"The key is to lie first"

An Interview with former CIA-Analyst and Peace Activist Ray McGovern

Raymond McGovern, born 1939, worked for 27 years at the CIA. He watched the developements in the Soviet Union and reported in the 1980s personally to the President. Today he's a firm opponent of war-mongering and politicians like Bush junior, Donald Rumsfeld and Hillary Clinton. His committee "Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)" comments regularly on security policy and presents the Sam Adams Awards. In Germany, McGovern spoke at the rally Kein Drohnenkrieg in Palatinate. In his interview with Telepolis, he regrets his silence during the Vietnam War.

You have joined the CIA in 1963 during a period when the CIA had a hard time. Why did you so?
Ray McGovern: Fordham University, from which I received a B.A. degree (1961) and an M.A. degree (1962) - both in Russian studies had an excellent Russian studies program. During my undergraduate study I also studied in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (R.O.T.C.), was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in June 1961, and served for two years as an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer. It was a very tense time in U.S. relations with the U.S.S.R. When John F. Kennedy became president in 1961, he famously asked, "Ask not what your country can do for you; as what you can do for your country."
With the expertise I had in the Russian language, literature, history, and politics, it seemed to me that I had something unusual I could offer to do for my country, after I completed my military service. The substantive analysis opportunity offered by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Intelligence Directorate was an interesting way to contribute, using my knowledge of Russian and Russian affairs. I was told that this work would be unique in two respects:
  1. I would have access to ALL information collected by the U.S. government that related to Soviet foreign policy, including intelligence from our own agents and other technical collection means; and
  2. I would be responsible for analyzing all that material and reporting the results of my analysis, without fear or favor, to the President of the United States. In other words, we analysts in the CIA would have no political agenda - indeed no agenda at all, other than to tell the truth directly to the President. We did not have to agree with the military that the Russians were all 10 feet tall; and we did not have to tailor our findings so as to make the policies of the State Department look good.
Ray McGovern. Foto: Public Domain
On my first day at the new CIA Headquarters building, I noticed a Biblical quotation carved into the marble wall at the entrance: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." I thought to myself, "If this is true (no pun intended), this will be a good place to work. And it was. It was not until William Casey and his disciple Robert Gates started to skew the substantive intelligence to conform to Casey’s view that there were Russians under every rock in places like Nicaragua, Angola, Granada, Cuba, Mexico - everywhere - it was not until then that the Directorate of Intelligence (the analysis department) began to be corrupted - almost beyond repair.
Analysts were promoted on the basis of how well they could trim their sails to the prevailing winds from Casey and Reagan, NOT on how much they knew about, for example, the Russians. Honest substantive analysts on Russia knew, for example, that the Russians were only 5 foot 9 inches tall - and shrinking. But Casey and Gates (Gates earlier had worked for me in the early 70s when I was chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch) insisted they were 10 feet tall (in a mater of speaking), and promoted those who re-affirmed that they were indeed that tall!
It takes a generation to corrupt an institution, and appointing malleable managers is a classic way of achieving this. The result: 21 years later, the malleable managers created by Casey and Gates were able to find "weapons of mass destruction" and operational ties between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and al-Qaeda, in order to "justify" the war of aggression against Iraq - the most dishonest and disastrous foreign policy step in the history of our country. AND NO ONE WAS HELD ACCOUNTABLE. Thus, it is bound to happen again.