CIA’s Nord Stream Story Absurd: Seymour Hersh

seymour hersh
Journalist Seymour Hersh

According to veteran journalist Seymour Hersh, the mainstream media’s yarn about a pro-Ukrainian group that chartered a yacht named Andromeda to destroy the Nord Stream pipelines was so absurd and childish that one would suspect it was made intentionally to reinforce the truth.

On April 5, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh took to Substack again to analyze the Western media’s story about a six-member “pro-Ukrainian” gang with forged passports that allegedly blew up the Nord Stream pipeline.

On March 7, The New York Times and Die Zeit published two separate articles claiming that international investigators had managed to trace the September 26, 2022 sabotage attack to a “pro-Ukrainian” group operating from the Andromeda, a 15-meter chartered yacht.

However, the same week, Der Spiegel and center-right Bild questioned the story.

Bild has insisted that the mainstream media story that the Nord Stream pipelines were destroyed by a team of six operating from the Andromeda, a 15-meter chartered yacht, is becoming increasingly dubious.

Later, Die Zeit quoted the chair of the Bundestag’s intelligence oversight committee, Konstantin von Notz from the Green Party, who argued that the Nord Stream sabotage does not look like an attack by a group of unaffiliated volunteers, but has all the earmarks of a “state-backed act of terrorism.”

It is more likely that the sabotage was conducted by a “state or quasi-state actor,” von Notz insisted.

According to the German lawmaker, it would be very demanding to transport the military explosives – up to two tons, he believed – undetected to the right place in the Baltic Sea, and then bring them to the relevant depth in order to trigger several explosions in a controlled manner. Von Notz noted that a “state-backed act of terrorism makes it more likely that false or deceptive clues were laid.”

For instance, the German media outlets appeared skeptical that a 15-meter chartered yacht could carry the 1,500-2,000 kilograms of explosives needed to destroy the pipelines, adding that the Andromeda does not have a crane to hoist such quantities safely into the water. Likewise, it appeared to be impossible to transport 1,500 to 2,000 kg of explosives through Poland and Germany and not be caught.

Another problem, cited by the press, was that at the site of the explosion, the Baltic Sea is about 80 meters deep, requiring special diving equipment including a decompression chamber for the divers – something that the yacht is not fit for. Eventually, The Washington Post reported on April 3 that some European investigators now doubt that the Andromeda could have sabotaged the pipelines without the help of a second boat.

There are more tricky questions the press failed to ask, according to Hersh, who quoted an intelligence expert familiar with the story. For instance, the expert pointed out that one cannot just walk off the street and rent an expensive yacht with a fake passport. “You either need to accept a captain who was supplied by the leasing agent or owner of the yacht, or have a captain who comes with a certificate of competency as mandated by maritime law,” the expert continued.

Another question is how the Andromeda managed to find the pipelines in the Baltic Sea, given that they are not that big and not on the charts that come with the lease. Having a small yacht and two divers, who could stay about 15 minutes under water, it would take four years to search one square mile, Hersh wrote, citing the expert.

“So you have six people on the yacht—two divers, two helpers, a doctor and a captain leasing the boat. One thing is missing – who is going to crew the yacht? Or cook? What about the logbook that the leasing company must keep for legal reasons?” the expert continued, stressing that no Western journalist ever asked any of those questions. What’s more, it appears that none of them has ever set foot on the much-discussed vessel.

Furthermore, photographs of the Andromeda, circulated by the Western press, indicate that the vessel has no license number where it legally should be. On top of this, the assumption that the gang of saboteurs returned the yacht unclean and even left a couple of fake passports on board make the story even fishier.

As per Hersh, it’s not just a “bad” media story but a “parody” akin to the Piltdown Man – a paleoanthropological fraud in which bone fragments were claimed to be the remains of a previously unknown early human.

The investigative journalist suggested that the yarn was fed by the CIA to their German peers and the press on both sides of the pond: the two separate stories released by the U.S. and German press are nearly identical both in detail and absurdity.

Hersh specified that there is nothing surprising about the CIA inventing a cover story to distract the public’s attention from the real one. In fact, the agency followed “protocol.” The question is why the story was so dubious that it started to fall apart at te seams immediately after its publication.

The investigative journalist does not rule out that it was made intentionally. Hersh quoted the intelligence expert as saying: “In the world of professional analysts and operators everyone will universally and correctly conclude from your story that the devilish CIA concocted a counter-op that is on its face so ridiculous and childish that the real purpose was to reinforce the truth.”

In early February, Hersh dropped a bombshell by saying that the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines were destroyed by American and Norwegian operatives at the request of the Biden administration. According to Hersh, U.S. Navy divers during the NATO BALTOPS 22 exercises in June 2022 planted explosives to blow up the pipelines, which Norway activated three months later. According to the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, US President Joe Biden decided to sabotage the Nord Stream pipes after more than nine months of secret discussions with his national security team.

Another piece by Hersh

On March 29, Seymour Hersh published a new piece of his latest series of Substack stories detailing CIA covert operations and U.S. presidents’ unilateral secret actions overseas actions, which were not in line with U.S. national interests.

This time, Hersh revealed how then US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, one of JFK’s younger brothers, kicked off a clandestine operation aimed at sowing discord among Sicilian Mafia families in 1962.

Robert Kennedy, also known as RFK or Bobby Kennedy, personally authorized the agency to assign a senior agent to his office for operations against the Mafia. The agent’s name was Charles Ford and his alias for his secret work against Mafia bosses was Rocky Fiscalini. Ford aka Fiscalini had to spread disinformation among Mafia families in Sicily, thereby pitting one against the other.

RFK’s alleged rationale behind the overseas covert op was that conflict among Mafia families in Italy would lead to a weakening of the Mafia families in the U.S., according to Hersh. There was some logic in the mission, too. RFK was known as a relentless foe of organized crime since the 1950s, when he was chief counsel for a Senate investigating committee. Having assumed the position of the U.S. attorney general in January 1961, Robert Kennedy launched an unprecedented crusade against gangsters, labor racketeers and vice overlords in the U.S.

Hersh noted that RFK’s travel records show that he visited Rome twice in early 1962 exactly at the time when the operations against the Italian Mafia were getting underway, and apparently it was approved by JFK. The Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist noted that Ford and other RFK agents managed to trigger a major dispute between powerful Sicilian Mafia clans, which soon evolved into nothing short of a mafia war. “The event that would set off a murderous Mafia war in Sicily that ran into 1963 was a U.S.-engineered dispute over the profits from a heroin shipment to New York,” the journalist wrote.

Still, Bobby Kennedy’s crusade against the Italian Mafia backfired on Italian law enforcement, with a van full of members of the Carabinieri and the Italian army being blasted amid the mob war. What’s more, a Mafia member learned from a senior officer of the Carabinieri that the CIA had had a hand in igniting the mayhem in Sicily. The powerful Mafia families met in the summer of 1963 at a secret site to discuss the issue and potential revenge.

According to Hersh, a number of specific targets were named, including President Kennedy, his wife Jackie, RFK and his wife Ethel, as well as their children, but no action was agreed upon. The CIA was well aware of both the meeting and the discussion because its organizer, Salvatore Lima, the mayor of Palermo, was on the agency’s payroll. The room where the secret Mafia meeting took place was wiretapped.

On November 22, 1963, President John Kennedy was assassinated. According to Hersh, it is unknown whether RFK was informed, even after his brother’s murder, about the CIA wiretaps. Moreover, there was no evidence that the CIA informed the Secret Service about the Mafia threat prior to JFK’s assassination. The affair was not disclosed to the Warren Commission that investigated the murder, either.

Hersh’s sources said that the agency’s assessment was that the Mafia chatter about the revenge “did not mean that they did it,” especially given that there was no message saying “mission accomplished” after JFK’s murder.

At the same time, Hersh emphasized that the CIA appeared to be frustrated with the Kennedys’ clandestine ops. The journalist cited in particular a breach that grew between the Kennedy brothers and CIA covert operatives “over the Kennedys’ repeated demands that the agency find a way to assassinate Fidel Castro.”

Hersh also quoted Sam Halpern, a CIA top operative, as saying that RFK’s Mafia op was one of the most egregious episodes and came over the objections of many in the operations bureau.

This historic example of apparent discord between the CIA and the U.S. government followed Hersh’s February bombshell concerning the Nord Stream sabotage attack.

On February 8, the journalist detailed how the Biden administration and the CIA in collaboration with the Norwegian secret service and Navy destroyed Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline network. The blasts occurred on September 26, 2022, at three of the four strings of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 underwater pipelines, which were built to carry a combined 110 billion cubic meters of Russian gas to Europe annually.

In his interviews, the journalist repeatedly hinted that the CIA was frustrated by the Biden administration’s adventurism and its boasting about the pipelines’ destruction.

In his March 29 post, Hersh once again mentioned the sabotage operation, with a vague hint that the leak apparently came on the orders of someone in the U.S. government or the CIA:

“The Kennedys’ successful gambit against the Mafia in Sicily did not reach the American press at the time because it was a highly classified CIA program, and highly classified CIA programs, even those involving the destruction of pipelines, do not leak – unless some inside the government, or the agency, want them to,” the journalist concluded.

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