Seymour Hersh, an investigative journalist with a track record of breaking major stories, published a bombshell report on Substack last week that alleges the United States was behind the explosion of the Nord Stream pipelines. According to Hersh, an anonymous source with inside knowledge of the operation has confirmed that the U.S. government was involved in the planning and execution of the sabotage, which took place on September 26, 2022.
”Last June, the Navy divers, operating under the cover of a widely publicised mid-summer NATO exercise known as BALTOPS 22, planted the remotely triggered explosives that, three months later, destroyed three of the four Nord Stream pipelines, according to a source with direct knowledge of the operational planning,” Hersh writes in his article.
According to Hersh’s source, the decision to sabotage the pipeline came directly from US president Joe Biden and was the result of a highly secretive debate that lasted for over nine months within Washington's national security community. Hersh's anonymous source claimed that the issue during the debate was not whether to carry out the mission, but how to achieve the goal without getting caught. The deliberations reportedly involved extensive planning and strategising, indicating the high level of importance placed on the issue within the national security community.
Hersh reports that, President Joe Biden and his foreign policy team, including National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, and Undersecretary of State for Policy Victoria Nuland, were strongly opposed to the Nord Stream pipelines. The two pipelines, which ran parallel to each other for 750 miles under the Baltic Sea, originated from different ports in western Russia near the Estonian border, passed near the Danish island of Bornholm, and terminated in northern Germany. Biden and his team were vocal in their hostility towards the pipelines, which were seen as a means of increasing Russia's influence in Europe.
Hersh recounts that opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline reached a fever pitch in January 2021, on the eve of President Joe Biden's inauguration. Senate Republicans, led by Ted Cruz of Texas, repeatedly raised concerns about the political threat posed by cheap Russian natural gas during the confirmation hearing of Secretary of State Tony Blinken. At the time, the Senate had successfully passed a law that ”halted the pipeline in its tracks” as Cruz put it.
At the time, the German government, then led by Angela Merkel, faced significant political and economic pressure to get the second pipeline online.
Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reports that in December 2021, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan convened a meeting of a task force composed of members from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, and the State and Treasury Departments. The group discussed recommendations for responding to Putin's impending invasion, and Sullivan reportedly made it clear that he wanted the group to come up with a plan for destroying the two Nord Stream pipelines and that the order comes directly from Biden himself. Over the next few meetings, the group debated options for an attack, including using a submarine or dropping bombs remotely. The CIA eventually began crafting a plan for a covert operation that would use deep-sea divers to trigger an explosion along the pipeline.
The BALTOPS 22 exercise was to be used as a cover to plant the camouflaged explosives which would be detonated weeks or months later by a sonar signal. Long enough time to cover the relation with the military exercise.
Hersh's report suggests that the plan was downgraded from a covert operation to a highly classified intelligence operation with U.S. military support after President Biden and Undersecretary Victoria Nuland made public comments indicating the administration's willingness to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if Russia invaded Ukraine. At a press briefing that followed the visit of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to the White House, Biden openly said, “If Russia invades . . . there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.”
According to Hersh's anonymous source, the plan to blow up the pipelines was no longer legally required to be reported to Congress as it was not considered a ”covert” operation anymore, but it still had to be kept secret because of Russia's surveillance capabilities in the Baltic Sea.
Hersh writes that the Norwegian navy was able to quickly find the optimal location for blowing up the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines. The pipelines were located more than a mile apart on a seafloor that was only 260 feet deep in the shallow waters of the Baltic Sea, a few miles off Denmark's Bornholm Island. The divers, who would plant the shaped C4 charges on the pipelines with concrete protective covers, would operate from a Norwegian Alta-class mine hunter.
Hersh's report suggests that on September 26, 2022, a Norwegian Navy P8 surveillance plane dropped a sonar buoy in a seemingly routine flight, triggering high-powered C4 explosives that had been planted on the pipelines. Three of the four pipelines were put out of commission, and pools of methane gas that remained in the shuttered pipelines could be seen spreading on the water's surface.
Hersh recounts statements made by Blinken in Nuland after the Nord Stream explosions as a confirmation of the fact that the United States government was at least happy and satisfied with the outcome.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to once and for all remove the dependence on Russian energy and thus to take away from Vladimir Putin the weaponisation of energy as a means of advancing his imperial designs. That’s very significant and that offers tremendous strategic opportunity for the years to come,” Blinken described the event as an opportunity when asked at a press conference last September about the consequences of the energy crisis in Western Europe.
Nuland expressed her satisfaction while testifying at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in late January: “ Like you, I am, and I think the Administration is, very gratified to know that Nord Stream 2 is now, as you like to say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea.” she told Senator Ted Cruz.
The implications of Hersh's report are significant, as they suggest that the U.S. government played a direct role in the destruction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which can be considered the biggest terrorist act after Sept. 11, with huge environmental and social consequences. Up to 155,000 tonnes of methane were released into the atmosphere. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. 155,000 tonnes of methane is equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from approximately 33,000 passenger vehicles, or the carbon sequestered by 1.8 million acres of U.S. forests in one year. Also The German and European industry has suffered greatly and energy prices in Europe have soared dramatically for consumers.
Hersh’s revelations confirm what many independent thinkers, intellectuals and experts had believed and said openly, despite the deafening propaganda of the main stream western media claiming that Russia blew up its own pipeline.
Right after the explosions, Radoslaw Sikorski, European Parliament member and former Polish foreign minister, on his Twitter account shared a photograph of gas leak, saying "Thank you, USA.” Adding that "Now $20 billion of scrap metal lies at the bottom of the sea, another cost to Russia of its criminal decision to invade Ukraine.” He later deleted the tweet.
Independent commentators have repeatedly stated that the disruption or sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline would not benefit Russia. Already back in October 2022 in a conversation with Andrew Napolitano, the presenter of the Judging Freedom podcast, former advisor to US Defence Secretary in the administration of Donald Trump, Douglas Macgregor, said: "You have to look at who are the state actors that have the capability to do this. And that means the [UK’s] Royal Navy and the United States’ Navy <…> I think that’s pretty clear.”
Russia has invested heavily in the Nord Stream pipeline and relies on it to export natural gas directly to Germany, bypassing other European countries. Therefore, any disruption or sabotage of the pipeline would have negative economic consequences for Russia, as it would cut off a significant source of revenue.
Additionally it has been reported that Russia is quietly exploring the possibilities of repairing the pipelines which will be extremely costly.
On the other hand the main beneficiary of the disruption has been the United States which has openly opposed and criticised the pipeline and has been exporting its three-times-more-expensive LNG to Europe since the disruption. Norway is another obvious beneficiary. Norway’s own pipeline become functional around the same time Nord Stream was blown up.
|Seymour Hersh at the 2004 Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award. Photo: Institute for Policy Studies
Seymour Hersh is an American investigative journalist who is widely regarded as one of the most brilliant and trustworthy reporters of his generation. He has won numerous awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, for his investigative reporting on war crimes, abuses of power, and government misconduct. Hersh is known for his deep sources within the intelligence community, his uncompromising commitment to uncovering the truth, and his ability to bring to light stories that others have missed or ignored. He has a long and distinguished career that has spanned several decades, and his reporting has had a major impact on public discourse and policy.
Here are some of the most important investigative articles Seymour Hersh has written, along with a brief summary of each and how they were received:
- My Lai Massacre (1969): Hersh broke the story of the My Lai Massacre, in which American soldiers killed hundreds of Vietnamese civilians. His reporting, which won a Pulitzer Prize, revealed a military cover-up and sparked outrage across the country.
- Abu Ghraib Torture (2004): Hersh's reporting on the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq exposed a culture of torture and impunity within the U.S. military. His reporting won a George Polk Award and helped to bring about significant changes in military policy and public opinion.
- Nuclear Weapons in Pakistan (1998): Hersh's reporting on Pakistan's nuclear program, including its collaboration with North Korea, was controversial and initially met with skepticism. However, subsequent events confirmed much of his reporting, and it is now widely regarded as groundbreaking.
- CIA Domestic Spying (1975): Hersh's reporting on the CIA's illegal domestic spying program helped to expose the agency's abuses of power and contributed to the creation of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
- Iran-Contra Affair (1987): Hersh's reporting on the Iran-Contra scandal, in which the Reagan administration sold weapons to Iran and used the proceeds to fund the Contras in Nicaragua, was instrumental in exposing the corruption and illegal activities of high-ranking government officials.
Overall, Hersh's reporting has been highly regarded by many for its depth, accuracy, and impact. Even though some of his articles have been controversial and naturally met with criticism from the establishments he has revealed, and those who disagree with his reporting or his political views, his work is widely considered to be some of the most important and influential investigative journalism of the past several decades.
substack.com is an online platform that allows writers and journalists to create and distribute their own newsletters to a wide audience. Substack has gained popularity as a platform for independent journalism, providing a space for writers to produce in-depth reporting and analysis without the constraints of traditional media organisations. It has been used by a range of high-profile writers, including journalists, academics, and activists, to reach a broad audience and to build a sustainable model for independent media.
Describing the reason he chose Substack instead of offering this revealing article to major news outlets, Hersh explains that he never felt at home at major outlets and that money has become a problem for many of them, with advertisers affecting their content. He believes that many brilliant journalists are still at work, but that reporting has to be within guidelines and constraints that did not exist in the past.
Hersh praises Substack for providing the kind of freedom he has always fought for. He explains that on Substack, he can write deep stories without fear of word counts or column inches and speak directly to his readers. He also appreciates the ethos of the online community, which he feels is in line with his own style of swigging cheap bourbon with servicemen, working over first-year law firm associates for intel, or swapping stories with junior ministers.
In conclusion, Hersh expresses hope that the story readers will find on Substack is a reflection of that freedom. He notes that reporting is back, ”unfiltered and unprogrammed”, just the way he likes it.