Digital News Report- Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Symour Hersh stated at a “Great Conversations” event at the University of Minnesota on Tuesday that he believed an “executive assassination ring” existed under the Bush administration. The ring supposedly bypassed the CIA, the pentagon, and other agencies and reported directly to Vice President Dick Cheney.
“Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving,” Hersh said last night in Minneapolis.
The response came after an event moderator asked about recent instances of questionable intelligence activities similar to Nixon-style abuses of executive power. The event, titled “America’s Constitutional Crisis,” also featured Walter Mondale and mostly focused on historical events that have tested our constitution.
He described the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which was created in 1980, as being responsible for overseeing the assassination ring. “[The JSOC] is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently,” he explained. “They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. … Congress has no oversight of it.”
In an email exchange with a Minneapolis reporter he admitted that the subject was “not something I wanted to dwell about in public.” The topic may be featured in a book, but that he is waiting a year or two until he has enough evidence, “for even the most skeptical.”
Some people, such as Bill Roggio from The Weekly Standard, view his statement as little more than a conspiracy theory. Roggio states in his article that, “Hersh has made a living of making fantastic claims that don’t quite live up to the hype.” He cites Hersh’s claim that the U.S. was covertly planning a nuclear strike against Iran, which never happened.
Hersh won the Pulitzer Prize in 1970 for his reporting on the My Lai Massacre, where U.S. soldiers killed hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese civilians. As a result, worldwide support of the Vietnam War declined. He was also one of the first to report on the abuses at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq in 2004.