Seymour Hersh: A mess in the Biden administration

Let’s start with a silly fear but one that does signal the Democratic Party’s growing sense of panic about the 2024 Presidential election. It was expressed to me by someone with excellent party credentials: that Trump could be the Republican nominee and will select Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as his running mate. The strange duo will then sweep to a huge victory over a stumbling Joe Biden, and also take down many of the party’s House and Senate candidates, writes Seymour Hersh, famous American journalist-investigator.

“Biden’s principal issue in the war is that he’s screwed,” the informed official told me. “We didn’t give Ukraine cluster bombs earlier in the war, but we’re giving them cluster bombs now because that’s all we got left in the cupboard. Aren’t these the bombs that are banned all over the world because they kill kids? But the Ukrainians tell us they are not planning to drop them on civilians. And then the administration claims that the Russians have used them first in the war, which is just a lie.

“In any case,” the official said, “cluster bombs have zero chance of changing the course of the war.” He said the real worry will come later this summer, perhaps as early as August, when the Russians, having easily weathered the Ukraine assault, will counter-strike with a major offensive. “What happens then? The US has painted itself in a corner by calling for NATO to do something. “Will NATO respond by sending the brigades now training in Poland and Romania on an airborne assault?” We knew more about the German army in Normandy in World War II than we know about the Russian army in Ukraine.”

I have been told of other signs of internal stress inside the Biden administration. Undersecretary of State for Policy Victoria Nuland has been “blocked” — a word used by one Democratic Party insider — from being promoted to replace the much respected Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. Nuland’s anti-Russian politics and rhetoric matches the tone and point of view of Biden and Secretary of State Tony Blinken. And a newcomer to the upper reaches of the American intelligence community — CIA director Bill Burns — trumpeted his love for Biden, in a speech on July 1 in England.

Biden, who is not revered throughout the CIA, as many presidents have not been, was cited repeatedly during his speech. The highly respected intelligence official explained Burns’s glowing words by telling me, cryptically, that all was in flux throughout the Biden national security bureaucracy. “Yes. Yes,” he said in a message. “Big shuffle. Big power struggle. Biden oblivious. All the ants fighting for the crumbs of a dying administration. Advised all the professionals inside to shelter in place. Wait and see the color of the smoke from the Vatican Chancellery.”

I was told that Burns’s speech was essentially a job application in a future government, or perhaps in the one at hand, for secretary of state. “He was showing his competence and his experience,” the official said, “He realized that he was going down the grain, professionally, while at the Agency. He was awful” — that is, inexperienced — “but he realized it was not going down well with the boys, and then he did right.” The key issue for Burns, I was told, as some in the CIA saw it, was ambition. “Once you are a secretary of state, the world is your oyster.”