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A rare Q & A with Sy Hersh

Sy Hersh is the stuff of legend in his own lifetime. Veteran journalist and gadfly he has got under the skin of many American Administrations by revealing all manner of things they would rather have kept under wraps.

It's rare that one reads something about the man himself and his views. Fortunately, he sat down for a Q & A with the JewishJournal.com:

"Journalist Seymour M. Hersh, 70, announced his arrival in Washington nearly four decades ago by uncovering the U.S. military massacre of Vietnamese women and children at My Lai and winning the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. As a freelancer for the tiny Dispatch News Service, he did all this without even leaving the country. Newsweek dubbed him the "scoop artist," and from the start he has served as the official executive pain in the neck -- breaking such stories as the CIA's bombing of Cambodia and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's wiretapping of his own staff.

Recently ranked 26th on GQ's list of "50 Most Powerful People in D.C.," Hersh was among the first to expose the Abu Ghraib prison scandal (chronicled in his latest book, "Chain of Command: The Road From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib"), and he continues today to detail the Bush administration's alleged march to bomb Tehran. Persona non grata in this highly secretive White House, The New Yorker writer was recently dubbed "Cheney's Nemesis" by Rolling Stone magazine, and a former Bush insider told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in early 2003, "Look, Sy Hersh is the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist, frankly."

Some samples from the interview [the full Q & A can be read here]:

JJ: The book "The Israel Lobby" just came out. How would you characterize Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer's assessment of the power of the pro-Israel community?

SH: You can't touch them in terms of being anti-Semitic. They are realists. They are from the realists' school. I haven't read the book, but it's not either/or, either support Israel or don't. It's: try and use the tremendous support and relationship we have to modify their behavior more than we do. But this government and that relationship [with Israel] is really profound, and it is just very secretive between us and Israel. It is not transparent, and that is not healthy for anybody."

And:

JJ: You mentioned that there are plenty of things you know that you can't write about.

SH: The bottom line is nobody in this government talks to me. I've been around for 40 years -- in Bush I, in the Reagan years, certainly in Democratic regimes, but even in Republican regimes where I am more of a pain -- I've always had tremendous relationships with people. This is the first government in which in order to get my stories checked out to make sure I'm not going to kill some American, I have to go to peoples' mailboxes at night, people I talk to and know, and put it in their mailbox before turning it into The New Yorker, to get them to read it and say, "Oh, Page 4, you better not say that, Hersh."
I can't do that with the government. I used to always go and sit down and talk with the heads of the CIA and heads of other agencies. These guys are just really quantitatively different. You are either with us or against us across the board. And this is why I count days.

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