None of the emerging narratives surrounding the Nord Stream pipeline bombing really contradicts Seymour Hersh’s central allegation that Biden authorized the operation.

by Jeremy Scahill, The Intercept

In the month since veteran journalist Seymour Hersh published his bombshell report alleging that President Joe Biden personally authorized a covert action to bomb the Nord Stream pipelines, we’ve seen a frenzy of speculation, detailed dissection of Hersh’s specific assertions, and the emergence of competing narratives both supporting and denouncing the report.

The question of whether Hersh’s story is accurate — either in whole or in part — is of monumental significance, and there are some issues related to this story that have not received as much attention as they deserve. Among these are questions surrounding the legal and constitutional framework the Biden administration would have used if, as Hersh’s source alleges, Biden directly ordered the bombing of the Nord Stream pipelines. There is also an emerging counternarrative to Hersh’s reporting from U.S. intelligence that warrants scrutiny, both on its merits and for how it might relate to Hersh’s story.

Flag with the Nord Stream logo waving to the fan on a clear day. Nord Stream is a gas pipeline that directly transports Russian gas to Western Europe.

On March 7, the New York Times and the German newspaper Die Zeit both published stories that thicken the plot. The Times story was based on a narrative clearly being pushed by U.S. intelligence sources that “a pro-Ukrainian group carried out the attack.” The Times asserted that a “review of newly collected intelligence suggests they were opponents of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, but does not specify the members of the group, or who directed or paid for the operation.” The report was spartan in its specifics, used no named sources, and seemed reminiscent of other efforts by anonymous U.S. intelligence sources to launder a narrative under the guise of a news scoop. “U.S. officials declined to disclose the nature of the intelligence, how it was obtained or any details of the strength of the evidence it contains,” the report said. “They have said that there are no firm conclusions about it, leaving open the possibility that the operation might have been conducted off the books by a proxy force with connections to the Ukrainian government or its security services.”

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