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This would be illegal under international law – and qualify as terrorism – but that hasn’t stopped the U.S. before, says former intelligence analyst Ray McGovern

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KIM BROWN, TRNN: You’re watching the Real News Network. I’m Kim Brown in Baltimore. Without question what’s happening in Syria is both a civil war and a proxy war with outside powers such as the United States, Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia all backing factions that promote their interests in the region. The Syrian conflict is now its 5th year and the Syria Observatory on Human Rights estimates that there have been about a half million killed. So what can or what will be done to end this war? A former top brass for the CIA has suggested bombing Damascus into submission along with Tehran and Moscow if they also want some. Our next guest penned a scathing article about former Deputy Director of the CIA Mike Morrel’s solution. Ray McGovern, he is a former CIA analyst under President Bill Clinton and his article is titled a Lawless Plan to Target Syria’s Allies. It appears on the website ConsortiumNews.Com. He joins us today from the Washington, DC area. Ray welcome. RAY MCGOVERN: Thank you. BROWN: Ray, Mike Morrel appeared on the Charlie Rose Show which airs on PBS where he articulated a plan to bring an end to the Syrian conflict. What was this plan? MCGOVERN: Well his plan is to use what he calls the moderate opposition to kill off enough Russians and Iranians and Syrians to make a point and to make sure that Bashar al Assad will realize that his days are numbers to use Morrel’s words. With respect Assad himself, Morrel advocates a more direct role by the United States Air Force to bomb his personal vehicles, his personal aircraft, and some of his [instillations] just to scare him into realizing that his days are numbered. Now before we go any further that fits the classic definition of terrorism. Terrorism is using violence to achieve a political goal. So it’s no stretch to say that we’ve got our own terrorist here and Michael Morrel is exhibit A. Now one of the laughable things for us to tell us as professionals is for Morrel to pretend that he’s a knowledgeable about what CIA or US Air Force can do. How are we going to do this? We’re going to do this in the middle of the night. In the middle of the night we’re going to send the Air Force planes in and we’ll destroy his installations, personal aircraft, and then we won’t do it overtly but they’ll get the message. Okay the terrorist message. Now you know those of us who have been around for a while, we realize that these radars that guide anti-aircraft missiles actually they can work in the middle of the night. You know? And there are Russian surface to air missiles all around Assad’s personal vehicles, his aircraft, and so forth. So when you talk about naive, the guy doesn’t know what end is up. Let me just add a little flavor here. BROWN: But Ray he also suggested that such a plan, a surreptitious attack on Assad’s vehicles and locations that he holds dear would somehow yield zero casualties. Then what’s the point of dropping the bomb? MCGOVERN: Oh no this is just to teach him a lesson. This is just to scare him. You don’t want to kill him. He said no this is not about assassination. We’re going to go in the middle of the night. We’re going to blaze around and that way we’ll have zero casualties. Again, as though he doesn’t know that there are people around in the middle of the night and that there are people manning these surface to air missiles. What I was going to say before is that this reminds me after Armstrong stepped on the moon there was a prominent astronaut from a NATO country that said tomorrow our astronaut is going to land on the Sun. And the press kind of laughed at that statement. One person said don’t you think it’ll be a little hot on the sun? I’m glad you asked that question. We’re going to go in the night time. He was also going to go in the night time to destroy all the things he wants to scare Assad with. BROWN: So Ray we’re talking about the August 17th appearance on Charlie Rose. And Charlie Rose was pummeling him. Not really pummeling him but peppering him lightly with questions about US enemies and what perhaps our future engagements are going to be. So let me tug on your expertise here as a CIA analyst or former CIA analyst because we have some triangulation of ally-ship here. So we have Bashar al Assad leader in Syria who’s being backed by Vladimir Putin in Russia. And now Iran is also in this mix of actors. So explain how Former Deputy Director Morrel’s comments also brought Tehran and Moscow up possibly on the list of places to be bombed in order to end the Syrian conflict. MCGOVERN: Well he wasn’t that specific. He’s not talking about bombing Tehran or Moscow. And realize that this is his do over. This is his mulligan. His second try. This is the 17th of August. His first try was on the 8th of August. Never have I ever seen one person interviewed by Charlie Rose 9 days later. This was to make amends to make sure that people didn’t think that Mike Morrel was advocating bombing Moscow or Tehran. Now what he did do of course was indicate that he’s in great favor of–he favors terrorism and he favors overt war without any regard to international law against state [inaud.] government and internationally recognized. They call it a regime but it’s a government. It’s in Damascus and it’s headed by Bashar al Assad. BROWN: And also as we are looking at the Syrian conflict and also in the process of electing our next president in November. In part of this interview with Mike Morrel, Charlie Rose asked him about his relationship with Hillary Clinton whom he has endorsed for president and in part of your article you describe it as a fawning audition. What do you mean by that? MCGOVERN: Well it’s a try. He’s trying to appear just as tough as Hillary Clinton and indeed what he’s advocating is pretty much what Hillary Clinton advocated and implemented in Libya and now wants to do it in Syria. It’s a very crass attempt to say I’m only 58 and I’m ready to come back into your administration. We talk about tough guys, tough gals, Michael Morrel I’m going to do it in the middle of the night and I’m going to scare them to death. BROWN: So speaking of in the middle of the night, in your piece you detail how what Morrel is suggesting is illegal under international law. However, the United States is not shy about either engaging in such acts itself or even supporting such acts itself and I’m speaking specifically about the Saudi Arabian led coalition bombings in Yemen to the point that it has caused Doctors Without Borders, Médecins Sans Frontières, to withdraw from northern Yemen because they’ve had I believe 3 hospitals bombed in the past few years. This is not something new to us. MCGOVERN: That’s right Kim. Now what you really have to do is go back to right after 9/11 actually. On the evening of 9/11, here’s Bush and Cheney and George Tenent and Richard Clarke who recorded this in his book. Now someone says now if you want to go after Iraq that’s against international law because Iraq didn’t have anything to do with 9/11 or what happened this morning. And Bush says and I quote “I don’t care what the international lawyers say I’m going to kick some ass”. End quote. [Inaud.] Richard Clarke put it in his book, he was there. Now that set the tone okay. International law really doesn’t matter to the United States anymore. And when you have the Saudis doing what they’re doing and we’re selling lots of bombs and missiles so that they can do it with for a lot of money for the military industrial complex, well international law doesn’t matter. This week Turkey invaded the sovereign country of Syria. I haven’t seen one person in any video say, well Turkey’s a member of NATO right? Are we in the practice of invading other countries? Let’s say the Syrian Air Force retaliated in Turkey. Wouldn’t we bound under article 5 of the NATO treaty to help Turkey repel the bombing or whatever from Syria? It has really become [surrealistic] international law not for the main superpower in the world. It doesn’t really apply anymore. And that’s a sad state of affairs and that’s where Mike Morrel, Hillary Clinton, Trump, everybody sort of fits in and assumes that since we are the sole indispensable country in the world, that means all the other countries are what? Dispensable. We can do whatever we want. We don’t care what the international lawyers say, we’re going to do what we want. BROWN: Ray if you were advising this president or even perhaps the next president, what would you tell them to do regarding Syria? Because the Syrian conflict has not been contained. It actually as you just mentioned about Turkey now engaging within Syrian territory, it’s expanding and it’s really pulling in a lot of our regional allies and some of our regional enemies as well. And it is going to require at some point the United States to take some kind of action. So if you were advising this president or the next president, what would you tell them to do? MCGOVERN: Well Kim we don’t advise presidents what to do. What we do is try to educate them as to what the real factors are. Now it could be because the press is so miserable on this that Obama doesn’t really know [inaud.] who is profiting from this dismemberment of Syria. The answer is very simple. The state of Israel. Now 3 years ago the head of the Jerusalem Bureau of the New York Times visited top Israeli officials and said this Syria is really getting out of hand. What’s your preferred outcome? And they say well you know this doesn’t sound really good. I’m not very humanitarian but our preferred outcome is no outcome. And Rudoren says I beg your pardon? He says well again it doesn’t sound very good but as long as the Sunni and Shia are at each other’s throats killing each other off it’s sort of like a playoff game. You don’t want either side to win but you don’t either side to lose either. And so as long as this continues Hezbollah can’t be resupplied through Syria and Israel has nothing to fear from Syria. End quote. First page of the New York Times September 4, 2013. Look it up. Now it’s very clear from Hillary Clinton’s own emails that this is precisely her preference, regime change. Making sure that Israel’s “nuclear monopoly” remains intact. So it’s very clear that this policy towards Syria which is resulted in a half million killed, 2 million people refugee. It’s unconscionable. And who profits from it? Who egged us on? Israel. But you can’t say that in the mainstream media. So most Americans are completely oblivious to the fact that Hillary Clinton and to an extent John Kerry, have been really carrying out the polices of the neocons who can really, they have difficulty drawing a distinction between the preferred policies of Israel and the preferred policies of the United States of America. That is very noxious. BROWN: His article is titled A Lawless Plan to Target Syria’s Allies. You can find it online at ConsortiumNews.Com. We’ve been speaking with Ray McGovern. He’s a former analyst at the CIA under President Bill Clinton. He’s been joining us today from the Washington, DC area. Ray as always thank you so much for your insight and your expertise with us. MCGOVERN: You’re most welcomed Kim. BROWN: And thank you for watching the Real News Network.


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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