YouTube video

Gareth Porter, Investigative Journalist and Ray McGovern, Retired CIA Analyst discuss WikiLeaks

Story Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network, back at our live Real News Webathon. If you want to donate, the phone number is 1-888-499-6772. You can go to the Real News website and click the donate button, which is probably the fastest and easiest way to do it. Again, the phone number if you want to call–or if you want to send a check, you can also phone and get the information on where to send a check. Again, it’s 1-888-499-6772. And for those of you just joining us, this is part of our $200,000 challenge. We have a generous donor who’s going to match donations dollar for dollar to get us up to 200,000. And so every dollar you give us is going to be doubled. Now joining us to talk about WikiLeaks is Ray McGovern. Ray was a former CIA analyst for 27 years and briefed–he was part of the briefing process for several presidents. Gareth Porter is an investigative journalist who’s been often a guest on The Real News Network, and writes also at–I’m sorry. You work with–you write with IPS, and Ray, you write at and often on The Real News. So, Ray, kick it off for us. Julian Assange of WikiLeaks was arrested today. So what do you know about this? And why was he arrested?

RAY MCGOVERN, CIA ANALYST (RET’D): Well, first of all, I have to say this trivializes the gargantuan battle that’s going on here. We have David and Goliath. We have something really important that is being–is really up for grabs. We have the attempt by the powerful government of our country to stifle, to make sure that the Internet cannot be used to expose truths that it doesn’t want. So what we have today is, you know, sort of of very minimal significance–except for Julian Assange and his part of this whole campaign. Going back to August, do you remember when he was–there was a public prosecutor who was going to have a warrant out? Well, all of a sudden, that same day [inaudible] no, no warrant because there’s no evidence. Well, what evidence has there been since?

JAY: This is the prosecutor in Sweden?

MCGOVERN: Yeah, in Stockholm, okay? Well, that was when these women finally came forward, after having bragged of their conquest of Julian Assange, after exchanging tweets, you know, that this was really something, and after inviting him, after this alleged event, to come to a big party. Okay? So they go to the judge and say, well, you know, there was something really bad, and then–. So what happens is Julian Assange hangs around in Stockholm, tries to find out what it is, you know, for weeks, and nobody would talk to him. Then he goes abroad, and now they’ve got a warrant. They got a warrant, okay? And the British, you know, always standing up strong for liberty, caved as usual, and he’s in prison. And, of course, the name of the game is to get him out of prison, get him extradited to Stockholm, where my former friends will extradite him to–what?–Algiers or Cairo, wherever they do the special treatment.

JAY: Oh, they’ll have trouble doing that.

MCGOVERN: They don’t seem to have more shame

JAY: No, they just have to put him outside in winter in Sweden. But–okay. Well, let’s get back to some of the–I mean, the–I guess the issue in terms of his arrest is the attempt to close down everything to do with WikiLeaks without any–you can say, I guess, there’s some kind of due process going on in terms of if there’s real charges in Sweden, although it’s rather dubious that anyone that wasn’t Julian Assange right now would be held without bail on something like this in London. But the fact that Amazon pulls down WikiLeaks’s material without any due process, just leaned on by the government, PayPal cuts down the ability to raise money, apparently, Assange’s, I think, bank account was closed yesterday in Switzerland, using all these minor infractions, because clearly he’s broken the rules on how diplomacy and how secrecy is supposed to work in this world. Gareth, your thoughts just on the whole process to begin with. I mean, there is one argument being made by some people who are in principle in favor of all this information having come out, but they talk about WikiLeaks as being a bit like the role an agent provocateur might play in a demonstration, that it’s allowing a crackdown of access to information that might not have otherwise taken place.

GARETH PORTER, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Well, there is, of course, on the left a certain view of WikiLeaks, that it is in some sense a setup, that they’re really manipulated by foreign intelligence agencies and so forth. But the reality that we’re talking about here is that the political establishment in the United States is now striking back, and the premise that they are operating on is that we cannot allow people to interfere with the policymaking process and with US diplomacy. These are the magic words. I was on a program from Toronto this week, the beginning of the week–no, sorry, the middle of the week, which was based on the premise that this WikiLeaks phenomenon is a serious problem for diplomacy as an abstract process, an entity, that whether it was the United States or any other country, you would have to do something to stop this because, you know, a great power cannot function in terms of exercising diplomacy while subject to this kind of phenomenon of leaks of these diplomatic cables. And I tried to introduce the notion that the reality is that the United States is not practicing diplomacy, certainly not in the sense of conflict resolution diplomacy, in any of the conflicts that it is involved in anywhere in the world. Anywhere the United States is directly involved in a conflict or it has an interest, it doesn’t practice, you know, peace diplomacy; it practices coercive diplomacy, which is not diplomacy at all; it’s coercion.

JAY: One of the main issues in this three-nights program is to get viewers involved directly, ’cause we’re not usually live and they don’t usually get to ask questions. So we’re going to go to a viewer phone call now. Joe from New York. Go ahead, Joe.

JOE, CALLER (NEW YORK): Good evening, folks.


JAY: Hey, Joe. Joe, let me suggest something. You’ve got to turn the sound off on your computer, ’cause you’re going to–otherwise we’re going to get an echo, ’cause there’s a delay in the way it goes out.

JOE: Alright. I got it down now.

JAY: Okay. Go ahead, Joe.

JOE: You’re talking like you know the answers. Everything you fellas are saying is theory, just like–. How should I say this-? Mr. McGovern, the other day you ended your interview by saying everything in The New York Times was drivel.

MCGOVERN: Drivel, yeah.

JOE: That was correct, okay? And I believe this WikiLeaks, if you read my email, okay, is a diversion, okay, from the real problem that we should be discussing, the implosion of the world economy. And I believe this WikiLeaks is a means of them diverting our attention from that. So we should be concentrating on that, because the people in power are on the verge of losing control, and we have to find an alternative. And WikiLeaks hasn’t released anything that we do not know. That’s all I have to say.

JAY: Okay. Thanks, Joe. Well, your audio is a little broken up, but I understood your question and I’ll pose it again to our guests. So Joe is saying that there’s really nothing so–such great revelations in what Wikipedia [sic] came out with, and what it’s actually been is a big diversion from how serious the economic crisis is right now. And I’ll add some words to what he said, ’cause I know where he’s going with this, I think, although he accuses us at the beginning of thinking we know everything. But anyway, Joe, I think what you’re saying is that we’re in such a serious moment historically right now and we’re all talking about WikiLeaks, which wasn’t such a big deal as what it was. So what’s your take on this, Ray?

MCGOVERN: Well, I think that the thing has an inertia kind of dynamic of its own. I mean, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are the ones that are calling the shots with respect to timing. So fitting that into some larger purpose that would serve the US government is a little strained in my view. It is what it is. That’s the strange thing about this. I mean, the guy is the real deal, in my view, and so is his effort, and so is the fellow that gave him the–if it is Private [Bradley] Manning, he said he wanted the world to know what’s going on and to discuss it before it continues.

JAY: But does it concern you a bit–and it put some doubt in my mind, although in the end I believe this is what it is, but the reason why there isn’t more transparency in “diplomacy”–and I’m putting quotation marks around it, Gareth, as you said–is because most foreign policy is, for the most part, banal, narrow-minded national interest, which means the interests of the elite of each country, and it’s so much just about making money and defending their commercial interests? And if they actually said that it wasn’t about democracy and it wasn’t about defending freedom and it wasn’t about all the high-minded things, for starters, it’s pretty hard to get kids to volunteer in armies to go get killed in wars, you know, because you’re going to make someone else either wealthy or something. So the heart of the secrecy is that they don’t want to be transparent about the motive and the agenda. That being said, not that much of that came out of these leaks. It’s not like you got–that veil didn’t really come down. It was kind of if the veil is here, it was, like, up here. Go ahead, Gareth.

PORTER: And there are two points about that. There are two reasons why that is true. I think it is the case that that message has not–certainly not come out as a result of the diplomatic cables. And I think there are two reasons. One is that obviously most of the diplomacy is routine conversations about things that do not raise those issues, and certainly do not do so in a way that allows for that transparency, for an understanding of the motives behind US policy, for the most part. There are exceptions, however, of course. And those–one of the exceptions is some of the cables that have to do with Iran, specifically. This is the case that we’ve talked about on The Real News Network, which is the revelation that the United States was pushing this idea of Iran acquiring long-range missiles from North Korea which could menace the cities of Europe. Why? Why was this being pushed by the United States, a year ago or so, in a meeting with the Russians? Because they were trying to justify missile defense for Europe. Why missile defense for Europe? Not because Iran was threatening Europe; nobody really believes that. It was because this is really big money behind missile defense. There are huge, huge amounts of money to be made in this. And that’s why there’s such momentum behind it bureaucratically and politically in this country.

JAY: There was also an argument at the time that while this was said to be about Iran, a lot of people thought this was more about an encirclement of Russia. And so that–there could be other reasons for this.

PORTER: Right. But the Iran angle is–you know, clearly the only reason for it was to push missile defense in Europe, so that a lot of people in this country who are arms manufacturers can make a lot of money, and so that the bureaucrats who are pushing the programs within the military and Defense Department could have done so

JAY: Now, you did some specific work on this issue, looking at some of the leaks that were not published in The New York Times on the question of Arab regime support for–.

PORTER: Right. And–.

JAY: What did you find?

PORTER: But let me just make–the larger point here is the second reason that the message about the real motives in US policy does not become clearer because of WikiLeaks is that where there is an exception here, and where the documents do shed light on it, The New York Times has the franchise on saying what they really mean, and they tell the world–the Washington Post follows them–saying, oh, yeah, this is showing that Iran really is a menace to Europe. And therefore it’s exactly the opposite message of what is in the documents.

JAY: Why? What did you find that’s the opposite?

PORTER: Well, in the case of this, of course, what I found was that the Russians, who really were very well informed about this issue of the phantom missile, said, no way. I mean, we’ve been following this for years. There’s no evidence whatsoever that this missile even exists, let alone that it’s been tested.

MCGOVERN: I saw its picture.

PORTER: Exactly. I mean–.

MCGOVERN: It’s a dummy.

PORTER: It’s a dummy. Yeah. So, anyway, I mean, the evidence was very powerful in this document. Had it been covered, you know, accurately, honestly by The New York Times, that message should have gotten out, but it didn’t.

MCGOVERN: There’s another aspect here, and that is we’re dealing with secret and confidential messages. There are a couple of top secret, but not very many. The real deal happens at the top secret: no diss, no dissemination, executive dissemination, and so forth, or in codeword traffic. And so you wouldn’t expect to see any allusion to the objective to build permanent military bases in Afghanistan or Iraq or how much natural gas really lies in Turkmenistan.

JAY: Yeah. I mean, I don’t think we saw any cables about the issue of pipelines through Pakistan and the issues of China’s influence in Pakistan and these sorts of things.

MCGOVERN: But what you do see, and, you know, there are a myriad subjects–bear in mind, we’ve got 1 percent of the latest released now. But even so, when you talk about how it reflects on what the United States has become, we used to be real big on the rule of law, right, and things like torture were beyond the pale, and we would pursue torturers. And here we have the United States leaning very hard on the government of Spain, the government of Germany, saying, look, okay, we know we tortured your citizens, but you take that to a judicial proceeding and our bilateral relationship will be seriously affected. Well, that’s pretty darned blatant, you know? And the worst, of course, is that these governments, old European governments, if you want, according to Rumsfeld, they just cave, and they tolerate the interference in their judicial process and the picking judges and squashing cases. It’s really–so there’s a lot you can get through that, and we’re only just begun, as the song says.

JAY: Right. We have another caller, Ahmed from Toronto. Go ahead. Ahmed, are you there?


JAY: Yes. Go ahead.

AHMED: Hello?

JAY: Yes, go ahead with your question.

AHMED: Yes. My question was, what seemed before, the United States was creating wars before, since Vietnam to Korea, whatever, what have you, and even started in the Second World War, and this was all for the United States to go and to be the only superpower of the world. But now we’ve seen new modern wars. It’s not fighting communists anymore or to be the only superpower, because the United States evidently they’re only superpower in the world. So now we’re seeing different wars, like Iraq and Afghanistan, which is oil and gas and Middle East governments. So what should I take from the escalation, the United States, of the problem between North Korea and South Korea now?

JAY: Alright, so the question’s about North Korea and South Korea. I mean, this is an interesting thing.

AHMED: Yeah. Why–what’s the reason behind all this escalation?

JAY: Alright. Okay. Thanks, Ahmed. We’re going to cut off now, but I’m going to re-pose your question here, ’cause that may have been a little difficult to hear. So the question is about US policy in North Korea and South Korea. But if you take it back to the WikiLeaks issue, this is again something I find a little interesting, or something which is–like, when it comes to the Middle East, most of the leaks somehow help the US and Israeli position. When it comes to Korea–.

PORTER: The way they were covered. The way they were covered.

JAY: The way they were–. Exactly. Okay, the way they were covered.

PORTER: It’s a key point, the key point.

JAY: Yeah, you’re right. That is a key point, yes. When it comes to Korea, though, it’s somewhat similar, ’cause, I mean, it’s not bad, I would think, for the US position to make it clearer to the North Koreans that–at least according to these cables, that maybe China’s ready to bail on them. But at any rate, talk about WikiLeaks in the Koreas.

PORTER: Well, I mean, that’s the only one, as far as I know, that has really come out that has any significant, you know, substantive bearing on the question of the policies of the major players in the Korean conflict. It seems to me–I think there must be more to come in the future about this, because there has been such an absence of documentation on that issue, on that set of issues surrounding Korea, its–North Korea and its nuclear program, as well as the North-South relationship and the role of the United States in all this. And, you know, what I’m going to be looking for, frankly, from the diplomatic cables is something that helps to understand why the North Koreans since the beginning of 2010 have been so aggressive in trying to, you know, take initiatives militarily, assuming that the Cheonan sinking really was North Korean. I don’t know the truth, but let’s assume for the moment that that was the case.

JAY: And there is dispute about it. But–.

PORTER: There’s dispute about it, and, you know, I don’t claim to know the truth, but assuming for the moment that that was the case, and then you have the use of force, you know, shelling an Island enough to really rile the Americans as well as the South Koreans, it begs the question of what’s going on here. And the American news media again have done the thing that they always do, which is to analyze the problem or report on the problem as–exactly the way Washington, the State Department, and the Pentagon, and the White House would want them to report on it.

JAY: That’s–which is your point is that whatever the existing narrative was, WikiLeaks is playing into that narrative.

PORTER: That’s right. And so what they’re reporting is, well, I mean, this is just North Korea being North Korea: they’re aggressive; nobody understands them; they’re mysterious; we have to–you know, we now have to go to our hard posture, because otherwise we’d be rewarding the North Koreans, and so we can’t have any diplomacy with the North Koreans. And the point I want to make is this, that there is only one source that I’ve seen that really shed some light on this, by bringing up the history of the North Korean policy with regard to the diplomacy of the conflict. What North Koreans have always wanted, of course, is a peace agreement with the United States, an end to the state of war, which has never ended since 1953, since the armistice. And the North Koreans have come back to this from time to time. In January of this year, the North Koreans again formally proposed to the United States to negotiate a peace treaty, and they said, if you negotiate a peace treaty, we will then stop our nuclear weapons program. They simply put it that way, that–. So there is a reason, there is a set of reasons for what we’ve seen in recent months, but it has not been apparent, you know, from the news media. And I would hope that the WikiLeaks cables would shed light on this. We’ll have to see.

JAY: Ray.

MCGOVERN: You know, there’s an aspect here that needs to be emphasized with respect to what you could expect to get out of these diplomatic cables. These are written by foreign service officers who want to get promoted, okay? So are you going to see something in cables from Middle Eastern countries that will reflect poorly on Israel or on our policy toward Israel or Israel’s influence on us? No, you won’t find that. Similarly with respect to Korea, if there’s some doubt, which there is great doubt about whether the North Koreans sunk that ship earlier, are you going to find a cable that says, you know, this is rather plausible scenario here with this mine that could have gone–? You’re not going to find any of that, because these people want to get promoted, and they don’t want to tell any bad news to–.

JAY: David from Los Angeles writes a question over Skype to us or an email, which is: is there any proof that the US government is directly leaning on these foreign governments to crack down on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange? Any evidence of that? Or are they simply doing it for their own reasons?

MCGOVERN: Well, if you accept that Ann, whatever her last name is, the primary complaint person there,–

JAY: This is one of the two women in Sweden that has instigated these charges.

MCGOVERN: –that she’s tied in with CIA front organizations, to include Luis Posada Carriles, the fellow who really downed a Cuban airliner with a sports team on it. You know, there’s some reason to believe that she’s got what we call a 201 file in the agency, and that when it was learned or when she was put up to going to bed with Assange, that there was a plan there where they could get him. It’s–you know, it’s classic. It’s–they call it a honey trap, okay?

JAY: It’s classic and it’s possible. We don’t know for sure.

MCGOVERN: Yeah. Well, we’ve got–.

JAY: But we don’t–what do we know about her connection to–. She was in Cuba for a while.

MCGOVERN: Well, she worked with this organization, Cuban exile sort of organization. She was thrown out of Cuba. She–and she–one of the companies sort of run by who knows whom, but could be my former colleagues, was one that Posada Carriles is connected with. So she’s got a record, you know, of contacts with some folks that don’t always tell the truth. Let me put it that way. So we have to take this all into account. And, you know, this is so classic.

JAY: But the other thing, part of this is that the elites in either–whether it’s in England or in Europe, they’re all involved in the same kind of machinations. Maybe they’re not the superpower, but none of them want transparent diplomacy. So they have their own reasons not for–to not like what WikiLeaks is doing. I mean, someday it could be them.

MCGOVERN: But they all keep their condoms on. I’m sorry.

JAY: Okay. JD from Toronto has joined us. JD, go ahead.

JD, CALLER (TORONTO): Oh, hi, Paul. I speak fairly quickly so you may want to ask me to rephrase the question I put to you for your panel. I’m fairly technical, and I follow your show quite carefully. I’m a supporter a donator of some sort I watched [Zbigniew] Brzezinski on the PBS show with Judy Woodruff on November 30, and Brzezinski said that given the materials, the pointed materials coming out of the WikiLeaks currently, really it looked like some agency was feeding WikiLeaks those materials. And that’s one question I would like the panel to think about.

JAY: You said that it was Brzezinski had said that?

JD: The second question was with regard to–. Sorry?

JAY: I’m sorry. That was Brzezinski, you said? Zbigniew Brzezinski, you said, said this?

JD: Yes, November 30, 2010, PBS interview.

JAY: Okay. Yeah, go ahead.

JD: It’s on YouTube. So the second question was with regard to ownership of some domain names. And quite by accident, a year and a half ago I determined that The Globe and Mail‘s Web servers are not in Canada; they’re in Chicago. As I said, I’m technically competent. So when you go to a .ca Globe and Mail website, it’s going to Chicago. And there was a recent ruling in the US that suggests that the location of the server depends upon the ownership of the transactions into that server. Now, if a server is in Canada, you find that they guarantee ownership of or control of Canadian transactions to .ca domain names. So that’s a question I’d like, again, to put to your audience, what do you think is the issue there for Canadians in going to The Globe and Mail, for example?

JAY: Well, I’ll tell you what–yeah. We’re going to have a really knowledgeable panel tomorrow night–I’m not sure if my guests know the server law and that kind of issue. But tomorrow night we’re doing a panel about the Amazon takedown of WikiLeaks, and the three people on that panel are real experts in this area. So let me pose this question tomorrow night. Your first question about Brzezinski and the possibility that deliberately leaks [sic], let me take that up now. Is that okay?

JD: I’d like to add one more because Ray McGovern’s there.

JAY: Okay. Go ahead.


JD: You know, again, I follow the Canadian academics and 9/11 quite carefully, and–don’t smile, Paul.

JAY: Oh, no, I–not at all. I was smiling ’cause I put my hand up to Ray to just hold a second. I was not smiling at what you said. Go ahead.

JD: Okay, because, you know, there are credible people with credible credentials risking their careers speaking to this issue. And, you know, I’ve got, you know, a degree in science. And, you know, you can’t get freefall from World Trade Center Number Seven, it doesn’t happen in freefall. So my question is more with regard to why is Fox News, and specifically Geraldo Rivera, speaking about 9/11 as an inside job? Fox would be the last group to speak about this.

JAY: Okay. Well, let me–let me start–okay, well, so we’re going to do with question one and question three, and question two we’re doing tomorrow night. Alright. So let’s start with question one. Brzezinski and some others have suggested that–I didn’t hear the interview, but let me pose it the way I’ve heard it that makes the most possible sense, not that necessarily the whole WikiLeaks dump is some maneuver or it was deliberate, though some people have said that, but more that they knew it was happening, they knew it might happen, and in the context of all that, there might be some deliberate misinformation established. And there is another piece to this, which–I’m not sure everybody’s heard this point, which is that–if I’m–SIPR Network, I think it’s called.


JAY: SIPRNet, which was the database network all this was on, and apparently as many as 2.5 million people had access to this.

MCGOVERN: That’s right.

JAY: You’ve got to figure, if there’s going to be leaks when 2.5 million people–maybe not a leak the size of WikiLeaks, but you’ve got to figure, if you put out some cable, there’s a good likelihood somebody’s going to say something to some journalist about it or something. So what do you think about the possibility of deliberately planted information within the context of this?

MCGOVERN: Well, SIPRNet’s first. Who was responsible for that?

JAY: I believe–I think it’s–was the–Condoleezza Rice wasn’t it?

MCGOVERN: His last name was Powell and his first name was Colin.

JAY: I–is that right?

MCGOVERN: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I heard this right after 9/11.

JAY: Wilkerson told me it was under Rice’s watch.

MCGOVERN: Yeah, well, Rice was responsible for other indignities, but this was Powell caving in. He knew better. He knows better than to put 2.5 million people on that kind of thing. But, well, getting back to Brzezinski, you know, there’s this whole saying: old soldiers never die; they just fade away. Well, old national security advisers never die either, and they don’t fade away; they always show up at these things. He revealed a complete ignorance with respect to the mechanics of how this happened. In answer to these questions, he was just completely at sea in terms of figure out how this could’ve been inserted. He didn’t realize that what Bradley Manning, if he’s the guy, did was to take an empty CD and put it in there and take it out. And there’s no way you can ask Bradley Manning go back to his tent and–. You know. I mean, let’s–. So my caution is that, you know, PBS really ought to find somebody a little bit younger or somebody who reads this stuff. You know?

JAY: Well, what’s your take, Gareth? ‘Cause–.

PORTER: I absolutely agree with what Ray is saying. I–he couldn’t have put it better. I think this is an absolutely perfect putdown–takedown, I think, is the more correct term, of Zbigniew Brzezinski. I mean, he’s said a few intelligent things in his life, but, you know, he has said a lot of things that are not intelligent, and this is perhaps the least intelligent thing, apart from his advocacy of the jihadism in Afghanistan the 1980s.

JAY: No, but I–let me put it as a way that I think might make some sense, which is, without any foreknowledge there would ever be a WikiLeaks leak, some of this stuff is written in cables thinking it might leak in some way, because you just figure 2.5 million people on this thing, something’s going to get out. So if you want to put out some misinformation, it’s a way to do it, make it look clean

PORTER: Well, I mean, Zbig did not come up with any specific item that he thought was a plausible candidate for that. I’m waiting for him to do that before one can take seriously [inaudible]

MCGOVERN: Yeah, I wouldn’t buy that, Paul. That’s just–you know, who–how many of those 2.5 million people knew that that there are 2.5 million people on there? They probably all felt, you know, that it would be a little difficult to do that, in my view.

PORTER: I mean, the real problem, of course–or not a problem, but the reality is that the White House, the Pentagon, at mid to high levels, leak diplomatic cables all the time for their own–

JAY: Well, that was actually a question that we had coming in.

PORTER: –for their own political purposes. And that’s–you know, that’s worth talking about. But the idea that somebody at some point slipped some, you know, material into a cable that they thought might be leaked, well, that’s not very important and it’s really not very significant.

JAY: Okay. In terms of what you’ve seen so far, and we know it’s just a fraction of, I mean–what?–a quarter million cables, what has jumped out at you the most, you said, okay, I didn’t know that, that’s astounding, that really reveals something?

PORTER: Well, I mean, I think there–in terms of absolute numbers there’s quite a few things that are worth really delving into. When we talked the first time about this, one thing that struck me was that the cable that was written from Baghdad about Iranian influence in Iraq was a substantial departure from the kind of rhetoric that has been used in the past to discuss the problem of Iranian influence there. I mean, it’s usually presented as some conspiratorial thing, subversion, essentially, by Iran, whereas this cable laid it out in a way–at least 95 percent of the cable was laid out in a way that was reasonably rational; in other words, it was saying, look, Iran’s influence is based on its proximity to Iraq, the cultural similarity, the affinity of the Shia in Iraq with Iran, and not the least of the problems or aspects of this, that Iranian trade is of absolutely vital importance to Iraq.

JAY: In fact stuff [David] Petraeus said when he was in front of Congress. When Petraeus was testifying in Congress, he said more or less the same thing. It was actually an interesting [inaudible]

PORTER: Well, that’s not the way I recall. You know, I mean, he was talking about Iranian subversion, not Iraq.

JAY: No, no, no. We did a whole story on this. It’s very interesting is that there is a portion, his first Q&A back and forth, I think it must’ve been, I think, with McCain, but his first Q&A, Petraeus gave an argument why it’s in Iran’s interest to collaborate, to have a constructive solution in Iraq, and gave very similar reasons. Then he gets pushed by McCain, and I’m not sure who the other Republican hawk were, trying to get some rhetoric out of him about Iranian killing American soldiers and all this, and then he finally gave them what they wanted.

PORTER: So maybe you’re talking about later than 2007, which is what I was talking about. I was talking about his rhetoric in 2007.

JAY: Yeah, no, I’m talking–yeah, I’m talking about–well, I–yeah, this would’ve been about a year and a half ago.

PORTER: Alright. Right

JAY: Go ahead: what jumped out for you, something that you said, okay, that’s a revelation?

MCGOVERN: Okay. On November 29, 2005, there was a bizarre press conference at the Pentagon: General Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Donald Rumsfeld. What had just been discovered was that Iraqi prisoners were being tortured, okay, and some US soldiers came upon this. Question from a lady: General Pace, what are your instructions to soldiers who encounter a torture done by the Iraqis? Pace: Ma’am, our instructions are to stop it; they need to do everything in their power to stop the torture whenever they see it. Rumsfeld: Well, I don’t think you mean stop it; I think you mean report it. No, ma’am, it was stop it; we need to stop it. The only time in the whole–my experience that a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has deliberately contradicted the secretary of defense, November 29, 2005. What do we know now from the WikiLeaks? We know there was a frag-o order, a fragmentary order. It was June 2004. So do your subtraction there: June 2004, November 2005. Okay? That order told American soldiers that when these prisoners get dumped into Iraqi–in prisons, if there’s violence or if there’s torture, as long as it’s Iraqi on Iraqi, just ignore it, just report it to the Iraqi authorities who were doing the torture, okay? That is unconscionable, but it came directly from Rumsfeld. What’s my point? My point is that General [Antonio] Taguba did not misspeak when he told Sy Hersh, you know, I thought I was working for the U.S. Army, but I realized I’ve been working for the Mafia the last couple of years. That’s what it’s become. And the Army has become not only completely politicized and willing to do torture and that kind of thing, but they’ve become sacrosanct. Why is it that nobody makes fun of General Petraeus? Look, he’s got so many medals on here, ten rows of medals. That’s more than Westmoreland had. He had only had nine. And they’re so heavy that he falls over on his face on his desk.

PORTER: Sort of like all those Soviet generals, right?

MCGOVERN: And nobody laughs. You know, give him water and–yeah, like the Soviet generals. I mean, I think that’s telling. I mean, the guy needs his medals. And–.

PORTER: And don’t forget the star on his cap, right? That’s the largest star of any general ever.

MCGOVERN: Oh, he does. Yeah. I thought you meant the Soviet generals

PORTER: No, Petraeus.

MCGOVERN: Now–you know, so this is really not what our founders had in mind. First of all, they spoke out against a standing army, because you have a standing army, you’re going to find wars to fight. And, of course, what we have here is a very, very different army from the one I served in. And what happens when they come home? You know, what happens when they come home not having won a war? Okay? And who are they going to look to, take orders from? Well, Cheney, presumably, may not be around anymore, but Petraeus will be around. We’ve got the prospect of a possible Napoleon coming home, okay?

JAY: Yeah, it’s–they–what happened seemed to be–in Vietnam it was oppose the policy, but also there was critique about the soldiers and the generals. Well, in these wars it was: you should oppose the policy, but don’t–but support the troops. But that support the troops has turned into support the generals

MCGOVERN: That’s right.

JAY: –without any kind of criticism, and that’s created this kind of nationalist envelope around the generals.

PORTER: Just bear in mind, though, that you’re talking about the WikiLeaks from the War Logs. The War Logs were much richer in that sort of material.


PORTER: Much harder to find that in the diplomatic cables, for obvious reasons, for the reasons that you gave.

JAY: Well, this is a taste of what we’re going to do more of, which we’re going to do more live interviews, and viewers are going to have more chance to ask questions and get involved. After the break, Daphne Wysham’s going to be joining us, and we’re going to be talking about climate change policy. The issue of donations, of course, is why we’re all here. So if you want to donate, please, you can do it on our website, which I assume you’re on or you wouldn’t be listening to what I’m saying. There’s a donate button here or there. We’re trying to reach our $200,000 challenge. If you’re having any trouble on the website, or you just prefer, you can do it by phone, you can call 1-888-499-6772. If you want to send a check, you can phone that number and they’ll give you the information on where to send the check. We’ll be back in just a few minutes, and we’re going to talk about climate change policy, especially what’s happening in Washington now with the Republicans taking the House. Is there actually–is climate-change policy even on anyone’s agenda anymore? So please join us in just a few minutes.

End of Transcript

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

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.