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Rise of Another CIA Yes Man

The Rise of Another CIA Yes Man

By Ray McGovern

August 29, 2011

Editor’s Note(Consortiumnews.com): The gross manipulation of CIA analysis under George W. Bush pushed a new generation of “yes men” into the agency’s top ranks. Now one of those aspiring bureaucrats will be Gen. David Petraeus’s right-hand man, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern. (Also, at end of article, see special comments from several former CIA insiders.)

As Gen. David Petraeus prepares to take the helm at CIA in September, he can expect unswerving loyalty from his likely deputy, Michael Morell, who has been acting director since July when Leon Panetta left to become Secretary of Defense. 

Like many senior CIA officials in recent years, Morell’s record is checkered, at best. He held key jobs in intelligence analysis over the past decade as the CIA often served as a handmaiden to the war propagandists.

Lemmingly, We Roll Along; More to Die in Vain

Lemmingly, We Roll Along

Ray McGovern

When soldiers die, the politicians who sent them to their deaths typically use euphemisms and circumlocutions — like “lost,” “fallen,” or “ultimate sacrifice.” On one level, the avoidance of blunt language can be seen as a sign of respect, but on another, it is just one more evasion of responsibility for the snuffing out of young lives.

There has been unusually wide (and for the most part supportive) reaction to my article of August 8 (They Died in Vain: Deal With It) on the killing of 30 American troops when their helicopter was shot down over Afghanistan on the night of the 6th.  One website posting the article clocked 181 comments; scanning through them, I found many substantive, helpful ones.

Let me share one telling comment, which seemed to me particularly — if sadly — apt:

Richard Clarke Accuses Ex-CIA Chief of Hiding Key Pre-9/11 Info

Did Tenet Hide Key Info on 9/11?

By Ray McGovern

(Note: some of this commentary was included in David Swanson's blog earlier today)

With few exceptions, like some salacious rumor about the Kennedy family, the mainstream U.S. news media has shown little interest in stories that throw light on history — even recent, very relevant history. So it comes as no surprise that, when a former White House counter-terrorism czar accuses an ex-CIA director of sitting on information that could have prevented a 9/11 attack, the story gets neither ink nor air.

On the Unnecessary Death of 30 Soldiers

They Died in Vain; Deal With It

By Ray McGovern

 

Many of those preaching at American church services Sunday extolled as “heroes” the 30 American and 8 Afghan troops killed Saturday west of Kabul, when a helicopter on a night mission crashed, apparently after taking fire from Taliban forces.  This week, the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) can be expected to beat a steady drumbeat of “they shall not have died in vain.”

 

But they did.  I know it is a hard truth, but they did die in vain.

 

As in the past, churches across the country will keep praising the fallen troops for protecting “our way of life,” and few can demur, given the tragic circumstances.

 

Obama Blows a Judas Kiss to the Poor

Obama Blows a Judas Kiss to the Poor

By Ray McGovern

 

The unconscionable result of the manufactured crisis over the debt ceiling shows that the political Right knows how to play hardball, and that President Obama and his hapless party know how to get rolled.  There are other options; and we, the people, need to press them home.

 

 The Obama-brokered deal on debt and spending was certainly what the Germans call eine schwere Geburt (a difficult birth); this one should have been aborted.

 

The Obama surrender reminds me of a sermon that Dr. Martin Luther King gave during the turbulent 1950s, in which he peered into the future and issued a prescient warning:

 

“A nation or a civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.”

 

Is Jerry Brown a "Fallen-Away" Follower of Ignatius? (rev. 7/23)

Editor's Note (Consortiumnews.com): Re. Ray McGovern Challenge to Gov. Brown on Prisons

In recent weeks prisoners in California's over-crowded prison system have been on hunger strikes demanding more humane treatment. This crisis has prompted Jesuit-schooled, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern to write an open letter — an appeal for justice — to California Gov. Jerry Brown, who also studied with the Jesuits.

July 22, 2011

Dear Gov. Brown,

Is Gov. Jerry Brown: A "Fallen-Away" Jesuit?

 

Editor's Note (Consortiumnews.com): Re. Ray McGovern Challenge to Gov. Brown on Prisons

In recent weeks prisoners in California's over-crowded prison system have been on hunger strikes demanding more humane treatment. This crisis has prompted Jesuit-schooled, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern to write an open letter — an appeal for justice — to California Gov. Jerry Brown, who also studied with the Jesuits.

 

July 22, 2011

 

Dear Gov. Brown,

 

I’m thinking that the Jesuits who educated you probably told you, as they did me, that Ignatius of Loyola required all Jesuits, including the highly educated ones, to empty bedpans at local hospitals and prisons on a regular basis.

 

We "Audacity of Hope" Boaters: From "High-Seas Hippies" to "Fools & Knaves"

Neocons Fume Over US Boat to Gaza

Editor Note (Consortiumnews): At the behest of Tel Aviv and Washington, Greek authorities stopped a small flotilla from sailing to Gaza in a challenge to Israel’s four-year blockade of the narrow strip of land and its 1.6 million people. Now, apologists for Israel’s right-wing Likud government are heaping scorn on the passengers, as Ray McGovern notes.

By Ray McGovern

July 16, 2011

My co-passengers and I of the U.S. Boat to Gaza have now gone from “High-Seas Hippies,” according to the right-wing Washington Times, to participants in a flotilla full of “fools, knaves, hypocrites, bigots, and supporters of terrorism,” says Alan Dershowitz in his usual measured prose.

A Gaza Cri de Coeur

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Gaza: Cradle of Killing — Americans Too
By Ray McGovern
June 18, 2011

Stuffing my backpack before setting out to board “The Audacity of Hope,” the U.S. boat to Gaza, I got a familiar-sounding call from yet another puzzled friend, who said as gently as the words allow, “You know you can get killed, don’t you?”

I recognize this caution as an expression of genuine concern from friends. From some others — who don’t much care about Gaza’s plight and/or who do not wish us well — the words are phrased somewhat differently: “Aren’t you just asking for it?”

That was the obligatory question/accusation at the end of a recent interview of me that was taped for a BBC-TV special scheduled to air this coming week as we try to break — or at least draw attention to — Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza and the suffering it inflicts on the people there.

"Love Your Enemies?" Oh, Please! Don't Be "Quaint"

Gen. Keane Still Keen on Attacking Iran

By Ray McGovern

June 6, 2011

Celebrating a golden anniversary reunion with classmates from Fordham College
(class of 1961) on a perfect June day in New York should be a time of pure
Gaudeamus Igitur and little or no stress.

I should have known better that to attend a long lecture by Jack Keane, a retired
four-star general of Fordham Business School’s class of 1966. Actually, I did know
better; but I went anyway. I felt I could risk going to hear Keane’s slant on the world
because, prior to my upcoming Mediterranean cruise to Gaza, my cardiologist had
pronounced my blood pressure under control. I felt as good, and energized, as 50
years ago.

Keane, now a member of Fordham’s Board of Trustees, has been the go-to general
for the neoconservatives in recent years. He indicated that he was about to catch
a flight to Europe where he would lobby leaders of the 41 NATO countries who,

Don't Shoot Up "The Audacity of Hope"

Obama, Tell Netanyahu – Don’t Mess With Flotilla to Gaza

Ed. Note: The U.S. boat, “The Audacity of Hope,” will depart for Gaza next month with 50 on board, including Ray McGovern, who wrote this open letter to President Barack Obama after watching his speech Thursday on the Middle East. Speaking for passengers and crew, McGovern asks the President to serve notice on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday that Obama will hold him accountable for ensuring safe passage.

May 19, 2011

Dear Mr. President:

Your speech on the Middle East earlier today emboldens me to claim your protection as we set out to put flesh on your rhetoric. Fifty of your fellow citizens will be sailing on “The Audacity of Hope” to Gaza in June.

Fresh White House Exegesis: Delete "Love Your Enemies;" Paste In "An Eye for An Eye"

What Has Bin Laden's Killing Wrought?

By Ray McGovern
May 6, 2011

As America’s morbid celebrations over the killing of Osama bin Laden begin to fade, we are left with a new landscape of risks – and opportunities – created by his slaying at the hands of a U.S. Special Forces team at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The range of those future prospects could be found in Wednesday’s Washington Post. On the hopeful side, a front-page article reported that the Obama administration was following up bin Laden’s death with accelerated peace talks in Afghanistan. On a darker note, a Post editorial hailed bin Laden’s slaying as a model for “targeting” Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and his sons.

Petraeus's Dilemma: Admit Afghan "Progress" Illusory; or Purge CIA Analysts

Obama’s CIA pick has Afghan war bias

By Ray McGovern

Atlanta Journal Constitution Op-Ed

May 5, 2011

President Barack Obama’s nomination of Gen. David Petraeus to be CIA director raises troubling questions for anyone familiar with the need for tell-it-like-it-is intelligence analysis.

Sadly, the selection of Petraeus suggests that the president places little value on getting the objective analysis that was originally the CIA’s raison d’etre — the kind that could (and often did) challenge more narrowly focused views of the Pentagon. What could Obama have been thinking in giving the top CIA job to the general with the most incentive to gild the lily regarding “progress” made under his command?

Shocker! Iraq War WAS About Oil, After All

Surprise, Surprise! Iraq War Was About Oil

By Ray McGovern
April 22, 2011

Afghanistan may be the graveyard of empires, but Iraq is home to a graveyard sense of humor. Iraqis wonder aloud whether the U.S. and Britain would have invaded Iraq if its main export had been cabbages instead of oil.

However obvious the answer, a remarkable array of American pundits and pseudo-savants have resisted giving the oil factor any pride of place among the motives behind the U.S./U.K. decision to invade Iraq in 2003. To this day, the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) continue to play the accustomed role as government accomplice suppressing unwelcome news.

So, if you don’t tune in to Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now or read the British press, you will have missed the latest documentary evidence showing that Great Britain’s Lords and Ladies lied about how big oil companies, like BP, lusted after Iraqi oil in the months leading up to the attack on Iraq.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to Military Tribunal Makes It Easier to Hide 9/11 Motives

Military Tribunal May Keep 9/11 Motives Hidden

By Ray McGovern

The Obama administration’s decision to use a military tribunal rather than a federal criminal court to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others means the real motives behind the 9/11 attacks may remain obscure.

The Likud Lobby and their allied U.S. legislators can chalk up a significant victory for substantially shrinking any opportunity for the accused planners of 9/11 to tell their side of the story.

What? I sense some bristling. “Their side of the story?” Indeed! We’ve been told there is no “their side of the story.”

Bromides Vice Explanations

For years, President George W. Bush got away with offering up the risible explanation that they “hate our freedoms.” The stenographers of the White House press corps may have had to suppress smiles but silently swallowed the “they-hate-us-for-our-freedoms” rationale.

Obama & Afghanistan: Through a Dark Glass Not So Clearly

Obama Muddling Thru Afghan War, But Clearly
By Ray McGovern

“Let me be clear,” President Barack Obama is fond of saying. And his desire was on full display two years ago when he announced a “comprehensive, new strategy” for the war in Afghanistan — but only in the rhetoric.

Obama laced his speech of March 27, 2009, with nine uses of the words “clear” or “clearly,” but his protestations about clarity looked more like a smokescreen to obscure the image of him lurching naively into a Vietnam-style quagmire.

After his first “clearly” and just before the first “let me be clear,” Obama posed two rhetorical questions to which he promised a clear answer:

“What is our purpose in Afghanistan? … Why do our men and women still fight and die there? The [American people] deserve a straightforward answer.”

War Enthusiast & Silent Witness: Hillary & Ray

The Push of Conscience & Secretary Clinton

By Ray McGovern
February 23, 2011

It was not until Secretary of State Hillary Clinton walked to the George Washington University podium last week to enthusiastic applause that I decided I had to dissociate myself from the obsequious adulation of a person responsible for so much death, suffering and destruction.

I was reminded of a spring day in Atlanta almost five years earlier when then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld strutted onto a similar stage to loud acclaim from another enraptured audience.

Introducing Rumsfeld on May 4, 2006, the president of the Southern Center for International Policy in Atlanta highlighted his “honesty.” I had just reviewed my notes for an address I was scheduled to give that evening in Atlanta and, alas, the notes demonstrated his dishonesty.

Valentine's Day: A Time to Mourn

Mourning Iraqi Wives, Children on Valentine’s Day

By Ray McGovern
February 14, 2011

Twenty years ago, as Americans were celebrating Valentine’s Day, Iraqi husbands and fathers in the Amiriyah section of Baghdad were peeling the remains of their wives and children off the walls and floor of a large neighborhood bomb shelter.

The men had left the shelter the evening before, so their wives would have some measure of privacy as they sought refuge from the U.S.-led coalition bombing campaign, which was at its most intense pre-ground-war stage.

All of the more than 400 women and children were incinerated or boiled to death at 4:30 a.m. on Feb. 13, 1991, when two F-117 stealth fighter-bombers each dropped a 2,000-pound laser-guided “smart bomb” on the civilian shelter at Amiriyah.

Flak Flies When One Brings in the Elephant

Speaking of Israel
Ray McGovern

I had two hours Friday evening on talk radio (KGO AM, Bay Area) to make some comments about what one might expect from Israel in reaction to the uprising in Cairo and the likely spread of unrest to Jordan and other countries. I think this is one $64 question.

Israel is already the big loser here (and I mean BIG). The Israelis have seldom been so isolated, having forfeited their important friendship with the Turks; having had to look on as Hezbollah has become even more powerful in Lebanon; having watched a very spooked King next door in Jordan; and having witnessed the unceremonious exit of Mubarak, who for three decades turned his back on the Palestinians and acquiesced in Israeli regional hegemony. Adding to the misery, this time the revolution WAS televised!

Bush Afraid to Travel Abroad — With Good Reason

America's Stay-at-Home Ex-President

By Ray McGovern

As the news broke on Saturday that former President George W. Bush had abruptly canceled his scheduled appearance this week in Geneva to avoid the risk of arrest on a torture complaint, my first thought was — how humiliating, not only for Bush but, by extension, for all Americans.

However, those who might have expected Bush to be down in the mouth and sulk about the embarrassment were disabused of that notion as the TV cameras caught him and Condoleezza Rice -- his former national security adviser and Secretary of State -- in seats of honor at Sunday’s Super Bowl in Dallas.

Doomed to become America’s first better-stay-at-home former president, Bush could still take consolation in getting scarce tickets to big sports events – he also attended high-profile Texas Rangers baseball games last year – and he can expect to hear some folks cheer for him, so long as he stays in Texas.

Torture and Faith: Conundrum or Oxymoron?

Torture at 'Justice': Better Not to Ask

By Ray McGovern

On Sunday, I attended an informal talk given in a parish hall by the Justice Department’s Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. His topic: “The way his work for justice is defined by his faith.”

During the Q&A after his talk, I had a chance to pose some questions:

Question: Thanks Tom, for making yourself available to us. You raise the issue of torture, and intimated that there is consensus among Catholics that torture is wrong. Polling conducted two years ago indicates that this is far from the case.

Into the Valley of Death Rode the 140 Thousand

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Obama Should Read WikiLeaks on Afghanistan

By Ray McGovern

Perhaps President Barack Obama should give himself a waiver on the ban prohibiting U.S. government employees from downloading classified cables released by WikiLeaks, so he can get a better grasp on the futility of his Afghan War strategy.

For instance, if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has hidden from him Ambassador Karl Eikenberry’s cables from Kabul, he might wish to search out KABUL 001892 of July 13, 2009, in which Eikenberry reports that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is “unable to grasp the most rudimentary principles of state building.”

And, while he’s at it, he should dig out the September 2009 cable from the U.S. Ambassador in Pakistan, Anne Patterson, in which she warns: “There is no chance that Pakistan will view enhanced assistance … as sufficient compensation for abandoning support to these [Taliban and similar] groups in Pakistan.”

A More Balanced Look at the Late Richard Holbrooke

'Giant' Holbrooke Flunked Afghanistan

By Ray McGovern

President Barack Obama has hailed Richard Holbrooke, who died Monday, as “one of the giants of American foreign policy.” The President’s kudos reflect the Establishment gravitas that Holbrooke, the special envoy overseeing U.S. policies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, acquired in his long career — fact and reason to the contrary.

Apologies to those who think it is boorish to speak in anything but the most glowing terms of dead “giants.” In this case, however, the stakes are so high that it would dishonor the casualties of those ill-conceived policies, were we to yield to convenient convention.
There will be many more dead and wounded in Afghanistan and Pakistan by the time you read this. Sadly, Holbrooke is one of the Establishment “giants” responsible.

In His Own Words: Bush a Warmonger

U.S. Intelligence Thwarted Attack on Iran
By Ray McGovern

Why should George W. Bush have been “angry” to learn in late 2007 of the “high-confidence” unanimous judgment of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon four years earlier? Seems to me he might have said “Hot Dog!” rather than curse under his breath.

Nowhere in his memoir, Decision Points, is Bush’s bizarre relationship with truth so manifest as when he describes his dismay at learning that the intelligence community had redeemed itself for its lies about Iraq by preparing an honest National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. As the Bush-book makes abundantly clear, that NIE rammed an iron rod through the wheels of the juggernaut rolling toward war.

Nowhere is Bush’s abiding conviction clearer, now as then, that his role as “decider” include the option to create his own reality.

Bush Boasts About Waterboarding

Bush Boasts About Waterboarding

By Ray McGovern

Former President George W. Bush continues to be beyond shame. Those favored with an advance copy of his memoir, Decision Points, say it paints a picture of a totally unapologetic Bush bragging, for example, about authorizing the CIA to waterboard 9/11 “mastermind,” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

According to newspaper accounts of the memoir, Bush says he was asked by the CIA for permission to subject KSM to the technique that creates the sensation of imminent drowning. His response was: "Damn right."

For such a frank admission of high-level criminality, we can say, with ample justification, Shame on Bush. But that shame also sticks like Saran wrap to the rest of us – and especially to the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM), which has soft-pedaled the significance of Bush’s confession, and to his make-nice successor, Barack Obama, who has refused to demand any accountability.

Assange Honored by Intelligence Veterans

Julian Assange Honored at London Press Conference
By Ray McGovern

You are not likely to learn this from “mainstream media,’ but WikiLeaks and its leader Julian Assange have received the 2010 Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence award for their resourcefulness in making available secret U.S. military documents on the Iraq and Afghan wars.

If the WikiLeaks documents get the attention they deserve, and if lessons can be learned from the courageous work of former CIA analyst Sam Adams—and from Daniel Ellsberg’s timely leak of Adams’ work in early 1968—even the amateurs in the White House may be able to recognize the folly of widening the war from Afghanistan to adjacent countries. That leak played a key role in dissuading President Lyndon Johnson from approving Gen. William Westmoreland’s request to send 206,000 more troops—not only into the Big Muddy, but also into countries neighboring Vietnam (further detail below in the description of SAAII).

Obama: Wuss in chief

Petraeus Cons Obama on Afghan War
By Ray McGovern

One thing that comes through clearly in Bob Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars, is the contempt felt by Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, toward President Barack Obama.
One of Woodward’s more telling vignettes has Petraeus, after quaffing a glass of wine during a flight in May, telling some of his staff that the administration was “[expletive] with the wrong guy.”
No need to divine precisely what may be the “expletive deleted.” Petraeus’s Douglas-MacArthur-style contempt for the commander-in-chief comes through clearly enough. But Obama is no Harry Truman, facing down a popular general who may fancy himself a future president.
Pity poor Obama. Journalists favored with an advance peek at Woodward’s new book, like Peter Baker of the New York Times, report that Obama last year pressed his advisers to come up with ways to avoid a major escalation in Afghanistan.

What Obama Should Say This Evening, but Won't

What Obama Won't Say Tonight

By Ray McGovern
August 31, 2010

President Barack Obama’s aides say his speech this evening marking the end of “combat operations” in Iraq will avoid the vainglorious aspects of President George W. Bush’s infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech in 2003. We’ll see.

On the chance Obama might be open to pivoting away from the reduction of U.S. troops in Iraq and addressing honestly the worsening quagmire in Afghanistan. I have offered him the following text:

My Fellow Americans,
… so much for Iraq. Turning now to Afghanistan, let me be clear. My learning curve has been steep, as the New York Times noted last weekend. The curve has also been jagged as I have tried to assimilate the not-always-consistent advice the four-star generals have given me.

Obama Boxed in by Generals on Afghanistan

Obama Boxed In by Generals on Afghanistan
By Ray McGovern

Just back from Afghanistan, Marine Commandant, Gen. James Conway held a news conference Tuesday to add his voice to the Pentagon campaign to disparage the July 2011 date President Barack Obama set for U.S. troops to begin leaving Afghanistan.
Conway claimed that intelligence intercepts suggest that this deadline has strengthened the conviction of those resisting the U.S.-led occupation that it is just a matter of time before most foreign forces leave.
Thus, Conway:
“In some ways … it’s probably giving our enemy sustenance. … We think he may be saying to himself … ‘Hey, you know, we only have to hold out for so long.’”
Conway, however, was quick to reassure supporters of the war in Afghanistan that Taliban morale is likely to drop when, “come the fall [of 2011] we’re still there hammering them like we have been.”

Tanks But No Thanks, Gen. Abrams (or) Can Wikileaks Help Save Lives?

Can WikiLeaks Help Save Lives?
By Ray McGovern

If independent-minded Web sites, like WikiLeaks or, say, Consortiumnews.com, existed 43 years ago, I might have risen to the occasion and helped save the lives of some 25,000 U.S. soldiers, and a million Vietnamese, by exposing the lies contained in just one SECRET/EYES ONLY cable from Saigon.
I need to speak out now because I have been sickened watching the herculean effort by Official Washington and our Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) to divert attention from the violence and deceit in Afghanistan, reflected in thousands of U.S. Army documents, by shooting the messenger(s) — WikiLeaks and Pvt. Bradley Manning.
After all the indiscriminate death and destruction from nearly nine years of war, the hypocrisy is all too transparent when WikiLeaks and suspected leaker Manning are accused of risking lives by exposing too much truth.

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