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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.

Drumming Again for War ... on Iran, This Time

Young Neocon Writes & Talks War on Iran
By Ray McGovern
I guess I was naïve in thinking that The Atlantic and its American-Israeli writer Jeffrey Goldberg might shy away from arguing for yet another war — this one with Iran — while the cauldrons are still boiling in Afghanistan and Iraq. Even world-class chutzpah must have its limits, I had thought.
I was reflecting on the bizarre ways in which Goldberg helped to make the case for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. For instance, on Oct. 3, 2002, as America’s war fever was building just a week before Congress caved to the President, Goldberg wrote in Slate, the online magazine:
“The [Bush] administration is planning … to launch what many people would undoubtedly call a short-sighted and inexcusable act of aggression. In five years, however, I believe that the coming invasion of Iraq will be remembered as an act of profound morality.”

Ray McGovern Talk at Today's Rally for Bradley Manning

Brief remarks given at the rally for Bradley Manning earlier this afternoon in Quantico, where he is imprisoned. The rally was sponsored by Code Pink, Veterans for Peace, and The Courage to Resist.

Turns out the woman mayor of Quantico is not afraid of the Marines. After the Marines initially denied permission for the rally, Mayor Iris Tharp overruled them, issued a permit, and invited us to hold the rally in a beautiful municipal park on the Potomac.

CNN and other media covered the event. I did not do a count, but it looked as though there were about 150 Justice people at the rally.

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Quantico, Virginia
August 8, 2010
Rally in Support of Private Manning
Remarks by Ray McGovern

Lancing the Boil

We are living in a liminal time, that is to say we live on the threshold. So much that we have taken for granted is passing.

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