Mr. Ray McGovern, retired now after spending 27 years working as an analyst for the CIA, did not mince words last Wednesday at the Juneau World Affairs Council when he explained how George W. Bush, under the guidance of Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Donald Rumsfeld, distorted CIA intelligence to lie to the American people and to the world for the purpose of starting a war with Iraq.
Mr. McGovern stated that he, and most of his cohorts in the CIA, joined that service because its mission was to be non-political and "tell truth to power." This used to be the case prior to the Vietnam fiasco. During Vietnam, then-CIA chief Richard Helms agreed to conceal facts contrary to White House foreign policy because he didn't want to irritate Gen. Westmoreland and those in charge of running the war. In the case of Vietnam, truth was altered to serve power and the ideological goals of the current leadership. That was a war started and waged mostly by Democrats who were concerned about being portrayed as chickens by hawkish Democrats and Republicans.
McGovern continued to say that the current Iraq war was started much the same way. CIA intelligence was ignored or cherry-picked and distorted for whatever slight evidence might support Bush in his argument that Iraq was a threat. The neo-conservatives in the White House even set up their own "intelligence" office in the Pentagon so they could build their case for war and not have to be troubled by facts from the CIA and State Department. George Tenet, current CIA director, played along with Colin Powell's exaggerations and with most of the other ideological needs of Bush's neo-conservative mentors, a la Richard Helms.
When George Bush Sr. was president, McGovern's job was briefing him on intelligence matters. George Sr. was, reportedly, a more rational leader than his son and referred to Cheney, Wolfowitz, etc. as "the crazies" who needed to be kept at arm's length.
It was very inspiring to hear Mr. McGovern speak. It reminded me that America has been, and hopefully will be again, a great and noble country served by honest, intelligent people, like McGovern, who love America and have the guts to "tell truth to power," even when those in power ignore facts that conflict with their corrupt and ignorant agendas.