HERSH: Right now, today, there was a story in the New York Times that if you read it carefully mentioned something known as the Joint Special Operations Command â€” JSOC itâ€™s called. It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently. They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. They did not report to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff or to Mr. [Robert] Gates, the secretary of defense. They reported directly to him. â€¦
Congress has no oversight of it. Itâ€™s an executive assassination ring essentially, and itâ€™s been going on and on and on. Just today in the Times there was a story that its leaders, a three star admiral named [William H.] McRaven, ordered a stop to it because there were so many collateral deaths. Under President Bushâ€™s authority, theyâ€™ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. Thatâ€™s been going on, in the name of all of us. Itâ€™s complicated because the guys doing it are not murderers, and yet they are committing what we would normally call murder. Itâ€™s a very complicated issue. Because they are young men that went into the Special Forces. The Delta Forces youâ€™ve heard about. Navy Seal teams. Highly specialized. In many cases, they were the best and the brightest. Really, no exaggerations. Really fine guys that went in to do the kind of necessary jobs that they think you need to do to protect America. And then they find themselves torturing people.
Via Scott Horton at Harper’s.
(I should mention that Hersh has previously made claims in speeches that, as far as I know, he has yet to substantiate in subsequent writing.)