Seymour Hersh & Iran

On Sunday night, I saw Seymour Hersh on CNN talking about the story he has in the current issue of the New Yorker. In particular, he was discussing covert reconnaissance being done on sites in Iran where weapons development, and especially nuclear weapons development was being done. I had three reactions to this, in rapid succession:

1) Publicizing this might endanger an ongoing intelligence operation against a government that no one could plausibly describe as our ally. The fact that Hersh has a right to publicize it doesn't mean he should always do so. I was very surprised with myself for having this reaction, and I understand that there are good reasons to publicize it even if it endangers the operation, in particular Hersh is trying to make the point that there will be more wars after Iraq. I'm not speaking to the accuracy of that point, but that is why Hersh was pointing it out.

2) Maybe the reason it was leaked to Hersh was so that the Iranians found out about it. It might make them easier to negotiate with. The problem with this idea is that even if they didn't have specific confirmation, the Iranians probably assume that we're spying on their weapons program. So it's not clear that publicizing the information would make them any easier to negotiate with. In the alternative, Hersh says that air strikes could come as early as this summer. Maybe that is the threat that whoever is leaking to Hersh wanted communicated.

3) If instead of being a story about the Bush Administration running reconnaissance operations against the Iraqis, it was a story about an administration whose motives I trust, like the Bartlett administration, running operations against the Qumaris, I would probably thing it was a pretty good idea to keep up to date on your potential enemies weapons development. So just because I don't trust the Bush administration I shouldn't be too quick to conclude there is anything wrong here. Yes, my third reaction really was to compare it to the West Wing.