Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who revealed the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War and helped expose the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal during the Iraq War, wrote in a bombshell article published Sunday that the Obama administration lied about details surrounding the Navy SEALs raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
Hersh’s 10,000-word article, published in the London Review of Books, prompted pushback from the White House and from journalists, who rebutted his claims online, on cable news, and on Twitter.
Hersh on Monday brushed off the criticism in an interview with The Huffington Post. “If I worried about the reaction to what I write, I’d be frozen,” he said. Hersh said that journalists “should be very skeptical of someone who says what goes against what every newspaper and magazine believed.”
“You’re not doing your job if you say, ‘Oh, it must be true,'” he said.
The May 2011 raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, is one of the defining moments of President Barack Obama’s first term. The episode was immortalized in the film, “Zero Dark Thirty,” which presents a narrative disputed by Hersh’s piece.
Hersh said he learned of contradictions with the administration’s account within days of the raid and planned to explore the episode in a forthcoming counter-history of the war on terror. However, Hersh and his publisher, Knopf, decided last summer that the book should only extend through George W. Bush’s presidency. While Hersh suggested in a 2013 Guardian interview that the Obama administration misled the public about the raid, he hadn’t written anything in depth about it before Sunday’s piece.