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  • Former CIA Analyst: Snowden Did The Right Thing


    Ray McGovern: NSA whistleblower Snowden courageous defender of liberty -   June 11, 13
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    Bio

    Ray McGovern is a retired CIA officer. McGovern was employed under seven US presidents for over 27 years, presenting the morning intelligence briefings at the White House under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. McGovern was born and raised in the Bronx, graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University, received an M.A. in Russian Studies from Fordham, a certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown University, and graduated from Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program. McGovern now works for "Tell the Word," a ministry of the inner-city/Washington Church of the Saviour.

    Transcript

    Former CIA Analyst: Snowden Did The Right ThingJAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jaisal Noor in Baltimore.

    Twenty-nine-year-old Edward Snowden has come forward as the man responsible for the largest leak in NSA history.

    Now joining us is Ray McGovern. He was a CIA analyst for 27 years and prepared the president's daily brief under the Nixon and Ford administrations from 1981 to 1985. Ray now works for Tell the World, a publishing extension of the Church of the Savior in Washington, D.C.

    Thank you for joining us, Ray.

    RAY MCGOVERN, RETIRED CIA ANALYST: Most welcome.

    NOOR: So, Ray, what's your reaction to the news that it's 29-year-old Edward Snowden, an NSA analyst working for a private contractor making $200,000 a year, living in Hawaii with his girlfriend, is the man behind this, one of the greatest leaks in the NSA's history?

    MCGOVERN: Well, all I can say, really, is that this time today I'm feeling much more hopeful for our democracy that I was feeling this time yesterday. This morning I spent up at Fort Meade where Bradley Manning is being court-martialed for giving us the information necessary for our people to know what's going on. Similarly, Snowden did the same thing.

    It's so encouraging. It really is encouraging that a 29-year-old, or now Bradley Manning is 25, but he was 22 when he decided to--that it was his courage that would be necessary to follow his conscience and reveal those documents. It's very, very encouraging to see that young people like that have been able to do some of the things that have been very difficult for people of my generation to do because we have been so hidebound behind secrecy strictures. And some, like myself, feel great remorse that we didn't step up to the plate and do precisely the kinds of things that Snowden, Bradley Manning, and of course Daniel Ellsberg did in their day.

    NOOR: Now, speaking of Daniel Ellsberg, in a piece in The Guardian today, Daniel Ellsberg, the man responsible for the Pentagon Papers leak to The New York Times, he says that this leak by Edward Snowden is the greatest leak in--is the most important leak in U.S. history. What's your response to that?

    MCGOVERN: Well, I think Dan is absolutely right. If you look at how our civil liberties have been eroded, how we have a president who actually says--you know, the president swore to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, but now he's editing that. Hello? You know, it's sort of weird. This is what he said last Friday--I want to read it so don't misquote him: "When I came into this office, I made two commitments ... number one, to keep the American people safe; and number two, to uphold the Constitution."

    Well, hello, Mr. President, you swore one oath, and that was to uphold the Constitution. It's possible to keep Americans safe by adhering to the principles of the Constitution and not playing fast and loose with the First, the Fourth, the Fifth, and other amendments. You know, it's really indicative of how he really comes at this thing that he edits his own oath of office. And that's what's been going on around here, because you know the slogan: after 9/11, everything changed.

    NOOR: So government officials, congresspeople, pundits on TV, they've all defended this NSA program and have said no laws have been broken and that these measures are necessary to protect security, just like President Obama argued when he defended these programs last week. What's your response? Are these programs necessary to defend America's security and national interests?

    MCGOVERN: Well, that's the right question. No, they are not necessary. The real question is why they sing the same song. It's because they're all complicit. Congress either doesn't want to be informed about this or is and keeps mum. The judges are out to lunch. When they're asked to decide something, they always go with the government.

    And so what we have here is a situation that I've never seen before, where the president himself thinks that he can get away with--well, he can get away with murder with respect to the drone strikes on American citizens, and he can also do these kinds of incredibly intrusive surveillance techniques that we had been warned about, but now we have the documents. And I have to say that Dan Ellsberg, to his great credit, he and I, but he much longer, have been calling for people to speak out with the documents. Okay? Now, Bradley Manning did that to a fare thee well, right, and so did Snowden.

    And the interesting thing here, as I learned today, that The Washington Post, would only maybe publish a couple of them. You know. And that's why he finally went to The Guardian and got The Guardian to publish maybe all--I'm not sure, but certainly more. So it's all hanging out there.

    And the interesting thing to me is that when Snowden was asked, you know, what would disappoint you about what you did, you seemed to be enthusiastic about what you did, and he says, yeah, I think I did the right thing, I'm proud of it, I followed my conscience. Well, what would make you disappointed? And he said, if nothing happens. And there you go. You know, what he's worried about is, like, a two-week furor in the press and then nothing happens.

    And that's where we come in. If we can't follow the example of courageous people like Snowden, who sticks his neck out, people like Bradley Manning--they knew exactly what the risk was. You know, it's all really nice to have principles and values, but if there's nothing for which you will risk yourself for those values, you know, if you're not willing to stick your neck out as those two gentlemen have--. I've been accused of having something against necks. I don't. I think necks are really nice. They're a nice connection between head and torso. But if there's nothing for which you will risk that neck, then your neck has become your idol. And necks are not--they're not worthy of idol worship. These gentlemen risk their necks. And that's what we have to do in terms of following their example.

    I just think that Snowden has uncommon courage, uncommon devotion to the Constitution and to the reality that without the information Americans need, we're on our way to tyranny. Yeah, he used the term "turnkey tyranny" at the end of one of those interviews. Well, you know, the capabilities that exist in NSA right now--and we've known for a long time that they gather everything up, a big vacuum cleaner up. Okay? Now, those capabilities are a turnkey tyrannical capability. And when people like Snowden see that, if they have a conscience and if they're willing to risk--you know, if they're--they're not going to just stand on their values or their principles [incompr.] risk and incur danger and maybe have to suffer for this--you know, compassion. Compassion means to suffer with. And they're willing to suffer with those of us who are deprived of the nourishment that comes from the free flow of information.

    Now, are they up against it? They sure are. Not only do we have the government security services, but we have a complicit mainstream media. Let's face it. The fourth estate is dead. The only good news is that we have a fifth estate. And that's--I don't know. It's in the ether, okay? It comes down into my computer. And the sooner that people get accustomed to getting real news from their computer, from the fifth estate, then they'll be educated on these things. And Snowden and Bradley Manning and Dan Ellsberg and others have done a yeoman's service in trying to make those things available so Americans can wake up and see that we really don't want turnkey tyranny in this country.

    NOOR: And I wanted to get your reaction to the response Snowden's release has elicited from Congress. It would appear--you hear congresspeople calling for his prosecution, for him to be brought back to the U.S. to face charges. But I haven't heard of any congresspeople that have actually called for an inquiry to be made about these revelations.

    MCGOVERN: No, that's what I mean by complicity. You know, my friend--my friend. Lindsey Graham from South Carolina told Esquire magazine ten months ago this, and I quote: What senator or representative is going to hold a hearing to find out if the administration is doing enough in the war on terror? I'll tell you who's going to do that. Nobody's going to do that. And that's why Congress is AWOL--absent without leave. End quote.

    So, you know, when Obama talks about congressional oversight, well, you know, maybe before 9/11 there was oversight. After 9/11, when everything changed, you have Congressional overlook. They don't want to know. And to the degree they know, they won't tell the rest of us. So complicity is the name of the game here.

    You know, it's very similar to what happened in 1933 in a country called Germany, which had an active parliament, but they all kept their mouths shut. And we know what happened.

    NOOR: So, Ray, you spent 27 years as a CIA analyst. It would appear that the full brunt of the CIA is likely going to be bearing down on Snowden, and his whereabouts are unknown right now. But what can, you know, citizens do that want to support Snowden and help perhaps protect him? What can they do today?

    MCGOVERN: Well, that's a thorny question. I think we need to speak out. We need to show exactly what he was doing, and we need to counter the propaganda that always arises in situations like this. Some of the pundits and some of the congresspeople are calling him narcissist. Narcissist. Well, if I were a narcissist, the last thing I'd do is what Snowden has done and with great [s{NqwA] says, well, you know, I know that probably this is going to come to a no-good end, as the Chinese say. But that's not narcissism. Narcissism is what obtains in Congress and the judiciary, and most of all, in a president and administration that, let's face it, thinks themselves above the law and above the Constitution. I never thought that things could get worse than they were under George W. Bush, but now I've seen it.

    NOOR: And do you think that Snowden has made some space for change for people to challenge this status quo, this surveillance state that we live in today?

    MCGOVERN: You know, I'd be really interested in talking to Snowden and asking him what he thought of Bradley Manning and what he thought about other people, like Thomas Drake, who had the courage to speak out when they saw fraud and abuse and misuse of intelligence and misuse of weaponry, because in my view this kind of courage is contagious.

    And what we, Dan Ellsberg and I and several others, appealed for in 2004 is for people to rise up to the occasion. And, now, we don't claim that Truth-Telling Coalition memo explicitly caused these revelations, but they're of the same tenor. And there were some truth-tellers then. There are more now.

    And I'm just hoping that Snowden, who styles himself as not an extraordinary person at all--well, he is. He's got extraordinary courage and an extraordinary conscience. And I dare say that there must be some other extraordinary people out there. And if they are, I hope they follow his example.

    NOOR: Thank you for joining us, Ray.

    MCGOVERN: You're most welcome.

    NOOR: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

    End

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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