One-On-One Interview With Ray McGovern, Former CIA Senior Analyst, Who Warns U.S. Headed Down A Fascist Road And Highly Critical Of President Bush and Neo Con Explanations OF WMD, 9/11 And Manipulation of Intelligence Gathering
McGovern says back in the 'old days' he told it straight,' an integrity trait sorely lacking at the CIA under the dogmatic Bush administration.
July 2, 2005
By Greg Szymanski
Ray McGovern’s Irish eyes were smiling the moment he joined the CIA as a young, principled and energetic analyst during the Kennedy administration.
The Fordham College graduate, born in the Bronx, went on to have an illustrious career, spanning seven Presidents and dealing with top Russian intelligence issues, saying he always "told it straight," an integrity trait he claims sorely missing under the dogmatic Bush administration.
But McGovern is a man blessed with integrity, a man born with the luck of the Irish and a four leaf clover in his pocket, considering he survived numerous one-on-one daily Presidential briefings and even toe-to-toe battles with Henry Kissinger.
That, however, was back in the ‘old days’ when he said CIA analysts still were allowed to present the truth, live up to the U.S. Constitution and not be sent packing if they did. That, he adds, was back in the days when a man was still able to go home after a long day’s work, look at himself in the mirror and even crack a smile.
But after 27 years of distinguished service ending right after the cold war, the retired and highly decorated senior analyst isn’t smiling anymore. He hasn’t been smiling since the "crazies", as he calls them, returned to Washington.
In fact, he hasn’t cracked a wide open Irish smile at all since the return of the neo-cons, returning like a bad B movie and putting a strange evangelical stranglehold on the two things he cherishes most: the CIA and the Constitution.
With the neo con invasion of political animals void of dignity and truth, the highly articulate and analytical thinker probably can’t help himself from searching for that special four leaf clover in his pocket or wondering if the luck of the Irish finally has run out on America.
And he probably can’t help himself from saying an extra prayer to St. Patrick at night, asking him to block the fascist path taken by the neo cons and to restore some semblance of honor, dignity and truth to the agency and country he loves dearly.
But at a time when emotions are running high and patience low, talking to McGovern is like talking to a breadth of fresh air and steady voice of reason, a calm and patient voice who insists on gathering all the facts but nevertheless demanding nothing less than the truth.
He is a man who analyzes first, talks later and never bends reality to fit a political policy, calling that "the cardinal sin’ in the intelligence gathering community, a sin the Bush administration recently committed when assessing WMD intelligence concerning the Iraqi invasion.
Recently, McGovern has helped lead the charge, along with a number of Democratic Congressmen and other high-powered civic leaders, demanding an open and honest investigation into allegations President Bush doctored WMD intelligence reports to justify war and essentially lied to the American people and Congress.
The serious allegations, which could send our gun-slinging President down the lonely path of impeachment, are coming on the heels of authenticated - official documentation - from the chief of British intelligence, Sir Richard Deerlove, claiming Bush "fixed the intelligence reports (WMD) around the (Iraqi war) policy."
The controversy has created an uproar among millions of Americans seeking truth and at least 122 Congressmen seeking to open an official investigation with subpoena power, asking Bush, Condaleeza Rice, Dick Cheney, former CIA chief George Tenet and others to come clean about the allegations of doctored WMD intelligence data.
"Wouldn’t it be better if rather than making $30,000 speeches, George Tenet came before Congress and the American people and told us about the conversation he had, or didn’t have, with the head of British intelligence regarding the WMD issue," said McGovern this week in a lengthy telephone conversation regarding a wide variety of subjects, including the infamous Downing Street Memo, a document which has even been authenticated by Prime Minister Tony Blair.
"Other people ask me, well, maybe President Bush wasn’t aware of Iraqi intelligence. What a question! To those critics I simply ask: What’s worse, I ask you? A President who lied to the American people about what he knew or a President who made a decision to send innocent Americans to war without knowing or even bothering to uncover the truth? This is why we need to know the truth and set the record straight and nothing less is acceptable."
And when it comes to the war in Iraq, the Downing Street Memo, doctored WMD intelligence gathering, political compromising within the CIA, stolen elections, 9/11, the fall of the Fourth Estate and other assorted neo con scandals, McGovern really demands only two things: let the truth be told and those who don’t be damned.
"It’ a cardinal sin in the intelligence community to cook the books for a recipe of political power," said McGovern. "And that’s what these highly sensitive documents are telling us. Thank god for the whistleblower that came forward and leaked the documents otherwise we may have never known the real truth.
Besides taking an active role in alerting America about a breach of ethics within the CIA and an abuse of Presidential power, McGovern never has changed course regarding his respect for the law and the importance of a President living up to the cherished words written buy our Founding fathers.
"I supported the impeachment of Nixon and took heat from my liberal friends for supporting Clinton’s impeachment," said McGovern. "The allegations against President Bush are, in comparison, far more serious since they go to the heart of Article 1 of the Constitution and to the heart of what the Founding Fathers wanted to protect against. And, that being, a King or ruler, like existed in England at the time revolution, ever be allowed in America to declare war on a whim or by his own choosing.
"But if these highly credible documents prove true, this is exactly what President Bush decided to do when he lied to Congress and the American people, leading us into a war based on his own political agenda.
"It appeared he tried to use all agencies of government to trick Congress into declaring war. So, regarding impeachment, let the American people and Congress be the judge after an honest investigation is held."
Turning to the subject he holds most dear, McGovern offered his criticism and recommendations for cleaning up the CIA and protecting against organizational changes in the intelligence gathering community, claiming both problems need immediate attention.
"We are now left with people at CIA who now trim their sails with only what the administration wants to hear," said McGovern, adding the cream no longer rises to the top at the CIA, being replaced with government hacks intending to bend the department’s will and integrity into to nothing but a political sounding board.
"And this type of politicking is dangerous, dangerous for our country and dangerous for the world. In my day, I would go toe-to toe with the likes of Kissinger before the end of the cold war. When I got back to the office, my boss would say, ‘Did you win, Ray?’ And I would tell him no, but then he would ask, ‘Did you tell the truth, Ray?’ And I would say of course I did and then he would smile and say, ‘Good job, Ray. Give ‘em hell!
McGovern then paused a moment, adding:
"This type of independent thinking, vital for the health of our nation, is gone. Now we have individuals bubbling to the top of the CIA who are being pressured right in the halls of the CIA with the likes of Cheney standing over their shoulders and, of course, bending to that political pressure and passing it down.
"In the 27 years I worked at CIA I never saw a sitting Vice President walk through our offices. But since the Bush administration, I personally know of at least seven trips made by Cheney to CIA obviously with the intent of pushing around his political muscle.
Regarding the recent 9/11 Commission’s drastic recommendations for intelligence gathering methods adopted by the administration now bundling domestic and foreign services under one department head, McGovern claims the so-called reforms have made the situation worse.
"What you have is a body of former somebody’s who know nothing about intelligence gathering now making recommendations about improving it," said McGovern, referring to the members of the 9/11 Commission.
Taking an enormous subject and condensing it down to its basic elements as only a true CIA analyst could do, McGovern said the words of retired Army Gen. William Odom, once head of Army intelligence, explains the flawed intelligence gathering design under Bush in a single sentence.
"No organizational design will compensate for incompetent encumbrance."
Bringing up 9/11 only since Bush referred to it repeatedly in his recent speech to the nation justifying the continuance of the unpopular Iraqi war, McGovern said it’s the last policy strategy the administration has left in its political arsenal since the WMD threat looms as Bush’s "Achilles Heel."
"This is really all they have left but even 9/11 presents another serious case of many unanswered questions," said McGovern. "Why are there so many unanswered questions that George W. Bush will not answer?
"When you have so many loose ends and unanswered questions, it creates nothing but suspicion. In fact, I applaud all the serious people trying to get to the bottom of the truth about 9/11, despite the media blackout, which is another serious issue facing the American people."
Besides delving into the obvious inconsistencies in the government’s official story about the manner in which the WTC fell and the breakdown of air traffic defense systems,. McGovern turned to the actions of the President on the morning of 9/11 when he sat before a group of school children in a Florida elementary school.
"Why is it he remained for 25 minutes after being alerted about the attack," questioned McGovern, adding when in the background at first Secret Service agents could be heard saying ‘let’s get out of here.’ "Obviously, they were overruled by somebody, somebody who knew something.
"Now, think about it, America is under attack and they have to be thinking, ‘we need to get the President out for his own protection.’ Why would they let him remain unless they knew he was safe and actually knew what was going on?
Asked if this also put a group of school children and an entire elementary school also in danger, McGovern added:
"I never thought of that. But it’s true. Why would he jeopardize the lives of innocent children unless someone knew something?"
Presently, McGovern is putting the finishing touches on a book titled "Neo-Conned published by Light in the Darkness Publishers. He recently released in advance a chapter prior to the book’s August 2005 release date, regarding the Downing Street Memo called "Sham Dunk: Cooking Intelligence for the President.
In January 2003, he also formed a group called Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) after realizing the CIA was being corrupted by political pressure.
VIPS now has more than 50 members, including former professionals from the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of States Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Army Intelligence, the FBI, the National Security Agency as well as other U.S. intelligence agencies, all who have become extremely dissatisfied with the corruption now existing in the intelligence community.
McGovern now works at ‘Tell the Word,’ a publishing ministry of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. He writes and speaks for the arm of Tell the Word called ‘Speaking Truth to Power’ and many of his articles on intelligence issues have appeared regularly in national publications.
Reminding everyone what he stands for and what the CIA should embody, a statement in his biography provides an excellent clue:
"The ethos of intelligence analysis in those days (the days McGovern worked in the CIA) was reflected in the scripture passage chiseled into the marble entrance to CIA headquarters. ‘You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’
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