Hersh Opens 9th Annual Lecture Series

Seymour Hersh

Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and author of Chain of Command: The Road From 9/11 to Abu Graib, shared with law students his criticism of United States foreign policy in Iraq during his visit to Washington University on September 6. After a morning seminar class, Hersh delivered the opening lecture for the School of Law’s ninth annual Public Interest Law & Policy Speakers Series  and later held a separate hour-long question and answer session.

Hersh presented what he calls an “alternative history of the Iraq war” and criticized President Bush for using executive privilege to circumvent democracy under the guise of national security. Although we have First Amendment protections in this country, the mainstream media seems at a loss as to how to cover the administration’s actions, he said.

“Bush thinks that words are somehow policy, that the solution to the problems in Iraq is to give a series of speeches,” Hersh said. “We have the most radical president we have ever had, without the ability to change course, to mitigate anything.”

Hersh’s lecture on “Chain of Command: From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib and Beyond” was co-sponsored by the University Assembly Series and the Center for the Study of Ethics and Human Values. He concluded his talk with his “grave concern” that the consequences of the atrocities committed by the United States military at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq will be with us for decades, maybe centuries.

The School of Law’s year-long Public Interest Law & Policy Speakers Series, “Access to Justice: The Social Responsibility of Lawyers,” brings to Washington University nationally and internationally prominent experts in such areas as international human rights, the economics of poverty, racial justice, capital punishment, clinical legal education, government public service, and pro bono private practice.

Students in the Public Interest Law & Policy Seminar that Hersh attended read selected works by the speakers and meet with the lecturers to discuss public interest law and policy issues. Professor Karen Tokarz, director of the Clinical Education and Alternative Dispute Resolution Programs, teaches the course and coordinates the lecture series.