Crunch Time in Middle East

Crunch Time in Middle East: CIA—Help or Hindrance?

An Evening with Ray McGovern

Monday, February 28th at 7pm

Mapleton Conference Center

52 North Broadway

White Plains, NY 10603


During Congressional testimony in June 2005, McGovern was asked, “What were the real reasons behind the U.S. attack on Iraq?” He used an acronym, “OIL” — O for oil, I for Israel, L for logistics (aka military bases). The past five years have showed that traditional approaches to implement U.S. policy in the Middle East toward the “OIL” objectives are doomed to failure — not to mention how much they depart from the core values America professes. With the recent uprising in Egypt and its likely spread to other Arab countries, the need to reassess U.S. policy and tactics is beyond dispute.  The CIA’s role —for good or ill — in helping to inform and implement that policy has been huge, and must be part of this reassessment.




Ray McGovern leads the Speaking Truth to Power section of Tell the Word, an expression of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington; he also teaches at its Servant Leadership School. 


Ray came to Washington in the early Sixties as an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then served as a CIA analyst from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. Ray’s duties included chairing National Intelligence Estimates and preparing the President’s Daily Brief, which he briefed one-on-one to President Ronald Reagan’s most senior national security advisers from 1981 to 1985.


In January 2003, Ray helped create Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) to expose the way intelligence was being falsified to “justify” war on Iraq. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller later described that intelligence as “unsubstantiated, contradicted, and non-existent.”


Six weeks before the attack on Iraq gave President George W. Bush a memorandum a few hours after Secretary of State Colin Powell’s misbegotten speech at the UN (February 5, 2003).  It its first Memorandum for the President, VIPS gave the speech a C-minus, and advised the president to widen his circle of advisers beyond those “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.”


As an act of conscience, on March 2, 2006 Ray returned the Intelligence Commendation Medallion given him at retirement for “especially meritorious service,” explaining, “I do not want to be associated, however remotely, with an agency engaged in torture.” Two months later, on May 4 in Atlanta, Ray made national news by confronting Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on live TV with pointed questions like: “Why did you lie to get us into a war that was not necessary and that has caused these kinds of casualties?” (The impromptu mini-debate that followed is still receiving hits on YouTube.)


Ray’s opinion pieces have appeared in many leading newspapers here and abroad.  His website writings appear first on, and are normally picked up and posted on other websites as well.  He has debated at the Oxford Forum and appeared on Charlie Rose, Jim Lehrer, CNN, and numerous other TV programs and documentaries. Ray has addressed a wide variety of audiences here and abroad.


Fluent in Russian, German, and Spanish, Ray holds an M.A. in Russian from Fordham University and a Certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown.  He is also a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.  He and his wife Rita have five children and eight grandchildren.


His bio:

Challenging Rumsfeld:

And two recent articles:





On Sunday, I attended an informal talk given in a parish hall by the Justice Department's Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. His topic: "The way his work for justice is defined by his faith."

During the Q&A after his talk, I had a chance to pose some questions:

Question:  Thanks Tom, for making yourself available to us. You raise the issue of torture, and intimated that there is consensus among Catholics that torture is wrong. Polling conducted two years ago indicates that this is far from the case.


Perhaps President Barack Obama should give himself a waiver on the ban prohibiting U.S. government employees from downloading classified cables released by WikiLeaks, so he can better understand the futility of his Afghan War strategy.

For instance, if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has hidden from him Ambassador Karl Eikenberry's cables from Kabul, he might wish to search out KABUL 001892 of July 13, 2009, in which Eikenberry reports that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is "unable to grasp the most rudimentary principles of state building."