Limiting Knowledge Kicks Off
In an electric keynote address that opened The New School's 21st Social Research Conference, Seymour Hersh let loose a barrage of national security secrets that left the audience on their feet.
Hersh is one of the most legendary investigative journalists alive, whose accomplishments run from a Pulitzer Prize in 1970 for reporting the My Lai massacre in Vietnam to this year's revelations about Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Hersh's 90-minute talk led the audience of 500 through one of the most coveted reporter's notebooks in the business. From secret government prisons to the United States' special operations hit squads, Hersh revealed enough to dishearten even the most fervent Obama supporter.
New School Provost Tim Marshall opened the evening, standing in for President Kerry, by introducing the moderator, Morton H. Halperin. Halperin has served as deputy assistant secretary of defense, a member of Nixon's National Security Council, and director of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union.
During the question and answer portion, Hersh asked Halperin and the audience, "Can anyone tell me what is our national security threat in Afghanistan?"
"There is no security threat in Afghanistan," Halperin responded.
One of Hersh's main objectives was to cast Obama in a critical light, something that he said many of his supporters are tentative to do.
"Torture––still going on folks," Hersh said, adding that although the treatment of enemy soldiers by American service members has improved, conduct in the field still flouts war regulations. "Contractors have been assigned to kill people for us."
At the end of his talk, Hersh acknowledged that Obama assumed office in hostile political and economic environments, cutting him temporary slack. "We have to give him until the end of the year. He has to start acting like a two-term president."