FORMER CIA ANALYST
ATTACK ON IRANIANS
(A WALL news report)
When it comes to Iran, what the CIA veteran Ray McGovern fears most is not an Iranian bomb: It is that Bush may launch an attack before the elections to “get his numbers up.”
He acknowledges that most of his colleagues in Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) don’t expect an attack so soon. They think it will come, but after the election.
A congressional report issued in August titled “Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat” does not reflect conclusions of the intelligence community. “The CIA guys ... don’t recognize the threat from Iran. You know why? Because there isn’t any.”
McGovern, a former CIA analyst and a founder of VIPS in 2003, expressed his views on Sunday, September 24, at a luncheon forum in the San Francisco Unitarian Universalist Church, jointly sponsored by the church’s World Community Advocates and the War and Law League.
He gained national attention last May in Atlanta when he asked Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense, “Why did you lie to get us into a war that was not necessary?” McGovern then reminded Rumsfeld of his prewar claim that Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction and threw the latter’s words back at him: “We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat.”
Commending the antiwar leadership of “creative women of guts and insight,” McGovern deemed them his inspiration in challenging Rumsfeld. Hearing “a new reiteration of various lies, I said to myself, ‘Should I get up?’ Then I thought, Cindy Sheehan or Medea Benjamin [Code Pink] wouldn’t think twice.”
McGovern served the Central Intelligence Agency for 27 years, from Kennedy’s administration to that of George H. W. Bush’s. Among duties, he conducted National Intelligence Estimates and prepared the President’s Daily Brief. On retirement in 1990, he received an Intelligence Commendation medal, but in March 2006 he returned it in protest against CIA torture.
Scene: The White House
Is the idea of a sudden new war by George W. Bush far-fetched? “I wish it were,” McGovern said. He bade his listeners to “Put yourself in a little White House room with Carl Rove, Dick Cheney, and the president, maybe Rumsfeld.” Bush’s aides tell him.:
“If the Democrats take the House, the next two years are going to be purgatory.... You’re going to be impeached.... All the heads of all the committees are going to launch investigations about — we won’t call them crimes, but about the special liberties we took with the Constitution and U.S. criminal law. And not only that, Mr. President:...You’re liable for prosecution under the U.S. War Crimes Act of 1996....
“This Iran thing: it’s pretty risky.... Unlike Iraq, Iran can retaliate because Iran has an incredibly efficient military.... Air Force generals tell us they have these great Stealth bombers. Nobody will know about them until the bombs fall.... We can just knock out the nuclear potential of Iran before they can react.
“That will give us a bump, because then we can say, ‘Look, American people, now we’re in a broader war, and for God’s sake, don’t pull the rug from under us by electing all those wussy Democrats.’”
A former infantry intelligence officer, McGovern scoffed at the “guys in the blue suits” — Air Force officers — who “think you can win a war by dropping bombs and not getting hurt and leaving the ground troops to come and clean up.”
Is Israel our ally?
McGovern faulted President George W. Bush for calling Israel “our ally” and promising to come to its defense. “Israel is not our ally” and the president cannot make it so just by stating “Israel is our ally,” McGovern said.
“I always thought that this was a sign of prudence on the part of U.S. policy makers. Why should we tick off the Arab regimes any more than we already have. Why should we put ourselves in a position where we would be inextricably involved in any hostilities that Israel is involved [in]? I was dead wrong:”
In 1967 the U.S. offered Israel a mutual defense treaty but Israel turned it down. He learned that from a VIPS member who was involved in the ‘67 negotiations.
McGovern sees no nuclear threat from Iran. John Negroponte, the director of intelligence, listening to his analysts, says Iran cannot produce a nuclear bomb for five to 10 years, McGovern pointed out. “So what’s the urgency here?... We’re told that Iran is threatening our forces in Iraq. In fact, Iran is being very reserved with respect to Iraq....
“But the Israelis feel under some sort of pressure because they think that once the Iranians have the know-how to have a nuclear weapons, then their nuclear monopoly will be eroded and their field of action will be somehow circumscribed.”
He placed Israel’s nuclear arsenal at about 300 weapons. When a journalist friend accosted Negroponte some days ago and asked about them, the latter said, “I don’t want to talk about that.”
McGovern said, “When a solution is proposed — ‘Let’s make a nuclear-free Middle East; that should tamp down tensions’ — the Syrians jump up and down. ‘Oh, that’s a great idea. Count us in. You’re going to include the Israelis, of course?’ And we say, 'No, we weren’t thinking of including the Israelis.’ How disingenuous is that?”
McGovern said those pushing the second President Bush’s aggressive war policies “were around in the 80s when I was briefing the first George Bush.... These folks were universally called ‘the crazies’: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Abrams.” Under the first President Bush, they stayed at low levels on the advice of Brent Scowcroft and Jim Baker, who said, “Keep them in positions where they can keep the country out of trouble.” Firing them would have angered the right wing of the GOP.
McGovern said the “crazies” came in with Bush Jr. in 2001, and “this time they’re making our policy.”
Intelligence analysts do not recognize a danger or threat from Iran. So, McGovern said, the administration got Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to issue a faux intelligence estimate whose title betrays its predetermined thrust: “Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat: An Intelligence Challenge for the United States.”
The main drafter was Frederick Fleitz, an ex-aide to John Bolton when the latter was assistant secretary of state. Fleitz had told a State Department intelligence analyst that it was his duty to say that Cuba possessed biological weapons because Bolton said so — sans evidence.
Similarly without evidence, the August report claims that Iran seeks nuclear weapons, intends aggression against the U.S., and probably has chemical and biological weapons. (Source: “Hoekstra’s Hoax: Hyping Up the Iran ‘Threat,’” article by McGovern in Antiwar.com, 8-26-06.)
That report reminded McGovern of the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate titled “Iraq’s Continuing Program for Weapons of Mass Destruction,” which helped to mislead Congress into voting for the Iraq war resolution.
(See on this web site, “Congress’s resolution for war in Iraq was based on White House falsehoods.” See also below, “Iran offers settlement as Bush prepares nukes” and “Bush plots war on Iran: Will it be nuclear” with sidebars.)
Sept. 26, 2006