Ray McGovern

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McGovern in 2015

Raymond McGovern (born August 25, 1939) is a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer turned political activist.[1] McGovern was a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990, and in the 1980s chaired National Intelligence Estimates and prepared the President's Daily Brief. He received the Intelligence Commendation Medal at his retirement, returning it in 2006 to protest the CIA's involvement in torture.[2] McGovern's post-retirement work includes commenting for Russian Government-funded RT and Sputnik News, among other outlets, on intelligence and foreign policy issues. In 2003 he co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Personal life[edit]

Ray McGovern was born and grew up in the Bronx, New York City. With a scholarship he earned a M.A. with honours in Russian Language, Literature and History at Fordham University, and in the early 1960s served as a U.S. Army infantry/intelligence officer and in the analysis division on Soviet foreign policy, especially with respect to China and Indochina.[3]

McGovern is married to Rita Kennedy; the couple have five children and eight grandchildren.[4]


McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years (April 1963 to August 1990), serving seven U.S. presidents.[5] His CIA career began under President John F. Kennedy, and lasted through the presidency of George H. W. Bush.[6] McGovern advised Henry Kissinger during the Richard Nixon administration, and during the Ronald Reagan administration he chaired National Intelligence Estimates and prepared the President's Daily Brief.[7][8]

At his retirement in 1990, McGovern received the CIA's Intelligence Commendation Medal.[2][7] He returned the medal "in protest in 2006 over CIA use of torture."[9]


Intelligence activism[edit]

McGovern, 2008

After retiring from the CIA, McGovern became a commentator on intelligence-related issues from the late 1990s onwards.[10] He was heavily critical of the government's handling of the Wen Ho Lee case in 2000.[11] In 2002, he was publicly critical of President George W. Bush's use of government intelligence in the lead-up to the war in Iraq.[12]

In 2003, together with other former CIA employees, McGovern founded the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), which is dedicated to analyzing and criticizing the use of intelligence, at first concerning the Iraq War.[13]

In 2006, McGovern confronted Donald Rumsfeld on a live CNN broadcast about his statements concerning weapons of mass destruction, an interaction later called the "vivisection of Donald Rumsfeld" by Keith Olbermann.[14]

In January 2006, McGovern began speaking out on behalf of the anti-war group Not in Our Name. According to the group's press release, McGovern served symbolic "war crimes indictments" on the Bush White House from a "people's tribunal."

In 2006, McGovern returned his Intelligence Commendation Medal in protest of the CIA's involvement with torture.[2] He wrote then that he "abhor[red] the corruption of the CIA in the past several years, believe it to be beyond repair, and do not want my name on any medallion associated with it.[15][unreliable source?]

On October 9, 2013, McGovern, along with three former winners, presented the Sam Adams Award for integrity in intelligence to Edward Snowden in a Moscow ceremony.[16]

In September 2015, McGovern and 27 other members of VIPS steering group wrote a letter to President Barack Obama lambasting Rebuttal: The CIA Responds to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Study of Its Detention and Interrogation, a then-recently published book that challenged the report of the United States Senate Intelligence Committee on the CIA's use of torture.[citation needed]

In December 2015, McGovern participated in Russian propaganda outlet RT's tenth anniversary celebration, alongside then-retired director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Michael Flynn and frequent Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, hosted by Russian president Vladimir Putin.[17][18]


During a 2011 speech at George Washington University (GW) by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, McGovern stood with his back turned during her remarks, blocking the view of some of the audience and media for about five minutes in "silent protest" of Clinton's foreign policy.[19][20] McGovern refused to cooperate when asked to leave by security, which led to his arrest for disorderly conduct.[19] McGovern said that the State Department placed him on a "be on the lookout" list, and that such a list authorized law enforcement to stop and question him on sight.[20] The charges were subsequently dropped. In 2014, McGovern's lawyer filed a lawsuit against the GW police department for allegedly using excessive force and also against the university and State Department for allegedly violating his right to peacefully protest.[20] McGovern said the police officers had "brutalized" him and "rammed" him into a door.[21] The suit against the arresting officer was dismissed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which opined that police had probable cause to arrest McGovern, and that after viewing film made by news organizations of the event, that McGovern's version was "so utterly discredited by the record that no reasonable jury could have believed him."[22] It did not find that the police officer politely asking McGovern twice, "Sir, would you please come with me?" was police brutality.[23]

In 2014, McGovern was arrested by the New York City police department at a private event where former CIA director and retired Army General David Petraeus was giving a speech. McGovern said he wanted to ask Petraeus about his involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the event's host told him he was not welcome.[24] He said he had a ticket to the event, but when he refused to leave, was charged with criminal trespassing and resisting arrest.[25] On February 4, 2015, McGovern accepted adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, meaning the charges would be dropped if McGovern did not commit any new offenses.[26]

On May 9, 2018, McGovern was one of several protesters who disrupted the Senate confirmation hearing of Gina Haspel to become CIA director. After he began yelling about waterboarding, McGovern was forcibly removed by Capitol Police and charged with disruption and resisting arrest.[27][28]


Vietnam War[edit]

In a 2003 interview with the UK's Independent newspaper, McGovern said that Lyndon B. Johnson seized on the Gulf of Tonkin incident as a "spur-of-the-moment thing" rather than as part of a calculated drive to war.[8]

Pope John Paul II[edit]

A Catholic from birth,[29] McGovern was highly critical of Pope John Paul II conservative stance on women's rights in church. He saw the former Pope as a repressive force. McGovern had been teaching Sunday school and earned a certificate in theology from Georgetown University. He participated in Cursillo, and was district president of Bread for the City, but by standing during mass for several weeks he protested against the teaching on sex roles and sexual ethics which to him seemed oppressive.[30]

Iraq War[edit]

McGovern sharply criticised the US 2003 invasion of Iraq and its justification by the Bush administration, which he described as a "very calculated, 18-month, orchestrated, incredibly cynical campaign of lies that we've seen to justify a war".[8]

McGovern testified at a Democratic National Headquarters forum in 2005 that had been convened by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) of the House Judiciary Committee on the Downing Street memo. The Washington Post reported in 2005 that, in his testimony, McGovern "declared that the United States went to war in Iraq for oil, Israel and military bases craved by administration neocons so 'the United States and Israel could dominate that part of the world.'" He said that Israel should not be considered an ally and that Bush was doing the bidding of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. 'Israel is not allowed to be brought up in polite conversation,' McGovern said. Genuine criticism of official Israeli policy is often portrayed as if it were anti-semitism: 'The last time I did this, the previous director of Central Intelligence called me anti-semitic.'"[31] He repeated the comments the following year in a television interview with Tucker Carlson on MSNBC. McGovern said: "I've been using the acronym O.I.L. for many—for two years now: O for oil; I for Israel; and L for logistics, logistics being the permanent—now we say "enduring"—military bases that the U.S. wants to keep in Iraq."[32]

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden[edit]

When asked in 2010 on TVNZ whether Julian Assange was a hero or villain, he replied "hero."[33][non-primary source needed] When asked the same year whether Julian Assange was a journalist, he replied to the CNN reporter: "Yeah, actually, with all due respect, I think you should be following his example."[34][non-primary source needed] In 2010, he co-wrote an open letter of support for WikiLeaks and Assange, with Coleen Rowley, Lawrence Wilkerson, Craig Murray and others.[35][non-primary source needed]


During the Syrian civil war, McGovern told Russian television channel RT and other outlets that the sarin used in the 2013 Ghouta chemical attack had not been manufactured by the Syrian government.[36][37]

Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election[edit]

McGovern holds a position that the theft of the DNC emails was an inside job, and not the work of Russian agents (contrary to the findings published by the US intelligence community).[38] In McGovern's view, the metadata in the files released by Guccifer 2.0 (whom the US intelligence community identifies as a Russian military intelligence operation) originated from a computer in the Eastern United States but was manipulated to give the appearance that the documents came from Russia. With William Binney, McGovern released a VIPS report in support of his theory, which was taken up by The Nation and other outlets[39] and promoted by Russian state media.[40] Many of the VIPS members, however, did not sign the report. It was later revealed that the inside job theory itself originated from a disinformation campaign run by a UK-based pro-Kremlin hacker named Tim Leonard.[41]

Russia and Ukraine[edit]

McGovern was skeptical of the allegation that Russia was involved in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014 over eastern Ukraine.[42]

McGovern was listed in a 2022 report by the Ukrainian government as a "speaker who promotes narratives consonant with Russian propaganda."[43]


Book chapters


  1. ^ Smith, Patrick (7 February 2016). "Intelligent people know that the empire is on the downhill: A veteran CIA agent spills the goods on the Deep State and our foreign policy nightmares". Salon.
  2. ^ a b c Ambika Behal, United Press International, 10 March 2006, The U.S. has run amok; former CIA analyst
  3. ^ "Bio – Ray McGovern". raymcgovern.com.
  4. ^ "Militarism and Foreign Policy – Page 29 – WESPAC Foundation". wespac.org.
  5. ^ Dan Chapman, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7 December 2003, Q & A / Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst: 'We're trying to spread a little truth'
  6. ^ Die Tageszeitung, 30 October 2013, „Obamas Angst vor Geheimdiensten“
  7. ^ a b Donald P. Russo, The Morning Call, 13 May 2006, No shortage of evidence that Bush is slipping
  8. ^ a b c "No President has lied so baldly and so often and so demonstrably". The Independent. 2003-11-09. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  9. ^ "Ray McGovern | The Guardian". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-12-18.Archive.
  10. ^ Ray McGovern, "How lies replaced intelligence at the CIA," Boston Globe (7 October 1999) p. A 27; Ray McGovern, "Protecting the homeland: Don't jeopardize intelligence links," Christian Science Monitor (15 July 2002) p.9.
  11. ^ Ray McGovern, "Unequal in the eyes of justice?," Christian Science Monitor (18 September 2000) p. 11.
  12. ^ Ray McGovern, "The best intelligence? CIA." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (22 November 2002) p. 19A; Ray McGovern, "How Intelligence Now Serves the Defense Department," Boston Globe (29 September 2002) p. D11.
  13. ^ Stossel, Scott (1 July 2005). "North Korea: The War Game". The Atlantic. Retrieved 27 February 2023.
  14. ^ "'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for May 4". msnbc.com. 2006-05-05. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  15. ^ "I do Not Wish to be Associated with Torture". 3 March 2006.
  16. ^ "4 Americans meet Snowden to give him award". USA TODAY. Associated Press. 10 October 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2023.
  17. ^ "Flynn Violated Constitution with Russia Speech, Democrats Say". ABC News.
  18. ^ "Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn paid $56,200 by Russian firms in 2015, documents show". ABC News.
  19. ^ a b Anand, Priya (February 17, 2011). "Protester arrested during Clinton speech". The GW Hatchet. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  20. ^ a b c Gurciullo, Brianna (March 3, 2014). "Man who protested 2011 Clinton speech sues UPD officers for excessive force". The GW Hatchet. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  21. ^ "Court Quiets Silent Protest Case at Hillary Clinton Speech". 6 June 2018.
  22. ^ "No Excessive Force in Arrest of Protester at Hillary Speech".
  23. ^ "Court Quiets Silent Protest Case at Hillary Clinton Speech". 6 June 2018.
  24. ^ "Former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern Details Painful Arrest at Petraeus Event". Democracy Now!. November 4, 2014. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  25. ^ Tracy, Thomas (November 2, 2014). "Former CIA analyst arrested after trying to crash event with David Petraeus". NY Daily News. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  26. ^ "Opinion | when Silencing Dissent Isn't News | Common Dreams".
  27. ^ Samuels, Brett (May 9, 2018). "Rubio responds to protester who interrupted Haspel hearing". thehill.com. The Hill. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  28. ^ Carden, James (2018-05-17). "Ray McGovern on Gina Haspel, Torture, and His Recent Arrest". The Nation. ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  29. ^ Smith, Patrick J. (February 14, 2016). "This is how the CIA botched Iraq post-9/11: Bob Gates, careerist sycophancy, and the real history of the Deep State". Salon. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  30. ^ Naughton, Jim (August 25, 1996). "A HOUSE DIVIDED". The Washington Post.
  31. ^ Milbank, Dana (2005-06-17). "Democrats Play House To Rally Against the War". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
  32. ^ "'The Situation with Tucker Carlson' for May 4". NBC News. 5 May 2006.
  33. ^ Mike Hosking, Ray McGovern (December 10, 2010). "Interview on TVNZ about Julian Assange and Wikileaks". Close Up. TV NZ. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21.
  34. ^ Don Lemon, Ray McGovern (December 12, 2010). "Metrodome Roof Collapse; Lure of the Outsider; WikiLeaks War; Christmas in Washington; Sarah Palin in Haiti; Dream Act in Jeopardy; Atlanta Cheating Scandal". CNN Newsroom (video). CNN. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Transcript.
  35. ^ Ellsberg, Daniel; Grevil, Frank; Gun, Katharine; MacMichael, David; McGovern, Ray; Murray, Craig; Rowley, Coleen; Wilkerson, Larry (December 8, 2010), "Ex-Intelligence Officers, Others See Plusses in WikiLeaks Disclosures", Daniel Ellsberg's Website, retrieved March 27, 2017
  36. ^ "« Russiagate » : « France Soir » confirme sa dérive complotiste - L'Observatoire du conspirationnisme". Conspiracy Watch | L'Observatoire du conspirationnisme (in French). 2020-10-20. Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  37. ^ The Christian Science Monitor. "Chemical attacks in Syria. Where's the proof Assad was responsible?". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  38. ^ Sheffield, Matthew (September 17, 2017). "Was the DNC hack an inside job? It's a hot theory — but probably not". Salon. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  39. ^ "Stories Claiming DNC Hack Was 'Inside Job' Rely Heavily On A Stupid Conversion Error No 'Forensic Expert' Would Make". Techdirt. 2017-08-14. Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  40. ^ " Here’s What Russian Disinfo Sites Want You to Believe About Impeachment", Mother Jones, 4 October 2019. "RT picked this up and ran with it, running multiple segments that parroted Trump’s soon-debunked claim that this had occurred, and that it was evidence of a deep state operation against Trump. In one video shared on twitter, Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst and RT regular who argues Russia’s 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee was an inside job, is quoted speaking conspiratorially about a group of “people who are behind all this,” as the segment emphasizes the narrative that the whistleblower’s complaint is untrustworthy because it involved second-hand information."
  41. ^ Campbell, Duncan (July 31, 2018). "Briton ran pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign that helped Trump deny Russian links". Computer Weekly. Retrieved August 1, 2018. According to former NSA technical manager Tom Drake, "Ray's determination to publish claims he wanted to believe without checking facts and discarding evidence he didn't want to hear exactly reproduced the Iraq war intelligence failures which the VIPS group was formed to oppose". He and other VIPS members refused to sign McGovern's report... Privately, Binney says his colleague Ray McGovern, who has also pushed the Forensicator theories, accepts that there is no evidence where the files were really copied. "Ray no longer argues that point – except to call it an 'alleged location'," said Binney. McGovern has refused to confirm this, or to answer questions about evidence for his claims. Despite accepting that there was no evidence, Binney and McGovern have not retracted the claims in the 2017 VIPS report at the time of writing
  42. ^ Rudin, Mike (2016-04-25). "Conspiracy Files: Who shot down MH17?". BBC News. Retrieved 2021-09-28.
  43. ^ "Спікери, які просувають співзвучні російській пропаганді наративи | Центр протидії дезінформації" [Speakers who promote narratives consonant with Russian propaganda] (in Ukrainian). 2022-07-14. Archived from the original on 2022-08-01. Retrieved 2022-07-17.

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