Hi there Blog Readers. I am still in Denver where I spent the last four days at the Investigative Reporters and Editors convention. www.ire.org Lots of fun and I ran into all kinds of people I had worked with or met or read about.
One of the stand-out sessions was about Military Reporting and led by none other than Seymour Hersh, the investigative reporter who broke the Abu Ghraib prison scandal story in the New Yorker. Hersh was acerbic, intelligent and to the point.
Here is some of what he said:
There is a "total failure of Congress," to investigate the prison scandals. Hersh broke the story, brought it to light and has been disappointed at how little Congress has done to correct the problems.
Hersh was quite critical of the Bush administration, which should be no surprise. He called Bush and his administration "inert" because they do not seem to care what reporters print and broadcast. The White House has its own agenda, Hersh said, and Bush truly believes he is bringing peace to the Middle East.
"We really have a problem," Hersh said. "We have a president who isn't responsive."
Hersh, a veteran, has many contacts within the U.S. military and said that many of the soldiers are quite upset about the prisoner abuse scandal.
He called the war in Iraq "nonsensical" and the single worst mistake of the Bush administration.
History will judge the administration, the military and us, he said.
"What goes around comes around," he said.
To reporters who are frustrated by the stone-walling of military spokesmen and sources, and the outright deceptions sometimes told by them, Hersh said reporters should not be surprised. The war in Iraq is paramount to the administration and must be protected at all costs. Stay away from official Washington sources, he said, because they are "contaminated."
"This is a White House that thinks only two inches in front of its nose," he said.
In a funny moment, one of the last questions was from a reporter who asked Hersh how he gets his sources and develops relationships with them. Hersh looked at the reporter as if he were crazy. Then he asked the reporter if he were crazy.
No way, Hersh said, he was not going to give away the tricks of his trade. Even to fellow investigative reporters.