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  November 18, 2016

Trump CIA Chief Pick A Big Fan of Torture Who Will Target Iran

Ray McGovern tells Paul Jay that Mike Pompeo is likely to follow George Tenet's lead in helping fabricate intelligence supporting an attack on Iran but hopes that honest analysts in the agency will undermine these efforts
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Raymon McGovern began his 27-year service as a CIA analyst under President Kennedy, quickly becoming Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch. Under President Reagan, he conducted one-on-one morning briefings of the most senior White House, State Department, and Defense officials, based on that day's President's Daily Brief. When the flimsiness of the intelligence being used to "justify" war on Iraq became clear, Ray co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), whose first Memorandum for the President was a same-day, candid critique of Colin Powell's UN speech on February 5, 2003. Since then, VIPS has issued over 40 such memos - an average of three a year - on high-priority national security issues (links at Ray's personal website is

Photo credit: Mark Taylor/flickr (


PAUL JAY, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network, I’m Paul Jay. Donald Trump has selected Mike Pompeo as his choice for the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Pompeo is a member of the Tea Party and has been a US Representative for Kansas Force District since 2011. He became a known figure on the National stage due to his involvement in the Benghazi hearings where he questioned Hillary Clinton on, among other things, whether the CIA was running guns out of Libya into Syria. Pompeo once told the virulent, anti-Muslim Islamophobe, Frank Gaffney during a radio show that he thought Obama may have an “affinity for radical Islam.” He’s also a strong supporter of the NSA bulk data collection that was most recently exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. And he’s been openly hostile to the Iran Nuclear deal that seems to be a threat running throughout all of president Trump’s appointment so far. Pompeo supports a ban on all abortions except when a mother’s health is at risk. He opposed the closing of Guantanamo and he is very much backed by the NRA.

And now joining us to discuss a little more about Mr. Pompeo is Mr. McGovern. Ray McGovern leads the Speaking Truth to Power section of Tell the World, a publishing arm of the Ecumenical Church of the Savior in inner city Washington. He’s a retired CIA officer and was employed to help the morning briefings of Presidents for 27 years including Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Thanks for joining us Ray.

RAY MCGOVERN: You’re welcome.

JAY: So what do you make of the guy who’s now the boss of your former employer?

MCGOVERN: Well you missed one. It was a gory enough list there that you had used Paul. What you missed is that he’s a big fan of torture. In other words, if there were any doubt that Trump was talking reality, and not just appealing to the basest instincts of the American people for vengeance, its now dispelled by the fact that he’s picked as CIA director, an aficionado of torture. He visited Guantanamo, he thought it was great, he said “As far as I could see, those prisoners were gaining weight.”

So that’s what we’re faced with here. A fellow who’s gonna turn back the clock and if Obama had the strength of his convictions and didn’t decide just to look forward and not backwards, he would have gotten rid of the torturers in the CIA. He let them stay and now they’re having a celebration with the notion that their new director will be a fan of torture.

JAY: When it came to the lead up, in the time before 9/11, we’re told George Tenet says in his book and its been reported, the very first thing he said to George Bush in the first National Security briefing, was that the number 1 threat to the United States was Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. We know from lots of evidence since, including Richard Clark’s book, he was the anti-terrorism Czar who’d been appointed by Clinton and demoted by Bush and Cheney. That when any intelligence was generated about 9/11 that led to perhaps involving and implicating the Saudis and implicating some of the actual conspiracy that the response from Dick Cheney was, if its not Iraqi sponsored I don’t wanna hear about it. And we’re gonna do a lot more on that story soon.

George Tenet also was one who had his hair on fire about Al Qaeda and so on. But when the pressure came, and Cheney pressured and wanted Tenet to come up with intelligence that justified the invasion of Iraq even though everybody knew Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and they tried connect Saddam to 9/11. Tenet acquiesced, Tenet played ball and he helped generate the intelligence. What do we know about Pompeo. If, and I’m imagining here, but I don’t think its unfounded imaginings. If a vice president Pence who already says he wants to model his vice presidency after Dick Cheney. If he goes to a Pompeo and says he wants to generate evidence how Iran was violating the nuclear agreement or how Iran is building a bomb, or how Iran is planning a terrorist attack on the United States, do we think Pompeo would stand up to that or play ball? And I know I’m asking you to speculate here.

MCGOVERN: Well, I think he’ll play ball. The question is, whether the professionals who worked where I did, the analysis part of the agency, will go along with it. There’s lots of evidence that there’s been great resistance for example, to blame Bashir Al Assad for the sarin attack, the gas attacks outside Damascus on the 21st of August 2013, also to blame the Russians and the pro-Russians on the downing of MH-17 that aircraft, that airplane that was down with 298 people dead. The intelligence community would not come up with an intelligence memorandum. So our leaders had to deal with a government assessment, prepared in the White House by political hacks.

Now the big thing is this, Paul. After the debacle of Iraq where George Tenet, John McLaughlin, all the senior CIA leaders played ball, so that we could be at war, someone got it into their head, Cheney and Bush are gonna go after Iran next. My god, what are we gonna do? They found an honest man to run an estimate on Iran, his name was Tom Fingar, they had to go to the State Department to get him. Long story short, he brought his own specialist in, they came up, they worked all during 2007, they came up with an estimate that said, Iran stopped working on a nuclear weapon at the end of 2003 and has not resumed work on that weapon. Unanimous decision, expressed with high confidence. What did that do? That played a huge role in stopping Cheney and Bush’s plan’s to do Iran the last year of their tenure. We know that. Bush says it in his memoir. He says, this was an eye popping estimate. It deprived me of the military option for how could I authorize a strike on the nuclear facilities of a country that the intelligence community says has no active weapons program? Bummer.

So what I’m saying here is it depends on integrity. And I have more than just a hope, I have some evidence that there’s enough realistic, enough honest analysts left in the CIA that Pompeo would have great reason to fear that were he to do the kinds of things that the cowardly Tenet and McLaughlin did, there would be leaks. That’s the name of the game these days. It’s the only way to know what’s coming on. There may be a break on Pompeo and what he wanted to do and if not, you’re gonna get lots of people speaking out saying, look, they’re going after Iran again. They’ll make him believe that Iran is working on a nuclear weapon. Mike Flynn says it and 8 years after we did this estimate, nobody knows better than Mike Flynn, that the Iranians stopped working on a nuclear weapon at the end of 2003. So why does he say they’re still working on it, 5 years later, or 8 years later? That’s what we’re faced with here and hopefully there’ll be enough honest people staying in there and fighting the good fight.

JAY: Alright, thanks very much for joining us, Ray.

MCGOVERN: You’re welcome, Paul.

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


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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