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Veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has broken some massive stories in his day, but uncovering secret societies within the highest echelons of America's military would probably be the biggest of his career.
Well, get ready for the media storm, because that's essentially what Hersh told an audience in Doha, Qatar recently, according to a report published earlier this week by Foreign Policy.
Speaking at a campus operated by Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, Hersh said he was working on a new book that details "how eight or nine neoconservative, radicals if you will, overthrew the American government."
"It's not only that the neocons took it over but how easily they did it -- how Congress disappeared, how the press became part of it, how the public acquiesced," he continued, according to the published quotes.
To be fair, the Knights have been involved in their fair share of political intrigues. In 1988, the charge d'affaires at the order's embassy in Havana confessed to being a double agent, reporting to both the CIA and Cuban intelligence. According to journalist Jeremy Scahill's book Blackwater, Joseph Schmitz, a former executive at the company who also served as inspector general for the U.S. Department of Defense, boasted of his membership in the Knights in his official biography. The defense contractor now known as Xe's chief executive, Erik Prince, reportedly espoused Christian supremacist beliefs, and its contractors in Iraq used codes and insignia based on the order's medieval compatriots, the Knights of the Templar. However, there's no evidence to suggest the Knights of Malta had any direct influence over the company.
In a speech in Doha on Monday, veteran New Yorker journalist Seymour Hersh alleged that the U.S. military's Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) had been infiltrated by Christian fanatics who see themselves as modern-day Crusaders and aim to "change mosques into cathedrals." In particular, he alleged that former JSOC head Gen. Stanley McChrystal -- later U.S. commander in Afghanistan -- and his successor, Vice Adm. William McRaven, as well as many other senior leaders of the command, are "are all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta." What was he talking about?
Not exactly clear. There's not much evidence to suggest that the Knights of Malta are the secretive cabal of anti-Muslim fundamentalists that Hersh described.
(For the record, when contacted by Foreign Policy, McChrystal said that he is not a member.)