As previously reported by NewsBusters, Friday’s “Real Time” on HBO was another in a litany of Bush bashes on this cable program. However, before Bill Maher indicated his regret that the recent assassination attempt on Vice President Dick Cheney failed, he interviewed one of the administration’s staunchest critics, the New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh.
Those tuning in to hear one of the White House’s most outspoken foes castigate the president and his staff like virtually no one else in the media were not disappointed (video available here courtesy of our friend Ms Underestimated).
After some introductory pleasantries, Maher asked: “I know from your latest article that we ought to be worrying about a war with Iran?”
Hersh disparagingly replied:
Well, sure, we should be worrying everyday about everything. We’ve got one and a half years left, a little bit more than that. And, I think we’ve just got to wait it out, and maybe we can get to 2009 without every Muslim in the world coming after us. Maybe not.
Isn’t it extraordinary how someone like Hersh who has been a journalist since 1959 clearly believes that terrorism began in March 2003 right after Iraq was invaded, and that the planet was free of all violent behaviors and acts of aggression prior to that point?
Regardless, the next exchange was equally fascinating as it perfectly demonstrated how members of the press clearly have a greater respect for America’s enemies than for the Bush administration:
Maher: But what I get from your recent article is that Dick Cheney thinks that Iran is going to have a nuclear bomb soon, and he’s going to give it to Hezbollah, and Hezbollah is going to use it on us. And I understand that you interviewed the head of Hezbollah, which is a very hard thing to do. How did you get in to see Mel Gibson? (laughter) Oh, I kid Hezbollah.
Hersh: I wouldn’t do that to Hassan Nasrallah, although I guess he wouldn’t worry about it too much. Uh, he, Nasrallah the head of Hezbollah is very hard to see right now because as you know there’s a death threat on his head from the Israelis since his group became the first people in the Middle East to defeat the Israelis.
Stop the tape. Did Hersh just say that Hezbollah defeated the Israelis? Is that what happened last year, Sy? Hmmm. Anyway, back to the tape:
And so he’s pretty much on the line right now. Um, and he’s very concerned right now because he thinks this White House is trying to create civil war, that is war between Shiite and Sunnis, all over the Middle East. We have it in Iraq right now and that’s, that’s a goner. But he thinks they’re trying to spread it…
Stop the tape. Anyone see what’s happening here? For Hersh, Nasrallah, even though he’s a sworn enemy of the United States and Israel, is a better resource to understand what’s going on in the region than the Bush administration. In this man’s view, we should be taking the word of the leader of a terrorist organization over that of the President and his staff. Amazing, dontcha think?
Of course, Maher was eating this up, and took the opportunity to pile on:
Right, and if we’re going to really understand what’s going on in the Middle East right now, we do have to understand what’s going on with the Sunnis and the Shiites. Now our audience, very bright people, I think they probably know. But let’s pretend that they know only as much as George Bush.
Badumbumbum. Sadly, the hits kept on coming:
Maher: So, I understand from your article that we have been funding some radical Sunni groups, which would be al Qaeda. So, it seems to me in five years we’ve gone from threatening to wipe out al Qaeda, to watching them become resurgent, to now joining them. Are we actually the next country that’s in the axis of evil?
Imagine that. Maher actually wonders if America is evil. Pretty marvelous, dontcha think? Alas, that really set Hersh up nicely:
Um, it’s, the only thing I would change slightly is we’re throwing a lot of money, it’s not appropriated money, it’s not money that came from Congress, Congress isn’t cut in on this. This White House simply ignores Congress, ignores the laws when it comes to national security, covert operations.
How pleasant. Mercifully, the segment ended with the following exchange:
Maher: Why do you think we keep fighting [the terrorists] where they aren’t?
Hersh: Um, I think this is, this is without question the most dangerous administration we’ve ever had in the history of the country, and just in terms of what you were saying. They don’t understand the Middle East. They, right now they have a disaster on the hands in Iraq, and they’re trying to fail forward as someone in the military told me. Failing forward by just pushing into Iran – maybe we’ll bomb Iran, maybe we won’t. But, what they’re doing is we’re running clandestine covert operations with the help of the Saudis. In effect we’re outsourcing clandestine operations to the Saudi government which is pretty amazing for an American government. Um, we’re outsourcing the most sensitive operations there are. We’re not telling the Congress. We’re disobeying the law. We’re using money that isn’t appropriated. The system is completely broken. And it’s, it’s, these guys are really marching to their own tune.
They do believe as you said at your opening, Cheney does believe that it doesn’t matter what the facts are, that Iran is going to get a bomb. They don’t have one now, there’s no intelligence that says they may get one in five or ten years. But he thinks they’re going to get the bomb. He thinks they’re brown shirts to use the old World War II, you know, the Nazi analogy, is Hezbollah. He thinks Hezbollah has cells hidden, tucked away here in America. He believes that. I think the president does, but I know he does. I know that more or less firsthand. And, I’ve been doing this for five years since 9/11, no other story, and I do have some access. He believes that, that, Hezbollah, can, once they, if Iran gets the bomb they’ll give it to Hezbollah, Hezbollah can get it to New York, Washington, LA, or what you will and poof. So, in other words, the president, and the vice president, they’re not defending the Middle East. They’re not defending Western Europe.
In their own world, they believe they’re defending us, and therefore, they’re going to take the actions they think they have to do, and maybe they won’t be appreciated now, but in the next 20, 30 years, George Bush believes he’s going to be hailed as a visionary president. This is what I really think he believes.
Maher: Well, I hope the next time I see you we’re both alive.
In reality, this whole interview could have been done on Al-Jazeera, wouldn’t you agree?