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Americans Who Tell the Truth

Ray McGovern

Religious Leaders

Ray McGovern

Retired CIA Officer, Political Activist (1939- )

Allegations keep cropping up in the press that CIA alumni are undermining the Bush/Cheney administration. In at least one sense, I suppose, this is true. For when an administration embarks on a war justified by little or no intelligence, speaking the truth can be regarded as treachery. The country could use more of that kind of "treachery."


Additional Quotes by Ray McGovern

When the emperor has no clothes you have to have the presence of mind, and courage, to stand up and say 'the emperor has no clothes'

Many former colleagues and successors are facing a dilemma all too familiar to intelligence veterans - the difficult choices that must be faced when the demands of good conscience butt up against deeply ingrained attitudes concerning secrecy, misguided notions of what is true patriotism, and understandable reluctance to put careers - and mortgages - on the line ... We appeal to those still working inside the Intelligence Community to consider turning state's evidence.

In times like this we must be careful to keep our bearings, lest we come to love the chaos that passes for reality.

THAT false “reality” has lost its power, because it cannot live in the light of truth.

You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” THAT is the rock-solid truth.

I noticed that this Bible verse was chiseled into the marble wall of CIA Headquarters when I began working as an analyst there in April 1963. That was the same month that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned a “Letter From the Birmingham City Jail,” including graphic, earthy words in describing our duty to expose deceit and injustice.



Ray McGovern is an activist who writes and lectures all over the country, addressing issues such as war and the CIA. He holds degrees including an M.A. in Russian Studies from Fordham University, a certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown University, and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program. His criticism of the Pope’s position on women as priests in 1996 first brought McGovern to the attention of the media, but it is in his analysis of the war in Iraq, and of the CIA’s role in bringing the war about, that McGovern is such a strong anti-war voice.

“Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Those words are carved into the marble facade of the entrance to the CIA, and is the credo by which Ray McGovern worked during his 27- year career as an analyst there. His intelligence work began during his service in the US Army, and continued in the CIA, where he worked for seven presidents, beginning with President Kennedy and ending with President George Bush. McGovern understood the inscription as meaning, “the primary function of the Central Intelligence Agency is to seek the truth…and to be able to report that truth without fear or favor.” As an analyst on foreign policy, McGovern would synthesize material given to him on a daily basis, and then brief senior White House advisers with his conclusions. Now retired, McGovern is proud of the fact that he had the power to report his findings “without fear or favor” to the politicians. He gave his policy advice as he found it in these briefings, and was supported in his job by his superiors.

Now, as a co-founder of Veterans Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), started in 2003, McGovern is speaking out against what he sees as corruption in the CIA, a bending of its integrity to the will of President George W. Bush and his White House officials. He asserts that the war in Iraq was manufactured and sold to the United States under false pretenses – the real reason being oil. In a 2007 letter to former CIA Director George Tenet (sent through Tenet’s publisher), McGovern and other former intelligence officers call Tenet onto the carpet for signing documents he knew to be fraudulent (that Iraq was buying uranium from Africa), and for testifying that Iraq had links to Al- Qaeda, when actual intelligence reports found no link between Iraq and Osama bin Laden. In short, they accuse Tenet of “dovetailing” intelligence to fit in with what politicians wanted to hear in the push for an unnecessary war with Iraq. On a personal level, McGovern sees the damage done to the image of, and faith in, intelligence work as profound and taking years to correct. He hopes to see the CIA become again an entity independent from any political administration.

Now, as White House eyes look toward an attack on Iran to stop its apparent development in nuclear capabilities, McGovern is raising concerns over just why an attack is necessary, and is critical of the Bush regime. He writes, “The very same men who…brought us the war in Iraq are now focusing on Iran, which they view as the only remaining obstacle to American domination of the entire oil-rich Middle East.” He also calls for impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney on a number of charges, but for one that will really stand and hold, he suggests, “Why not focus on a high crime that the Bush administration has already admitted to, with claims it is above the law and the Constitution: electronic eavesdropping on Americans without the required court warrant.” With the precedent set with Richard Nixon, McGovern feels it is a clear way to bring some beginning of justice to the American people.



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