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Friday, December 26, 2008

Q&A with Seymour Hersh - By Faisal Abbas

Asharq Al-Awsat, London - In this interview, Asharq Al-Awsat speaks to veteran American reporter Seymour Hersh, who, four years ago, exposed the now infamous prison abuse scandal of Abu Ghraib in Iraq at the hands of US soldiers.

In 1969, Hersh brought to light the My Lai massacre carried out by US forces in Vietnam, for which he received a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 1970.

However, as most journalists know, it is impossible to please everybody. Hersh has been praised and is often regarded as “the last American reporter,” while on the other hand he is also criticised and described as “the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist,” particularly for his outspokenness against the American administration and US forces.

The interview proceeded as follows:

Q) Many Arab journalists say that it is shameful that the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal was uncovered by a Western journalist rather than an Arab journalist. What is your view of the Arab media and its failure to expose this incident?

A) I can’t answer on behalf of somebody as to why he did not do something but what I can say is thank God it was reported by a Westerner, whether it was me or anybody else. Just imagine how mush worse it would have been for America if [the] Abu Ghraib [prison abuse scandal] had been reported by the Arab press. I can also say that as an American, it shows that there is at least a little bit of integrity left in the system.

I would not defend the American press with regards to reporting on [US President George W.] Bush; I think we did a terrible job, particularly on the Weapons of Mass Destruction issue. However, in this [Abu Ghraib] case, you should not be too tough on the Arab press simply because the photographs and the report that I obtained came from within America, not from the Middle East.....


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