Over the course of his long career as an investigative reporter, Seymour Hersh has broken the My Lai massacre and Abu Ghraib scandals. These two big stories that have given him quite a bit of institutional credibility. But oddly, the mainstream journalistic establishment seems to overlook the fact that he's essentially a dishonest conspiracy monger. (I'll commend to you two terrific pieces by Reason's Michael Moynihan and National Review's John Miller that address Hersh's utter disregard for journalistic standards in more detail.)
In any event, Foreign Policy reports on Hersh's latest outrageous smear:
He then alleged that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who headed JSOC before briefly becoming the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and his successor, Vice Adm. William McRaven, as well as many within JSOC, "are all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta."
Hersh may have been referring to the Sovereign Order of Malta, a Roman Catholic organization commited to "defence of the Faith and assistance to the poor and the suffering," according to its website.
"Many of them are members of Opus Dei," Hersh continued. "They do see what they're doing -- and this is not an atypical attitude among some military -- it's a crusade, literally. They seem themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They're protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function."
"They have little insignias, these coins they pass among each other, which are crusader coins," he continued. "They have insignia that reflect the whole notion that this is a culture war. … Right now, there’s a tremendous, tremendous amount of anti-Muslim feeling in the military community.”"
Crusader coins? The Knights of Malta are a threat to the military? What's next? Is Hersh going to tell us the Elks Club is behind Wikileaks? And I know that the Da Vinci Code is a regrettably popular novel, but in real life Opus Dei isn't exactly sinister.