Veteran journalist and Bush administration critic Seymour Hersh speaks to Amy Goodman on “Democracy Now” about what to expect from Robert Gates as defense secretary: “The reality is Gates is a fresh face and there’s a lot of people, [Brent] Scowcroft and James Baker among them, who are very worried about what’s going to happen in ’08.”

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  • Partial Transcript (from Alternet / Evan Derkacz):

    SEYMOUR HERSH: Look, you can spend a lot of time going over the past. Iran-Contra was one of the most underreported stories of the time. As much attention as it got, there’s no question that the president of the United States, Ronald Reagan, and all of the people immediately around him, knew much more. This is one of the worst reported stories of the decade, of the last couple of decades. We really didn’t get to it, none of us in the press corps. It was a failure. Bob Gates was certainly in the middle of this, but I’ll tell you right now, the issue for Gates, you know, if you want to worry about the past, worry about the past. The issue for Gates now is, is he going to throw — he’s president of a major university, he’s written a memoir, he’s come out of it with his reputation pretty much intact — is he going to throw it away by going into the tank?

    In other words, one way he’s brought in, one reason he’s brought in, he’s seen as somebody, unlike Rumsfeld, who in case they decide to go to war or they think there’s intelligence that supports going to war with Iran, he’s seen as somebody that can go brief it and be accepted by the Congress. As you know, many of the legislators are Democrats, Joe Biden among them, who voted against Gates, were very — when he was up for CIA director, a decade ago — were very quick to say they would vote for him now.

    And so the issue for Gates — Gates is really going to be in a very tough spot. Is he going to throw away 35 years and put himself right back in the maelstrom by being — you know, being a mouthpiece for some of the people who want to do things that he may not agree with, or is he going to tell it straight? But he’s going to have credibility, he’s going to be seen as somebody who is going to be replacing Rumsfeld. Bob Gates is not the worst person in the world. I don’t disagree with what Mel Goodwin says — Goodman says — and he and I have talked about this in the past. But Gates is also very strong-minded, and what he could see as tilting intelligence could be Gates inflicting his views, which is also wrong, but it’s different.

    It’s not quite — in any case I’m not apologizing for him, I’m just saying let’s deal with reality. The reality is Gates is a fresh face and there’s a lot of people, Scowcroft and James Baker among them, who are very worried about what’s going to happen in ’08. The Republicans do not want to lose the election in ’08 as they lost it in ’06. They don’t want to see a Democratic president in, and so this is a sort of the last hurrah. The old boys, around George Bush Sr., saying that whatever the kid, the young boy wants to do as a lame duck next year, he better be aware that the party’s future’s at stake and that’s what’s going on here. I think this is really sort of a huge big canvass that we really don’t quite fully understand. But Gates, if he’s going to come in and be the briefer they think he might be on all issues, and spin it the way they want, well that’s going to be his problem. But if he’s going to have some credibility and he’s told friends, he understands his position and he’s not going to, as I say, he’s not going to throw away a lifetime on this issue, let’s just hope that’s right.

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