Ray McGovern

Tom Klammer contacted Ray McGovern about his recent column on why Susan Rice shouldn’t be Sec of State (http://consortiumnews.com/2012/12/03/why-to-say-no-to-susan-rice/) but who knows where their conversation will go.

Ray McGovern leads the “Speaking Truth to Power” section of Tell the Word, an expression of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  He also teaches at its Servant Leadership School.

Ray came from his native New York to Washington in the early Sixties as an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then served as a CIA analyst from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. 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 most senior national security advisers from 1981 to 1985.

In January 2003, Ray helped create Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) to expose the way intelligence was being falsified to “justify” war on Iraq. On the afternoon of the day (Feb. 5, 2003) Secretary of State Colin Powell misled the UN Security Council on Iraq, VIPS sent an urgent memorandum to President George W. Bush, in which we gave Powell a C minus for content. We ended the memo with this:

“No one has a corner on the truth; nor do we harbor illusions that our analysis is irrefutable or undeniable [as Powell had claimed]. But after watching Secretary Powell today, we are convinced that you would be well served if you widened the discussion 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.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, after a five-year study by his committee, described the intelligence used to “justify” war on Iraq as “unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”

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.

Hoekstra then added to the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY’07 (HR5020) a provision that could have enabled the government to strip intelligence veterans of their government pensions.  HR5020 passed the full House, but Congress opted instead for a continuing resolution.  Thus, Ray was spared from having to go back to driving part-time for Red Top Cab.

On May 4, 2006, in Atlanta, Ray made national news by confronting Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on live TV with pointed questions like: “Why did you lie to get us into a war that was not necessary and that has caused these kinds of casualties?” (The impromptu, four-minute mini-debate that followed is still receiving hits on You Tube.)

Ray’s opinion pieces have appeared in many leading newspapers here and abroad.  His website writings are posted first on consortiumnews.com, and are usually carried on other websites as well.  He has debated at the Oxford Forum and appeared on Charlie Rose, The Newshour, CNN, and numerous other TV & radio programs and documentaries. Ray has lectured to a wide variety of audiences here and abroad.

Ray studied theology and philosophy (as well as his major, Russian) at Fordham University, from which he holds two degrees.  He also holds a Certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown University.  A Catholic, Mr. McGovern has been worshipping for over a decade with the ecumenical Church of the Saviour and teaching at its Servant Leadership School.  He was co-director of the school from 1998 to 2004.

He has been invited to lecture at various interfaith and ecumenical events, and has given the sermon at a number of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues.  He is particularly fond of the “substitute teaching” he has been invited to do at universities and colleges.

Fluent in Russian, German, and Spanish, Ray holds an M.A. in Russian from Fordham University and a Certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown.  He is also a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.  He and his wife have been married for 50 years; they have five children and eight grandchildren.



Share This Episode