Retired CIA Officer : b. 1939
Ray McGovern is an activist who writes and lectures about, among other issues, war and the role of CIA. He holds 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.
In 1996, McGovern caught the attention of the media when he criticized the Pope’s position on women priests. It was his analysis of the war in Iraq, and of the CIA’s role in bringing the war about, that made McGovern one of the country´s most powerful, anti-war voices.
“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. Ray McGovern worked to adhere to this credo during his 27- year career as an analyst at the CIA, understanding the inscription to mean that, “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.”
His intelligence work, beginning in US Army and continuing at the CIA, spanned seven presidents from President Kennedy to President George H.W. Bush. 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 reported his findings “without fear or favor” to the politicians and was supported in his work by his superiors.
As a co-founder in 2003 of Veterans Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), McGovern speaks out against what he sees as corruption in the CIA, which allowed the agency´s integrity to bend 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, McGovern and other former intelligence officers called Tenet onto the carpet for signing documents he knew to be fraudulent (one, for example, that stated 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 accused Tenet of “dovetailing” intelligence to fit with what politicians wanted to hear in the push for an unnecessary war with Iraq.
McGovern sees the damage done to the faith in intelligence work as profound, believing it will take years to correct. He hopes to see the CIA become again an entity independent from political administration.
During both the Bush and Obama years, the White House has eyed an attack on Iran to stop its apparent development of nuclear capabilities. McGovern has raised concerns over why an attack would be necessary, writing, "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 called for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, suggesting, "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."