Ray McGovern

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Raymond McGovern (born 1939) is a retired CIA officer turned political activist. McGovern was a Federal employee under seven U.S. presidents over 27 years, presenting the morning intelligence briefings at the White House for many of them.


Early life

McGovern was born and raised in the Bronx. He graduated summa cum laude of Fordham University. A "Distinguished Military Graduate", he served in the US Army from 1962-64 as an intelligence officer. McGovern also received an M.A. in Russian Studies from Fordham University, a certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown University and was a graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program.


McGovern was a mid-level officer in the CIA in the 1960s where his focus was analysis of Soviet policy toward Vietnam. McGovern was one of President Ronald Reagan's intelligence briefers from 1981-85; he was in charge of preparing daily security briefs for Reagan, Vice President George H.W. Bush, the National Security Advisor, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Cabinet. Later, McGovern was one of several senior CIA analysts who prepared the President's Daily Brief (PDB) during the first Bush administration.

Upon retirement, McGovern was awarded the Intelligence Commendation Medal from Bush (which he later returned, see below) and worked for Washington-based non-profits before becoming co-director of the Servant Leadership School in Washington.


Criticism of Pope

McGovern, a Roman Catholic who studied theology at Georgetown University and an occasional Sunday school teacher, first came to media attention in 1996 due to his public criticism of Pope John Paul II's stance on women as priests. In 1992 McGovern began a years-long protest of that stance by standing throughout Mass every Sunday at the Holy Trinity Church; the protest brought media attention after it provoked a dialogue with James Cardinal Hickey.[1]

Intelligence Activism

McGovern has been an outspoken commentator on intelligence-related issues since the late 1990s.[2] He was heavily critical of the government's handling of the Wen Ho Lee case in 2000.[3] In 2002 he was publicly critical of President George W. Bush's use of government intelligence in the lead-up to the war in Iraq.[4]

In 2003, together with other former CIA employees, McGovern founded the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity or VIPS. The organization is dedicated to analyzing and criticizing the use of intelligence, specifically relating to the War in Iraq. In January 2006, McGovern began speaking out on behalf of the anti-war group Not in Our Name. According to the group's press release, McGovern served symbolic "war crimes indictments" on the Bush White House from a "people's tribunal."


In May 2006, McGovern attended a speech by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and accused him of lying about Iraq prewar intelligence during the question-and-answer session. McGovern challenged Rumsfeld on several statements, in which Rumsfeld was on the record for saying. McGovern asked him;

  • "Why did you lie to get us into a war, which was not necessary and has caused these kinds of casualties?"
  • "You said you knew where they [weapons of mass destruction] were.

-Rumsfeld: "I did not...I said I knew where suspect sites were."

-McGovern "You said you knew where they were: 'Near Tikrit, near Baghdad, and East, West, South and North somewhat'" (Rumsfeld denied using this language, despite having stated precisely this on March 30, 2003 on ABC's This Week[5]). Rumsfeld had added in the original statement in reference to one particular facility, "we saw from the air that there were dozens of trucks that went into that facility after the existence of it became public in the press and they moved things out. They dispersed them and took them away. So there may be nothing left. I don't know that. But it's way too soon to know."[6]

-Rumsfeld "Zarqawi was in Baghdad during the prewar period...that is a fact."

-McGovern: "Zarqawi...he was in the North of Iraq in a place where Saddam Hussein had no rule. That's where he was."

-Rumsfeld "He was also in Baghdad."

-McGovern "Yeah, when he needed to go to the hospital...come on, these people [the surrounding press] aren't idiots."[7]


With 15 other VIPS, McGovern participated in a protest of torture and returned his Intelligence Commendation Award to Congressman Pete Hoekstra, Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He said that he did "not wish to be associated, however remotely, with an agency engaged in torture... this is an order of magnitude different from my experiences in the past — there has been torture before, but never before has it been ordered and openly justified."

He has said that the CIA has bowed to pressure to alter its reports to suit the White House, and wants the agency to maintain accountability.reference required

U.S. administrations past and present

In a piece he co-authored with David MacMichael, McGovern accuses both Ronald Reagan (for supporting the Contras against the Sandinistas) and George H.W. Bush (for going to war in Iraq in 1991) of misusing or manufacturing intelligence. [8]

McGovern has called for President George W. Bush's impeachment.[9]

9/11 attacks

McGovern is one of 100 signatories to a petition "which calls for immediate public attention to unanswered questions that suggest that people within the current administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war."[10] However, his own view is not that the administration allowed or knew about 9/11, but that the exploitation of it is an impeachable offense.[11] He also appears in the Final Cut of Loose Change as well as the 9/11 documentary 9/11 Press for Truth


In a television interview with Tucker Carlson on MSNBC, McGovern said: "I‘ve been using the acronym O.I.L. for many — for two years now: O for oil; I for Israel; and L for logistics, logistics being the permanent — now we say “enduring” — military bases that the U.S. wants to keep in Iraq."[12]

McGovern testified at a Democratic National Headquarters forum in 2005 that had been convened by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) of the House Judiciary Committee on the Downing Street Memo.

The Washington Post reported that, in his testimony, McGovern "declared that the United States went to war in Iraq for oil, Israel and military bases craved by administration 'neocons' so 'the United States and Israel could dominate that part of the world.' He said that Israel should not be considered an ally and that Bush was doing the bidding of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. 'Israel is not allowed to be brought up in polite conversation,' McGovern said. Genuine criticism of official Israeli policy is often portrayed as if it were anti-Semite bigotry: 'The last time I did this, the previous director of Central Intelligence called me anti-Semitic.'" [13]

McGovern described the incident with former Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey in an article in Counterpunch:

I thought of the debate I had on Iraq with arch-neoconservative and former CIA Director James Woolsey on PBS' Charlie Rose Show on August 20, when I broke the taboo on mentioning Israel and was immediately branded "anti-Semitic" by Woolsey. Reflecting later on his accusation, it seemed almost OK since it was so blatantly ad hominem. And his attack was all the more transparent, coming from the self-described "anchor of the Presbyterian wing of JINSA" — the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a strong advocate of war to eliminate all perceived enemies of Israel — like Iraq.[14]

Personal life

McGovern has been married to Rita Kennedy for 42 years. Together they have five children and six grandchildren.




  1. Jim Naughton, "A House Divided," Washington Post Magazine (25 August 1996) W12; Dolores and Roger Flaherty, "Standing for principle sparks a crisis," Chicago Sun-Times (21 December 1997) p. 24.
  2. Ray McGovern, "How lies replaced intelligence at the CIA," Boston Globe (7 October 1999) p. A 27; Ray McGovern, "Protecting the homeland: Don't jeopardize intelligence links," Christian Science Monitor (15 July 2002) p.9.
  3. Ray McGovern, "Unequal in the eyes of justice?," Christian Science Monitor (18 September 2000) p. 11.
  4. Ray McGovern, "The best intelligence? CIA." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (22 November 2002) p. 19A; Ray McGovern, "How Intelligence Now Serves the Defense Department," Boston Globe (29 September 2002) p. D11.
  5. DefenseLink News Transcript: Secretary Rumsfeld Remarks on ABC "This Week with George Stephanopoulos"
  6. DefenseLink News Transcript: Secretary Rumsfeld Remarks on ABC "This Week with George Stephanopoulos"
  7. CNN.com - Ex-CIA analyst: Rumsfeld 'should have owned up' - May 4, 2006
  8. Scoop: Weapons of Mass Distraction: Where? Find? Plant?
  9. Ray McGovern on the Neocons and Impeachment. Retrieved on 2008-02-25.
  10. 9/11 Statement Signed by Prominent Americans
  11. [http://www.wanttoknow.info/officialsquestion911commissionreport Senior Military, Intelligence, and Government Officials Question 9/11 Commission Report]. Retrieved on 2008-02-25.
  12. 'The Situation with Tucker Carlson' for May 4 - Tucker - MSNBC.com
  13. Democrats Play House To Rally Against the War
  14. Ray McGovern: All Mosquitoes, No Swamp

See also

External links

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