The North Sea pipeline attack has stirred tempers again after former Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh has now claimed, citing an anonymous source, that it was the US:
“Nord Stream Attacks: Who is the Investigator Seymour Hersh? The revelation that the US government is behind the attacks on Nord Stream 2 is the subject of a current paliamentarian hearing in the Bundestag. The US journalist Seymour Hersh published an investigation on Substack in which Hersh reports that US Navy divers are said to have been responsible for the explosions at the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea. He reports that the operation was said to have been carried out from the US bases Ryyge and Sola in Norway. The US units are said to have been supported by Norway and triggered the explosion using a P8 reconnaissance flight. According to Hersh, Denmark and Sweden should have been informed. US President Joe Biden is also said to have been in the picture and insisted on remote detonation.
The report does not reveal whether Chancellor Olaf Scholz was aware of the alleged operation. Officials in the US denied the report. Hersh writes, „Solicited for comment, Adrienne Watson, a White House spokeswoman, said in an email, ‚This is false and complete fiction.‘ Tammy Thorp, a spokeswoman for the Central Intelligence Agency, similarly wrote: ‚This claim is completely false.’” The German Press Agency (dpa) writes about the report: “The report on Nord Stream seems to be largely based on an anonymous source. Reputable US media initially did not respond to the report.” The AFP writes: “The 85-year-old Hersh is considered an experienced investigative journalist in the USA. In recent years, however, he has been accused of spreading conspiracy theories.” The Tagesschau deals extensively with the report and even links to the article – a practice that the Tagesschau strictly rejects in the case of dubious sources. In addition, the Tagesschau speaks to Julian Pawlak from the Bundeswehr University in Hamburg, who accuses Hersh of a selective selection of facts. Pawlak raises an interesting objection: The fact that a pipeline tube remained undamaged after the action and that gas could still be supplied to Germany, at least theoretically, speaks “more against the perpetrators of the USA”. „The whole thing has several inconsistencies,“ says Pawlak, according to the Tagesschau.
The official reaction from Norway also rejected the report: „These allegations are of course just nonsense,“ the Foreign Ministry told the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet on Wednesday. According to information from the Berliner Zeitung from government circles in Oslo, the article contains numerous factual errors. For example, the function description of a boat is given incorrectly in the article. The Norwegian media reported very little about Hersh’s research on Thursday. The journalist, who among other things won the Pulitzer Prize and exposed the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War, told Russia’s state news agency Tass: „There are some people who know quite a lot about what’s going on. Of course I can’t say who.“ After the report was published, the Kremlin again called for participation in international investigations. „You know that there were also statements from our side about information that indicates that the Anglo-Saxons were involved in the organization of this act of sabotage,“ said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday, according to the dpa, which quotes Interfax. Unfortunately, Russia was not heard, but the new information should serve as a basis for an international investigation, Peskov demanded. „Some moments (in the article) can be disputed, others need evidence, but it is significant due to the depth of the analysis and the clarity of the interpretation,“ Peskow praised the research, according to dpa. The dpa quoted the Kremlin spokesman as saying that Germany in particular, as the injured party, should not ignore the report.
China’s state-run newspaper Global Times writes: „Given past US behavior, Chinese experts believe that the Hersh report is highly credible and despite Washington’s denials, Russia cannot be prevented from finding further evidence of the report’s indicative value.“ .” On Friday, February 10, 2023, the Bundestag will deal with the topic of „attacks on German and European infrastructure“ as part of a current hour. The debate was requested by the AfD parliamentary group. The AfD wants to have open questions about the explosions on the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea clarified by a committee of inquiry in the Bundestag. AfD faction leader Tino Chrupalla justified his advance on Thursday with Hersh’s research. According to information from the Berliner Zeitung, MPs from the Left Group also want to put questions to the federal government. According to the dpa, Chrupalla said that the question was whether „NATO’s leading power had carried out an attack on our country’s vital critical infrastructure in European waters,“ he explained. Should this be the case, US troops could no longer remain in Germany: “The consequence would be the withdrawal of all US troops.” The Bundestag has “a right to know what knowledge the federal government has”.
It remains to be seen whether Seymour Hersh is a conspiracy theorist. He was previously well known for his exposure of the My Lay massacre during the Vietnam War and the US torture prisons at Abu Graigh. Also, not even an example is given of what conspiracies Hersh is said to have spread recently. Conversely, he may have researched improperly, been taken in by a disinformer or want to make the headlines again himself. We don’t know and we don’t get any more details. But some details and contradictions are very interesting. First, that the Russian Ministry of Defense and Russian propaganda in November 2022 still firmly claimed that they had clear evidence that the United Kingdom was behind the action, especially since their communication had been intercepted. This is despite the fact that a number of statements by Nuland or Biden and a tweet by the Polish Foreign Minister “Thank you USA”, now like Hersh, claimed American authorship. The propaganda snake bites its own tail. Or, more recently, one speaks of “the Anglo-Saxons”. Second essential detail: The pipeline was not completely destroyed, but only a part, while the other could have continued to supply Germany. Interestingly, one tube of NS 2 remained intact. NS 1, which continued to bring gas to Germany, is destroyed. The attack was directed against it. So it could also have been a Russian attack that served to force Germany to put NS 2 into operation.
Just like all those swaggerers who said the Russians wouldn’t shoot themselves in the foot, apparently they didn’t do it at all, and oil and gas prices went through the roof afterwards, which filled Putin’s war chest properly. All of this is ignored if one nurtures and cultivates such dedicated anti-Americanism and only assumes the evil USA and the reactive innocent lamb Putin, against whom Germany and the USA would have started a war and an economic war. Furthermore, another motive for this hybrid warfare is now becoming apparent, which is by no means only to be understood in a military, but also in a political sense. The AfD is demanding the withdrawal of all US troops from Germany if the allegations against the US regarding North Stream are true.
An acquaintance commented: „Well, that would be the logical consequence if it was true, because then it would have been an attack on Germany. Leaving NATO would then also be theoretically conceivable – only in the current situation with the support of everyone for Ukraine against Russia rather counterproductive“.
Not everyone is for supporting Ukraine. The Front National, which received 40 million euros from a Putin oligarch when it was bankrupt, does not support Ukraine but Putin, would have left the EU, the euro and NATO if it had seized power, the Franco-German axis would have then be- replaced by a fascist French- Russian Eurasian axis, while Germany and Poland would then have to worry about being stuck between the two like sandwiches, especially since the scenario would also be conceivable if Trump withdraws US nuclear protection and Europe iwould become defenseless at the mercy of Putin. The AfD is also opposed to supporting Ukraine and is now openly demanding the withdrawal of all US troops from Germany. In addition to the AFD party program demand for a Dexit, there is no more open way to say what is planned and hoped for Then the former German term SBZ (Soviet zone of occupation) would be modernized into RBZ (Russian zone of occupation), which would then include not only the GDR, but all of Germany, just like Putin called for a roll back at least to the NATO borders of 1997 in his ultimatum before the Ukraine war and sees the collapse of the Soviet Union as „the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century“, which it is to be reversed politically and militarily in a rollback by means of Gerasimov’s hybrid war, which is by no means limited to Ukraine and only militarily, but It is also managed politically, culturally and in the media within the framework of the alliance with Xi-China for a multipolar world under Russian-Chinese hegemony. So also probably by means of the partial North Stream blast. The AfD would then, as Moscow’s 5th column, get its funds from Moscow, like the SED did get them from Moscow back then, and advance to become the Russian Protectorate under a Gauleiter Höcke. In addition to the fact that the pipeline was not completely destroyed, and that delivery to Germany was, strangely enough, still possible, the obvious propaganda contradictions of Moscow, the resulting oil and gas price increases for Putin, which filled the war coffers, shows that disinformation and AFD, which also was openly received by Lavrov in the Kremlin, also wants to let nationalistic sentiment and latent anti-Americanism boil up in the German people’s soul – with the aim of pushing the USA out of Germany and Europe and, as in Putin’s so-called peace speech to the German Bundestag in 2001, the Eurasian, anti-American Military alliance demanded there including the economic area from Lisbon to Vladivostok, or as Putin’s former Gazprom adviser Dr. Rahr already demanded from Lisbon to Shanghai to establish the beautiful Sino-Russian multipolar, Eurasian brave new world order.
So much for a narrative to show that there are also arguments as to why Putin could have been behind the Northstream attack. However, the Russian assertion that it was the British can also be resolved by the fact that, according to Hersh, several secret services may have been involved, also think of the Anglo-Saxon Five Eye and the special relations between the USA and GB, or between the CIA and MI 6, which could make it the Russian „Day of the Saxons“ or „Anglo-Saxons“. The fact that parts of North Stream 2 remained could also be a coincidence that not everything always works out as planned, because the Ukrainians had also wanted to blow up the Crimean Kerch Bridge completely, but this only partially succeeded. But let’s let Seymour Hersh speak for himself – in an interview that the Berliner Zeitung conducted with him, but without going into the contradictions mentioned or even mentioning them or discussing a possible authorship of Putin at all, in order to possibly admit them refute:
„Interview with Seymour Hersh: Joe Biden blew up Nord Stream because he didn’t trust Germany
Mr. Hersh, please detail your findings. According to your source, what exactly happened, who was involved in the Nord Stream attack and what were the motives?
It was a story that begged to be told. In late September 2022, eight bombs were to be detonated near the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, six of which went off in an area that is fairly flat. They destroyed three of the four major Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines. The Nord Stream 1 pipeline has provided Germany and other parts of Europe with very cheap natural gas for many years. And then it was blown up, as was Nord Stream 2, and the question was who did it and why. On February 7, 2022, just over two weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine, US President Joe Biden said at a White House press conference he held with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that the US would stop Nord Stream.
Biden literally said: „If Russia invades, there will be no more Nord Stream 2, we will put an end to the project.“ And when a reporter asked how exactly he planned to do that, since the project was primarily under German control , Biden just said, „I promise we’ll be able to do it.“
His Deputy Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, who was deeply involved in the events of the Maidan revolution in 2014, had made a similar statement a few weeks earlier. They say the decision to shut down the pipeline was made even earlier by President Biden.
You write in your report that in December 2021, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan called a meeting of the newly formed task force of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, the State Department and the Treasury Department. You write, „Sullivan wanted the group to come up with a plan for the destruction of the two Nord Stream pipelines.“
This group was originally convened to study the problem. They met in a very secret office. Right next to the White House is an office building, the Executive Office Building, which is connected to the White House by an underground tunnel. And at the top is an office for a secretive outside group of advisors called the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board. I brought this up to signal to the folks in the White House that I have information. So the meeting was convened to examine what we would do if Russia went to war. That was three months before the war, before Christmas 2021. It was a high level group that probably had a different name, I just called it the Interagency Group, I don’t know the official name if there was one. They were the CIA and the National Security Agency, which monitors and intercepts communications, the State Department, and the Treasury Department, which provides money. And probably a few other organizations that were involved. The Joint Chiefs of Staff were also represented. The point was to make recommendations on how to stop Russia, either with reversible measures such as further sanctions and economic pressure or with irreversible, „kinetic“ measures, e.g. B. Blasts. I don’t want to go into the details here or talk about a specific meeting because I need to protect my source. I don’t know how many people took part, do you know what I mean?
In your article, you wrote that in early 2022, the CIA working group reported to Sullivan’s „Interagency Group“ and said, quote, „We have a way of blowing up the pipelines.“
They had a way. There were people who knew what we in America call „mine warfare.“ In the United States Navy there are units that deal with submarines, there is also a nuclear engineering command. And there is a mine squad. The area of underwater mines is very important and we have trained specialists in it. A central location for their education is a small vacation town called Panama City in the middle of nowhere in Florida. We train very good people there and employ them. Underwater miners are of great importance, for example to clear blocked entrances to harbors and blow up things that stand in the way. You can also blow up a specific country’s underwater petroleum pipelines. It’s not always good things they do, but they work absolutely in secret. It was clear to the group in the White House that they could blow up the pipelines. There’s an explosive called C4 that’s incredibly powerful, especially at the level they use. You can control it remotely with underwater sonar devices. These sonars emit signals at low frequencies. So it was possible, and that was communicated to the White House in early January, because two or three weeks later, Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland said we could do it. I think that was January 20th. And then the President, when he held the press conference together with the German Chancellor on February 7, 2022, also said that we could do it. The German chancellor didn’t say anything concrete at the time, he was very vague. One question I’d like to ask Scholz if I was chairing a parliamentary hearing is this: Has Joe Biden told you about this? Did he tell you then why he was so confident that he could destroy the pipeline? As Americans, we didn’t have a plan in place then, but we knew we had the ability to do it.
You write that Norway played a role. To what extent was the country involved – and why should Norwegians do such a thing?
Norway is a great seafaring nation and they have deep sources of energy. They are also very keen to increase their natural gas supplies to Western Europe and Germany. And that’s what they did, they increased their exports. So why not join forces with the US for economic reasons? In addition, there is marked hostility towards Russia in Norway.
In your article you write that the Norwegian secret service and the Navy were involved. You also say that Sweden and Denmark were informed to some extent, but did not know everything.
I was told: They did what they did and they knew what they were doing and they understood what was going on, but maybe no one ever said yes. I’ve done a lot of work on this subject with the people I’ve spoken to. Anyway, for this mission to go ahead, the Norwegians had to find the right place. The divers, who were trained in Panama City, could dive up to 100 meters deep without heavy equipment. The Norwegians found us a spot off the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea that was only 260 feet deep to operate there. The divers had to return to the top slowly, there was a decompression chamber, and we used a Norwegian submarine hunter. Only two divers were used for the four pipelines. One problem was how to deal with the people monitoring the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Sea is monitored very closely, there is a lot of data freely available, so we took care of it, there were three or four different people on it. And what was then done is very simple. For 21 years, our Sixth Fleet, which controls the Mediterranean Sea and also the Baltic Sea, has been conducting an exercise for the NATO navies in the Baltic Sea every summer (BALTOPS, editor’s note). We’re sending an aircraft carrier and other large ships to these exercises. And for the first time in history, the NATO operation in the Baltics had a new program. A 12-day mine dumping and mine detection exercise was to be conducted. A number of nations sent out mine teams, one group dropped a mine, and another mine group went in search and blew it up. So there was a time when things blew up, and that was when the deep sea divers who put the mines on the pipelines were able to operate. The two pipelines are about a mile apart, they’re a little under the seabed silt, but they’re not difficult to reach and the divers had practiced. It only took a few hours to place the bombs.
So that was in June 2022?
Yes, they did it towards the end of the exercise. But at the last minute, the White House got nervous. The President said he was afraid to do it. He changed his mind and issued new orders, giving the ability to remotely detonate the bombs at any time. You do that with a regular sonar, a Raytheon product by the way, you fly over the spot and drop a cylinder. It sends a low-frequency signal, you can describe it as a flute sound, you can set different frequencies. However, the fear was that the bombs would not work if they stayed in the water for too long, which in fact should be the case with two bombs. So there was concern within the group to find the right remedy, and we actually had to reach out to other intelligence agencies, which I intentionally didn’t write about.
· And what happened then? The explosives were in place and a way was found to control them remotely.
Joe Biden decided not to blow them up back in June, it was five months into the war. But in September he ordered it to be done. The operational staff, the people who do „kinetic“ things for the United States, they do what the President says, and at first they thought that was a useful weapon that he could use in negotiations. But sometime after the Russians invaded, and then when the operation was complete, the whole thing became increasingly repugnant to the people running it. These are people who work in top positions in the secret services and are well trained. They opposed the project, they thought it was crazy. Shortly after the attack, after they did as they were told, there was a lot of anger at the operation and rejection from those involved. That’s one of the reasons I learned so much. And I’ll tell you one more thing. The people of America and Europe who are building pipelines know what happened. I’m telling you something important. The people who own companies that build pipelines know the story. I didn’t hear the story from them, but I quickly learned that they knew.
Let’s return to this situation in June of last year. President Joe Biden decided not to do it directly and postponed it.
Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said at a press conference a few days after the pipelines were blown up that an important factor in his power had been taken away from Putin. He said destroying the pipelines is a tremendous opportunity — an opportunity to deprive Russia of the ability to use the pipelines as a weapon. The point was that Russia could no longer pressure Western Europe to end US support in the Ukraine war. The fear was that Western Europe would no longer participate. I think the reason for this decision was that the war was not going well for the west and they were afraid of the approaching winter. Nord Stream 2 was put on hold by Germany itself, not international sanctions, and the US was afraid Germany would lift sanctions because of a cold winter.
What do you think were the motives for the attack? The US government was against the pipeline for many reasons. Some say she opposed it because she wanted to weaken Russia or to weaken relations between Russia and Western Europe, particularly Germany. But maybe also to weaken the German economy, which is a competitor to the US economy. High gas prices have prompted companies to relocate to the US. What is your take on the US government’s motives?
I don’t think they’ve thought this through thoroughly. I know that sounds strange. I don’t think Secretary of State Blinken and some others in the government are deep thinkers. There are certainly people in American business who like the idea that we are becoming more competitive. We sell liquefied natural gas (LNG) at extremely high profits, we make a lot of money from it. I’m sure there were some people who thought, Boy, is this going to give the American economy a long-term boost. But in the White House, I think they’ve always been obsessed with re-election, and they wanted to win the war, they wanted to get a victory, they wanted Ukraine to somehow magically win. There might be some people who think that maybe it’s better for our economy if the German economy is weak, but that’s crazy. I think we got caught up in something that won’t work, the war won’t end well for this government.
· How do you think this war could end?
It doesn’t matter what I think. What I do know is that there is no way this war will end the way we want it to, and I don’t know what we will do as we look further into the future. It scares me that the President was willing to do something like this. And the people running that mission believed that the President was aware of what he was doing to the people of Germany, that he was punishing them for a war that wasn’t going well. And in the long run, this will not only damage his reputation as President, it will also be very damaging politically. It will be a stigma for the US. The White House fears that it might be lost, that Germany and Western Europe would stop supplying the weapons we want, and that the German Chancellor might put the pipeline back online—that was a major concern in Washington. I would ask Chancellor Scholz a lot of questions. I would ask him what he learned in February when he was with the President. The operation was top secret and the President wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about our ability, but he likes to chat, he sometimes says things he shouldn’t say. Your story was reported in the German media in a rather cautious and critical manner. Some attacked your reputation or said you had only one anonymous source and that it was not reliable. How could I talk about my source? I have written many stories based on uncredited sources. If I named anyone they would be fired or worse, jailed. The law is very strict. I’ve never unmasked anyone, and of course when I write I say, like I’ve done in this article, that it’s a source, period. Over the years, the stories I’ve written have always been accepted.
· How did you check your facts?
I worked with the same experienced fact-checkers I used to have at the New Yorker for the current story. Of course, there are many ways to verify obscure information shared with me. The personal attacks on me also miss the point. The point is that Biden has decided to let the Germans freeze this winter. The President of the United States would rather see Germany freeze than Germany possibly stop supporting Ukraine, and that to me is a devastating thing for this White House.
The point is also that this can be perceived as an act of war not only against Russia but also against Western allies, especially Germany.
I would put it more simply. The people involved in the operation saw that the President wanted to freeze Germany for his short-term political goals, and that horrified them. I’m talking about Americans who are very loyal to the United States. The CIA, as I put it in my article, works for power, not for the constitution. The political advantage of the CIA is that a president who can’t get his plans through Congress can walk the CIA director in the Rose Garden of the White House to plan something secret that’s across the Atlantic—or where anywhere in the world – can meet many people. That’s always been the CIA’s unique selling proposition — which I have trouble with. But even that community is appalled that Biden has decided to expose Europe to the cold to support a war he will not win. This is nefarious to me.
You said in your article that the planning of the attack was not reported to Congress, as is necessary with other covert operations.
The matter also went unreported to many within the military. There were people elsewhere who should have been informed but were not informed. The operation was very secret.
What role does courage play for you in your job?
What’s brave about telling the truth? It’s not our job to be afraid. And sometimes it gets ugly. There have been times in my life when… – you know, I don’t talk about it. But threats are not directed at people like me, but at the children of people like me. There were terrible things. But you don’t worry about it, you can’t. You just have to do what you do.”
In any case, the Berliner Zeitung is not a blank slate either, as you can see from its history on Wikipedia. From the first editor-in-chief, a commander of the Red Army as the „organ of the command of the Red Army“ to the current new owners, the Friedrich couple, the East Berlin paper is wafted with a touch of loyalty to Russia. Holger Friedrich himself was also a member of the SED and also worked as an IM for the Stasi, just as the BZ has also been criticized for running Putin propaganda or at least very pro-Russian reporting: But it would do other newspapers well to deal with Hersh and not try it to conceal his story and accusations.