The Story of Ray McGovern
Ray McGovern is a retired CIA analyst where he worked for 27 years for presidential administrations from John F. Kennedy to George H.W. Bush. Ray’s responsibilities at CIA included chairing national intelligence estimates and preparing the president’s daily brief, and that’s the PDB you’ve heard so much about lately. During the mid ‘80s, Ray was one of the senior analysts conducting early morning briefings of the PDB, one on one with the Vice President, the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. Not too bad.
In January 2003, after it had become clear that intelligence analysis was being corrupted by political pressure to justify an unprovoked attack on Iraq , ample intelligence community alumni, including Ray, created Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. VIPS now includes over 50 former professionals from CIA, the defense intelligence agency, the Department of Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research Army Intelligence, the FBI, the NSA and other US Intelligence agencies. In addition to co-authoring most of VIPS’ memoranda, Ray has written a number of articles all around the country and world, in the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, the Miami Herald, the International Herald Tribune—but what have you done lately Ray?
At his retirement ceremony, Ray received the Intelligence Commendation Medal and a letter of gratitude from then President George H.W. Bush wishing Ray well in his transition to nonprofit work. Ray’s upcoming books, that’s two books, Neoconned and Neoconned Again, will be published by Light in the Darkness Publications. It is a comprehensive 2-volume work that deals with the run up to and the aftermath of the Iraq war. He is also going to be testifying this week at the John Conyers’ hearings on the Downing Street Minutes. Mr. McGovern, are you there with us?
I am. Thanks for the invite.
Thanks for coming on. That’s a mouth full, and boy I cut your bio down by about two-thirds. It’s still a mouthful. Man alive—so I’m glad you could be with us here tonight. I have a feeling it’s going to be one of those hours like with Bob Fitrakis where we just got too much to get to. So, hey, have you gotten a look, Ray McGovern, at the breaking news that Raw Story had over there—
Yes, I have.
Let me fill folks in here real quickly—Ministers were warned—this is from the London Times Online, which I believe is Rupert Murdoch’s paper, is it not? Yes, I believe it is. It says “Ministers were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq . They had no choice, but to find a way of making it legal. The warning in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, this is just out in the Sunday Times, but we got it minutes ago, said that Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W. Bush 3 months earlier. The briefing paper for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that “since regime change was illegal, it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal”. Are you surprised, Ray?
Not at all, and those words that you just quoted, “it is necessary to create the conditions,” I wonder how many of your listeners remember that that is precisely the same phraseology used by our infamous General Jeffrey Miller, who was put in charge of Guantanamo and later Abu Ghraib, and his big stick was “creating conditions necessary for successful interrogation.” So what we have here is, in the macrocosm, the quote you just made, “create the conditions for war,” or to put a legal imprint on this illegal war, and when that settles down into the prisons of this war with the POWs, it creates the conditions for a kind of interrogations that require torture.
So it’s really an unnerving phrase and I was really struck by it. But the news itself is not all that new. It is kind of confusing now, so let me just backtrack. There are two documents in question here, one is the famous, now, Downing Street Memo, which is really the minutes of this particular meeting on 23 July 2002, and that those minutes report pretty much verbatim what the head of British Intelligence had to say when he briefed Tony Blair, as this head of British Intelligence was fresh back from Washington consultations with George Tenet, then head of the CIA, and other senior officials, and his big report of course was that President George W. Bush had decided there was going to be a war, and it was going to be for regime change, but we are going to “justify” it by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD, WMD being the weapons of mass destruction. What that means, of course, is that they are going to say, one, that Saddam Hussein has WMD and two, he is likely to give them to terrorists, you know those terrorists that the president keeps talking about. That’s the conjunction, a total illusion, but that’s the way he sold it to the American people and three, when Jack Straw, the foreign minister objects and says, you know the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction, that is “thin” – that’s the word he used.
And the head of British Intelligence said no problem, the intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy. Now, we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity have been saying that for 3 years. The circumstantial evidence was overwhelming. Never in our wildest dreams did we think that we would ever see it in black and white, in a very classified, highly classified secret document by either the UK or by the US, and there it is hanging right out there. Before I forget, one very important aspect of all this is that it took a very courageous, what Dan Ellsberg and I call “a patriotic leaker,” okay, a very, very courageous person within the UK apparatus to leak that document and then the subsequent story— because in Britain there is no First Amendment—it is 2 years, at least, the first time you open your mouth and divulge an official secret, they have the Official Secrets Act. So they haven’t caught him or her yet, and I hope they never do, but let it be said right out front, that if we didn’t have this patriotic leaker, we would not have the documentary proof that the President—well let’s just say it friends—that the President lied through his teeth to justify an unprovoked war against a country that happened to have a lot of oil.
Now, yeah, you got that right and I wish there were more folks coming out of the woodwork. Speaking of which, you were a CIA analyst for 27 years, where are all the folks within the CIA, where are the Deep Throats there, coming out to say, “no we didn’t get the intelligence wrong, they twisted it, and they fixed the facts”. Where are those guys? What I was wondering is, that we had somebody leak the Downing Street Minutes and I’m wondering are we going to hear—you suppose from folks in the CIA and I know one of the things you’ve been on about for awhile is the politicization of the CIA—where are the deep throats coming out of the CIA to say, “look man we didn’t get this intelligence wrong, they twisted it, they “fixed it” around the policy”. Where are these people [and why aren’t they] stepping forward?
Yeah, , that is the question I dread. I dread it because the answer is that there are very few left within the intelligence community who grew up with the ethos that we did, you know. You shall know the truth, you shall report the truth without fear of favor, just the facts, and you would have career protection for doing that. That’s not the case any longer. So that’s the most important factor.
I mean have these people all been purged, I mean surely there are still good men and women who are at the CIA who are hearing themselves being blamed for this bad intelligence?
Yeah, there are still some good ones around, but let me tell you what’s different between now and when Dan Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers, that was 1971, okay. Thirty years after that, we had a celebration in Washington to celebrate the courageous stand of the Washington Post and New York Times in publishing that despite the Nixon Administration threats that they’d all go to jail.
Now, after a lot of the backslapping and conviviality, one woman in the audience raised her hand and said “Now you are representatives of the Times and the Post, and you’re senior officials now whereas before you were just junior officials, and suppose that happened now? Suppose there were Pentagon Papers released now, would your newspapers publish it?”
What was the answer?
The answer was 45 seconds of complete silence and then Rick Smith who was with the Times, Hedrick Smith, who was with the Times at the time, was on the panel and he cleared his throat and said, “Well, I wouldn’t bet on that now.” And as they went down, and these and the other people who are still in the employ of both these major newspapers, everyone of them said, “no probably not now” until we got to the end where it was said, “no way now.” And I said to myself, wow, there’s the sea change, and the worst part of it is that there wasn’t a sign of embarrassment or regret, it was just the way things are now. Now what’s the answer to that—the answer to that is if I have some information, and I want to get it out to the US public, I don’t have the luxury that Dan Ellsberg did in knowing that if I give this information to The New York Times and The Washington Post that they are going to publish it. It not likely they’re going to call up my boss and say, “You know what Joe Blow is doing—you know what he told us?” And so that’s the sea change here—
Now why is that?
The sea change is no free press.
We are speaking with Ray McGovern, a CIA analyst, a 27-year CIA analyst. Why is that Ray, what has changed? Is this 9/11, is this George Bush—what’s going on that the media—I mean, you said that there was 4 minutes or something like that of silence after this question was asked, and I’m sitting here thinking there’s been about 4 years of silence from the mainstream media about what’ is going on with these charlatans, so my question is, why—what are they afraid of? What has changed now from your time at the CIA that would frighten the media to report what’s going on?
Well, I only now sort of inductively and/or experientially, particularly since 9/11 what I’ve observed, and what I have observed is a sea change in the willingness of The New York Times and The Washington Post to report anything that’s of embarrassment to the administration. They were the cheerleaders for this unprovoked war, they were oblivious to checking out their facts—it was an incredibly irresponsible performance on the part of both papers. Now, how do you explain it? People need to be a little more clever than I to explain it, but I buy into the explanation that many of these newspapers, if not all, are owned by a corporate milieu here who has joint interests with the administration, who is kind of involved with the administration so closely that it resembles very much the beginning of fascism where you have the corporate media, the corporations themselves, and the government all working hand-in-glove to keep the truth and the facts away from the people.
If I have my math right here, Ray, you would have been working at the CIA when George H.W. Bush was the head of the CIA. Am I right?
I was, and I was working directly under him.
And how much of this do we attribute now to George H.W. Bush, to his connections at the CIA, to the clamping down, I mean, has he changed? It’s hard to make sense of, frankly, it’s hard to understand why the media would shut down, why whistleblowers at the CIA would now be afraid to come forward, or…well I know why they’d be afraid to come forward, but how we allowed it to be politicized the way that we have? I know with Porter Goss coming in, and there was a purge after he was appointed. Doesn’t Bush Senior look at this and say, “Hey wait a minute this is not my CIA, I don’t approve.”
Yeah, my guess is that he looks at the situation and says, “My goodness, this is not my White House either.” I think the man is torn between his loyalty to his son and his basic knowledge of what’s best for the country, and I suppose he’s really distraught that the son never read his memoirs in which he talked about what would happen if we invaded Iraq and tried to get rid of Saddam, because this all played out like clockwork. What George H.W. Bush and General Scowcroft, his National Security Advisor, wrote in their joint book was the reason why, they explained, why they did not go after Saddam. And even Dick Cheney, ironically enough, right after the first Gulf War in ’91 was asked out in Seattle , he was asked at a meeting, “Why didn’t you just go after Saddam and end the whole thing?” And do you know what he said? He said, “we thought it wouldn’t be so easy and you know we asked ourselves how many dead US servicemen is Saddam Hussein worth” and the answer came through loud and clear, “not many.” Now, that’s 1991, what’s changed over the past 10 years?
What has changed?
Cheney has become an oil man. Cheney knows that the world is running out of oil. Cheney knows that for the first time in our country’s history we’re importing more than half of the oil that we need. Cheney knows that Iraq has the second largest oil deposits in the world. Cheney knows that Saddam Hussein is on his back militarily, and Cheney knows that Iraq is ruled by a ‘ruthless dictator,’ so go get ‘em.
Was he not—so I guess he wasn’t in the oil business until after he left from the first Bush administration, is that right?
I believe that’s the case, but I haven’t followed his career that closely. I know enough about him—yeah, I don’t know what he did before.
Yeah, he’s changed, I’ll say that, not that I cared for him before, but he does seem like a different guy now than he was 10 years ago. Also if I’m doing the math right, you conducted early morning PDBs one-on-one with Vice Presidents in the mid-‘80s. Does that mean you briefed Dan Quayle?
No, I had the good fortune to miss Dan Quayle. George Bush was the Vice President when I was briefing.
We are speaking with Ray McGovern, the 27-year CIA analyst, now retired. He has a few things to say about this administration and about this war. Ray McGovern, quick question here from the Blog, “What is your opinion on the various numbers of Iraqi dead from this war—IraqBodyCount.org reports 20,000 to 30,000 “confirmed dead,” but we hear that report estimates are around 100,000 or greater, including Iraqi military. That’s a big difference. I think, I can’t remember who it was, one of our generals says, “We don’t do body counts.” Any idea what the actual numbers are?
That’s great isn’t it, that we don’t do body counts. The reason we don’t know about Iraqi civilian casualties is because Ambassador Paul Bremer, when he was ruler of Iraq and Mesopotamia, forbade Iraqi authorities in the hospitals, in the mortuaries and elsewhere to keep a count. That is public knowledge. Bremer does not deny it. That’s why there are no official figures.
And do you think that the number is closer to that 10,000 to 20,000 or is it closer to that 100,000 or over?
I think 30,000 is on the low side. Those are very carefully confirmed by I think 2 or 3 sources, and those are direct casualties of the war. Now when you get up to the 100,000 range, that’s the result of a study done a year ago now by Johns Hopkins University and the British medical journal, Lancet, a very reputable journal. Their figure of 100,000 as of that time is a figure that represents what they believe to be Iraqis now dead who would have otherwise, without any war, still be living. In other words, ones that died from dysentery because of the water purification problems, people, children who died from infectious diseases that they wouldn’t have were it not for the destruction of war. In terms of deaths in Iraq, I think that the study that was done by Johns Hopkins and Lancet is a very reputable one. I believe this figure is correct, about 100,000, and (includes) the confirmed ones, those are the ones directly that were killed because of bombings, strafings, and other actual violence.
You’re in a very good position to tell us, to talk a little bit about this Valerie Plame affair, which has sort of disappeared from the radar. Of course, for folks who may not know—our listeners are really smart so they probably know—but we’ll fill you in real quick to say that she is the wife of Joseph Wilson who had gone out to Niger to look into Bush’s claims that Iraq was attempting to buy uranium from Niger—yellow cake as they called it—and Joe Wilson went down there to check it out, and came back and told them it wasn’t the case and that it was based on, I believe, fraudulent documents. And, of course, thanks for that, his wife was ‘outed.’ She was a covert CIA operative apparently. She was ‘outed’ by, well we don’t know who, but we know that Bob Novak decided to write about it and tell the world whereas folks like Judith Miller, who I’m having trouble defending these days, but she didn’t write a story about it and (she, and) Matt Cooper of Time Magazine may be going to jail because of this. What’s going on in the Valerie Plame investigation? Is there an actual investigation? Is it being whitewashed, and what do you think about folks who would ‘out’ CIA covert operatives like that?
Well, I think it’s contemptible. Valerie Plame was not an economic analyst on the banana crop in the Dominican Republic. She was running operations against those who would provide nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction materials to regimes that we don’t want to have them. So, when we blow a source like this and we blow her cover, everyone she’s worked with for the past 15 or so years, is in jeopardy. And we still don’t know, at least I don’t know, what the net effect of this, how many people were wrapped up, how many people were put in jail, or even tortured or killed. I don’t make light of this because this is very serious stuff because they know where she was, they could trace her career, and they know who she was in contact with. These governments can easily wrap up the people that she had recruited as agents.
Now why did the White House do that? Well, the conventional wisdom is they really hated Joe Wilson. Why did they hate Joe Wilson? Well, because in reporting in The New York Times in his famous op-ed in early January of 2003, he reported that there was no legitimate report about Iraq seeking uranium in Niger for lots of reasons, the most obvious one being that the government of Niger does not control the uranium mine in that country, rather it’s controlled by a consortium headed up by the French and they keep track of every ounce of that uranium and there is no way that it could be siphoned off to Iraq or anybody else. That’s the most important thing. The second thing was that Iraq didn’t need this. They already had tons and tons of yellow cake uranium. It was not the uranium that they needed. What they needed was a way to process it to a much finer degree. Then number three, of course, we find out the whole thing was based on forgeries.
Well, Joe Wilson, the consummate diplomat, permitted himself to tell the Washington Post reporters at that time that this begs the question with respect to what else they’re lying about. Okay? Now that’s throwing down the gauntlet, okay. Because of the Downing Street Memo we know what else they were lying about, but at that time, Joe Wilson was convinced they were, and he allowed himself to say it. Okay, here’s Karl Rove and Dick Cheney in the White House (saying)--- “We can’t let these guys get away with saying things like this, we’ve got to get something on him.” Why? To deter others, the hundreds of others, who knew about the lies, and so they go after his wife.
Joe Wilson was pristine pure. He’s got walls full of encomia, including from the first George Bush. There’s nothing on Joe, so we go get his wife. For what? Well, she works for the CIA, we’ll blow her cover. What’s the message? The message is,“--Look all you other bureaucrats that know about this deception of mine, we’re going to get you if you decide to do what Joe Wilson did. We’re going to get you. Now, if you’re clean, we’re going to get your wife--, “wives are fair game”, is what actually one of the White House’s sources told them, one of these correspondents. “We’ll get your wife and if she’s clean, well you know that teenage son of yours that has had a drug problem, we’re going to get you. Just be on notice, we’re going to get you, so don’t dare do it.” And that, getting back to our earlier conversation, is another reason why people have been deterred from speaking out and telling the truth like the British patriotic truthtellers who are now doing it.
Ray, is the CIA in the business of killing people? In other words, if whistleblowers were to come forward, should whistleblowers like that fear for their lives?
No, they should fear for their careers, they should fear for their reputations. They’d be ostracized from the people that they used to work with. I have no fear in speaking out. They should have no fear in speaking out either.
Do your sources tell you that the Plame investigation is actually moving forward, or is that whole thing being whitewashed?
Well, this fellow Fitzgerald, he’s not an independent prosecutor or independent investigator. He reports to the Deputy Attorney General, so he’s not really a free man. He’s got to report that way. I’m told that he is a very tenacious and very good investigator, and my guess is that he knows precisely who did it, but he’s got to ‘fix’ the situation so that they can get an indictment and a prosecution, and he can’t do that without people coming forward and admitting it. So, so far, they’ve been able to keep this suppressed, and these two people that face jail sentences, I don’t know how I feel about that. I have very mixed emotions about that. I guess I’m against it just because they shouldn’t do that to any press person.
Not to mention press people who didn’t even write about the story.
I agree, but I can see their frustration because I think Fitzgerald really would like to do the job right.
If Fitzgerald knew for a fact that it was somebody who leaked this, somebody like Karl Rove, somebody like Dick Cheney, would he actually, what’s your feeling, would he come out and reveal that information, and prosecute?
Well, it’s a real tough question for me because Fitzgerald grew up in New York City , like I did. He went to Jesuit High School, like I did, and he learned the same things I did. Now, whether a career in the Justice Department and the FBI knocks the sense of ethics and the sense of the need to tell the truth above all other things out of you, I just don’t know. But I really do hope that he’s a tenacious fellow and that he will see that he needs to do the right thing here, and that if necessary, he’s going to just spill the beans despite what his boss, the Deputy Attorney General, tells him to do. Now that may be wishful thinking, but I think it’s a possibility, and I’d like to be hopeful on that.
That is somewhat encouraging. So, I’m glad to hear that about Valerie Plame that at least you are hopeful. I wish I was as hopeful because frankly I think these guys are getting to the point where they will do anything to stay in power, to keep things from being divulged.
I should clarify, I am hopeful with respect to Fitzgerald. I’m not hopeful with respect to his bosses, his top boss of course is our friend Gonzales, the same fellow who advised the President that he could disregard the Geneva Conventions and even the US War Crimes Act, and go ahead and exempt full categories of prisoners from the Geneva Convention protection. So, I don’t have much hope for them, but I think that what I’d like to see is Fitzgerald reach the point where he’d say, “Look, I am unable to complete this investigation not only because the press will not cooperate, but because my bosses won’t cooperate”. Let him leave in a blaze of glory.
Tune into AfterDowningStreet.org. On that website is an incredibly rich diet of things, including a report out of Denmark where the Danes were told precisely at the same time, in July 2002, that the war was inevitable and that the President decided to do it to remove Hussein, not because of weapons of mass destruction.
I’m glad you mentioned it, AfterDowningStreet.org has a chapter from Ray McGovern’s upcoming book, Neo-Conned, you can read all about it over there. Patty from Los Angeles, how are you?
PATTY: Hey, I’m good. I just had a question. I hope I’m not taking you off course, but I just recently read a book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins and he describes being part of a consulting firm, Charles Mane, that sort of like functions as a parallel CIA, and goes about getting huge contracts with the same people that are in Iraq now getting contracts, Halliburton, Bechtel, and I’m just wondering if Mr. McGovern has any comment on these kind of private CIA organizations over the years. Has he been aware of the revolving door between the CIA and these kind of very low-profiles, that as he describes it, “rig elections” in third world countries and give fraudulent economic reports. Does he have any comment about that?
I agree with the author of the Confessions of an Economic Hitman. I think he’s got a terrific piece of work out there. I don’t know anything about this other stuff. I suspect that the Defense and State Departments, Treasury, and Commerce are deeply involved in this kind of thing and I’d frankly be a little surprised if the CIA would be involved.
Obrie are you there.
OBRIE: I’m here and I’m shouting.
There we go, what’ve you got for us Obrie?
OBRIE: Okay, I would like for you and if you ask this question of Mr. McGovern, could he inform us how President Bush was able to see the first plane crash into the building on TV on 9/11, 25 minutes before he went into the classroom in Florida? Since it has been reported by The Washington Times, for one, that no film footage of the first attack was broadcast until the next day? Let me say one other thing. The simple way to fix Social Security is leave the money in the pot when it’s collected instead of removing it to fight wars like Iraq.
Well, it’s a question that I’ve been often asked and I can simply say after looking at what I know of the evidence, how I feel about it, not the final word, nobody claims infallibility, but here’s how I come at it. What I suggest to everyone is that they read one important book and that is David Ray Griffin’s book which is titled, The 9-11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions. This is a professor from a theology faculty in California, now retired. No axes to grind at all and his critique of the 9-11 Commission Report makes it looks more and more like a deliberate coverup. There are so many unanswered questions, including the ones that our friend Mr. Obrie just asked.
The one that grips me the most, frankly, is the President sitting there reading the book. Okay, now he’s been told what happened and the first secret service agent is quoted as saying, “We’re out of here,” okay, but they’re not out of there. The President lingers and no secret service or White House staffer comes to extricate the President. Now, put yourself in this secret service agent’s position. They know what’s happened, okay? They know, everyone knows where the President is. Why was that one agent overruled? Why was he was reassured, no, no, you can let the President stay there, it’s going to be all right. Let him finish reading the book. That is unconscionable and suggests to me that his boss, the secret service agent’s boss, knew more than any of us about the fact that there was no danger to the President down there in Florida.
And there are other things, building 7 in New York. Why did that implode? It wasn’t hit by any planes. And then the real murky thing is Cheney’s role. You know? Cheney, as you know, insisted on being with Bush when he testified. I think there is a likelihood, and this is just speculation on my part, there is a likelihood that Cheney knew a lot more than Bush did and Bush was just happy to have Cheney along with him when the 9/11 Commission made that very polite inquiry and asked both of them questions.
So where does this leave us? It’s really difficult for me and most Americans, I believe, to believe that the President or the Vice President would commit so heinous a crime as to either permit or even plot such a terrible event. But who would have believed that these same characters would have started an unprovoked war on a pile of what they knew to be lies resulting in 1700 service people already killed, about 12,000 maimed, not counting the Iraqis, as if the Iraqis don’t count. So what I’m saying here is that it becomes easier and easier to believe the worst when one looks at the cynical way, not only the cynical way this war was initiated, but the cynical way that 9/11 itself was exploited to justify “this war”. You’ll recall that the trauma of the American people was exploited by the White House spinners who suggested that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11 and at the time of the war fully 69% of the American people believed that to be the case, namely, that Saddam Hussein was in some measure responsible for 9/11. That is heinous enough, that cynical exploitation of our trauma, but it may go even deeper, it may be even more explosive.
You say and boy, there’s so much to talk to you about Ray, I hope you’ll come back because it’s great talking to you. You say, that as he is sitting in the classroom, that, well how to I phrase this here, you suggest there’s a coverup. I realize this may be a speculation only on your part, but from what you know, this coverup you refer to, is it a coverup concerning the way they dealt with what happened, what happened down there in Florida after the planes hit the buildings, or is it a larger coverup, that the Bush administration or others within it actually knew about this beforehand, may have even had a hand in it?
There are about 25 unanswered questions of great moment. In other words, these questions remain unanswered. Why? Because the administration will not answer them. Not that the information is not knowable, but the administration will not answer them. The 9/11 commissioners, they were all establishment types, and after the convivial exchanges among them, the 10 of them, over a period of 18 months, they came to the conclusion that it’s best not to blame anybody because if we blame the poor slob at the bottom who failed to enter the terrorists’ names into the computer, then you know we really have to attribute some blame to the President, because he was, after all, warned about 32 times during the summer of 2001 that something really big as going to happen, and he did nothing about it—
No, no, no Ray. That was a historical note, that Presidential Brief. I don’t know where you’re getting your news Ray!
Thank you Condi. Thank you very much, now go back to the State Department. (laughs)
Now you actually read that brief and you actually prepared briefs like that Presidential Daily Brief for a number of administrations, when you saw that actual brief did you look at it and say, “Oh that’s a historical note, or did you see it and say, people should be running around with their hair on fire after seeing that Osama bin Laden determined to, what ever it said, crash buildings into planes—
Well, that’s it. You need to read no further than the title and the title was Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US. It wasn’t like last year or 2 years ago as Condi Rice tried to suggest. Even the first panel, the joint panel of the House and Senate pointed out that there were fully 12 reports showing that terrorists were very interested in crashing planes, highjacking them and crashing planes into buildings. So, Condi was not telling the truth in that respect, and something about her record is not very distinguished for truth telling.
All right, last question here. Kira in our chat room. Her question essentially is, “what do you think when you hear the Bush administration blaming the CIA, blaming the FBI, for bad intelligence, saying that it was basically their fault?” You served with the CIA proudly for 27 years. Did the CIA get it wrong, or do you hear that and does it tick you the hell off to no end when you hear them blaming the CIA for what it is that he did?
Well, it makes me very sad, frankly, because all you have to do is read a couple hundred pages into that Silverman-Robb report, or the Senate report done by Ted Roberts’ people, to realize that the intelligence was incredibly lousy. The trade craft was sophomoric. The analysis was just… I wouldn’t hire anybody to do that kind of analysis. So, was the intelligence bad?—it was terrible. But it doesn’t stop there. Why was it so bad? Well, there are two answers to that. One is that the administration deliberately pressured people, deliberately as the British memos say. The intelligence was being fixed around the policy, and George Tenet, to his great discredit, head of the CIA, cooperated in that effort. And so, that’s half of the answer.
The other half is, well, how could he have had the willing acquiescence or complicity of top-level Intelligence Officers to do this, and the answer to that is that there has been a whole generation during which people have been promoted and have moved into managerial positions because they smelled which way the wind was blowing and trimmed their analytical sails accordingly. It started in 1981 with Bill Casey and Bobby Gates, and right now you have the inevitable result of a system where people, sycophants are moved upward because they know the right answers and they will tell the President what the President wants to know and that is, if you are going to have that in an Intelligence Organization, you might as well just abolish it as Dan Moynihan suggested years ago, and start anew.
Ray McGovern, thanks for being with us. Ray is a 27-year CIA analyst. He knows whereof he speaks. His upcoming books are Neoconned and Neoconned Again. Ray, thanks for joining us. Thanks for giving us a good chunk of your Saturday night and for hanging over an extra few minutes with us. Really appreciate it.
It was my pleasure .
All right. Have a great night.