Let me remind you that Seymour Hersh isn't some loon-from-the-left. This is the man that broke the Abu Ghraib story. I don't doubt the credibility of his inside sources. The Financial Times ran a couple of stories regarding the Pentagon's reaction to the article:
The new rules will enable the Special Forces community to set up what it calls “action teams” in the target countries overseas which can be used to find and eliminate terrorist organizations. “Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador?” the former high-level intelligence official asked me, referring to the military-led gangs that committed atrocities in the early nineteen-eighties. “We founded them and we financed them,” he said. “The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And we aren’t going to tell Congress about it.” A former military officer, who has knowledge of the Pentagon’s commando capabilities, said, “We’re going to be riding with the bad boys.”
Ok then... Someone's not telling the truth, and all it takes is one, hard look at this administration's record on truth-telling and intense secrecy to figure out that a fish does indeed rot from the head down. More later.
Lawrence DiRita, Pentagon spokesman, said Mr Hersh had been fed with “rumour, innuendo and assertions about meetings that never happened, programmes that do not exist, and statements by officials that were never made." Pentagon Lashes Out at Iran Claim It is rare for the Pentagon to issue such a long and detailed response to a single news account; Mr DiRita's two-page statement includes four specific refutations of claims made in the piece, including an alleged post-election meeting between Donald Rumsfeld and the joint chiefs of staff in which the defence secretary claimed the 2004 US election was a referendum on aggressive action in the Middle East. It is also rare that defence officials single out a specific journalist for such vitriol. In one part of his statement, Mr DiRita appears to accuse Mr Hersh of anti-Semitism. Mr Hersh reported that Douglas Feith, the number three civilian at the Pentagon, has worked with Israeli military planners to find targets in Iran, a claim the Pentagon said built on "the soft bigotry of some conspiracy theorists". Mr Feith is Jewish. The Pentagon said not such contacts exist.