Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hersh heard it from Fisk, who heard it from Crooke, who heard it from ....

Emmanuel Sivan, a professor at the Hebrew University, discusses the provenance of a New Yorker article alleging that Bush administration policies toward Sunnis and Shi'ites were resulting in aid to groups linked to al Qaeda. The writer of the New Yorker article was investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, a Pulitzer Prize-winner.

Hersh said he heard the story from Robert Fisk, the bureau chief of The Independent's Beirut office. But Hersh did not check out the story himself. For his part, Fisk said he heard the unconfirmed report from Alastair Crooke, a former British intelligence agent and the founding director and Middle East representative of the Conflicts Forum, a non-profit organization that aims to build a new relationship between the West and the Muslim world. Crooke, who gained his reputation through his involvement in the conflict in northern Ireland, does not know Arabic. When Lebanese journalists spoke to Crooke about the report, they said he told them only that he had heard it "from all kinds of people."

"Thus are reports about the Middle East generated, I thought to myself" the professor wrote. The rest of Sivan's commentary is at the Haaretz site.

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