Vox’s Max Fisher is Wrong About Seymour Hersh, Explained
By Kevin Gosztola
Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published a report on how the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff deviated from President Barack Obama’s policy on Syria by sharing military intelligence indirectly with Bashar al-Assad’s government. It also indicated the Joint Chiefs dissented against Obama’s “insistence that ‘moderate’ rebel groups” could defeat Assad because they were all primarily extremists.
Well over twenty-four hours later, there are zero establishment media outlets that have run follow-ups or coverage of Hersh’s reporting. Only “Democracy Now!” had Hersh on their December 22 show and asked him about what he uncovered. Instead, a critique produced by Max Fisher and published at Vox has given U.S. journalists the justification to dismiss all of the major claims and issues raised in Hersh’s report.
Fisher, who is Vox’s resident Seymour Hersh critic, outlines in an op-ed or “explainer” why he believes Hersh’s report is nothing but a “bizarre conspiracy theory.” His representation of the claims in the report is entirely overwrought.
The explainer extraordinaire calls the actions of the “senior-most leaders of our military” a “mass act of treason.” He suggests the military effectively allied the United States with Assad, which “sounds like an act of treason.” He accuses Hersh of portraying “what would appear to be the highest act of treason in modern American history” as “necessary and appropriate.”
At one point, Fisher maintains the report “alleges that many or all (it is unclear) members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top of American military leadership, conspired jointly to undermine their own president’s foreign policy and secretly ally America with its adversaries. The claim would go against everything we know about how the military leadership works, and would demand us to radically transform how we see the relationship between the U.S. military and the U.S. government — all despite the fact that there is no apparent precedent for such a conspiracy.”
On “Democracy Now!”, Hersh reacted to this criticism and argued there are “so many instances where the military disagree with the president. We’ve seen this in World War II.” He mentioned General Douglas MacArthur. He noted the military takes an oath to defend the Constitution, not an oath to the President of the United States.
Additionally, there is no presidential order cited by Fisher to substantiate the notion that this was a Mass Act of Treason (if Fisher even believes what Hersh reported happened).
As Hersh reported, in the summer of 2013, a “highly classified” defense intelligence assessment produced by the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Joint Chiefs warned of what would happen if “jihadi extremists” took over Syria. It determined Turkey had “co-opted” the program to arm opposition by “morphing” the program into an “across-the-board technical, arms, and logistical program for all of the opposition, including Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State.” It warned there was “no viable ‘moderate’ opposition to Assad, and the U.S. was arming extremists.”
Fisher chose to ignore comments by former DIA director Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who spoke to Hersh on the record. Flynn shares his belief that the Obama administration did not want to hear the truth about Syria. DIA and the Joint Chiefs were concerned about the Islamic State’s long-term strategy and how jihadists controlled the opposition. They feared what would happen if Assad was toppled. So, according to a former Joint Chiefs adviser, they took the step of indirectly passing intelligence to Assad in order to possibly prevent a feared outcome.