Ray McGovern, Speaking Truth to Power

You Shall Know The Truth And The Truth Shall Set You Free reads the marble inscription at the entrance to the CIA. This maxim has inspired Ray McGovern, the 27-year CIA veteran and vocal opponent of the Bush Administration, to acts of courageous dissent in these times of ever increasing tyranny and erosion of civil liberties.

     For thinking citizens worldwide, Ray McGovern is proving to be a vociferous exemplar that persons on the side of Truth can follow in combating oppressive elements in our society. McGovern's actions in the face (literally) of administration officials is a clarion call to people who are honestly seeking to engage in proactive countermeasures against the onslaughts of the criminal cabal and its Bush junta puppets.

McGovern, born and raised in the Bronx, graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and later completed an M.A. in Russian Studies. He also received a certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown University and was a graduate of the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program. Designated a Distinguished Military Graduate at Fordham, he was commissioned upon graduation and served as an infantry/intelligence officer in the US Army from 1962-64.

Under the Kennedy administration, he served in the Central Intelligence Agency as a Russian foreign policy analyst. His career spanned seven presidents until his retirement during Bush I's reign. McGovern was one of President Ronald Reagan's intelligence briefers through the early and mid-eighties and later, under Bush Sr., was one of several senior CIA analysts who prepared the President's Daily Brief.

     McGovern was awarded the Intelligence Commendation Medal from Bush I, which he later returned during the Bush II administration with a denunciation of current American policy: "I do not wish to be associated, however remotely, with an agency engaged in torture." His statement of rejection of the medal concluded: "This is an order of magnitude different from my experiences in the past--there has been torture before, but never before has it been ordered and openly justified."

     A forerunner in speaking out against contrived intelligence reports to justify an illegal war against Iraq, McGovern helped found the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), a group of current and former officials of the United States Intelligence Community. VIPS was initiated in January of 2003 with the stated mission "to speak out on the use of intelligence to justify the war." The group now includes over 35 former professionals from CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Army Intelligence, the FBI, and the National Security Agency. VIPS’ first effort (of ten thus far) was a same-day critique of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s address to the UN on February 5, 2003.

     In addition to co-authoring some of VIPS’ public statements, Ray has published some 20 op-eds over the past year on intelligence-related issues. These have appeared in newspapers and journals around the world: The Birmingham News, The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, The Miami Herald, Die Sueddeutsche Zeitung, The International Herald Tribune, and Der Berliner Tagespiegel, for example.

     Over the past several months, he and his VIPS colleagues have made numerous TV, radio and lecture appearances in the US and Europe. They also have appeared in several recent video documentaries, notably: “Uncovered: the Whole Truth About the Iraq War” (Robert Greenwald) and “Break the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror” (John Pilger).

A few people try to question McGovern's integrity as a genuine patriot, presuming that his past life as a "professional spook," one of many agents embroiled in a network of governmental distortions in a shadow world of cold war tactics, discredits him entirely. McGovern, however, is an old-fashioned professional, one of a dying breed who take pride in personal integrity and a continuing search for Truth.

McGovern was interviewed in June 2003 by William Pitt. Pitt asked about the prior intelligence indicating that "Bin Laden was determined to strike in the US" and posited the statement, "There are people in America who believe this kind of behavior was deliberate, the administration was repeatedly warned and nothing was done about those warnings. It smacks of deliberate policy for a lot of people. This is the current World Heavyweight Champion of conspiracy theories."

McGovern's response: "In this, I am an adherent of the charitable interpretation, and that comes down to gross incompetence. They just didn't know what to do. Look at who was in charge there. You have Condoleezza Rice. She knows a lot about Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, but she has no idea about terrorism. She had this terrorism dossier that Clinton NSC director Sandy Berger left behind, and by her own admission she didn't get to it. 'It was still on my desk when September 11 happened,' she said. They didn't take this thing seriously."

     Fast-forward to May 4th, 2006 and the Atlanta Southern Center for International Studies, when McGovern confronted Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld over prewar claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

"I would like to ask you to be up front with the American people," McGovern began. "Why did you lie to get us into a war that was not necessary and that has caused these kinds of casualties? Why?"

     A day later, May 5th, McGovern appeared on the Democracy Now news broadcast. When Amy Goodman, journalist and host of the award-winning news program, asked him to comment on the event, McGovern had this to say: "Well, Amy, just listening to this little clip here, I find it scary. These were ostensibly educated normal people, and their reaction was very much like the one that Goebbels stirred up. You can see it was a very unfriendly audience to anyone who posed any kind of question to the Defense Secretary. So--and listening to it, I'm sort of scared, because if this is indicative of the brainwashing that has taken place, it's going be a long, long struggle to speak truth to power. . ."

By Jason Elder and Brooks Bradsher