On Monday, September 26, 2022, a series of underwater explosions blew huge holes into the Nord Stream 1 and 2, two pairs of pipelines, constructed to carry Russian natural gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea. These four pipelines, steel-reinforced concrete cables built to withstand the direct impact of the anchor of an aircraft carrier, were destroyed in a clandestine act of sabotage, according to an investigation by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh. The pair of Nord Stream 1 pipelines carried Russian gas to Germany until Moscow cut off supplies at the end of August 2022. The pair of Nord Stream 2 pipelines, which would have doubled the amount of gas that would be available to Germany and Western Europe, were never operational as Germany suspended its certification process shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.
White House spokesperson Adrienne Watson called Hersh’s report “false and complete fiction.” CIA spokesperson Tammy Thorp said: “This claim is completely and utterly false.”
Denials by U.S. officials of covert operations, of course, are routine. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, for example, denied any U.S. involvement in the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, assuring the American people that the invasion was not “staged from American soil.” When Seymour Hersh in 2004 published the first stories about the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, a Pentagon spokes called his reporting “a tapestry of nonsense,” adding that Hersh was a guy who “threw a lot of crap against the wall” and “expects someone to peel off what’s real.”
Despite the denials, the United States has long expressed hostility to the pipelines. It worked to prevent the completion of the pipelines and imposed illegal sanctions on enterprises engaged in its construction. President Biden on February 7, 2022, prior to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, stated: “If Russia invades … there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2 …We will bring an end to it.”
During a Senate hearing, Victoria Nuland, undersecretary of state for political affairs, was asked by Senator Ted Cruz whether his legislation aimed at sanctioning the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which was voted down in January 2022, could have stopped the war.
“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,” Nuland said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the destruction of the pipelines as a “tremendous opportunity,” which would enable EU countries to become less dependent on Russian energy.
The New York Times reported in December that Russia had begun expensive repairs on the pipelines, raising questions about Washington’s claim that Russia had bombed its own pipelines.
These explosions are not insignificant acts. They are acts of war. They expose not only the collapse of the rule of law, but the lack of oversight by Congress. I covered the mining of Nicaragua’s harbors in 1983 by the Reagan administration as a reporter in Central America. The mining was designed cripple the economy in Nicaragua and boost the fortunes of the US-backed contra rebels seeking to overthrow the Sandinista government. The mining backfired. It sparked outrage around the globe and saw Congress cut off funding for the Contras a year later. The International Court of Justice in 1986 ruled against the United States over its mining of the harbors.
Hersh’s revelations should have led to a similar condemnation by Congress and an internal investigation into illegal activities by the CIA and Pentagon. It should have prompted news organizations to dig deeper into a scandal, a flagrant violation of the U.N. Charter and international treaties. It should have prompted a national debate about the war in Ukraine and the steady escalation of our involvement, one that could lead to a direct confrontation with Russia and nuclear war. Joining me to discuss his latest investigative piece is Seymour Hersh, one of our most important and fearless investigative reporters who, among many ground-breaking stories, exposed the U.S. Army’s 1969 My Lai massacre and cover-up, the Watergate scandal, the secret bombing of Cambodia, the torture by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib of Iraqi prisoners and the false narrative told by the U.S. government about the events surrounding the killing of Osama bin Laden.