Seymour M. Hersh


Whatever credibility Hersh may have had as an investigative journalist will have to be reassessed in the light of his undisciplined and irresponsible attack on President John F. Kennedy in The Dark Side of Camelot (New York: Little, Brown, 1997). Hersh clearly relishes the gossip, rumor, and unsupported speculation he passes off as "fact" in this work. In fact, it is difficult not to believe that he has deliberately arranged his "facts" in the fashion he felt would most likely boost book sales. This would partially explain his involvement with the fabricated "Kennedy Papers"; he wanted them to be valid so badly, all judgment and objectivity were shortcircuited. If such is his methodology, even his more acclaimed earlier works must be read differently than they have been heretofore.

Hersh, Seymour M. "The Angleton Story." New York Times Magazine, 25 Jun. 1978, 13 ff. [Petersen]


Hersh, Seymour M. "Congress Is Accused of Laxity on CIA's Covert Action." New York Times, 1 Jun. 1978, A2.


Hersh, Seymour M.

On the impact of Hersh's December 1974-January 1975 articles in the New York Times, see Cynthia M. Nolan, "Seymour Hersh's Impact on the CIA," International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 12, no. 1 (Spring 1999): 18-34.

1. "Huge C.I.A. Operation Reported in U.S. Against Anti-War Forces, Other Dissidents in Nixon Years." New York Times, 22 Dec. 1974, 1, 26.

And thus was the barn door opened....

2. "Proxmire to Seek Inquiry on C.I.A. over Role in U.S." New York Times, 23 Dec. 1974, 1.

3. "Report on C.I.A. Is Praised, But Recommendations Are Called Weak." New York Times, 12 Jun. 1975, 23.

On report of Rockefeller Commission.

4. "At Its Best, How Good Is C.I.A. in a Democracy?" New York Times, 15 Jun. 1975, sec. 4, 1.


Hersh, Seymour M. "The Intelligence Gap: How the Digital Age Left Our Spies Out in the Cold." New Yorker, 6 Dec. 1999, 58-76. [Available at]

NSA "has become a victim of the high-tech world it helped to create. Through mismanagement, arrogance, and fear of the unknown, the senior military and civilian bureaucrats who work at the agency's headquarters ... have failed to prepare fully for today's high-volume flow of E-mail and fibre-optic transmissions -- even as nations throughout Europe, Asia, and the Third World have begun exchanging diplomatic and national-security messages encrypted in unbreakable digital code."


Hersh, Seymour M. "The Killing of Osama bin Laden." London Review of Books, 21 May 2015, 3-12. [Available at]

Returning to his Dark Side of Camelot (1997) persona, Hersh cites a single source -- "a retired senior intelligence official" -- for the claim that bin Laden had been an ISI prisoner "since 2006; that [Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the army staff, and Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, ISI director general] knew of the raid in advance and had made sure that the two helicopters delivering the Seals to Abbottabad could cross Pakistani airspace without triggering any alarms;" that the CIA learned of bin Laden's whereabouts "from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward..., and that, while Obama did order the raid and the Seal team did carry it out, many other aspects of the administration's account were false."

Peter Bergen, CNN, 11 May 2015, builds the case that "Hersh's account of the bin Laden raid is a farrago of nonsense that is contravened by a multitude of eyewitness accounts, inconvenient facts and simple common sense." See also, Alexandra Jaffe, "White House Rejects Seymour Hersh 'Baseless Assertions' on bin Laden Raid," CNN, 11 May 2015; and Dan Lamothe, "'Utter Nonsense': CIA and White House Blast Seymour Hersh's Explosive Osama bin Laden Raid Story," Washington Post, 11 May 2015.

[Terrorism/10s/11 & 15 & binLaden]

Hersh, Seymour M. "The Price of Power: Kissinger, Nixon and Chile." Atlantic Monthly, Dec. 1982, 31-58.


Hersh, Seymour M. "Preparing the Battlefield: The Bush Administration Steps Up Its Secret Moves against Iran." New Yorker, 7 Jul. 2008. []

According to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources, Congress late last year "agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran." These operations, for which the President sought up to $400 million, "were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership.... Clandestine operations against Iran are not new." U.S. Special Operations Forces "have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq, with Presidential authorization, since last year.... But the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded, according to the current and former officials."

Joby Warrick, "U.S. Is Said to Expand Covert Operations in Iran: Plan Allows Up to $400 Million for Activities Aimed at Destabilizing Government," Washington Post, 30 Jun. 2008, A2, reports that Hersh's article "drew a sharp reaction from administration officials, who denied that U.S. forces were engaged in operations inside Iran."


Hersh, Seymour M. "Saddam's Best Friend: How the C.I.A. Made It a Lot Easier for the Iraqi Leader to Rearm." New Yorker, 5 Apr. 1999, 32 ff. []

This is a lengthy review of the use by U.S. intelligence of UNSCOM inspectors for espionage purposes. Much of it is a reiteration of the opinions of Scott Ritter, and of accusations against Steven Richter, who headed CIA's Near East Division.


Hersh, Seymour M. The Samson Option: Israel's Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy. New York: Random House, 1991. The Samson Option: Israel, America and the Bomb. London: Faber & Faber, 1992. [pb] The Samson Option: Israel's Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy. With new Afterword. New York: Vintage, 1993. [pb]

Hersh, Seymour M. "The Stovepipe: How Conflicts Between the Bush Administration and the Intelligence Community Marred the Reporting on Iraq's Weapons." New Yorker, 27 Oct. 2003, 7-87.


Hersh, Seymour M. The Target Is Destroyed: What Really Happened to Flight 007 and What America Knew About It. New York: Random House, 1986. New York: Vintage Books, 1987. [pb]

In a contemporaneous comment, Horton, IJI&C 1.4, thought that conspiracy buffs would be "disappointed." However, Hersh "does strain himself ... in his effort to explain this brutal action." The Target Is Destroyed is "worth reading for the account of the handling in Washington of the information on the flight and the shootdown." Macartney, Intelligencer 10.1, calls this book "one of the best books ever written on intelligence. It is particularly good on SIGINT, the culture within the Intelligence Community, Cold War attitudes, and, most useful, the nexus between intelligence information and policy outcomes."


Hersh, Seymour M. "What Went Wrong: The C.I.A. and the Failure of American Intelligence." New Yorker, 8 Oct. 2001. [Posted at on 1 October 2001]

According to a Justice Department official, "the widely anticipated white paper [showing that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the attacks] could not be published ... for lack of hard facts.... Today's C.I.A. is not up to the job" of getting at the kind of intelligence needed against terrorists. The CIA "has steadily reduced its reliance on overseas human intelligence and cut the number of case officers abroad ... whose mission is to recruit spies." [Quotes from Reuel Marc Gerecht, "The Counterterrorist Myth." Atlantic Monthly, Jul.-Aug. 2001.]


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