Hersh on CNN
Late Edition CNN
HERSH: I just think -- I think it's really bad out there. I think it's, you know, if you look at the -- it's just real simple. You don't have to be much of a genius to figure it out, we're almost -- it's Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving of '04, it was much worse than at Thanksgiving of '03.
It's now Thanksgiving of '05, and it's much worse there than it was last year. How is it going to get better next year? What magic is there?
HERSH: Suffice to say this, that this president in private, at Camp David with his friends, the people that I'm sure call him George, is very serene about the war. He's upbeat. He thinks that he's going to be judged, maybe not in five years or ten years, maybe in 20 years. He's committed to the course. He believes in democracy.
HERSH: He believes that he's doing the right thing, and he's not going to stop until he gets -- either until he's out of office, or he falls apart, or he wins.
BLITZER: But this has become, your suggesting, a religious thing for him? HERSH: Some people think it is. Other people think he's absolutely committed, as I say, to the idea of democracy. He's been sold on this notion.
He's a utopian, you could say, in a world where maybe he doesn't have all the facts and all the information he needs and isn't able to change.
I'll tell you, the people that talk to me now are essentially frightened because they're not sure how you get to this guy.
We have generals that do not like -- anymore -- they're worried about speaking truth to power. You know that. I mean that's -- Murtha in fact, John Murtha, the congressman from Pennsylvania, which most people don't know, has tremendous contacts with the senior generals of the armies. He's a ranking old war horse in Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. The generals know him and like him. His message to the White House was much more worrisome than maybe to the average person in the public. They know that generals are privately telling him things that they're not saying to them.
And if you're a general and you have a disagreement with this war, you cannot get that message into the White House. And that gets people unnerved.
BLITZER: Here's what you write. You write, "Current and former military and intelligence officials have told me that the president remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq, and that he is impervious to political pressure, even from fellow Republicans. They also say that he disparages any information that conflicts with his view of how the war is proceeding."
Those are incredibly strong words, that the president basically doesn't want to hear alternative analysis of what is going on.
HERSH: You know, Wolf, there is people I've been talking to -- I've been a critic of the war very early in the New Yorker, and there were people talking to me in the last few months that have talked to me for four years that are suddenly saying something much more alarming.
They're beginning to talk about some of the things the president said to him about his feelings about manifest destiny, about a higher calling that he was talking about three, four years ago.
I don't want to sound like I'm off the wall here. But the issue is, is this president going to be capable of responding to reality? Is he going to be able -- is he going to be capable if he going to get a bad assessment, is he going to accept it as a bad assessment or is he simply going to see it as something else that is just a little bit in the way as he marches on in his crusade that may not be judged for 10 or 20 years.
He talks about being judged in 20 years to his friends. And so it's a little alarming because that means that my and my colleagues in the press corps, we can't get to him maybe with our views. You and you can't get to him maybe with your interviews.
How do you get to a guy to convince him that perhaps he's not going the right way?
Jack Murtha certainly didn't do it. As I wrote, they were enraged at Murtha in the White House.
And so we have an election coming up -- Yes. I've had people talk to me about maybe Congress is going to have to cut off the budget for this war if it gets to that point. I don't think they're ready to do it now.
But I'm talking about sort of a crisis of management. That you have a management that's seen by some of the people closely involved as not being able to function in terms of getting information it doesn't want to receive. more