On The Monitor this week:
- Former FBI special agent Coleen Rowley on the firing of former FBI Director
- Former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern on the Russia story
More about this week’s guests:
Coleen Rowley, is a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, was named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. Following Comey’s firing, she said: “In July 2013, I suggested in this New York Times op-ed that James Comey should answer a lot of hard questions before the Senate confirmed his appointment by Obama as FBI Director, explaining why he had signed off on the Bush administration’s torture, unlawful detention and illegal warrantless surveillance programs. But in 2013, the Senate barely scratched the surface before rushing to confirm Comey, ironically lauding his integrity. But if anyone in government actually cared about integrity and upholding the rule of law, maybe Comey ought not to have been hired in the first place! Comey’s unorthodox press briefings are far less significant to adherence to the Constitution than his prior illegal actions. But I doubt that his press statements in the lead-up to the election are actually why Comey was fired. Hillary Clinton’s campaign apparently suspects that Trump and gang just seized on the Clinton email investigation as an opportunistic way of getting rid of Comey and they may be right.”
Ray McGovern’s 27-year career as a CIA analyst spanned administrations from John F. Kennedy to George H. W. Bush. He leads the “Speaking Truth to Power” section of Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. Ray’s duties included chairing National Intelligence Estimates and preparing the President’s Daily Brief, which he briefed one-on-one to President Ronald Reagan’s five most senior national security advisers from 1981 to 1985. In January 2003, Ray co-created Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) to expose how intelligence was being falsified to “justify” war on Iraq.
On The Monitor this week:
- Ray McGovern on CIA Director Brennan’s reorganization plan and “Obama going to school.”
- Jim Lobe on Tom Cotton (R-AR), Bill Kristol and the Corker Bill
More about this week’s guests:
Ray McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years, whose duties included preparing the President’s Daily Brief and chairing National Intelligence Estimates. He now works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.
On Friday March 6th (Fridays are the best days to release news and avoid scrutiny) a plan by CIA head John Brennan to restructure the agency was made public. Much of the major media portrayed it as a reform to make Americans safer: The New York Times headline read: “CIA to Be Overhauled to Fight Modern Threats.” However, many CIA veterans argue that it is a step toward further politicization of intelligence
McGovern is among the signers to a just released, posted at ConsortiumNews.com: “U.S. Intel Vets Oppose Brennan’s Plan to Restructure CIA,” which takes the form of a memo to the President: “Mr. President, The CIA reorganization plan announced by Director John Brennan on Friday is a potentially deadly blow to the objective, fact-based intelligence needed to support fully informed decisions on foreign policy. We suggest turning this danger into an opportunity to create an independent entity for CIA intelligence analysis immune from the operational demands of the ‘war on terror.’
“On Feb. 5, 2003, immediately after Colin Powell’s address to the UN, members of VIPS sent our first VIPS memorandum, urging President George W. Bush to widen the policy debate ‘beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.’
“The ‘former senior officers’ whom Brennan asked for input on the restructuring plan are a similar closed, blinkered circle, as is the ‘outstanding group of officers from across the Agency’ picked by Brennan to look at the Agency’s mission and future. He did not include any of the intelligence community dissidents and alumni who fought against the disastrous politicization of intelligence before the attack on Iraq. Nor does Brennan’s plan reflect the lessons learned from that debacle. …
“President Harry Truman wanted an agency structure able to meet a president’s need for ‘the most accurate … information on what’s going on everywhere in the world, and particularly of the trends and developments in all the danger spots.’ In an op-ed appearing in the Washington Post exactly one month after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Truman added, ‘I have been disturbed by … the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment … and has become an operational and at times policy-making arm of the Government.’ …
“You are fully aware, we trust, that our analysts’ vaunted ethos of speaking unvarnished truth to power was corrupted by Director George Tenet and Deputy Director John McLaughlin, who outdid themselves in carrying out the instructions of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. The new ethos boiled down to this: If the President wants to paint Iraq as a strategic threat, it is our job to come up with the ‘evidence’ — even if it needs to be manufactured out of whole cloth (or forged, as in ‘yellowcake uranium from Africa’ caper). …
“There is hope to be drawn from those occasions where senior intelligence officials with integrity can step in, show courageous example, and — despite multiple indignities and pitfalls in the system — can force the truth to the surface. We hope that you have been made aware that, after the no-WMD-anywhere debacle on Iraq, Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence Thomas Fingar did precisely that during 2007, supervising a watershed National Intelligence Estimate on Iran that concluded unanimously, ‘with high confidence,’ that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in 2003.
“President Bush concedes in his memoir that this put the kibosh on his and Dick Cheney’s earlier plan to attack Iran during their last year in office. So, character (as in Fingar) counts, and people of integrity can make a difference — and even help thwart plans for war — even in the most politicized of circumstances.”
Jim Lobe is The Washington Bureau Chief of the international news agency, Inter Press Service, Jim Lobe is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy.
“If Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) wasn’t the face of GOP Iran hawks, he is now. His letter making common cause with Iran’s hardliners to scuttle a nuclear deal puts Cotton, along with his 46 Republican co-signatories, in uncharted territory. …
“Cotton’s rise to prominence didn’t come cheap and required friends with very deep pockets. His Senate campaign cost $13.9 million, and some of his biggest campaign contributions came from far outside his home state of Arkansas. That doesn’t include the nearly $1 million contribution in supportive political advertising made by Bill Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel in the closing days of Cotton’s Senate campaign, as has already been reported here. …
“Paul Singer’s New York-based Elliot Management hedge fund … went on to become the second biggest source of direct contributions to Cotton’s Senate campaign after the pro-business Club for Growth.
“Singer, Sheldon Adelson, and Dan Senor are recurring characters in efforts to blow up diplomacy with Iran.
“Both Singer and Adelson, who famously recommended a first-strike nuclear attack on Iran to send the message that the U.S. is serious about dismantling the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, are huge donors to a series of hawkish think tanks.
“Between 2008 and 2011, the two billionaires made combined contributions of $5.1 million to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies—a hard-line neoconservative think tank some of whose associates have advocated bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities in addition to waging ‘economic warfare’ against the regime.”
For further background, see Lobe’s piece “Republicans Overreach: Part Deux.”
- How the Security-Industrial Complex is tracking your data and what that means for you – an interview with Richard Stallman
- The president should fire James Clapper and Keith Alexander over domestic spying revealed by Edward Snowden – an interview with Ray McGovern
More about this week’s guests:
As an act of conscience, on March 2, 2006 Ray returned the Intelligence Commendation Medallion given him at retirement for “especially meritorious service,” explaining, “I do not want to be associated, however remotely, with an agency engaged in torture.” He returned it to Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R, Michigan), then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman.
Recent Op-Ed: Obama needs to take charge on NSA spying scandal
Visit Ray’s Website for more.
- Beyond the Obama-Karzai Spin: Oil and Afghan War – an interview with Antonia Juhasz
- Brennan and Hagel – One Claimed no Civilian Drone Killings and the other Voted for Iraq War – an interview with Ray McGovern
Antonia Juhasz is a fellow at the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism and was recently in Afghanistan. She wrote the just-published piece “The New War for Afghanistan’s Untapped Oil,” which states: “With the close of 2012, the Pentagon has revealed a disturbing trend in Afghanistan: Taliban attacks remained steady, or in some cases increased, over 2011 levels. I experienced the Taliban surge firsthand this past November, and can offer a cause not cited in the Pentagon’s report: oil and gas.”
Reuters reports: “President Barack Obama on Monday will announce the nominations of Republican Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary and White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan as the new CIA director, a senior administration official said.”
Ray McGovern is a veteran CIA analyst. He has scrutinized Brennan’s backing of torture and drone killings. See his interview “Obama’s and Brennan’s ‘Kill List'” and his letter on Brennan, in which he notes: “Nov. 24, 2008 saw the publication of a letter to President-Elect Obama, signed by 200 psychologists, urging him not to select John Brennan to head the CIA because of his open support of ‘dark-side’ policies (Brennan’s, as well as Dick Cheney’s, adjective). Brennan withdrew his name the next day, and The New York Times explained the move as a reaction to ‘concerns he was intimately linked to controversial CIA programs authorized by President Bush. Brennan is now the administration’s strongest advocate of extrajudicial killing of U.S. citizens by drones. As for civilian deaths from CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, Brennan made the preposterous claim [in June 2011] that, over the previous year, ‘there hasn’t been a single collateral death’ from CIA drone strikes there.” McGovern is scheduled to speak at a protest at 1:00 p.m. outside the White House, as Obama is scheduled to make the nomination.
McGovern also recently wrote “Obama Needs Hagel in the Pentagon.” McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, D.C. During his career as a CIA analyst, he prepared and briefed the President’s Daily Brief and chaired National Intelligence Estimates.
- Stories that didn’t make the news – Project Censored – an interview with Mickey Huff
- The real story of the resignation of General Petraeus – an interview with Ray McGovern
More about our guests:
Mickey Huff is Director of Project Censored and a member of the board of directors for the Media Freedom Foundation. He is currently an associate professor of history at Diablo Valley College (DVC), located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Huff is radio co-host of the Project Censored Show with former Project Censored director Dr. Peter Phillips. The program airs as part of The Morning Mix on KPFA in Berkeley, CA on Pacifica Radio, and is rebroadcast on the Progressive Radio Network online out of New York City. He is also on the board of directors of No Lies Radio and is a former adviser to the Students for a Democratic Society at DVC. Huff regularly holds forums on campus with authors and activists from across the country to discuss issues surrounding history, critical thinking, and current events.
About Project Censored: The mission of Project Censored is to teach students and the public about the role of a free press in a free society – and to tell the News That Didn’t Make the News and Why
Ray McGovern Veteran CIA analyst Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Savior in Washington, DC. During his career as a CIA analyst, he prepared and briefed the President’s Daily Brief and chaired National Intelligence Estimates. He is a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)wrote the article “Pundit Tears for Petraeus’s Fall,”
Quote: “As commander in Afghanistan, Petraeus was able to elbow the substantive intelligence analysts in Washington off to the sidelines. … As for winning hearts and minds, it was Petraeus who shocked Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s aides by claiming that Afghan parents might have burned their own children in order to blame the casualties on U.S. military operations. And the same Petraeus eagerly increased the incredibly myopic drone strikes in Pakistan, killing thousands of civilian ‘militants’ and creating thousands more to contend with in the ‘long war’ now alienating a nuclear-armed country of 185 million people.
McGovern advises Obama: “You can select a person with a proven record of integrity and courage to speak truth, without fear or favor, and with savvy and experience in matters of State and Defense. There are still some very good people with integrity and courage around — former Ambassador Chas Freeman would be an excellent candidate. Go ahead, Mr. President. Show that you can stand up to the Israel lobby that succeeded in getting Freeman ousted on March 10, 2009, after just six hours on the job as Director of the National Intelligence Council. And there are still some genuine experts around to help you enlist Afghanistan’s neighbors in an effort to ease U.S. troop withdrawal well before the 2014 deadline. The faux experts – the neocon specialists at Brookings, AEI and elsewhere — have had their chance. For God’s sake, take away their White House visiting badges at once. Create White House badges for genuine experts like former National Intelligence Officer for the Near East Paul Pillar, former State Department Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson, and military historian and practitioner Andrew Bacevich (Lt. Col., USA, ret.). These are straight-shooters; they have no interest in ‘long wars’; they will tell you the truth; all you need do is listen. Do NOT listen this time to the likes of your counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, a former CIA functionary who was staff director for CIA Director George “slam-dunk” Tenet. Brennan will probably push for you to nominate Petraeus’s deputy and now Acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who did the same dirty work for Tenet that Brennan did. Morell is even more likely to take his cues from Brennan and tell you what he and Brennan want you to hear. At best, Morell is likely to let things drift until you move on Petraeus’s replacement. And this is no time for drift.
Likening Palestinians to Blades of Grass – Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Near East. Murray is a former CIA analyst colleague who retired two years ago with her conscience intact.
Inside Story: Gen. Petraeus — War Hero? Ray, Larry Korb, and Gareth Porter roundtable (video) 25 min.
Petraeus Resignation Makes it Easier for Obama to Do Something Sensible on Iran and Vietnamistan — Ray McGovern interviewed on The Real News Network on Nov 12, 2012 (12 min.)
Pundit Tears for Patraeus’s Demise — Ray McGovern, November 10,2012