Seymour Hersh: The Iraqi Elections Were Rigged, Rigged I Tell You!

It seems that Seymour Hersh is once again doing what he does best: making wild, unprovable allegations based on unverifiable anonymous sources. This time, he’s claiming that the United States rigged the Iraqi election.

And what’s his evidence, you say? Lots of untraceable, anonymous sources. How heavily does he rely on those sources? Well, by my count, in a piece that ran over 4600 words, Hersh had exactly one guy willing to go on the record and say that he THOUGHT something shady was going on. Here’s the quote:

“Ghassan Atiyyah, a secular Shiite who worked on the State Department’s postwar planning project before the invasion of Iraq and is now the director of the Iraq Foundation for Development and Democracy, in Baghdad, told me that he and many of his associates believed that Allawi’s surprisingly strong showing “was due to American manipulation of the election. There’s no doubt about it. The Americans, directly or indirectly, spent millions on Allawi.” Atiyyah went on, “As an Iraqi who supported the use of force to overthrow Saddam, I can tell you that as long as real democratic practices are not adhered to, you Americans cannot talk about democracy.”

Funny thing there — our man Allawi — the guy we’re supposed to have put the “fix” in for? His slate of candidates only finished with 14% of the vote. If we really, really “spent millions” to rig the vote for Allawi, we didn’t get much for our money. Particularly since, as Hersh mentions in his column, it wasn’t as if we were starting from scratch:

“In one American poll, (Allawi) came close to nine per cent in the days before the election.”

Not to belabor an obvious point, but a 5 point increase between poll numbers and election results isn’t exactly out of the ordinary. Some polling organizations here in America were off that much when you looked at their numbers for particular states before the 2004 election. For example, the final Fox News poll had Kerry winning Florida by +5 points. Yet as, we all know today, Bush won Florida by 5%.

This would seem to bring up a question: if our candidate lost so badly, how exactly did we “fix” the race? Hersh is, uh….let’s just say a little fuzzy on that part:

“The methods and the scope of the covert effort have been hard to discern. The current and former military and intelligence officials who spoke to me about the election operation were unable, or unwilling, to give precise details about who did what and where on Election Day. These sources said they heard reports of voter intimidation, ballot stuffing, bribery, and the falsification of returns, but the circumstances, and the extent of direct American involvement, could not be confirmed.”

I see. So according to Hersh, there was some sort of “hard to discern” chicanery going on, but he has no “precise details about who did what and where”. Of course, there are “reports,” AKA “rumors,” but they “could not be confirmed.”

How does — let me be very blunt here — unmitigated crap like this make it into print? This looks like the sort of “journalism” you’d see on Prison Planet, Propaganda Matrix, or one of those other wacko conspiracy sites that feature articles explaining how the Bush administration knocked down the Twin Towers.

Furthermore, in the age of Jayson Blair and “Rathergate,” how could anyone be blamed for wondering if Hersh just made up quotes from some of his sources? Here we have anonymous source after anonymous source after anonymous source making all these wild allegations and there’s absolutely no reason to believe anything they’re saying — or even that they exist at all — other than the word of a diehard liberal who has been burned by a con man, tricked into heavily relying on a source he later called a liar, and who had to write a 3000 word correction in the New York Times after he falsely accused a former “U.S. ambassador to Chile” of being “a collaborator in the CIA-backed 1973 coup”.

Hersh is just a Kitty Kelley clone masquerading as a journalist and, quite frankly, he shouldn’t be treated as if he’s credible…

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