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Facing Down a Key Torture Enabler

Clashing Face-to-Face on Torture

Editor Note: It’s rare on TV when you see two former senior U.S. officials clashing angrily over something as significant as torture. Usually decorum prevails. But ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern wasn’t going to let the ex-House intelligence oversight chief get away with a bland defense of torture.

By Ray McGovern

When you get an opportunity like this, don’t fall back – I heard my Irish grandmother telling me last Thursday as I took my place at the table to discuss torture with a former congressional committee chairman whose job it was to prevent such abuse.

Split the CIA in Two

 

 


CIA’s Torturous Maneuvers on Torture

 

 

Editor Note: The CIA is fighting congressional demands to release a report on its covert program for torturing “war on terror” suspects, even as the spy agency contemplates a reorganization that could give the covert-action side more ways to bend the truth.  Is this a great country, or what?

By Ray McGovern

Minimizing ISIL numbers -- just like the Viet Cong

 

 


How Many Islamic State Fighters Are There?

 

 

Editor Note: As the United States slides back into war in the Middle East, the specter of Vietnam hovers over the endeavor with some observers wondering if wishful thinking will again replace hardheaded analysis about the risks and the costs.

By Ray McGovern

Why was I reminded of Vietnam on Saturday when Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Iraq to “get a firsthand look at the situation in Iraq, receive briefings, and get better sense of how the campaign is progressing” against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL?

Dropping in on Assange, Harrison, and "Citizenfour"

 


Citizenfour’s Escape to Freedom in Russia

 

Editor Note: An international community of resistance has formed against pervasive spying by the U.S. National Security Agency with key enclaves in Moscow (with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden) and in London (with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange), way stations visited last month by ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

In early September in Russia, National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden told me about a documentary entitled “Citizenfour,” named after the alias he used when he asked filmmaker Laura Poitras to help him warn Americans about how deeply the NSA had carved away their freedoms.

When we spoke, Snowden seemed more accustomed to his current reality, i.e., still being alive albeit far from home, than he did in October 2013 when I met with him along with fellow whistleblowers Tom Drake, Coleen Rowley and Jesselyn Radack, as we presented him with the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden speaking in Moscow on Oct. 9, 2013. (From a video posted by WikiLeaks)

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden speaking in Moscow on Oct. 9, 2013. (From a video posted by WikiLeaks)

A year ago, the four of us spent a long, relaxing evening with Snowden – and sensed his lingering wonderment at the irony-suffused skein of events that landed him in Russia, out of reach from the U.S. government’s long arm of “justice.”

Murder? Homicide? Torture? .... whatever

A Murder Mystery at Guantanamo Bay

Editor Note: America’s plunge into the “dark side” last decade created a hidden history of shocking brutality, including torture and homicides, that the U.S. government would prefer to keep secret, even though many of the perpetrators are out of office.

By Ray McGovern

There’s more of a mystery to how three Guantanamo detainees died on June 10, 2006, than I realized when I described their deaths as suicides in a recent article about force-feeding methods at the notorious U.S. prison. Some very experienced investigators who have examined the evidence suspect the three were victims of homicides amid the torture regime employed by President George W. Bush’s underlings.

Scott Horton, whose upcoming book Lords of Secrecy contains new insights into the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Tenet go-ahead on torture and other abuses, has supplied me with additional detail highly suggestive of foul play by CIA interrogators.

President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney receive an Oval Office briefing from CIA Director George Tenet. Also present is Chief of Staff Andy Card (on right).

President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney receive an Oval Office briefing from CIA Director George Tenet. Also present is Chief of Staff Andy Card (on right).

Horton noted that the three prisoners were scheduled to be released and repatriated and that key details about the U.S. government’s suicide claims have been disproved. For instance, the first reports said the inmates had hanged themselves with linens in their jail cells, but medical records, which the government sought to suppress, indicate otherwise.

Judge Gives Guantanamo Abuses a Hearing

 

 


Guantanamo’s Force-Feeding Challenged

 

 

Editor Note: In the Kafkaesque world of Guantanamo, even inmates cleared for release are held indefinitely and – if they try to kill themselves via hunger strikes – are brutally force-fed to keep them alive. Finally, a U.S. court is confronting whether the force-feeding can be done more humanely.

By Ray McGovern

In the first trial weighing the legality of force-feeding methods at the Guantanamo Bay prison, U.S. government lawyers have tried to disparage doctors and refute medical assessments regarding the best practices and ethics for treating inmates who have engaged in hunger strikes to protest their indefinite confinements, often after being cleared for release.

The Train Wreck Named Dick Cheney

 

Cheney’s Legacy: Honesty Still in Short Supply

By Ray McGovern

 

As the world marks the centennial of World War I, the guns of August are again being oiled by comfortable politicians and the fawning corporate media, both bereft of any sense of history.  And that includes much more recent history, namely the deceitful campaign that ended up bringing destruction to Iraq and widened conflict throughout the Middle East.  That campaign went into high gear 12 years ago today.

 

"Pilots" Drive “Russian Military Vehicles Painted to Look Like Trucks" Into Ukraine ... and Back

 

 


Russia’s Humanitarian ‘Invasion’

 

 

Editor Note:  Official Washington’s war-hysteria machine is running at full speed again after Russia unilaterally dispatched a convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian supplies to the blockaded Ukrainian city of Luhansk.

By Ray McGovern

Before dawn broke in Washington on Saturday, “Ukrainian pro-Russian separatists” – more accurately described as federalists of southeast Ukraine who oppose last February’s coup in Kiev – unloaded desperately needed provisions from some 280 Russian trucks in Luhansk, Ukraine. The West accused those trucks of “invading” Ukraine on Friday, but it was a record short invasion; after delivering their loads of humanitarian supplies, the trucks promptly returned to Russia.

Death of Seaman Who Saved the USS Liberty Brings Memories of Israeli Attack

 

 


A USS Liberty’s Hero’s Passing

 

 

Editor Comment:  Silver Star winner Terry Halbardier, the hero who got off the SOS that saved the USS Liberty from Israeli destruction in 1967, died last week in California, prompting ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern to recall the murderous attack and the cowardly cover-up that followed.

By Ray McGovern

Terry Halbardier, who – as a 23-year old seaman in 1967 – thwarted Israeli attempts to sink the USS Liberty, died on Aug. 11 in Visalia, California. It took the U.S. government 42 years after the attack to recognize Halbardier’s heroism by awarding him the Silver Star, a delay explained by Washington’s determination to downplay Israeli responsibility for the 34 Americans killed and the 174 wounded.

Rise and Fall of Berlin Wall & Ukraine

The Berlin Wall and Missed Opportunities

Editor Note: The U.S. State Department’s obsession with “information warfare” as a strategic weapon has made U.S. credibility one more casualty of the Ukraine crisis, along with any remaining trust in the mainstream U.S. media. It was not always thus.

By Ray McGovern

"The Lawyer" Made Me Do It

 

 


The Rear-Guard Defense of Torture

 

 

Editor Note:  Official U.S. policy is to decry torture – at least when done by adversaries – but ambiguities abound when U.S. operatives do the torturing. Then, torture becomes debatable and its defenders go on TV talk shows and even get honors from universities, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern notes.

By Ray McGovern

Intelligence Veterans Challenge Obama & Kerry on Ukraine

 

 

 

 


Obama Should Release Ukraine Evidence

 

 

 

 

Editor Note:  With the July 17 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine turning a local civil war into a U.S. confrontation with Russia, former U.S. intelligence veterans urge President Obama to release what evidence he has about the tragedy and silence the hyperbole.

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Intelligence on Shoot-Down of Malaysian Plane

Executive Summary

Kerry's Third Cousin Relationship With Truth


Empty Shirt's Unenviable Record for Veracity
By Ray McGovern
 

The last time major war loomed on the near horizon, Secretary of State John Kerry played fast and loose with the facts. On Aug. 30, 2013 he solemnly claimed, no fewer than 35 times, "We know" the government of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for chemical attacks outside Damascus on August 21.

Shoot-Down Over Ukraine Needs Context -- and Caution

 

 


Facts Needed on Malaysian Plane Shoot-Down

 

 

Editor Note: As usual, the mainstream U.S. media is rushing to judgment over the crash of a Malaysian airliner in war-torn eastern Ukraine, but the history of U.S. government’s deceptions might be reason to pause and let a careful investigation uncover the facts.

By Ray McGovern

It will likely take some time to determine who downed the Malaysia Airlines Boeing-777 over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 298 people onboard. Initial speculation is that someone with a missile battery mistook the plane as a military aircraft, but the precise motive may be even harder to discern.

Some FACTS re Genesis of Current Crisis in Ukraine

www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-shevardnadze-20140715,0,3983982.story

baltimoresun.com

When the U.S. welched on Shevardnadze [Commentary]

The Ukraine crisis owes its roots to a deal America made and broke with the recently deceased Soviet foreign minister

By Ray McGovern

July 16, 2014

Lavrov Elbows Kerry Out

 

 


The Risk of a Ukraine Bloodbath

 

 

Editor Note: Pressured by neocons and the mainstream U.S. media, the Obama administration is charting a dangerous course by seeking a military solution to Ukraine’s political crisis and possibly provoking Moscow to intervene to protect ethnic Russians.

By Ray McGovern

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko – by thumbing his nose at the leaders of Russia, Germany and France as they repeatedly appealed to him to renew the fragile ceasefire in eastern Ukraine – has left himself and his U.S. patrons isolated, though that’s not the version of the story that you’ll read in the mainstream U.S. press.

Ukraine Sovereignty? Schmovernty!

 

 


Who Violated Ukraine’s Sovereignty?

 

 

Editor Note:   The West has accused Russia of violating a 1994 pledge to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for its surrender of Soviet-era nuclear weapons. But the West’s political and economic interference might also represent a violation, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

Did Russia’s annexation of Crimea on March violate the 1994 Budapest agreement among Ukraine, Russia, Great Britain and the U.S.? Specifically, in Paragraph One, Ukraine agreed to remove all nuclear weapons from its territory in return for a commitment by Russia, Britain and the U.S. “to respect the independence and sovereignty and existing borders of Ukraine?”

Moral Injury: WashPost Neocons and Iraq

 

 


Iraqis Are Not ‘Abstractions’

 

 

Editor Note:  U.S. policymakers have long behaved like spoiled, destructive children treating Iraq as if it were some meaningless plaything. The game has been about who “wins” or “loses” in Washington, not who lives or dies in Iraq, a moral failure that ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern addresses.

By Ray McGovern

"Illegal Procedure" (One of Them) at the FBI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


How NSA Can Secretly Aid Criminal Cases

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor Note:  Though the NSA says its mass surveillance of Americans targets only “terrorists,” the spying may turn up evidence of other illegal acts that can get passed on to law enforcement which hides the secret source through a ruse called “parallel construction."

By Ray McGovern

Rarely do you get a chance to ask a just-retired FBI director whether he had “any legal qualms” about what, in football, is called “illegal procedure,” but at the Justice Department is called “parallel construction.”

Lessons on an Anniversary: When Israel Learned it Could Get Away With Murder

Leaving the USS Liberty Crew Behind

June 8, 2014

Editor Note:  Justifying the swap of Taliban prisoners for Sgt. Bergdahl, President Obama cited a principle of never leaving U.S. soldiers behind, but that rule was violated in the shabby treatment of the USS Liberty crew, attacked 47 years ago by Israeli warplanes.

By Ray McGovern

On June 8, 1967, Israeli leaders learned they could deliberately attack a U.S. Navy ship and try to send it, together with its entire crew, to the bottom of the Mediterranean – with impunity. Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty, a state-of-the-art intelligence collection platform sailing in international waters off the Sinai, killing 34 of the 294 crew members and wounding more than 170.

Who Are the Real Traitors on Afghanistan?

The Real Villains of the Bergdahl Tale

June 3, 2014

Editor Note:  The right-wing media is denouncing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as a “deserter” who wasn’t worth ransoming from the Taliban, but the real villains are the architects of the disastrous Iraq and Afghan wars who frivolously put the many Bergdahls in harm’s way.

By Ray McGovern

For me, the Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl affair brings back angry memories of how, in 2009, President Barack Obama caved in to be-medaled and be-ribboned generals like David Petraeus and ordered a modified-limited-hangout-type “surge” of 33,000 troops into Afghanistan. Consequential cowardice at work – trading lives for political advantage – as bad as it gets.

Mess in Ukraine is Catalyst for Closer Sino-Russian Ties: a BIG DEAL

Premature US Victory-Dancing on Ukraine

May 28, 2014

Editor Comment:  The post-coup election of a pro-Western politician as president of Ukraine – and the escalating slaughter of lightly armed anti-coup rebels in the east – have created a celebratory mood in Official Washington, but the victory dance may be premature, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

Washington’s role in the coup d’etat in Kiev on Feb. 22 has brought the U.S. a Pyrrhic victory, with the West claiming control of Ukraine albeit with a shaky grip that still requires the crushing of anti-coup rebels in the east. But the high-fiving may be short-lived once the full consequences of the putsch become clear.

Neocon WaPo Still Lusting After Syria, Ukraine

 

WPost Seeks US-Patrolled ‘Safe Zone’ in Syria

May 25, 2014

Editor Comment:  Neocons never blush at their own hypocrisies, demanding Russia respect international law and do nothing to protect eastern Ukrainians, while demanding President Obama ignore international law and create a rebel “safe zone” in Syria.

By Ray McGovern

The Washington Post’s neocon editors have made another strident appeal for President Barack Obama to “abandon his passivity and do something to help” the rebels in Syria, complaining that they “continue to receive far too little help from the United States.”

The Post ups the ante by boldly asserting that “Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad … continues to launch chemical attacks … in rebel-controlled neighborhoods.” Yet, even premier Bashar-basher John Kerry has been more discreet in inching that dubious claim into the public arena.

NYET to Ukraine on NATO Membership

How NATO Jabs Russia on Ukraine

Editor Note:  The U.S. mainstream media portrays the Ukraine crisis as a case of Russian “imperialism,” but the reality is that Moscow has been reacting to aggressive moves by Washington to expand NATO to Russia’s border in violation of a post-Cold War pledge.

By Ray McGovern

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov used Wednesday’s interview with Bloomberg News to address the overriding issue regarding the future of Ukraine, at least from Moscow’s perspective. Speaking in fluent English, he said Russia would be “categorically against” Ukraine joining NATO.

Where the Buck Stops, ACT!

Needed: Obama-Putin Summit on Ukraine

Editor Note: As the death toll mounts in an incipient civil war between east and west Ukraine, a group of retired U.S. intelligence professionals urges President Obama to hold a summit with Russia’s President Putin to defuse the crisis.

May 4, 2014

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Urgent Action on Ukraine

The buck stops with you, Mr. President. If you want to stop a bloody civil war between east and west Ukraine and avert Russian military intervention in eastern Ukraine, you may be able to do so before the violence hurtles completely out of control. You need to take the initiative and do it now.

War w/Russia "Not Unthinkable;" Kerry wars on RT

Kerry’s Propaganda War on Russia’s RT

April 30, 2014

Editor Note:Secretary of State Kerry, who has bumbled through a string of propaganda fiascos on Ukraine, decries Russia’s RT network as a “propaganda bullhorn” that Americans should ignore – just trust what the U.S. government tells you.  Right!

By Ray McGovern

When specialists with a good sense of history insist that war with Russia is “not unthinkable” precipitated by events in Ukraine, one should take careful note. The “not unthinkable” quote is from pre-eminent American historian of Russia, Stephen F. Cohen, who recently appeared with John J. Mearsheimer, historian of U.S. foreign policy, on RT’s Crosstalk.

First MAJOR Casualty of Ukraine Unrest

Killing Putin-Obama ‘Trust’

By Ray McGovern

April 28, 2014

Editor Note: Last year, Russian President Putin and U.S. President Obama became a geopolitical odd couple as they worked to cool off hotspots such as Syria and Iran. But U.S. hawks succeeded in killing that collaboration via the crisis in Ukraine, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern explains.

* * *

“Putin will not talk to Obama under pressure,” American journalist Josh Rogin was told late last week by a close associate of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. If Russia’s President will no longer call or accept calls from the President Obama, this strikes me as the most important casualty so far from U.S.-provoked “regime change” in Ukraine. Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin apparently had conversations on Ukraine almost every week in March; their last talk took place on April 14.

Ukraine in Context of Other Major Missed Opportunities

 

Trying Not to Give Peace a Chance

April 20, 2014

Editor Comment: The trust between President Obama and President Putin helped avert a U.S. war on Syria and get Iran to agree to limit its nuclear program, but the neocon-driven crisis in Ukraine has dashed hopes of building on that success for a more peaceful world.

By Ray McGovern

The unnecessary and regrettable conflict between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine brings to mind sad remembrances of important junctures at which I watched – as a citizen and a CIA analyst – chances for genuine peace with Russia frittered away.

Russian Bear No Like Cookies

 

Ukraine: One ‘Regime Change’ Too Many?

March 1, 2014

Editor Comment:  Russia’s parliament has approved President Putin’s request for the use of force inside neighboring Ukraine, as the latest neocon-approved “regime change” spins out of control and threatens to inflict grave damage on international relations.

By Ray McGovern

Is “regime change” in Ukraine the bridge too far for the neoconservative “regime changers” of Official Washington and their sophomoric “responsibility-to-protect” (R2P) allies in the Obama administration? Have they dangerously over-reached by pushing the putsch that removed duly-elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych?

Russian President Vladimir Putin has given an unmistakable “yes” to those questions – in deeds, not words. His message is clear: “Back off our near-frontier!”

Bobby Gates According to Bobby Gates

 

 


No Tears for the Real Robert Gates

 

 

Editor Comment: In Official Washington, the gap between image and reality can be wide, but there is a virtual canyon separating the mainstream’s awestruck regard for Robert Gates as a “wise man” and his record as a deceitful opportunist known to his former colleagues.

By Ray McGovern

In the early 1970s, I was chief of the CIA’s Soviet Foreign Policy Branch in which Robert M. Gates worked as a young CIA analyst. While it may be true that I was too inexperienced at the time to handle all the management challenges of such a high-powered office, one of the things I did get right was my assessment of Gates in his Efficiency Report.

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