Ray McGovern tells Paul Jay that Ret. General Flynn advocates regime change in Iran and keeps saying Iran is building a bomb despite contradictory reports by the intelligence communities
PAUL JAY, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network, I’m Paul Jay. Michael Flynn will be Donald Trump’s National Security advisor. Flynn was a US Army Lieutenant General and served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014. Previously, Flynn was a senior intelligence officer for the International Security Assistance Force, US Central Command, Joint Staff and Joint Special Operations Command. He’s been virulently hostile to the Iran Nuclear deal and is known for very hostile views towards Islam recently tweeting a video which argues that the current Islamophobia is an oxymoron because “fears of Muslims is rational.” Now joining us to talk about who Flynn is and just what he might be saying in President Bush’s ear as he advises him is Ray McGovern. He now joins us. Ray leads the Speaking Truth to Power section of Tell the Word a publishing arm of the Ecumenical Church of the Savior in inner city Washington. He was a retired CIA officer and was employed under 7 US Presidents for over 27 years. Presenting the morning intelligence briefings at the White House under Presidents Reagan and H.W. Bush. Thanks very much for joining us again Ray. So tell us a bit about Flynn, he had a reputation. Its been reported amongst other Generals that he was so – what’s the word – crazy, so hawkish that even some of the other Generals wanted him out and certainly the Obama Administration wanted him out. But what more do we know about what he might be saying to about-to-be president Trump? RAY MCGOVERN: There’s a thin line between hawkish and ambitious in this town for the last several years. Its hard to conceive that Flynn believes the kinds of things that he says and the militarism in evidence at the Republican Convention and the Democrat Convention with John Allen – big General US Marine Corps marching in in cadence with other people is unbelievable. Anyhow, what has Flynn really said about Iran, which seems to be the fly in the ointment. Well, there’s a testimony he gave in June of last year, that is 2015. Right before the conclusion of that famous and very good agreement, which limits Iranian aspirations to get a nuclear weapon, and what he said was this, he said, “Iran’s intention to build a nuclear weapon is clear.” That’s what he said on page 1. On page 2 he said, “We do not know whether Iran will eventually decide to build a nuclear weapon.” Well, that’s interesting, isn’t it? It’s clear though. Now, he goes on to say, “What we have here is a threat to Israel, that’s the big thing.” Iran’s stated desire to destroy Israel is very real. They are surrounding Israel, it’s a clear and present danger to Israel. The community in the area we have our eyes on the totality of the Iranian nuclear program. But we still don’t know what’s hidden. What he says here is that Iran is able to make a nuclear weapon without subservience. That’s a lie. Okay? And its also a lie to pretend, 8 years after national intelligence estimate unambiguously and unanimously said Iran stopped working on a nuclear weapon part of its nuclear program at the end of 2003. I’ll say it again, at the end of 2003 – which judgment has been reaffirmed, reasserted every year since and Mike Flynn knows that better than anybody else, so he’s either got some Alzheimer’s or he’s being very disingenuous when he talks about Iran and the fellowship, if you can call it that – that he’s fallen in with are equally avid to reverse the progress made toward Iran and start God knows what. JAY: What is his track record while he was – he worked with Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan. What do we know about him as a General? MCGOVERN: Well, not much about as a General because he was an Intelligence-type. And they are usually not operational people. What I do know is that torture took place there and that Mike Flynn knows an awful lot about that. When Petraeus came in, he came in with new orders saying, “You know as long as US soldiers don’t do torture, the Iraqi’s that doesn’t really matter, we won’t interfere with that.” The way we know that is the most bizarre testimony by Rumsfeld and that Marine General who was Peter Pace, who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for just 1 term. Rumsfeld said, “All we have to do is report torture, we don’t have to stop it.” And Pace, in an amazing interference said, “No, Mr. Secretary, my orders are to stop it on the spot.” And Rumsfeld said, “No, that’s not right.” And indeed, Peter Pace, General US Marine Corps, Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in the dark because Petraeus had instructions called “Two For Two” an instruction that said that US probably shouldn’t torture anymore but if the Iraqis do it, we can turn a blind eye. That is what Mike Flynn knows about and it’s really pretty unconscionable. JAY: There’s been some contradiction. There’s some differences between Trump and vice president Pence. And everyone is reporting and the evidence seems to be that Pence is gonna be an extraordinarily powerful vice president and when asked who he would model his vice presidency on Pence said Dick Cheney. Who probably was the most powerful vice president ever. Many people thought, at least, in Bush’s first term, refer to it more almost as president Cheney’s first term. Pence has been very aggressive in his talk about Russia. Certainly no less than Clinton’s was and perhaps even more. Pence’s biggest critique of Clinton’s foreign policy is that she was weak on Russia. He wanted an even more aggressive posture. Trump on the other hand has made some talk that there’s ways to negotiate and deal with Russia and deal with Putin. I guess its yet to be seen who’s really gonna call the shots on this. Trump on his side has been far more aggressive in his rhetoric about China. And it seems to be, which one do you wanna take on first? Trump wants to beat China first and Pence seems to be more on the traditional neo-con page at the moment which is you focus more on Russia. All that being said, there’s one thing Trump and Pence agree on. And there’s one thing Flynn agrees with them on and there’s one thing all the people so far being talked about for Secretary of State, whether its Giuliani or whether its Bulton. Apparently now, as we record this, there’s a rumor going about Romney. But all of them agree on one thing, get rid of the deal with Iran and target Iran. And that seems to me a rather dangerous fundamental foreign policy proposition. MCGOVERN: Could not be more dangerous, Paul. Witness the fact that this keynote agreement, this keystone agreement was done not only by the United States but by the other Security Council members and West Germany. The economic, the trade benefits are immense. Even Boeing’s kinda interested in this going through. So, I hope and its just a hope that Trump will start to listen to other people. Including our military. Now, unless the new General Dunford from the Marine Corps is different from his predecessor, Admiral Mullen from the Navy, he’s gonna warn the president because after you start bombing Iran, what happens then? Now if you think that Iran has terrorist capabilities throughout the world, which is incidentally, they haven’t been using for the last several years. I think they do have those potentials and it will be very interesting to see if bombing Iran seems to be a solution rather than another swamp that we get involved in, in that part of the world. JAY: I mean I agree with you. The problem is these were all the same arguments that were made about Iraq. I personally could not – I kept saying they can’t invade Iraq, its just gonna be such a disaster, never mind a horrible disaster for the Iraqi people but a disaster for American foreign policy in the region. And everybody that knew anything about the region was saying that. Bush 1 advisors were all writing op-eds in the Washington Post. I interviewed John Kiriakou who told me that there was a morning phone call the heads of agencies, heads of every Pentagon department, every morning in the year leading up to the Iraq War, and he said all of the agency heads were against the invasion of Iraq, all making the argument it will be a disaster. You can’t control what happens next. Some were making the argument that you’re actually gonna wind up giving Iran more power in the region. And Kiriakou says, this phone call, this morning phone call everyday is chaired by Dick Cheney. And Cheney, he said, and you can go watch my interviews with Kiriakou, this is all on camera and I did a Reality Asserts Itself with him. Cheney says, well then quit or you’ll be fired. You’re either onboard with this invasion of Iraq or you’re out. And of course all the predictions of what a disaster would happen, came true. And when they asked Pence who do you wanna model your vice presidency after, his answer is Dick Cheney. MCGOVERN: Well, you gotta remember that Dick Cheney was at least officially a deputy. And the committee that John Kiriakou was talking about was the Deputy’s committee. So not even George Tenet, the head of the CIA was under that committee. Rather, there was a very malleable person named John McLaughlin, and so on throughout the intelligence community. Now what was George Tenet saying? He was saying, you wanna make a war in Iraq? We could come up with evidence to show that they’re working on weapons of mass destruction. It’s a slam dunk. So, what John is reflecting, the professional latitudes in the intelligence committee and the policy committee this is crazy. But Dick Cheney was in charge and Dick Cheney also was in charge of torture. One of the major newspapers in this country called him the Vice President for Torture. Now, he still brags about having approved waterboarding. He said and still says, “I’d do it again in an eye flash” or something. So here’s Mike Pence. Conservative, Christian, fundamentalist. Saying, oh yeah, Dick Cheney. If I get Christian correct, now I think I’m Christian of a different persuasion from Pence, doesn’t he realize that Jesus Christ was tortured to death? Doesn’t he realize that torture belongs in the moral category of intrinsic evil. All that’s wrong like slavery, rape? And yet he said this would be good, Dick Cheney’s the guy I’m gonna emulate, my god what have we come to. JAY: Well for that matter, Trump defends waterboarding and torture too. MCGOVERN: Well, he’s gonna do more of it. This is very disquieting. The only glimmer of hope is that the International Criminal Court is gonna start to look into whether or not our leaders, Bush and Cheney and the rest of them, may order the soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan in particular, will be held accountable. That’s the only glimmer of hope I’ve seen and that really remains to be seen. JAY: Yeah this is, in my mind an extension of the politics of the Project for the New American Century, a documentary from the late 90s. And if people haven’t read that, go, its still online, you need to go read this and see this document because this was the programmatic document for the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bush foreign policy which essentially was this is now a single super power world and the America now longer needs international law. And United States should use its power to reshape the world as it sees it and the route should be taken is regime change in Iraq, regime change in Syria and then of course the real objective Iran. And I think they’re just picking up where the Bush-Cheney Administration left off. And it’s a very dangerous situation. Final word Ray? MCGOVERN: Well the intercedent for the Project for the New American Century was a paper done mostly by American neo-cons Richard Perle or Doug Feith for Netanyahu, first time he became President, Prime Minister of Israel. It was called a clean break, new strategy for securing the realm. The realm, the Israeli realm, and that’s what’s been driving a lot of our policy. One cannot begin to understand US policy in Syria over the last 5 years without realizing cui bono, who was profiting from it. The Israelis have said as much. They’ve said, our preferred outcome is no outcome because as long as Sunni and Shi’a are at each other’s throats, not only in Syria but in the whole area, “Israel has nothing to fear from Syria.” That is what’s getting our President and our Secretary of State say Assad has to go. That’s what’s continuing the carnage there. Now, I believe that there is a chance now that Trump get together with Putin and say alright, how are we gonna do this? And Putin will say, well we had an agreement and all of a sudden your Air Force bombed the hell out of Syrian army positions on the 17th of September so let’s go back to the agreement. Let’s get the people involved. The parties involved, the people of the state in this, get them together like we used to do on such issues and figure out how to do this before we bomb everybody else including ISIS. JAY: Well I think the more likely deal and you and I may debate this in another interview. The more likely deal if there’s a deal is they say Russia what do you want to throw Assad under the bus – in other words – keep the Syrian state as is, the Iraqi as a Syrian army as is but without Assad. But the real driving thing, I think for Israel is not just a Syrian chaos. Cause I think there’s some danger to them and that what they really want is to cut the legs out of Hezbollah. Both in terms of tying the down to Syria and they really want the overthrow of Assad and the Syrian-Iranian connection to stop armed shipments to Hezbollah cause I don’t think Israel has a much bigger objective right now than trying to get rid of Hezbollah. And now they’ve got an American group in power that’s fully onboard with them on that. Not to say the last one wasn’t. And Clinton would have been. MCGOVERN: You’re right on the ground there. In other words, the immediate objective is to prevent the resupply of Hezbollah. That’s very clear. How do you do that? You have chaos in Syria. JAY: Okay, we’re gonna talk more in the future. Thanks so much for joining us Ray. MCGOVERN: Most welcome Jay, Paul. 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.