‘Most hated journalist in Washington’ visits SLC

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    By Brittany Karford

    The man who uncovered the photos showing the torture of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib has since been labeled the ?terrorist of American journalism,? among other things, by President George W. Bush?s Defense Policy Board.

    Seymour Hersh, renowned as the most hated journalist in Washington, spoke Saturday at the Salt Lake Public Library about the incidents at Abu Ghraib and the war in Iraq, candidly questioning the President?s motives.

    ?The chronology of this war is devastating,? Hersh said.

    Hersh attacked the Bush administration on many fronts, naming it a ?neo-conservative, three-man race? determined to control the Middle East on an agenda that has nothing to do with the main objective.

    ?We are at the mercy of a war that has to be won,? Hersh said.

    The hard-left reporter forecasted much more turmoil in Iraq and surrounding areas, adding that the recent elections will split the country rather than unify it. According to Hersh, the election was invalid due to a low voter turnout from Sunnis. Hersh also said the vote required heavy security, used ballots that many voters did not understand and did not include the names of all candidates.

    ?If such an election happened here, we would have laughed it out of the ballpark,? Hersh said.

    Moreover, to establish any form of democracy, Hersh believes U.S. occupancy will be imminent.

    ?Let?s not confuse any of this with democracy, because it?s not,? Hersh said.

    The investigative journalist has a lengthy resume of exploiting government secrets, winning the Pulitzer Prize for his expose on My Lai, the CIA bombing of Cambodia. Additionally, he has uncovered stories on Henry Kissinger?s wiretapping, the CIA sale of weapons to Libya and was the first reporter to state that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq back in May of 2003. In his latest book, Chain of Command, Hersh outlines the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and outwardly defames the Bush Administration.

    However, the controversial Hersh relied heavily on his reportage in the Vietnam War era to establish his credibility on the war in Iraq. Any sources to substantiate Hersh?s claims remained anonymous, as he frequently said, ?my friends tell me??

    Regardless of how firm Hersh?s credibility is, a standing room only crowd packed the event. Free tickets for the event were offered to the public a week ago and ran out in minutes. The library even had to turn people away from overflow seating.

    The huge interest in the event demonstrates the importance of free access to information in an effective democracy, yet it is this access that Hersh feels is being denied. Hersh said that the press can?t even get the truth because government sources won?t go on the record.

    ?As virtuous as I feel wearing the white hat, I have to tell you he thinks he does too, and I?m not talking about Saddam, I?m talking about George Bush,? Hersh said.

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