Wednesday, September 06, 2006
at left Seymour Hersh at Washington University, Sept. 6
Sy Hersh visited St. Louis today, giving a lecture at Graham Chapel at Wash U. Later he took questions at the moot courtroom at the university's law school.
Most of the questions he answered revolved around military and foreign policy issues regarding the war in Iraq.
When I asked him about the latest spin on the Plame case, he gave what has become the chant by most everybody in the press.
The fact that former Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage has now been revealed to be the source that leaked Valerie Plame's name to conservative columnist Robert Novak is proof positive that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's case is lame, according to the chorus, which now includes Hersh. Armitage, says Hersh, didn't even know he leaked the name to Novak, he just happened to be gossiping with the columnist when he let the name slip out. Besides, says Hersh, Armitage is one of the few voices within the administration who opposed the Iraq policy. He wasn't part of the neo-con gang that took the nation to war.
Earlier in the Q&A, Hersh made a big deal out of holding government officials to a high standard of trust. Trust, says Hersh, is what is lacking. If government officials lie, they should be held accountable.
Well, Armitage is a documented liar. So why does Sy Hersh trust him so much now? What Hersh and every other member of the press is failing to mention is Armitage's checkered past. Twenty years ago, he withheld knowledge of the illegal Iran-contra arms shipments.
The Senate panel investigating the scandal named Armitage among the top officials in the Reagan administration to participate in the cover up. He later withdrew from being nominated as Secretary of the Army under the first President George Bush to evade answering questions about his participation in Iran-contra.
If you Google Armitage's name at Google News, you will get more than 1,200 hits. But if you add the "Iran-contra" to the search terms, you get a total of just seven.
Nobody is mentioning Armitage's past. Not PBS's Jim Lehrer. Not NPR's Dan Shorr. And now Sy Hersh. All these guys are old enough to recall Armitage's Iran-contra involvement. But for some reason, it's like it didn't happen. Have they suddenly gone senile. Shorr is 90, so he may be excused for having a memory lapse. But not the rest.
Hersh didn't mention Iran-contra -- even though my question about Armitage alluded to the earlier scandal. I guess that means, in his mind, it's not relevant. Either that or he dodged the question. Maybe he was just in a hurry to catch his plane. His hour was up and he had fulfilled his end of the bargain, lecturing and taking questions for a fat fee that I'm guessing totaled more than $10k. Wash U, after all, has deep pocket.
For my efforts, I got a choclate chip cookie and a cup of coffee, the same as Sam, the aged, campus freeloader, who dines at every lecture on the university schedule. Sam knew better than to ask any questions.
While vouching for Armitage's trustworthy character, Hersh stumbled over the special prosecutor's name. "What's his name? Hersh asked. "Fitzpatrick, Fitzgerald?"
Sy, FYI, the name of the special prosecutor is Patrick Fitzgerald.
Why you wanna play coy, baby?
P.S. I hope you enjoy your complimentary copy of Island magazine that I tucked in your satchel.
Oh, just to jog your memory, here's an excerpt from the 1987 Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the Iran-contra scandal, courtesy of the New York Times:
"... On the basis of testimony and documents received by the Committee, it appears that following Administration officials and other key U.S. nationals had significant knowledge of the initiative, usually (but not always) including an understanding of the general outline and progress of the Iran program as of the following dates:
From the initial stages of the program: -The President -The Vice President -William Casey -Donald Regan -Robert McFarlane (until January 1986) -Michael Ledeen (until December 1985) -Caspar Weinberger (see additional comment below) -George Shultz (see additional comment below) -John Poindexter From (at least) September 1985 -Oliver North -Charles Allen From (at least) November 1985 -John McMahon (until March 1986) -Duane Clarridge From (at least) December 1985) -Richard Armitage From (at least) January 1986 -William Taft -Robert Gates -Clair George -Chief, C.I.A., Directorate of Operations, Near East/South Asia Division -Colin Powell -Richard Secord From (at least) March 1986 -George Cave. ..."