Former CIA analyst decries ‘corruption’
Ray McGovern spent 27 years working for the Central Intelligence Agency. To Tom Imhoff, that made him “one of the bad guys.”
Imhoff is a Chico State philosophy professor and member of the University’s Peace Institute, and it was his job to introduce McGovern to an overflow audience in Chico State’s Modoc 114 Tuesday night (Oct. 23). He explained that he’d learned earlier that evening that there are two sections of the CIA: the analytical arm and “the assassins.”
McGovern was a CIA analyst before he retired in 1990. Since then he’s been active in the peace and social-justice movement, all the while maintaining close ties to many of the well-informed in Washington, D.C.
His topic was “Democratic Dissent in a Time of War,” and he began by talking about the way President Bush and Vice President Cheney brought a kind of “faith-based decision making” to intelligence gathering.
McGovern did so by telling a joke.
“Two nuns driving home from Belfast Hospital ran out of petrol, so they checked under the bonnet—the hood—for a gas tank,” he began, speaking with a heavy Irish accent as if he were back in the Bronx, where he grew up. “No tank, but there was a bedpan from the hospital.
“A nun was trying to pour gas from the bedpan into the car, and a limousine, a big fancy one, stops. Who else but the Rev. Ian Paisley, leader of the Protestant Church, rolls down his window and says, ‘I don’t agree with your religion, but I do admire your faith.’ “
When the laughs subsided, McGovern said that after 9/11, the faith-based intelligence that led the U.S. to war in Iraq was equivalent to what Paisley thought was in the bedpan—a load of piss.
In February 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell told the American people Iraq was not a threat. Then, just six weeks before 9/11, in July 2001, Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, went on record stating the U.S. would “be able to keep arms from” Saddam Hussein.
“But after 9/11,” McGovern led, “everything…?”
“Changed,” the audience followed.
Why didn’t any American journalist report on these sound bytes, which now can be found on YouTube?
His answer: Either no one did, or someone did and was censored by an editor, he said. It’s a scary thought, but there’s “no real sense of a free press in this country.” It was fearless journalism that got the U.S. out of Vietnam and exposed Watergate, he said. Today, we have the Internet.
The CIA knew Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction because it had an inside source. “Some of my former colleagues recruited an agent,” McGovern said. “They pulled all the tricks; it took lots of money.
“Anyone know who it was? The Iraqi foreign minister, Naji Sabri, worked for us.”
When the CIA briefed the president in July 2002, they told him Sabri knew there were no WMDs. “It’s not about WMDs; it’s about regime change,” McGovern said. “The intelligence and facts were fixed around the policy.”
In 2003, McGovern, along with other former CIA employees, founded the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group devoted to exposing the mishandling of intelligence.
Corruption has led Americans to a state of “unreasoned patience,” McGovern said. We cannot afford to sit idly by like Germans in the 1930s did: “The parallel with Nazi Germany is all too correct.”
Americans need to circle up in communities around the country and form “engagement rings,” he said. “Engage weekly. And there must be at least one woman in your group, because it’s the women who lead the movement for social justice.”