
April 8, 1937
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Alma materUniversity of Chicago
SpouseElizabeth Sarah Klein
Exposed • US/Chemical weapons
• US/Biological weapons
• My Lai Massacre
• Nord Stream/Sabotage
• Abu Ghraib
• Operation Menu

Seymour Myron "Sy" Hersh is an American investigative journalist and political writer. His coverage of defects in US intelligence and military information has ranged from disclosing the My Lai massacre in Vietnam to investigating the US war on terrorism. Dubbed the "the premier American investigative reporter"[1], he is the author of critical books on Henry Kissinger, the CIA, and John F. Kennedy.

Much of what Hersh has exposed is thanks to leaks or high-level, often anonymous, insider information from dissatisfied fractions of the deep state:

I'm not outside the system in what I do. I'm really not."[2]

From the early 2000s, his exposure of the torture prison of Abu Ghraib, inconsistencies around the official narrative of the death of Osama bin Laden, and other instances of talking too freely led to steadily harsher criticism from the deep state[3], and his exposure that a chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta in the summer of 2013 was a false flag operation, and not the work of Syrian government forces[4], led to him being ostracised by corporate media.[5]

Hersh's most recent exposures revealed that the United States was responsible for the destruction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline[6] and that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been embezzling $400 million from US aid allocated for fuel purchases, as well as buying diesel from Russia.[7]


Hersh was born in Chicago and graduated in 1958 with a B.A. from the University of Chicago[8]. 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.


In the late 1960s his articles helped inspire a partly successful campaign to abolish America’s arsenal of chemical and biological weapons.[9] In 1969, as a freelance journalist, he wrote the first account of the My Lai massacre in South Vietnam[10], based on an interview with the man who ordered it, Lieutenant William Calley. He provided the first comprehensive account of President Richard Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia. His disclosure in 1974 that the CIA had spied on antiwar activists prompted the creation of two congressional investigating committees.[11] He led the effort to unearth American regime change methods in the early 1970s against Chile’s democratic socialist president, Salvador Allende.[12]

Hersh wrote in his 1983 book, The Price of Power, that former Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai had been paid $20,000 a year by the CIA during the Johnson and Nixon administrations.

Hersh has contributed 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 and private contractors of prisoners in the Iraqi prison of Abu Ghraib, and that the CIA ordered them in order to break prisoners for interrogations. This was usual practice in other US prisons as well, e.g. in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. Hersh went on to publish an article telling how the torture was 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 resistance there.

In the 2000s, Hersh reported repeatedly that the US was on the verging of striking Iran[13]. These included reports stating that the US might even bomb Iran with a nuclear warhead[14], and later that the administration had considered using US special forces disguised as Iranians to launch a false flag attack as a pretext for war.[15]

His mention in 2011 of Opus Dei and the Knights of Malta networks in the armed forces led to him being portrayed as "a paranoid crank"[16]:

“'We're going to change mosques into cathedrals. And when we get hold of all the oil, nobody' s going to give a damn.' That's an attitude that pervades, I'm here to say, a large percentage of the Special Operations Command, the Joint Special Operations Command and Stanley McChrystal, the one who got in trouble because of the article in Rolling Stone, and his follow-on, a Navy admiral named McRaven, Bill McRaven — all are members or at least supporters of Knights of Malta. McRaven attended, so I understand, the recent annual convention of the Knights of Malta they had in Cyprus a few months back in November. They're all believers — many of them are members of Opus Dei. They do see what they are doing — and this is not an atypical attitude among some military — it's a crusade, literally. They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They're protecting them from the Muslims in the 13th century. And this is their function. They have little insignias, they have coins they pass among each other, which are crusader coins, and they have insignia that reflect that, the whole notion that this is a war, it's culture war.”
Seymour Hersh (January 2011)  [17]

“But one of the things we did, ostensibly to improve the conditions of prisoners, we demanded that the American soldiers operating in Afghanistan could only hold a suspected Taliban for four days, 96 hours. If not... after four days they could not be sure that this person was not a Taliban, he must be freed. Instead of just holding them and making them Taliban, you have to actually do some, some work to make the determination in the field. Tactically, in the field. So what happens of course, is after three or four days, "bang, bang" — I'm just telling you — they turn them over to the Afghans and by the time they take three steps away the shots are fired. And that's going on. It hasn't stopped. It's not just me that's complaining about it. But the stuff that goes on in the field, is still going on in the field — the secret prisons, absolutely, oh you bet they're still running secret prisons. Most of them are in North Africa, the guys running them are mostly out of Djibouto [sic]. We have stuff in Kenya (doesn't mean they're in Kenya, but they're in that area).”
Seymour Hersh (January 2011)  [18]

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

Published Works

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

Articles & Commentary by Seymour Hersh


Documents by Seymour Hersh

TitleDocument typePublication dateSubject(s)Description
Document:How America Took Out The Nord Stream PipelineArticle8 February 2023Victoria Nuland
Joe Biden
President's Intelligence Advisory Board
Tony Blinken
Ted Cruz
Jacobi Sullivan
Nord Stream
Nord Stream/Sabotage
Gang of Eight
William Burns
Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland told Senator Ted Cruz: “Like you, I am, and I think the Administration is, very gratified to know that Nord Stream 2 is now, as you like to say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea” (Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 26 January 2023).
Document:Syria:Whose sarin?article19 December 2013Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack
2011 Syrian Insurgency
In August-September 2013, Barack Obama, David Cameron and François Hollande accused Syria of killing 1,400 opponents in the suburbs of Damascus. Announcing that a red line had been crossed, they threatened to launch a punitive military campaign against Syria. Shortly after, London withdrew, then Washington, and finally Paris.


Quotes by Seymour Hersh

Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse“Debating about it, ummm ... Some of the worst things that happened you don't know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib ... The women were passing messages out saying 'Please come and kill me, because of what's happened' and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It's going to come out.”15 July 2004
Estes Kefauver“One trusted Korshak friend and business associate recalled in an interview that shortly after the committee's visit Mr. Korshak had shown him infrared photographs of Senator Kefauver in an obviously compromising position with a young woman. Mr. Korshak explained, the friend said, that a woman had been supplied by the Chicago underworld and a camera had been planted in the Senator's room at the Drake Hotel to photograph her with Mr. Kefauver. "Sid showed it to me," the friend said. "That was the end of hearings, and this also made Sid a very big man with the boys. Sid was the guy responsible."”1976


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:How Spin and Lies Fuel a Bloody War of Attrition in UkraineArticle13 February 2023Medea Benjamin
Nicolas J. S. Davies
President Eisenhower famously said that only an "alert and knowledgeable citizenry" can "guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. An "alert and knowledgeable citizenry" would surely then demand that our government stop fueling this war and instead support immediate peace negotiations.
Document:Seymour Hersh Says Hillary Approved Sending Libya’s Sarin to Syrian RebelsArticle28 April 2016Eric ZuesseThe commercially-controlled media won’t inform the public when a US Secretary of State, and her boss the US President, are the persons actually behind a sarin gas attack they’re blaming on a foreign leader the US aristocrats and their allied foreign aristocrats are determined to topple and replace. Is this really a democracy?
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  4. Document:Syria:Whose sarin?
  6. Document:How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline
  7. "Seymour Hersh on his BOMBSHELL Report of Zelensky Embezzling $400 Million from US Aid to Ukraine"