Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Since I haven't seen this elsewhere, from CNN yesterday:

GORANI: Also in the headlines, a U.N. relief convoy got caught in renewed fighting between Lebanese troops and militants holed up in a Palestinian refugee camp. The convoy was bringing badly needed supplies into the camp, trying to take advantage of a truce declared by the militants, when it was hit -- the convoy was hit. Witnesses say several civilians who tried to collect supplies were injured or killed, but those reports have not been verified.

Well, Investigative Journalist Seymour Hersh reported back in March that in order to defeat Hezbollah, the Lebanese government supported Sunni militant groups, the same ones they're fighting today.

Seymour Hersh joins us now live from Washington. Thanks for being with us. What is the source of the financing according to your reporting of these groups such as Fatah al Islam in these camps of Nahr al Bared, for instance? Where are they getting the money, where are they getting the arms?

SEYMOUR HERSH, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Key player are the Saudis, of course, and Bandar. What I was writing about was a sort of a private agreement that was made between the White House, we're talking about Richard -- Dick Cheney and Elliott Abrams, who is one of the key aides in the White House with Bandar. And the idea was to get support, covert support -- money, from the Saudis to support various hard-line jihadists, Sunni groups, particularly in Lebanon, who would be seen in case of an actual confrontation with Hezbollah. The Shia group in the southern Lebanon would be seen as an asset, as simple as that.

GORANI: So, the Senora government, in order to counter the influence of Hezbollah in Lebanon, would be covertly according to your reporting, funding groups like Fatah al Islam that they're having issues with right now?

HERSH: Unintended consequences once again, yes.

GORANI: And, so if Saudi Arabia and the Senora government are doing this, whether it's unintended or not, therefore it has the United States must have something to say about it or not?

HERSH: Well, the United States was deeply involved. This was a covert operation that Bandar ran with us. And don't forget, if you remember, you know, we got into the war in Afghanistan with supporting (ph) Osama bin Laden, the Mujahideen back there in the late 1980s with Bandar, and with people like Elliott Abrams around, the idea being that the Saudis promise us they could control -- they could control the jihadists.

So, we spent a lot of money and time, the United States in the late 1980s, using and supporting the jihadists to help us beat the Russians in Afghanistan, and they turned on us. And we have the same pattern, not as if, you know, there's any lessons learned. It's the same pattern using the Saudis again to support jihadists, the Saudis assuring us they can control these various groups, the Salafis and others, the groups like the one that we're -- that's in contact right now in Tripoli with the government.

GORANI: Sure, but the Mujahideen in the '80s was one era. Have the Americans -- why would it be in the best interest of the United States of America right now to indirectly, even if it is indirect, empower these jihadi movements that are extremists that fight to the death in these Palestinian camps? Doesn't it go against the interests not only of the Senora government, but also of America and Lebanon right now?

HERSH: The enemy of our enemy is our friend. The jihadist groups in Lebanon were also there to go after Nasrullah, Hezbollah. Hezbollah, which, if you remember last year defeated Israel, whether or not the Israelis want to acknowledge it. And so you have in Hezbollah, a major threat to the American ...

Look, the American role is very simple right now. Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, has been very articulate about it. We're in the business now of supporting the Sunnis anywhere we can against the Shia, against the Shia in Iran, against the Shia in Lebanon, that is Nasrullah, et cetera against -- so the game is really, as you could call it, almost -- the Arabic word is Citna (ph), civil war.