Truth and Lives vs. Career and Fame

Exclusive: As President Trump considers sending more troops to Afghanistan, it’s worth recalling the modern U.S. dynamic of politicians and generals making misguided judgments about war, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

Fifty years ago, I could have tried to stop the Vietnam War, but lacked the courage. On Aug. 20, 1967, we at CIA received a cable from Saigon containing documentary proof that the U.S. commander, Gen. William Westmoreland, and his deputy, Gen. Creighton Abrams, were lying about their “success” in fighting the Vietnamese Communists. I live with regret that I did not blow the whistle on that when I could have.

(I wrote about this two years ago: “The Lasting Pain from Vietnam Silence,” republished below.)

Why raise this now? Because President Donald Trump has surrounded himself with starry-eyed generals (or generals with their eyes focused on their careers). And he seems to have little inkling that they got their multiple stars under a system where the Army motto “Duty, Honor, Country” can now be considered as “quaint” and “obsolete” as the Bush-Cheney administration deemed the Geneva Conventions.

President Trump with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired Marine general.

All too often, the number of ribbons and merit badges festooned on the breasts of U.S. generals these days (think of the be-medaled Gen. David Petraeus, for example) is in direct proportion to the lies they have told in saluting smartly and abetting the unrealistic expectations of their political masters (and thus winning yet another star).

In my apologia that follows, the concentration is on the crimes of Westmoreland and the generations of careerist generals who aped him. There is not enough space to describe (or even list) those sycophantic officers here.

There are, sadly, far fewer senior officers who were exceptions, who put the true interests of the country ahead of their own careers. The list of general officers with integrity – the extreme exceptions to the rule – is even shorter. Only three spring immediately to mind: two generals and one admiral, all three of them cashiered for doing their job with honesty. What they experienced was instructive and remains so to this day.

1-On February 25, 2003, three weeks before the attack on Iraq, Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki warned the Senate Armed Services Committee that post-war Iraq would require “something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers.” He was immediately ridiculed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, for having exaggerated the requirement. Shinseki retired a few months later.

2-Army General David McKiernan was cut from the same cloth. When President Barack Obama took office, McKiernan was running the war in Afghanistan. Even before Obama’s election, he had expressed himself openly and strongly against applying the benighted Iraq-style “surge” of forces to Afghanistan, emphasizing that Afghanistan is “a far more complex environment than I ever found in Iraq,” where he had led U.S. ground forces.

“The word I don’t use for Afghanistan is ‘surge,’” McKiernan told a news conference on Oct. 1, 2008. He warned that a large, sustained military buildup would be necessary to achieve any meaningful success. Worse still for the Washington Establishment, McKiernan added a stunning “no-no” – he said to achieve anything approaching a satisfactory outcome would take a decade, perhaps 14 years. Imagine!

Former CIA Director (and later Defense Secretary) Robert Gates.

For his political bosses, that cautionary realism was too much. On May 11, 2009, the Defense Secretary whom Obama’s predecessor bequeathed to him, Robert Gates, sacked McKiernan, who had been in command less than a year. Gates replaced him with the swashbuckling Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a protégé of Gen. (and later CIA Director) David Petraeus.

Now, more than eight years later – with the American death toll almost quadrupled since the start of the Obama administration (now exceeding 2,400), with a vastly greater death toll among Afghan civilians and with the U.S. military position even more precarious – President Trump is receiving advice to dispatch more U.S. troops.

3-Admiral William J. (“Fox”) Fallon, one of the last Vietnam War veterans on active duty late into George W. Bush’s administration, took over as chief of the Central Command on March 16, 2007. Fallon had already come under heavy criticism from the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute for not being hawkish enough.

Fallon had also been confronting Vice President Dick Cheney’s desire to commit U.S. forces to another Mideast war, with Iran. As Fallon was preparing to take responsibility for U.S. forces in the region, he declared that a war with Iran “isn’t going to happen on my watch,” according to retired Army Col. Patrick Lang who told the Washington Post.

Gen. David Petraeus posing before the U.S. Capitol with Kimberly Kagan, founder and president of the Institute for the Study of War. (Photo credit: ISW’s 2011 Annual Report)

Fallon’s lack of patience with yes-men turned out to be yet another bureaucratic black mark against him. Several sources have reported that Fallon was sickened by David Petraeus’s earlier, unctuous pandering to ingratiate himself with Fallon, his superior (for all-too-short a time). Fallon is said to have been so turned off by all the accolades in a flowery introduction given him by Petraeus that he called him to his face “an ass-kissing little chicken-shit,” adding, “I hate people like that.”

Fallon lasted not quite a full year. On March 11, 2008, Gates announced the resignation of Fallon as CENTCOM Commander, but Fallon’s resistance to a war on Iran bought enough time for the U.S. intelligence community to reach a consensus that Iran had stopped work on a nuclear bomb years earlier, thus removing President Bush’s intended excuse for going to war.

A Troubling Message

Sadly, however, the message to aspiring military commanders from this history is that there is little personal gain in doing what’s best for the American people and the world. The promotions and the prestige normally go to the careerists who bend to the self-aggrandizing realities of Official Washington. They are the ones who typically become esteemed “wise men,” the likes of Gen. Colin Powell, who went with the political winds (from his days as a young officer in Vietnam through his tenure as Secretary of State).

Someone needs to tell President Trump what Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity told President George W. Bush in a memorandum for the President on February 5, 2003, immediately following Powell’s deceptive testimony urging the United Nations’ Security Council to support an invasion of Iraq. What we said then seems just as urgent now:

Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations on Feb. 5. 2003, citing satellite photos which supposedly proved that Iraq had WMD, but the evidence proved bogus.

“[A]fter watching Secretary Powell today, we are convinced that you would be well served if you widened the discussion beyond … the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.”

And on the chance that President Trump remains tone-deaf to such advice, let me appeal to the consciences of those within the system who are privy to the kind of consequential deceit that has become endemic to the U.S. government. It is time to blow the whistle – now.

Take it from one who lives with regret from choosing not to step forward when it might have made a difference. Take it from Pentagon Papers truth-teller Daniel Ellsberg who often expresses regret that he did not speak out sooner.

Take it from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a passage ironically cited often by President Obama: “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now … there is such a thing as being too late.”

[Below is McGovern’s article from May 1, 2015]

The Lasting Pain from Vietnam Silence

Exclusive: Many reflections on America’s final days in Vietnam miss the point, pondering whether the war could have been won or lamenting the fate of U.S. collaborators left behind. The bigger questions are why did the U.S. go to war and why wasn’t the bloodletting stopped sooner, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern reflects.

By Ray McGovern

Ecclesiastes says there is a time to be silent and a time to speak. The fortieth anniversary of the ugly end of the U.S. adventure in Vietnam is a time to speak and especially of the squandered opportunities that existed earlier in the war to blow the whistle and stop the killing.

While my friend Daniel Ellsberg’s leak of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 eventually helped to end the war, Ellsberg is the first to admit that he waited too long to reveal the unconscionable deceit that brought death and injury to millions.

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

I regret that, at first out of naiveté and then cowardice, I waited even longer until my own truth-telling no longer really mattered for the bloodshed in Vietnam. My hope is that there may be a chance this reminiscence might matter now if only as a painful example of what I could and should have done, had I the courage back then. Opportunities to blow the whistle in time now confront a new generation of intelligence analysts whether they work on Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, ISIS or Iran.

Incidentally, on Iran, there was a very positive example last decade: courageous analysts led by intrepid (and bureaucratically skilled) former Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence Thomas Fingar showed that honesty can still prevail within the system, even when truth is highly unwelcome.

The unanimous intelligence community conclusion of a National Intelligence Estimate of 2007 that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon four years earlier played a huge role in thwarting plans by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to attack Iran in 2008, their last year in office. Bush says so in his memoir; and, on that one point, we can believe him.

After a half-century of watching such things closely, this is the only time in my experience that the key judgment of an NIE helped prevent a catastrophic, unwinnable war. Sadly, judging from the amateurism now prevailing in Washington’s opaque policymaking circles, it seems clear that the White House pays little heed to those intelligence officers still trying to speak truth to power.

For them I have a suggestion: Don’t just wring your hands, with an “I did everything I could to get the truth out.” Chances are you have not done all you can. Ponder the stakes the lives ended too early; the bodies and minds damaged forever; the hatred engendered against the United States; and the long-term harm to U.S. national interests and think about blowing the whistle publicly to prevent unnecessary carnage and alienation.

I certainly wish I had done so about what I learned of the unconscionable betrayal by senior military and intelligence officers regarding Vietnam. More recently, I know that several of you intelligence analysts with a conscience wish you had blown the whistle on the fraud “justifying” war on Iraq. Spreading some truth around is precisely what you need to do now on Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and the “war on terror,” for example.

I thought that by describing my own experience negative as it is and the remorse I continue to live with, I might assist those of you now pondering whether to step up to the plate and blow the whistle now, before it is again too late. So below is an article that I might call “Vietnam and Me.”

Photos of victims of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam galvanized public awareness about the barbarity of the war. (Photo taken by U. S. Army photographer Ronald L. Haeberle)

My hope is to spare you the remorse of having to write, a decade or two from now, your own  “Ukraine and Me” or “Syria and Me” or “Iraq and Me” or “Libya and Me” or “The War on Terror and Me.” My article, from 2010, was entitled “How Truth Can Save Lives” and it began:

If independent-minded Web sites, like WikiLeaks or, say,, existed 43 years ago, I might have risen to the occasion and helped save the lives of some 25,000 U.S. soldiers, and a million Vietnamese, by exposing the lies contained in just one SECRET/EYES ONLY cable from Saigon.

I need to speak out now because I have been sickened watching the herculean effort by Official Washington and our Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) to divert attention from the violence and deceit in Afghanistan, reflected in thousands of U.S. Army documents, by shooting the messenger(s), WikiLeaks and Pvt. Bradley Manning.

After all the indiscriminate death and destruction from nearly nine years of war, the hypocrisy is all too transparent when WikiLeaks and suspected leaker Manning are accused of risking lives by exposing too much truth. Besides, I still have a guilty conscience for what I chose NOT to do in exposing facts about the Vietnam War that might have saved lives.

The sad-but-true story recounted below is offered in the hope that those in similar circumstances today might show more courage than I was able to muster in 1967, and take full advantage of the incredible advancements in technology since then.

Many of my Junior Officer Trainee Program colleagues at CIA came to Washington in the early Sixties inspired by President John Kennedy’s Inaugural speech in which he asked us to ask ourselves what we might do for our country. (Sounds corny nowadays, I suppose; I guess I’ll just have to ask you to take it on faith. It may not have been Camelot exactly, but the spirit and ambience were fresh, and good.)

Among those who found Kennedy’s summons compelling was Sam Adams, a young former naval officer out of Harvard College. After the Navy, Sam tried Harvard Law School, but found it boring. Instead, he decided to go to Washington, join the CIA as an officer trainee, and do something more adventurous. He got more than his share of adventure.

Sam was one of the brightest and most dedicated among us. Quite early in his career, he acquired a very lively and important account, that of assessing Vietnamese Communist strength early in the war. He took to the task with uncommon resourcefulness and quickly proved himself the consummate analyst.

Relying largely on captured documents, buttressed by reporting from all manner of other sources, Adams concluded in 1967 that there were twice as many Communists (about 600,000) under arms in South Vietnam as the U.S. military there would admit.

Dissembling in Saigon

Visiting Saigon during 1967, Adams learned from Army analysts that their commanding general, William Westmoreland, had placed an artificial cap on the official Army count rather than risk questions regarding “progress” in the war (sound familiar?).

Official photo of Army Chief of Staff GEN William C. Westmoreland. (Wikipedia)

It was a clash of cultures; with Army intelligence analysts saluting generals following politically dictated orders, and Sam Adams aghast at the dishonesty, consequential dishonesty. From time to time I would have lunch with Sam and learn of the formidable opposition he encountered in trying to get out the truth.

Commiserating with Sam over lunch one day in late August 1967, I asked what could possibly be Gen. Westmoreland’s incentive to make the enemy strength appear to be half what it actually was. Sam gave me the answer he had from the horse’s mouth in Saigon.

Adams told me that in a cable dated Aug. 20, 1967, Westmoreland’s deputy, Gen. Creighton Abrams, set forth the rationale for the deception. Abrams wrote that the new, higher numbers (reflecting Sam’s count, which was supported by all intelligence agencies except Army intelligence, which reflected the “command position”) “were in sharp contrast to the current overall strength figure of about 299,000 given to the press.”

Abrams emphasized, “We have been projecting an image of success over recent months” and cautioned that if the higher figures became public, “all available caveats and explanations will not prevent the press from drawing an erroneous and gloomy conclusion.”

No further proof was needed that the most senior U.S. Army commanders were lying, so that they could continue to feign “progress” in the war. Equally unfortunate, the crassness and callousness of Abrams’s cable notwithstanding, it had become increasingly clear that rather than stand up for Sam, his superiors would probably acquiesce in the Army’s bogus figures. Sadly, that’s what they did.

CIA Director Richard Helms, who saw his primary duty quite narrowly as “protecting” the agency, set the tone. He told subordinates that he could not discharge that duty if he let the agency get involved in a heated argument with the U.S. Army on such a key issue in wartime.

CIA Director Richard Helms.

This cut across the grain of what we had been led to believe was the prime duty of CIA analysts, to speak truth to power without fear or favor. And our experience thus far had shown both of us that this ethos amounted to much more than just slogans. We had, so far, been able to “tell it like it is.”

After lunch with Sam, for the first time ever, I had no appetite for dessert. Sam and I had not come to Washington to “protect the agency.” And, having served in Vietnam, Sam knew first hand that thousands upon thousands were being killed in a feckless war.

What to Do?

I have an all-too-distinct memory of a long silence over coffee, as each of us ruminated on what might be done. I recall thinking to myself; someone should take the Abrams cable down to the New York Times (at the time an independent-minded newspaper).

Clearly, the only reason for the cable’s SECRET/EYES ONLY classification was to hide deliberate deception of our most senior generals regarding “progress” in the war and deprive the American people of the chance to know the truth.

Going to the press was, of course, antithetical to the culture of secrecy in which we had been trained. Besides, you would likely be caught at your next polygraph examination. Better not to stick your neck out.

I pondered all this in the days after that lunch with Adams. And I succeeded in coming up with a slew of reasons why I ought to keep silent: a mortgage; a plum overseas assignment for which I was in the final stages of language training; and, not least, the analytic work, important, exciting work on which Sam and I thrived.

Better to keep quiet for now, grow in gravitas, and live on to slay other dragons. Right?

One can, I suppose, always find excuses for not sticking one’s neck out. The neck, after all, is a convenient connection between head and torso, albeit the “neck” that was the focus of my concern was a figurative one, suggesting possible loss of career, money and status not the literal “necks” of both Americans and Vietnamese that were on the line daily in the war.

But if there is nothing for which you would risk your career “neck” like, say, saving the lives of soldiers and civilians in a war zone your “neck” has become your idol, and your career is not worthy of that. I now regret giving such worship to my own neck. Not only did I fail the neck test. I had not thought things through very rigorously from a moral point of view.

Promises to Keep?

As a condition of employment, I had signed a promise not to divulge classified information so as not to endanger sources, methods or national security. Promises are important, and one should not lightly violate them. Plus, there are legitimate reasons for protecting some secrets. But were any of those legitimate concerns the real reasons why Abrams’s cable was stamped SECRET/EYES ONLY? I think not.

Air Force F-105s bomb a target in the southern panhandle of North Vietnam on June 14, 1966. (Photo credit: U.S. Air Force)”

It is not good to operate in a moral vacuum, oblivious to the reality that there exists a hierarchy of values and that circumstances often determine the morality of a course of action. How does a written promise to keep secret everything with a classified stamp on it square with one’s moral responsibility to stop a war based on lies? Does stopping a misbegotten war not supersede a secrecy promise?

Ethicists use the words “supervening value” for this; the concept makes sense to me. And is there yet another value? As an Army officer, I had taken a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

How did the lying by the Army command in Saigon fit in with that? Were/are generals exempt? Should we not call them out when we learn of deliberate deception that subverts the democratic process? Can the American people make good decisions if they are lied to?

Would I have helped stop unnecessary killing by giving the New York Times the not-really-secret, SECRET/EYES ONLY cable from Gen. Abrams? We’ll never know, will we? And I live with that. I could not take the easy way out, saying Let Sam Do It. Because I knew he wouldn’t.

Sam chose to go through the established grievance channels and got the royal run-around, even after the Communist countrywide offensive at Tet in January-February 1968 proved beyond any doubt that his count of Communist forces was correct.

When the Tet offensive began, as a way of keeping his sanity, Adams drafted a caustic cable to Saigon saying, “It is something of an anomaly to be taking so much punishment from Communist soldiers whose existence is not officially acknowledged.” But he did not think the situation at all funny.

Dan Ellsberg Steps In

Sam kept playing by the rules, but it happened that unbeknown to Sam Dan Ellsberg gave Sam’s figures on enemy strength to the New York Times, which published them on March 19, 1968. Dan had learned that President Lyndon Johnson was about to bow to Pentagon pressure to widen the war into Cambodia, Laos and up to the Chinese border perhaps even beyond.

President Lyndon Johnson meeting with South Vietnamese President Nguyen van Thieu on July 19,1968.

Later, it became clear that his timely leak together with another unauthorized disclosure to the Times that the Pentagon had requested 206,000 more troops prevented a wider war. On March 25, Johnson complained to a small gathering, “The leaks to the New York Times hurt us. We have no support for the war. I would have given Westy the 206,000 men.”

Ellsberg also copied the Pentagon Papers the 7,000-page top-secret history of U.S. decision-making on Vietnam from 1945 to 1967 and, in 1971, he gave copies to the New York Times, Washington Post and other news organizations.

In the years since, Ellsberg has had difficulty shaking off the thought that, had he released the Pentagon Papers sooner, the war might have ended years earlier with untold lives saved. Ellsberg has put it this way: “Like so many others, I put personal loyalty to the president above all else above loyalty to the Constitution and above obligation to the law, to truth, to Americans, and to humankind. I was wrong.”

And so was I wrong in not asking Sam for a copy of that cable from Gen. Abrams. Sam, too, eventually had strong regrets. Sam had continued to pursue the matter within CIA, until he learned that Dan Ellsberg was on trial in 1973 for releasing the Pentagon Papers and was being accused of endangering national security by revealing figures on enemy strength.

Which figures? The same old faked numbers from 1967! “Imagine,” said Adams, “hanging a man for leaking faked numbers,” as he hustled off to testify on Dan’s behalf. (The case against Ellsberg was ultimately thrown out of court because of prosecutorial abuses committed by the Nixon administration.)

After the war drew down, Adams was tormented by the thought that, had he not let himself be diddled by the system, the entire left half of the Vietnam Memorial wall would not be there. There would have been no new names to chisel into such a wall.

Sam Adams died prematurely at age 55 with nagging remorse that he had not done enough.

In a letter appearing in the (then independent-minded) New York Times on Oct. 18, 1975, John T. Moore, a CIA analyst who worked in Saigon and the Pentagon from 1965 to 1970, confirmed Adams’s story after Sam told it in detail in the May 1975 issue of Harper’s magazine.

Moore wrote: “My only regret is that I did not have Sam’s courage. The record is clear. It speaks of misfeasance, nonfeasance and malfeasance, of outright dishonesty and professional cowardice.

“It reflects an intelligence community captured by an aging bureaucracy, which too often placed institutional self-interest or personal advancement before the national interest. It is a page of shame in the history of American intelligence.”

Tanks But No Thanks, Abrams

What about Gen. Creighton Abrams? Not every general gets the Army’s main battle tank named after him. The honor, though, came not from his service in Vietnam, but rather from his courage in the early day of his military career, leading his tanks through German lines to relieve Bastogne during World War II’s Battle of the Bulge. Gen. George Patton praised Abrams as the only tank commander he considered his equal.

Vice President Hubert Humphrey, President Lyndon Johnson and General Creighton Abrams in a Cabinet Room meeting on March 27, 1968. (Photo credit: National Archive)

As things turned out, sadly, 23 years later Abrams became a poster child for old soldiers who, as Gen. Douglas McArthur suggested, should “just fade away,” rather than hang on too long after their great military accomplishments.

In May 1967, Abrams was picked to be Westmoreland’s deputy in Vietnam and succeeded him a year later. But Abrams could not succeed in the war, no matter how effectively “an image of success” his subordinates projected for the media. The “erroneous and gloomy conclusions of the press” that Abrams had tried so hard to head off proved all too accurate.

Ironically, when reality hit home, it fell to Abrams to cut back U.S. forces in Vietnam from a peak of 543,000 in early 1969 to 49,000 in June 1972, almost five years after Abrams’s progress-defending cable from Saigon. By 1972, some 58,000 U.S. troops, not to mention two to three million Vietnamese, had been killed.

Both Westmoreland and Abrams had reasonably good reputations when they started out, but not so much when they finished.

And Petraeus?

Comparisons can be invidious, but Gen. David Petraeus is another Army commander who has wowed Congress with his ribbons, medals and merit badges. A pity he was not born early enough to have served in Vietnam where he might have learned some real-life hard lessons about the limitations of counterinsurgency theories.

Moreover, it appears that no one took the trouble to tell him that in the early Sixties we young infantry officers already had plenty of counterinsurgency manuals to study at Fort Bragg and Fort Benning. There are many things one cannot learn from reading or writing manuals, as many of my Army colleagues learned too late in the jungles and mountains of South Vietnam.

Unless one is to believe, contrary to all indications, that Petraeus is not all that bright, one has to assume he knows that the Afghanistan expedition is a folly beyond repair. So far, though, he has chosen the approach taken by Gen. Abrams in his August 1967 cable from Saigon. That is precisely why the ground-truth of the documents released by WikiLeaks is so important.

Whistleblowers Galore

And it’s not just the WikiLeaks documents that have caused consternation inside the U.S. government. Investigators reportedly are rigorously pursuing the source that provided the New York Times with the texts of two cables (of 6 and 9 November 2009) from Ambassador Eikenberry in Kabul. [See’s “Obama Ignores Key Afghan Warning.”]

Barack Obama and George W. Bush at the White House.

To its credit, even today’s far-less independent New York Times published a major story based on the information in those cables, while President Barack Obama was still trying to figure out what to do about Afghanistan. Later the Times posted the entire texts of the cables, which were classified Top Secret and NODIS (meaning “no dissemination” to anyone but the most senior officials to whom the documents were addressed).

The cables conveyed Eikenberry’s experienced, cogent views on the foolishness of the policy in place and, implicitly, of any eventual decision to double down on the Afghan War. (That, of course, is pretty much what the President ended up doing.) Eikenberry provided chapter and verse to explain why, as he put it, “I cannot support [the Defense Department’s] recommendation for an immediate Presidential decision to deploy another 40,000 here.”

Such frank disclosures are anathema to self-serving bureaucrats and ideologues who would much prefer depriving the American people of information that might lead them to question the government’s benighted policy toward Afghanistan, for example.

As the New York Times/Eikenberry cables show, even today’s FCM (fawning corporate media) may sometimes display the old spunk of American journalism and refuse to hide or fudge the truth, even if the facts might cause the people to draw “an erroneous and gloomy conclusion,” to borrow Gen. Abrams’s words of 43 years ago.

Polished Pentagon Spokesman

Remember “Baghdad Bob,” the irrepressible and unreliable Iraqi Information Minister at the time of the U.S.-led invasion? He came to mind as I watched Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell’s chaotic, quixotic press briefing on Aug. 5 regarding the WikiLeaks exposures. The briefing was revealing in several respects. Clear from his prepared statement was what is bothering the Pentagon the most. Here’s Morrell:

“WikiLeaks’s webpage constitutes a brazen solicitation to U.S. government officials, including our military, to break the law. WikiLeaks’s public assertion that submitting confidential material to WikiLeaks is safe, easy and protected by law is materially false and misleading. The Department of Defense therefore also demands that WikiLeaks discontinue any solicitation of this type.”

Rest assured that the Defense Department will do all it can to make it unsafe for any government official to provide WikiLeaks with sensitive material. But it is contending with a clever group of hi-tech experts who have built in precautions to allow information to be submitted anonymously. That the Pentagon will prevail anytime soon is far from certain.

Also, in a ludicrous attempt to close the barn door after tens of thousands of classified documents had already escaped, Morrell insisted that WikiLeaks give back all the documents and electronic media in its possession. Even the normally docile Pentagon press corps could not suppress a collective laugh, irritating the Pentagon spokesman no end. The impression gained was one of a Pentagon Gulliver tied down by terabytes of Lilliputians.

Morrell’s self-righteous appeal to the leaders of WikiLeaks to “do the right thing” was accompanied by an explicit threat that, otherwise, “We shall have to compel them to do the right thing.” His attempt to assert Pentagon power in this regard fell flat, given the realities.

Morrell also chose the occasion to remind the Pentagon press corps to behave themselves or face rejection when applying to be embedded in units of U.S. armed forces. The correspondents were shown nodding docilely as Morrell reminded them that permission for embedding “is by no means a right. It is a privilege.” The generals giveth and the generals taketh away.

It was a moment of arrogance, and press subservience, that would have sickened Thomas Jefferson or James Madison, not to mention the courageous war correspondents who did their duty in Vietnam. Morrell and the generals can control the “embeds”; they cannot control the ether. Not yet, anyway.

And that was all too apparent beneath the strutting, preening, and finger waving by the Pentagon’s fancy silk necktie to the world. Actually, the opportunities afforded by WikiLeaks and other Internet Web sites can serve to diminish what few advantages there are to being in bed with the Army.

What Would I Have Done?

Would I have had the courage to whisk Gen. Abrams’s cable into the ether in 1967, if WikiLeaks or other Web sites had been available to provide a major opportunity to expose the deceit of the top Army command in Saigon? The Pentagon can argue that using the Internet this way is not “safe, easy, and protected by law.” We shall see.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

Meanwhile, this way of exposing information that people in a democracy should know will continue to be sorely tempting, and a lot easier than taking the risk of being photographed lunching with someone from the New York Times.

From what I have learned over these past 43 years, supervening moral values can, and should, trump lesser promises. Today, I would be determined to “do the right thing,” if I had access to an Abrams-like cable from Petraeus in Kabul. And I believe that Sam Adams, if he were alive today, would enthusiastically agree that this would be the morally correct decision.

My article from 2010 ended with a footnote about the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII), an organization created by Sam Adams’s former CIA colleagues and other former intelligence analysts to hold up his example as a model for those in intelligence who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power.

At the time there were seven recipients of an annual award bestowed on those who exemplified Sam Adam’s courage, persistence and devotion to truth. Now, there have been 14 recipients: Coleen Rowley (2002), Katharine Gun (2003), Sibel Edmonds (2004), Craig Murray (2005), Sam Provance (2006), Frank Grevil (2007), Larry Wilkerson (2009), Julian Assange (2010), Thomas Drake (2011), Jesselyn Radack (2011), Thomas Fingar (2012), Edward Snowden (2013), Chelsea Manning (2014), William Binney (2015).

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was a close colleague of Sam Adams; the two began their CIA analyst careers together during the last months of John Kennedy’s administration. During the Vietnam War, McGovern was responsible for analyzing Soviet policy toward China and Vietnam.

91 comments for “Truth and Lives vs. Career and Fame

  1. August 23, 2017 at 07:11

    Good to see that McGovern finally saw the light, but it was too slow in coming after Helms, Harvey et al. had gotten rid of JFK, and too little about the risks of opening one’s yap about it all.

  2. Tom
    August 22, 2017 at 15:35

    Why do Trump and his generals want the Afghan War to go on forever? Their massive egos. We are superior Americans. We must never look weak. If the press questions us, **** with them. Threaten to cut them off or get them fired.

    All Afghans are dark skinned Muslim terrorists who hide behind their “extended families” as human shields. We must kill all of them and impose our “democracy” on them. We don’t care how many it kills. You will do what we say. Karzhai used to be our puppet in Kabul. Now he’s a joke. Nobody cares what he says.

    The war goes on forever. Defense firms and contractors make even more billions. They give “campaign money” to us, and we stay in power. That’s all that matters.

  3. August 22, 2017 at 14:45

    All of the comments really take me down my memory lane of exchanging letters critical of the war with my brother in Vietnam back in 1968, while my student deferment allowed me to even travel to Moscow to toast peace (and discuss the need for the USSR to push for sincere negotiations in Paris) with students studying foreign languages in preparation for their careers within their system. Mr. McGovern, do not judge your actions or failure to take the action you contemplated and still ask yourself “why” or “what more could I have done” without consideration of the system of that day and its power over us in all aspects-social, economic, psychological etc.! My basic value back in that era was that when it came to it under the rules of the day, I would not take an action that would result in another taking the bullet intended for me as the wealthy who paid “substitutes” during the Civil War. Reasonable actions, taken during a time when the general scheme of events is beyond our individual power or comprehension, must be accepted. Presently, President Trump needs to take “reasonable actions” to maintain the stability of our Country and pursue the objectives that voters decided to support. One action, which takes us back to the time of JFK’s war with the Eastern Establishment and specifically some of the high officials of WWII, is the maintaining of the backing of the military and law enforcement. Gen. Curtis LeMay and his friends were allied with the “soft slipper elites” in their dislike of the Irishman and his plan to change their “status quo” achieved as “their victory”. I suspect that LBJ was afraid initially that Gen. LeMay would replace him. It is important to point out which Generals of today are not to be trusted and to identify which are men possessing the “basic values” of a Republic. The general scheme of events seems to change with every strategy to “take down” the President, and I only pray that the President continues to maintain his position and comprehend more fully the events with the help of the information provided by Mr. McGovern and his fellows. Look for Putin and others providing information that reveals the enemies of the President, such as “Operation Beluga” that specifically was recently revealed with the former French intelligence officer discussing that operation and specifically identifying William Browder who was and continues to use his influence for sanctions. I hope that Mr. McGovern will encourage his associates to pursue an inquiry into the role of “former British intelligence officials” and foreign entities allied with Domestic individuals in opposition to the President.

  4. August 21, 2017 at 20:47

    As a grandmother of young grandsons, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for telling the truth!!!
    Diana Lee

  5. weilunion
    August 21, 2017 at 12:56

    “The New York Times has led the way, with an editorial Sunday declaring that “Americans accustomed constitutionally and politically to civilian leadership now find themselves relying on three current and former generals—John Kelly, the new White House chief of staff; H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser; and Jim Mattis, the secretary of defense—to stop Mr. Trump from going completely off the rails. Experienced and educated, well-versed in the terrible costs of global confrontation and driven by an impulse toward public service that Mr. Trump doesn’t possess, these three, it is hoped, can counter his worst instincts.”

    The United States can now officially be called a fascist state.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 21, 2017 at 13:45


    • Realist
      August 21, 2017 at 16:08

      Whether the generals are calling the shots, or whether it is someone else within the “Deep State,” the insiders are NOT allowing Trump to run the country, just as they didn’t give Obama free reign either, sabotaging agreements made between the administration and Russia–most notably John Kerry’s cease-fires promised to Lavrov which would be violated by the military almost immediately.

      Trump is allowed to tweet on twitter. Otherwise it would look like he is a prisoner in the White House (or Mir-a-Lago). But that’s essentially the extent of his prerogatives. How can Washington be “pulling out of active military engagement in Syria as per Trump’s purported orders,” when they continue to build bases there and are overtly sealing off the northwestern provinces to become an American vassal Kurdistan? Does anyone think that it was Trump’s idea to build an American naval base southeast of Odessa, staring down the gun barrels of the Russian fleet at Sevastopol? Five will get you ten that Trump wasn’t even told about the actions until they were fait accompli.

      See, Washington can do anything it likes in Ukraine because “it was invited there by the Poroshenko junta.” However, Russia acts at its own risk in Syria, even though invited there by Assad, because Washington does not recognise the authority of the elected government. Russia gets sanctioned for, among myriad other false narratives, aiding a decades-long ally, whereas Washington gets to call the shots in a country in which it recently abetted a coup. That’s not just “group think,” that’s an excellent illustrative example of Orwellian “Double Think.” Trump is still playing balls and jacks whilst the Deep State engages in 10-dimensional quantum prestidigitation. His watchers in the NSA know exactly how many scoops of ice cream he had today and how long it took for the dairy product to pass entirely through his alimentary tract. Trump doesn’t even know which of the people coming and going are actually authorised to be in the White House. The man is kept in a constant state of bedazzlement by everyone around him who thought their boss was supposed to be Hillary.

      • backwardsevolution
        August 21, 2017 at 16:47

        Realist – good rant. And I’ve recently read that Israel also thinks that a separate area carved off for the Kurds would be a stellar idea. Gee, surprise, surprise. The playbook of the U.S. and Israel is “don’t ask, just do”. When people later say, “Hey, what are you doing,” their response is, “Oh, well, it’s already done, so leave it alone.”

        They just march into a sovereign country, attempt to take the leader out and destroy the country. When that doesn’t work, they get out the carving knife and start slicing off sections.

        Man, oh man, I’ve run into people like this before. They just keep persisting until they get what they want. Amazing.

      • Joe Tedesky
        August 21, 2017 at 18:43

        I always thought that what we are seeing unravel inside the Trump Administration was what we would have seen if a Paul, or a Kucinich, had won the presidency. Well, I guess it had to be Trump who would be the outsider who would upset the apple cart, and experience the wrath of the Hidden Bureaucracy who really calls the shots. With Trump’s bombastic nature, the Deep State has all of the opportunity it needs, to put in place a coup, and do it with the majority of the public’s support. Yet, if you point this out to anyone amongst the American public who hate Trump, you are considered a conspiracy theorist, and a trouble make, or worst yet that makes you a true blue bona fide Trump supporter. No one seems to realize that what we are watching unfold on our American televisions, is a coup, and they damn anyone who says it is. You can’t help those who refuse to help themselves.

        • backwardsevolution
          August 21, 2017 at 19:14

          Joe – “With Trump’s bombastic nature, the Deep State has all of the opportunity it needs, to put in place a coup, and do it with the majority of the public’s support.”

          I don’t think they have the majority of the public’s support, otherwise he’d already be gone. I think if you listen to the MSM you might believe that, but we all know that the MSM also thought Hillary was going to win.

          Just let them try a coup. If they do, the lid is going to come off.

          I think the Deep State are quite happy to shackle Trump. “Here’s the deal, Trump: you go along and we put on a show for the American people, or you get Dallas’d.”

          Now, what would you do?

        • Realist
          August 21, 2017 at 20:50

          Yes, the media and both parties have, if you believe the data from, about 60% of the population thinking that Trump is an illegitimate usurper who colluded with the Russians to steal the election. If that’s what they firmly believe, it’s not surprising they would tolerate a coup to drive the treasonous bastard from office. And, allowing for the pack animal nature of the human species, they would likely be coming after both his supporters and defenders when the fun gets under way. Probably accounts for even Tulsi Gabbard now joining the pack. When Trump is forced to axe his staff one after the other, including his Svengali Bannon, you know that it is survival instinct kicking in from the pressure he is receiving behind the scenes.

          If you think that Trump is the only target for overthrow by whomever is orchestrating this madness in Washington read this interpretation by the Russian political scientist Alexander Rusin of the sanctions bill. The Russians are convinced that it is an ultimatum to Putin (“and his cronies”) to resign the presidency and withdraw all Russian troops from Crimea and essentially everywhere else it has them deployed in the world within the next 180 days or else Washington will seize all Russian-owned assets basically everywhere. They think the pressure from the oligarchs who would lose trillions will drive Putin out. If Putin resigns, they say, he and the oligarchs can keep their money. If not, they lose it all. Does Washington have the means by which to do this? I have no idea. This is beyond my level of understanding of economics and international business law (some say that Washington has the right to call in every U.S. dollar everywhere in the world if it so chooses), but you can read about it here:

          Just make sure you click on “interpret into English” because otherwise it’s all in Cyrillic.

          If the monumental hubris that the Russians perceive written into the sanctions bill is real, the whole rest of the world ought to be bucking it. Under this interpretation, the congress of the United States has functionally declared itself to be the sovereign of the entire world. It’s not just a declaration of war, it’s a demand for surrender. Since the Dems and their leadership (with the collusion of McCain, Graham and a few other Republican turncoats) are the driving force behind all this, I guess that makes Chuck Schumer (since the bill originated in the Senate) the real new Hitler. Things just get crazier by the minute. What is one to make of this? Are the Russians becoming overly paranoid? Are these just the words of fifth column Atlanticists within Russia? If it’s for real, civilisation may not make it past next January. As the article offers, if Putin is forced to walk out the door or is carried out feet first, his replacement will certainly be an ultra-nationalist who will look to deliver pay-back, not some Yeltsinesque pussy cat clone.

          • backwardsevolution
            August 21, 2017 at 22:46

            Realist – fascinating and scary post.

            “And, allowing for the pack animal nature of the human species, they would likely be coming after both his supporters and defenders when the fun gets under way.”

            My money is on the Trump supporters if that happens. These are the guys with guns. Some of the sites I go on, these guys are buying ammo like I’m buying bread. They’re heavily armed, angry, excellent shots, and they’ve had about all that they’re going to take.

            “Under this interpretation, the congress of the United States has functionally declared itself to be the sovereign of the entire world. It’s not just a declaration of war, it’s a demand for surrender.”

            Yes, that is what I’ve been trying to say for as long as I’ve been on this site. This is what is happening. The U.S. or the Deep State, whatever you want to call them, want to have a world with no borders, no nationalities, limited free speech, no say in what happens inside your country (because you’re always overrun by new people coming in, on purpose), supranational organizations (courts, tribunals) sitting above sovereign courts, etc. No group will ever vote a government out because there are too many different groups now, and they’re all going in a different direction.

            “I guess that makes Chuck Schumer (since the bill originated in the Senate) the real new Hitler.”

            Yes, that’s why I’ve been saying I don’t trust that “seven ways from Sunday” guy. He is the one who moves the pack for the Deep State. You don’t go along, you don’t get AIPAC money.

            This is a terrible situation, if it plays out like you’ve stated. They’ve stopped Trump dead in his tracks. The duly-elected President of the United States has been couped, but few know it. Schumer, Graham, McCain, Ryan have made sure of this.

            The Deep State have been using the Left to help them, and the Left have jumped to attention. They will rue the day that they did this. They think things are going to be all Kumbaya. They don’t realize that they’ve lost their country. Maybe they don’t care. That’s the problem – when you’re from another country, you don’t really have any allegiance.

            I contend they already have China. Those oligarchs are as corrupt as they come. But Russia will be fighting for her survival. What a shame. They’ve probably said to Putin, “Well, you can fight, but is it worth annihilating the whole world just so you can keep your country?” So, what, he has to give up Russia so that we all live.

            Bastards, all of them.

          • Joe Tedesky
            August 22, 2017 at 01:22

            Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the water, and we were slowly moving pass the PNAC Project age, it comes rushing back at Putin just like Jaws, in the form of a Congressional Sanctions Bill, and what a Mean Master of a Bill it is, where the sitting President has no say what’s so ever…let alone the approval of the citizens. Although, I’m sure every congressional member could show me the polls for this Sanctions Bills popularity, well I’m sure their right, and Hillary is our current sitting president too.

            These senators and congressional representatives tell their districts they will do everything they can to bring back jobs to these starving little communities,,well then end all the sanctions. There are other sectors other than the MIC, and even divisions of the MIC like Boeing could be adding 100,000 jobs to an Iranian passenger jet order.

            Instead these politicians are married to defense contractors in their home state districts, and that’s their only constituent, other than AIPAC, who they do jumping jacks for. These politico puppies are one dimension, and it rewards them fantastically well when they act stupid. They are not only wired wrong, but their fluid levels need checked as well. The two dimensional legislators do what the one dimensional do too, but with the added second option of going on cable news and increasing their financial portfolio ten fold by becoming a celebrity, by saying outrageous things. Like bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran….did I get the number of bombs right?

            Very informative posting Realist. Joe

          • Sam F
            August 22, 2017 at 10:39

            Yes, the pressured nation seldom responds as the bully wishes. But the bully often wants to change the dialogue to threats on both sides, creating a new cold war for the promotion of bullies everywhere, and their demagogic politicians. The right wing needs to grow the right wing in its targets. So far Putin and Russia seem to have done just the right thing.

          • Joe Wallace
            August 24, 2017 at 21:15


            “Interpret into English” must be written in Cyrillic. I can’t find it.

      • Dave P.
        August 21, 2017 at 23:03

        Yes Realist, I read somewhere about that naval base near Odessa, U.S. was building.

  6. Daniel Scheinhaus
    August 21, 2017 at 11:40

    This was a fascinating, eluscidating read.

  7. Michael Kenny
    August 21, 2017 at 10:31

    “I succeeded in coming up with a slew of reasons why I ought to keep silent: a mortgage; a plum overseas assignment for which I was in the final stages of language training; and, not least, the analytic work, important, exciting work on which Sam and I thrived”. It’s just a little bit too easy for Mr McGovern to say now what he wishes he had done 50 years ago but didn’t do for the eminently human reasons he sets out. It’s even easier for him to say he would act differently today, when there’s no mortgage, no plum assignment and no exciting work. In the real world, he didn’t blow the whistle. Neither did Sam Adams. Neither did John Moore. He seems to be trying to compensate for what he sees as some sort of moral failure on his part 50 years ago. That sort of “externality” distorts his judgment and his analysis of present events. To salve his conscience, he denounces anything any US intelligence service says as dishonest. He then falls into the classic “America bad, not-America good” trap: since everything intelligence report favourable to the US say is a lie, everything that intelligence reports unfavourable to the US say must be true. I would take Mr McGovern more seriously if he was as critical of America’s declared “enemies” as he is of the US. Just google his name and you’ll see what I mean.

    • weilunion
      August 21, 2017 at 13:03

      Nor did brain dead Americans come to the fore. Dont count on insiders to fight, organize.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 21, 2017 at 13:38

      I totally disagree with your analogy of Ray McGovern young, or old. McGovern to me, sounds like an aged wiseman, who has learned a whole lot over the course of his time traveling through the government maze. And yes, we should be careful to how we judge today’s current events by our pass experiences, but at the same time we should not throw the baby out with the bath water. I mean what is experienced analysis suppose to represent, what happened an hour ago, or what event from a longtime ago is to be studied for current use, and may be suitable for implementation to win a battle?

      Michael your thinking is the total opposite of what they teach at West Point or Annapolis. Sometimes conclusions after the fact, will prove that America isn’t always in the right, and that the truth can’t be made to sound like something of what you may want to hear. As Colonel Nathan R. Jessup, USMC had said, ‘you can’t handle the truth’ may apply to what you are stating, but hey Michael it’s still a free country, and diverse opinions are not only your 1st amendment right, but your diversity is needed to weed out the many opinions of those, to where it counts to be a healthy exercise in the democratic process at work to hopefully arrive at a reasonable solution which may make our world a better, and safer place to live in.

    • Realist
      August 21, 2017 at 14:38

      Mr. Kenny, for every U.S. journalist critical of America’s foreign policy there are a hundred who reflexively condemn that of our proclaimed “enemies.” You might be taken a skosh more seriously here if you could recognise and admit that. Everyone’s moral standards evolve throughout their life as they learn and grow, no one starts out or even finishes a perfect being. We don’t need more herd animals in journalism, we need more Ray McGovern’s.

    • Skip Scott
      August 23, 2017 at 09:58

      Michael Kenny-

      Your comment says more about you than it does about Ray McGovern or Sam Adams. Perhaps you are salving your own conscience since you are helping to pay your mortgage trolling this site with your endless drivel. Hopefully we all learn as we age from our life experiences, but I must confess I hold out little hope for people like you.

  8. Edward
    August 21, 2017 at 10:20

    McGovern forgot to mention Gen. Taguba, who faced a real fight to publish his report on Abu Graib torture, and was eventually fired.

  9. mike k
    August 21, 2017 at 09:59

    The military seeks to brainwash it’s recruits into mindless obedience and conformity to authority. Generals are the final product of years of obedience to this process. One should not expect anything original from them. These are simply war machines, without a clue about the ways of peace. All the talk about honor, courage, patriotism etc. is just bullshit to glorify a gang of murderers. The entire military is a horrible outcome of our collective failure to learn how to love and care for each other, and for all the lives on this beautiful, doomed planet.

    • mike k
      August 21, 2017 at 10:03

      Did I forget to qualify my statement? No, I meant every sword as written. Take this whiskey straight, or don’t drink it.

    • Sam F
      August 22, 2017 at 10:19

      Well said. Perhaps there are books on those generals having risen through the ranks from naive imbiber of the rationales for war, to recognition of the abuses to which the military is put, to wiser leader able to resist improper demands from above. Perhaps Eisenhower. There certainly are cases of those who have left the military with those understandings, and doubtless many remain with good intentions. Finding them and promoting them is a key to good leadership. The simplistic warmongers should not get close to the top generals or the civilian leadership.

  10. backwardsevolution
    August 21, 2017 at 05:43

    Ray McGovern – “And on the chance that President Trump remains tone-deaf to such advice, let me appeal to the consciences of those within the system who are privy to the kind of consequential deceit that has become endemic to the U.S. government. It is time to blow the whistle – now.

    Take it from one who lives with regret from choosing not to step forward when it might have made a difference.”

    Regret sounds like such a simple word, but it’s not. When you’re young, you think, “Oh, big deal, so I’ll have a few regrets later in life. I can live with that.” Not well, you won’t.

    It haunts you, and it’s painful when it finally rears its ugly head, when you realize that this is what you feel – regret. When you realize you not only let others down, but yourself as well.

    Listen to Ray McGovern. This is not something to take lightly. Back in Ray’s day, he thought he could trust the government. You know better.

    • Sam F
      August 21, 2017 at 06:22

      Yes, I recall doing a few small engineering projects for military suppliers in the early 1980s, hoping that the mid-70s recognition of the immorality of the Vietnam war and the dishonesty of government would set thing right, and ensure that those systems were put only to defensive tasks. Soon I heard rumors of the 1980s anti-socialism atrocities in Latin America, the Iran-Contra scheme, and other war crimes due to continuing federal corruption, and stopped accepting any military-related work. Now I feel completely betrayed into unknowing complicity with the savagery of oligarchy, and pray that all of my work was obsoleted before it was used. There are many days in which I think of this rather bitterly.

      You are right that the young builder of career and family cannot look very closely at the ultimate morality of the application of his work, or in mil/intel related work he would be fired, find few alternatives clearly moral, and would have a long sad fight to support his family. But if planned while gaining knowledge of his responsibilities and situation, he can change the course of his career and blow any whistles needed.

      The longer he has been in position the greater his chance of needing to blow the whistle, but also the greater his need for stability, because it is hard to change careers, family expenses rise, commitments to location rise, etc. But so does his/her knowledge of the world, and recognition that the responsibility rests upon the individual.

      Those who do this are among the greatest benefactors of civilization.
      They truly deserve our appreciation and support.

      • backwardsevolution
        August 21, 2017 at 19:03

        Sam F – good for you for stepping away from the military contracts. Great comments.

        I think in Ray’s case he still thought (in 1967) that the government was honest, that they would do right by what Sam Adams was telling them. Then Ellsberg came out with the Pentagon Papers and that was that. But Ray could still have thought, even long after Ellsberg, that the government would have, given enough time, eventually believed what Sam Adams was saying. In Ray’s young mind he would have put it down to “well, the government wheels grind slowly” or “they’re probably just getting more information and then they’ll come out with the truth”.

        It probably wasn’t until much later that Ray started really seeing the dishonesty, before he started to realize there might be another side to the story, and of course that usually comes with age. Once you’ve seen a few lies, after a while you learn how to spot them, but that takes time.

        I’m often amazed and just sit back in my seat when I see people here on this site still naively believe everything the MSM or their government tells them. Maybe that’s a good thing because that tells me they’ve never been bamboozled, but then maybe they just weren’t aware that they’d been had. How many times do they need to get hit over the head before they wise up?

  11. voxpax
    August 21, 2017 at 01:57

    from Bernays’ 1925 book “Propaganda”, “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

    • backwardsevolution
      August 21, 2017 at 04:57

      voxpax – another great comment! That is one scary quote, isn’t it? “Invisible government” is a perfect description. We just think we’re free.

    • Sam F
      August 21, 2017 at 06:04

      The “conscious … manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses” is not always intelligent, as I’ve noticed in dealing with town demagogues, who quite easily learn that selecting and vilifying a group target allows them to pose as the protectors of the group, opposed to the wrongs they have wrongfully ascribed to the witch du jour. It is the skill of the schemer, who simply gathers up cases of tricks that worked, to practice and use for personal gain. There is no moral consideration, and they regard themselves as worthy of the spoils because their scheming makes them “smarter” and more “productive” than their victims.

      Democracy is the easy prey of demagoguery leading to tyranny, and here we are.

      • Bob Van Noy
        August 21, 2017 at 07:39

        Sam F, good point. I think that it is this aspect (the posers) of Democracy, that I find most discouraging. It may be true that Democracy doesn’t work. One thing that’s for sure, If we can’t find a fix, and create a more equitable way of practicing Democracy; it Should go away

        • Brad Owen
          August 21, 2017 at 09:04

          And on THAT note, we desperately need Ray’s short list of officers of General rank who still have a lively sense of “Duty, Honor, Country”, should it come to a “Society of the Cincinnati” moment in our continuing Saga. The best thing to happen to the defeated Japanese Empire was to have MacArthur as their “Cincinnatus” to rewrite their constitution for them, making them the third greatest economic power in the World, behind China and USA.

        • Sam F
          August 21, 2017 at 11:20

          We have the fix, but getting it fixed will be ugly. Democracy will triumph in the long run, but it is a forest of which our tree is diseased. We can save it with moral and political education to produce the informed populace that responds to recessions, degradation, and the defeat of costly military adventures with insurgent organization to bring fear to oligarchy.

          Chris Hedges has some nice articles on this, one at

          • weilunion
            August 21, 2017 at 13:02

            Do not be so sure democracy will triumph. We have not had democracy in the US for some decades. And it will not come back.

            The US is a Reublic, or was, not a democracy.

          • Sam F
            August 21, 2017 at 14:20

            I won’t quibble long, but democracy = republic etymologically (government of the people). Aristotle labelled unstable city states with demagogic tyrants “democracies” while any elected giovernment with a constitution was a “republic.” But all democracies today have constitutions. The Repubs like to pretend that a republic is an oligarchy which is just propaganda for a pretense of democracy.

          • Brad Owen
            August 22, 2017 at 05:27

            There can plutocratic Republics, where the Mafia Dons are the citizens of equal stature, making decisions, and everyone else are their underlings and hired men, retainers. There can be Aristocratic Republics where a group,or “college” of wise men and women who, as fellow colleagues, are the voting citizens making decisions,for the General Welfare, establishing Justice, and providing for the Common Defense. There are democratic Republics where all of age are voting citizens; in this circumstance education is vitally important for National Security, hence determined it should be public and free, with required attendance up to voting age.

  12. backwardsevolution
    August 20, 2017 at 23:44

    Ray McGovern – courage only comes when we’re wise enough to be able to stand back, and that’s usually not something a young man is capable of doing; he hasn’t seen enough. You would have been conflicted on exactly what to do, which direction to take.

    “After the war drew down, Adams was tormented by the thought that, had he not let himself be diddled by the system, the entire left half of the Vietnam Memorial wall would not be there. There would have been no new names to chisel into such a wall.”

    Poor man. Sounds like he had a good heart. As you said, Adams did as he had been told to do, “diddled” with the system (just as Edward Snowden had done). He trusted the system. He couldn’t have known that the system is set up to “diddle” with him, stall him.

    It’s set up this way because they ALREADY know the truth; they just want to know who else knows it, and then contain it. Adams couldn’t have known this. Had he known this, had you known this, you would have gone with your “solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic”.

    You did the best you could do with the information you had at the time; you went with your superiors as you had been taught to do. It is your superiors who let you down.

    I like this quote: “It’s hard to know what the right thing is. But once you know what is right, then it’s hard not to do it.”

    You’re doing it now, Ray. You should be very proud of yourself.

    • f f skitty
      August 21, 2017 at 02:06

      chomsky said it is pointless to speak truth to power because power already knows the truth.
      – viet vet

      • backwardsevolution
        August 21, 2017 at 03:08

        f f skitty – yes, I think Chomsky is right there. But as a young analyst, you probably wouldn’t know things like that yet, would you? You’d think, “Well, I’ll just tell my supervisor and he’ll correct things”. Yeah, right! I’m surprised that Daniel Ellsberg got off so easily. Probably wouldn’t happen now. Good comment, f f skitty.

  13. Joe Tedesky
    August 20, 2017 at 23:20

    Since apologizing is the topic, I would like to apologize, as well. The only good excuse I have, is that for the most part I have always been found, to be somewhere in the crowd where we heard the bad news, and then we rolled over figuring that the government knew what it was doing. People such as myself, go about our daily life, relying on way to much that our media is telling us the truth. Should we have questioned our media more? Well yes, but we didn’t. Did we escape our getting involved, as we chucked it off that what whistleblowers, such as Ellsberg and Manning, when revealing the nasty hidden truth, was probably not the truth? You bet we did, because we believed, or we found it easier to believe, that our government would never lie to us. I mean they just wouldn’t, and after all why would they? So, when all is said and done, these terribly destructive wars are the result of everyone’s failure, who didn’t stand up and protest. It took a lot of us citizens, and not just the scared quiet government employees, who were reluctant to let the cat out of the bag to get us to this place we now find our country in.

    I might add, that I’m coming to the belief that Donald Trump may not be mentally fit for the office of president. I hope I’m wrong, and that Trump’s insanity is nothing more than media spin, but he surely looks to be unhinged with all of his off the cuff remarks, among his many other weird mannerisms he displays on a daily basis. But Ray is right, imagine those ever eager for promotional advancement careerist, under the leadership of such a overbearing narcissistic headline seeker, such as President Donald J Trump.

    Mr McGovern you are not a lone, and if anything you have been a guiding light to the many of us who, as just like you have come along way to appreciate the truth, and have learned to how and when it should be applied. Thank you sir for your service, as for then, and especially as for the now. You are a Good….no make that Fantastic American! Joe

    • Realist
      August 21, 2017 at 06:07

      If Trump is really crazy, he fits right into the power structure in Washington, you know, the loons from both parties, taking marching orders from the neocons, trying to subvert a functional government and put the kibosh on peaceful relations with the other most important countries on the globe.

      I think too much is made of his tweeting. It’s essentially the means he has employed to get through to his populist base, since the mainstream media is certainly not going to honestly report or fairly characterise anything he has to say. They are tools of the other loons in government. Trump has learned, like every other politician, to float words (many empty or even foolish) out there to soothe angst amongst his followers but also to function sort of like radar or sonar, to see what signal bounces back from the public and the opposition.

      Of course, the monolithic opposition is always going to say “that’s crazy” to every utterance. It’s become a standard countering chess move during this administration. As some one famous once said: “pay attention to what they do, not what they say.” You tell me which was crazier: passing a very onerous sanctions bill against Russia on the basis of outrageous accusations with no evidence, or being pressured by a near unanimous congress with implied threats of impeachment to sign it? Trump may be mad, but he’s got world class company and is probably not the worst of the lot. This is not an endorsement of Trump, just a condemnation of the whole lot of the jokers in Washington today.

      • Realist
        August 21, 2017 at 06:13

        P.S., I don’t expect heroics or even honorable actions from either side… not from any side, however many there may in fact be, not in Washington.

      • Joe Tedesky
        August 21, 2017 at 10:24

        You got a point Realist, the crazies in Washington are pointing to the other crazies in D.C., and that’s all this name calling, and mental diagnosis is, political show. Although, in my eyes Donald does seem a little unhinged, but over the course of his being in the public eye, when hasn’t he come off at least to his appearing to be highly provocative?

        I picture in the future, people will find it hilarious that we criticized Trump for using Twitter. All, these new communication platforms are going to be, as they already are, valuable information tools to use, for any institution to use to keep their followers informed. What we are seeing, is a overactive news media making something of what basically comes down to being nothing, be mad into something, that isn’t worth anything in the end. Yes, and Trump’s early morning Twitter rants, are proving to sway the news cycle away from what other news is going on. It would be worthwhile for us to watch the other things going on, since the Twitter rant turns out to be a useful distraction, in order to hide the truth of what is the order of the day.

        As always Realist you bring up great stuff for us to talk about. Joe

      • weilunion
        August 21, 2017 at 13:00

        Read about Rome. The Caligulaization of America began with Reagan

        • Joe Tedesky
          August 21, 2017 at 13:15

          Could you suggest a certain book to start with?

  14. mike k
    August 20, 2017 at 22:16

    For turning our beautiful planet into a hell instead of the Eden it could and should be, WAR is one of our favorite weapons. GREED is a great tool for that job too. When will we ever learn……?

  15. penrose
    August 20, 2017 at 22:03

    A “Psychopath of the Year” award is needed. Give credit where credit is due.

  16. August 20, 2017 at 21:45

    More info on our “allies” at link below:
    July 22, 2017
    The Coalition of Carnage

  17. August 20, 2017 at 21:25

    Our “allies” at “work,” at link below:
    31 Pictures That Prove Yemen Has Turned Into Hell on Earth
    August 18, 2017 at 12:26 pm
    Written by S.M. Gibson

  18. Pete
    August 20, 2017 at 20:47

    What will President Trump do? Before the US invasion and massacre of Afghanistan the Taliban had outlawed most opium production, and the European banks were going bust for lack of billions in cash to launder. With the ousting of the Taliban opium is back in business by leaps and bounds. Tillman the football player got “hit” for writing home about the US military guarding the poppy fields. After spending billions and killing hundreds of thousands of innocents, will the “Shadow Government”, the Ruling class, “deep state”, “neo-cons” allow Pres. Trump to walk away and allow the Taliban to return? Not likely!

    • backwardsevolution
      August 20, 2017 at 22:29

      Pete – good for you for pointing out the economics of Afghanistan. Hidden under talk of “bringing democracy to a country near you” or “fighting terrorism” is always the money. Thanks.

      • weilunion
        August 21, 2017 at 12:59

        And drugs. The military and trafficking all go together all the time

        • August 21, 2017 at 22:03

          And TAPI pipeline

  19. F. G. Sanford
    August 20, 2017 at 20:41

    Something tells me the “apocalyptic unraveling” won’t be Bannon’s. There was that old Italian comedy where the Arabian potentate is planning to decapitate the protagonist in a public spectacle. The laugh line translates to, “Prepare him for the festivities.” In this case, the festivities will encompass ‘loozing biggly’. But with all the leakers gagged and intimidated, we may never know what really happens. I’m guessing we’re talking a five thousand troop surge. Alexander the Great almost pulled it off…with three hundred thousand. Optimism can work wonders. Let’s wait and see!

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 21, 2017 at 13:14

      Good to see you.

    • Sam F
      August 21, 2017 at 14:10

      That was exactly my guess. The British lost their first one there with 18,000 of whom one returned. But 5K should be enough to transport the poppy crop. And if he announces it with wild aggressiveness, he counts himself safer.

  20. Virginia
    August 20, 2017 at 19:51

    Ray, Thank you for all your efforts to awaken Trump and all those in power. I sincerely hope the VIPS will get through to the American people, wake everyone up to the horrors of war. Others have said that you’ve spent your life making up for not speaking up in the early 60s. I agree with them. May we all be as motivated and committed as you!

    • weilunion
      August 21, 2017 at 12:58

      Trump is brain dead and can never be awakened

  21. Dave
    August 20, 2017 at 19:32

    The movie “War Machine” is great. Check it out.

  22. Bart in VA
    August 20, 2017 at 18:46

    Speaking of Petraeus, check out his Wikipedia page which lists his medals and awards. Pretty much all “flair” a la what Jennifer Aniston had to wear for her fast food job in ‘Office Space’.

  23. Mike from Fordham
    August 20, 2017 at 18:36

    I have long admired Ray McGovern’s quiet courage and hard-earned wisdom. Sadly, however, I think he misunderstands the sociopathic nature of Donald Trump. The man has no concern for any human lives beyond his own family, and after last week’s disgrace would do anything now to appear presidential. He will almost certainly commit to policies tomorrow that will consume more American and Afghan lives. You may as well have asked Hitler to retreat from Stalingrad as to ask Trump to adopt any policy other than the most warlike and “manly” choice or war and more war.

  24. August 20, 2017 at 18:34

    The opportunity to make this world a better place is a gift that should not be wasted, regardless of the consequences.

    August 20, 2017 at 17:37

    In the movie Judge Roy Bean the once shady ladies had married and became the moral judges of his old town; so when he met an old aquaintece who had once frequented those women who now heaped derision upon his fate of being reduced to stablehand as being punished by God for not being saved; The Judge told him there was no worse woman on earth than a whore who found religion.
    In the past I have noted so damn many who had ridden to wealth and sic honorable positions find a consvience and tell of padt misdeeds, most profoundly they were ex politicos military and preachers.
    Those thay knew they were personally in the wrong or who shut their mouth about their paymasters, superiors all so they could continue to recieve the praise and retirement sheckles.
    In truth in every branch of government employ unethical behavior is part of terms for employ.
    This low moral standards is super prevalent from kindergarden through tenure ship at University and legal professions.
    I there such a thing asmoral order?
    In a land where it is not allowed to be searched for, we will never know the answer.
    Is it morals, ethics or freedom from repercussion for ones guilty past, that makes one tell of it before they pass on?

    • Sam F
      August 21, 2017 at 05:47

      I would not seek a disreputable analogy to the ones who at last see a moral error and fix it: they are not recommending a higher than attainable moral standard for others. Much of moral education is self- analysis and gradual finding of ways to improve the moral rightness of one’s circumstances. It is the ones who do not learn and do not care who are the prostitutes.

  26. D5-5
    August 20, 2017 at 16:51

    Much appreciation for Ray’s writings and his appeal here for those in position to do so, to come forward, as he himself is doing. We badly need his leadership and clarity. Thank you, Ray.

  27. August 20, 2017 at 15:57

    I believe most of us can identify with having been cowards at some time in our lives but in the case of Ray McGovern the lapse of courage in his early career has been well compensated for in later life. Shakespeare reminds us that “a coward dies many times before his death” and at least Ray and other whistleblowers can sleep without being haunted by a conscience. The fact that ass-kissers like Petraeus can readily advance themselves through the corridors of power is an unfortunate fact of politics, especially with a mainstream press that is unable to discern its own penchant toward sycophancy. When it comes to “state secrets” the brandishing of epithets like “traitor” are common for whistleblowers and the punishment severely meted out for those who embarrass their superiors with truthful revelations as Jeffrey Sterling could attest.

    • Sam F
      August 20, 2017 at 17:27

      Perhaps Jeffrey Sterling has been considered for the 2016 SAAII Award if not yet made, or some other award.

    • weilunion
      August 21, 2017 at 12:57

      Many of us fought the war in the streets and refused to go. It has nothing to do with being a coward —- fear is how they own us.

      • Joe Tedesky
        August 21, 2017 at 13:13

        If it means anything weilunion, I served between 68-72, and while you protested I served, but I was always rooting for you. Read my comment post below, where I too apologize for my lack of not going up against the system. The one thing my drafted conscripted military generation did, was introduce to the then military the power of the average American citizenship being present inside their uniformed ranks. We drove the brass nuts, with our playing rock n roll music, and wanting to grow our hair long. After the young John Kerry came out against the war, there were many of my kind in uniform, who did pick up the banners of anti war protest, and that was a great help towards bringing that awful and needless war to an end. I personally think it took more guts to avoid the draft, as it was vitally important that you marched against the war, as well. With that I will not hesitate to call you a Good American. Thanks for your service weilunion. Joe

      • August 21, 2017 at 15:36

        Weilunion,…If you read carefully there is no implication in my above remarks that war resistance is cowardly. On the contrary, I admired and envied those that resisted during the Vietnam War as well as those who fled to Canada. I, myself, was drafted after I finished college and eventually wound up in a huge communications center in Okinawa. The war was against my beliefs even at that time, so yes, I too was a coward.

        • Sam F
          August 22, 2017 at 09:56

          There is no cowardice in being drafted or refusing unjust service; only in refusing to admit that one was deceived and coerced. Our problem is in eliminating the deception and coercion towards unjust ends.

    • Bubby
      August 21, 2017 at 19:45

      ” ….but in the case of Ray McGovern the lapse of courage in his early career has been well compensated for in later life. ” Nope, you are a sweet guy to try to make Ray McGovern feel better about the past; however, Ray correctly feels bad because he knows that for him, personally, there is no compensation for human life – regardless of what generosities and perfections he accomplishes later on. Among the (probably) thousands of psychopaths / sociopaths inside and around our Government, it is obvious that Mr. McGovern is not saddled with that personality defect. He has a conscience and it is not palliated by good deeds done later…..He is doing the best that he now can do: Blowing the whistle loud and clear. He is thus a fine man.

  28. Bob Van Noy
    August 20, 2017 at 15:52

    Thank you Ray McGovern. As an 18 year old Private E-1 in 1962 with the 101st. Airborne, we relied on the Veterans with experience, usually from Korea, to advise us about how to properly respond to the varied circumstances that were cropping up, one by one, as our world appeared to be getting more dangerous. From urban race riots, to Cuba, to insurgency in the Far East. Never, did we question the honesty or integrity of our leadership from top to bottom. It was the betrayal of that leadership, from top to bottom that, over the course of those Wars, ultimately ruined the most sincere, highest minded, fighting machine ever assembled to protect our beloved heritage of truth and justice. Does that sound simplistic or naive to contemporary readers? Well it shouldn’t. We represented a far different Country than we now experience. I don’t know This country. This country of geopolitics and international intrigue. We’re seemingly stuck in the Swamp of Deception with no escape. It’s time to Stop, to evaluate where and how it all went wrong, and to determine who is to blame. And, to bring those responsible for our diversion into crime, to trial. Only by doing that, can we ever hope to progress…

    • Brad Owen
      August 21, 2017 at 08:45

      Thank you, Bob, for all your commentary here. I was 8 years old in 1962. By the time I was 20, I was so shell-shocked at all the riots, demonstrations, assassinations, and endless war,and a presidential resignation (watching it on TV,reading about it all in Time magazine, seeing the hordes of riot police on the streets of D.C.) that I turned inward (probably the same reason Ray works now with Tell The Word). I know you’re something of an expert in the JFK assassination, tracing the birth of our current sad state to that conspiracy leading to that day in Dallas. What you say needs to happen to get right (with God, with the World, with ourselves) again, is indeed the grand strategy for our recovery. I’ve gained much insight into this Swamp of Deception from EIR, headed by Lyndon LaRouche, who’s been “on task” since the day FDR passed away. This “Swamp” is very large, international (or trans-national) in scope. It reared its ugly head in WWII after incubating for twenty years or more, at the end of WWI. It went covert again, after their calamitous failure in WWII. They decided USA must be their first target for covert takeover before proceeding to the rest of the World. JFK was the first overt strike against our Republic (the America you and I remember, and JFK represented as its last genuine representative so far, LBJ being broken by the tragedy). LaRouche knew FDRs grand strategy of alliance between us Russia and China for World peace and to keep these forces of the “Swamp of Deception” in permanent checkmate, had to prevail. That has been his mission. The New Silk Road (which he and Helga developed as the World Land Bridge) is the means to accomplish this, turning our, and the Worlds, focus upon peaceful development, where the WWII statesmen knew we had to go, as war was rendered obsolete by nuclear weapons. We are pretty much at “Endgame” now.

      • Marshall Smith
        August 23, 2017 at 02:05

        Brad Owen, have you researched the “Safari Club” and its bank (BCCI) that facilitated international financial transactions for the many operations that amassed unknown off shore financial assets? Robert Mueller apparently had a necessary and rewarded role in managing the scandal of BCCI. Financial institutions are necessary to pump the life blood of the Deep State, and the office of the U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York serves as the heart valve that operatives such as Mueller and Comey keep open for some.

    • August 21, 2017 at 09:37

      I would like to recommend to you ” Zeitgeist, The Movie” It will disabuse you of what you thought you were fighting for and what the US Military has been fighting for since the beginning of the country. Hint, it never was about values, heritage. truth and justice. Oh and it never was highminded either.

      • Brad Owen
        August 21, 2017 at 10:23

        What Bob writes about is present. What you are saying is also true. Both Factions are present. The entirety of Western civilization has been plagued by these two warring Factions since the calamitous Civil Wars between the Republic of Rome Faction, who threw off their Etruscan Kings, and the oligarchs of the Roman Empire. It’s been the same War for over two thousand years. And since Rome had the organizational genius that out shown all the rest of the World’s cultures and civilizations, these warring Factions are now gone global, carried forth by all of the European Empires of the last several centuries. Hell, it’s so much a part of our warp & woof that the Republic vs Empire Saga has been imortalised in the Star Wars Saga. The battle continues…

      • Bob Van Noy
        August 21, 2017 at 11:32

        Thank you Brad And Dan, I certainly won’t argue with either of you, in fact, I believe both of you. What I’m referring to is the perception of an honest broker, at least amongst the enlisted men. We were innocent, And motivated by what we perceived at the time, as honest brokers. That is why I am so exposed these days by my commentary. I’m Mad. None of us like being taken advantage of, especially when it comes to life and death. Those brave men and women who, like my self, were Used by the elite, Demand Justice. There is nothing I’d like to see more than a new public comeuppance of our Political, Arrogant Elite

        • Joe Tedesky
          August 21, 2017 at 13:03

          Bob, I remember being told by my officer leadership, that my problem was that I didn’t see the Big Picture. I still struggle to gain the advantage of this view. Time although, has revealed to me, that the big picture was just away to sell us recruits more lies, so as we would follow orders. It just happens that time proved us lowly enlisted that we were mostly right, and the higher ups were mostly wrong. Vietnam is a classic example of all of this turmoil, and what it brings you. Now a days when I see product made in Vietnam, I think why couldn’t we have just gone to this phase of developing Vietnam, and avoided the war? Still no answers though. Thanks for your honesty Bob, you are a valuable asset to have in our American society, because you learn from your pass, and admit it. Joe

      • Bob Van Noy
        August 21, 2017 at 13:16

        Ray McGovern, Robert Parry, Brad Owen, Dan Kuhn, and JOE… Thanks to all…

    • August 21, 2017 at 21:59

      There was never honor in murdering for the imperial USA except when opposing the Axis.

  29. August 20, 2017 at 14:46

    Thank you Mr. McGovern for speaking out:
    The Maniacs of Militarism

    “War is madness” – Pope Francis

    The maniacs of militarism are creating wars
    Countries are bombed by warmongering whores
    Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and other countries too
    Are hell holes of the earth, “The work,” of this insane crew

    Enabled by politicians in positions of power
    These well dressed war criminals hide and cower
    The generals salute their political masters
    Then the brainwashed obey these bemedaled disasters

    Cities are destroyed and reduced to rubble
    Where are the perpetrators that created all this trouble?
    They are residing in luxury and given fancy titles
    War crimes trials are needed, and are so vital

    But this is not happening: the system is corrupted
    And these evil beings, by some are worshiped
    Blood-soaked villains that never do the fighting
    They are the “experts” that do the inciting

    They are the producers of death and destruction
    Others are profiteers of all the bloody actions
    Missiles, bombs and horrendous weapons
    There is no end to the endless aggression

    Millions are dead, and millions are homeless
    Millions are refugees, and all this is atrocious
    Once they had jobs, families, and homes as well
    Then their countries were bombed by the agents from hell

    Setting the world on fire is what these war arsonists do
    The money for their depredations comes from me and you
    They have made us all accessories to their criminal acts
    Our Taxes are the blood money and that is a fact

    Will the people ever say: “We have had enough”?
    And put all these villains in secure handcuffs
    Then lock them up in maximum security prisons
    Then, we can say “goodbye” to the maniacs of militarism…

    [more info at link below]

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