Having recently read this book after purchasing it at my local book store, I decided to log onto Amazon.com to see what other readers thought of it. At first I was a little surprised to see the rating so low, but I quickly ascertained the reason for this. [...]
In this book "Chain of Command" Seymore Hersh turns his intense journalistic eye on the workings of the post 9-11 terror prison network and proceeds to dissect virtually every development in the anti-terror Special Access Programs since the attacks on NYC and the Pentagon. While Hersh may have a political agenda and may be of a liberal bent, the fact that so many of the heros of his book are politicans (both liberal and conservative), soldiers, marines, contractors, and federal agents is telling. Instead of making sweeping generalizations or accepting administration statements at face value, he delicately probes each turn and development in the evolution of the SAP and anti-terror project. As such, when he makes statements such as his belief that elements within the Pentagon and the administration are directly responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, and in Afghanistan, he does so with the assurance that he is grounded in the facts of the case.
Contrary to what critics maintain, Hersh is not merely regurgitating slant (as so many conservatives would have us believe) but is merely reporting the facts as they surfaced. An example of this is Rumsfeldt's quotation that the Abu Ghraib scandal wouldn't hurt the administration and that he wasn't worried about it, coupled with Rumsfeldt's sudden about-face a few days later. Of course, conservative defenders of the administration might maintain that this is because Rumsfeldt was unaware of the situation, Hersh also points out that the Abu Ghraib investigations had been an open secret for months and that it is hard to believe that the upper levels of the administration knew nothing about it.
In short, this book is a fine and refreshing breath of something which has been clearly lacking in recent years: actual, investigative JOURNALISM which, while interested in obtaining as much information and as many views as possible, is not afraid to deploy a keen sense of critical thinking and analysis. In an era in which journalism and media coverage has become obsessed with an idea of articifial "neutrality" and as such has suspended judgement and disbelief in favor of merely repeating anything anyone says without question, Seymore Hersh has the courage to sit down and actually analise the various arguements he comes across with an open mind. As such, it can come as little surprise that the best conservative commentators (such as the ones below) can do is assasinate his character and accuse him of hating America and siding with the terrorists.
As to the assertion of the commentator below...
1) The Schlesinger panel did NOT absolve the army or higher ups and did not lay the blame at the feet of the small group of soldiers. Rather, it found (among other things) that Rumsfeld and his entourage was deliberatly responsible for confusion as to what was and was not permissible in terms of interrogation techniques, leading to abuses at Abu Ghraib. Accoring to the report "there is both institutional and personal responsibility at higher levels."
2) Getting wired, having electrodes placed on your genetalia, being covered in faeces, being bitten by attack dogs, being water boarded, being sodomized with a chem light, being forced to perform sex acts in public and against your will is NOT a "little college fraternity prank," it is a war crime. If you think that Abu Ghraib is a college dorm, you are way off.
3) Hersh's point is that the army and Sanchez specifically DID NOT act in Janurary, or at least, not in a manner that solved anything. Sure, Sanchez comissioned an investigation or two, but the fact of the matter is that these investigations went nowhere, their conclusions were ignored, and that nothing happened to correct the problem until the photos went public. Perhaps if you'd actually read the book and actually cared about thinking critically, you'd know this.