Was Hersh duped by a forged document?

Jeffrey Lewis writes: Well, there are plenty of reasons to doubt Sy Hersh’s recent reporting implying that the chemical weapons attack on Ghouta was some sort of Turko-Saudi-Al Nusra false front attack — I am rolling my eyes as I write it — and not a single one to buy any of it. Dan Kaszeta has explained all the technical problems with the scenario, while Aaron Stein provided a lot of the missing context here at ACW for things asserted about Turkey and Turkish foreign policy.

I don’t have much to add, the but the erstwhile Washingtonian in me noticed this passage:

“Asked about the DIA paper, a spokesperson for the director of national intelligence said: ‘No such paper was ever requested or produced by intelligence community analysts.’”

Normally, the response is to “no comment” specific reporting on intelligence matters. Does that mean it is a forgery? Because I love forgeries.

Well, I hate forgeries — but I find them fascinating. I find it hard to explain why, other than to say I am interested in public policy as a discipline that studies national security decisions. Understanding who made what decision and why requires working with historical materials. The notion that some of these materials might be forgeries — or that perhaps decisions were made on the basis of forgeries — has always struck me as interesting. Perhaps that is also because, as someone who prefers Cold War history to other eras, the role of intelligence agencies in controlling information as part of a broader ideological struggle has always seemed like a central part of the Cold War story that seldom finds its way on to center stage.

There are always incentives to feed bum information into the analytic process. This is sometimes called the ”paper mill” problem. [Continue reading…]

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