Seymour Hersh Discusses Iraqi Prisoner Abuse at ACLU Gala Dinner

July 7, 2004 12:00 am

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John Sayles and Sandra Tsing Loh Share their Perspectives on Free Speech in Post-9/11 America


SAN FRANCISCO – Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh will discuss his exposé of Iraqi prisoner torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib in front of 2,000 activists at a gala dinner tonight at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Annual Membership Conference.

Hersh, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1970 for his coverage of the My Lai massacre in South Vietnam, forced the Abu Ghraib prison scandal out into the public after disclosing a report by Major General Antonio Taguba detailing criminal abuses at the prison.

“The way I express my loyalty is to question, not to accept anything on faith,” said Hersh. “I think the most important thing is to hold the people in public office to the highest possible standard of decency and of honesty. And if we don’t do that, we’re failing.”

Hersh will be joined at the gala dinner by director John Sayles, who will discuss his upcoming film “Silver City,” a satirical story of a corrupt politician campaigning for governor in Colorado. Sayles describes the film as an allegory of President Bush’s Texas gubernatorial campaign.

In addition, humorist Sandra Tsing Loh will speak about her termination from KCRW, a National Public Radio affiliate in Santa Monica, after using an expletive in a pre-recorded commentary. Even though she had asked an engineer to bleep the word before the taping began, Loh’s employers immediately fired her after the incident. KCRW has since offered Loh her job back, but she declined.

“My case is not about the right to curse on public radio airwaves,” said Loh. “The question is, is it gross overreaction, on the part of a public radio station, to fire — rather than warn, reprimand, suspend or even fine — a commentator of six years for their own young station engineer’s honest and fully admitted mistake?”

In addition to the speakers, the dinner will also feature a performance by comedian Greg Proops and a special screening of Michael Moore’s controversial documentary, “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

The gala dinner, as well as all plenary sessions and keynote addresses, will be webcast live at

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