9/11 & American Empire – Intellectuals Speak Out (Sept. 2006)


Ray just received an email from Veterans For Peace colleague Phil Restino, a leader of VFP’s Central Florida Chapter, reminding him of how a distinguished panel of courageous investigators was looking at the 9/11 attacks five years later.  Here’s what Phil wrote:


“The following presentation from September 24, 2006 in Berkeley, CA was hosted KPFA Radio and introduced by Bonnie Faulkner of KPFA’s Guns and Butter radio program. Ray McGovern led off and then moderated a discussion featuring David Ray Griffin, Pete Dale Scott, Kevin Ryan and Peter Phillips. It was broadcast multiple times on CSPAN.  Here we are 10 years after that discussion and 15 years after the fact, with millions more killed and maimed in the 9/11 Wars …”


(Ray’s introductory remarks come between minutes 5 and 15.}

‘Hack the Kremlin’ – Recent appeals to dig up secret info as “payback” for e-mail leaks and hacks


August 19, 2016  (see first 3 of 5 minutes)


Ray takes part briefly in RT discussion of the surreally successful U.S. media campaign to distract attention from the fact that emails leaked to WikiLeaks show Hillary Clinton stole the Democratic nomination from Bernie Sanders.


Ray visualizes how the propaganda launch began:


How do we divert attention away from Hillary and her buddies at the Democratic National Committee?  The PBT (Putin Bashing Team) suggests, Blame it on Putin!  Objection: But it wasn’t Putin, it was WikiLeaks.  The ABT (Assange Bashing Team) says, No problem: we’ll say Putin gave the emails to WikiLeaks.  That way, we distract attention from the real crime, while blackening Putin and Julian Assange – all in one swell foop!  Outstanding!


And so it goes.  Even National Intelligence Director James Clapper has criticized “hyperventilation” in the media, with no proof as to who the culprits might be.  Not a problem for Forbes Magazine, as it calls for hack-“retaliation:”


“Obama is the only person on earth who can respond in-kind to the Putin regime’s egregious intervention in the American democratic process. Putin and his inner circle are vulnerable to exposure of their own shameful actions, habits, actions and fetishes. In the electronic age, the Kremlin fortress has become a glass house.” [fetishes???]


For starters, Obama should order the intelligence community to compile properly sanitized dumps of emails and social media among select targets in Putin’s inner circle. … If disciplined enough, the U.S. can outplay the Putin-WikiLeaks team. …

And then there are national cultural norms that no present Russian leader could politically survive once the glass of invincibility is electronically shattered. Above almost all else, Putin nurses a deep-seated hostility to male homosexuality. Putin-centric political elites could never endure the humiliation and ridicule following a skillful intelligence dump of their private emails, text messages, social media posts, photos and Web browser histories. (sic)



More on Charlie Rose and Michael Morell…

On Wednesday evening (August 17) Charlie Rose gave Michael Morell a mulligan, so he could ‘splain what he really meant to say on Roses’s show just 9 evenings earlier.  On August 8 Morell had told Charlie that he (Morell) wanted to “kill” Russians and Iranians in Syria, and bomb Syrian facilities in order to “scare” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  (Scroll down to see Ray’s earlier piece on that.)


On Wednesday, soft-ball Charlie helped Morell ‘splain that he did not want to have U.S. Special Forces kill Russians and Iranians; no, he would be satisfied if the U.S.-sponsored so-called “moderate opposition” did that particular killing.  But Morell would not back away from his open advocacy of state-sponsored terrorism (bombing by the U.S. Air Force) to scare Assad into realizing he has to go.


The 8-minute segment in which Charlie helps Michael ‘splain it all turns out to be so, well, unusual and transparent, that Ray has transcribed it.  If you are interested in things like the fecklessness and brutality of neocon policy toward Syria, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands killed and every other Syrian displaced from her/his home, you may wish to read Ray’s transcription below.


Morell seems oblivious to international law, what’s been going on in Syria for the past five years, and how state-sponsored terrorism can and does fuel, well, terrorism.  Remarkable.  Or maybe he is just lusting after a job with Hillary.






This segment begins at minute 27:15.


Rose:  Now let’s talk about the interview you did with me here.  Tell me what you wanted to say so we understand it, because some people interpreted it that you wanted to see three things: That you wanted to see Iranians and Russians punished so that they would be more willing to engage in peace talks; to stop destruction of a state, and that the only way to do it was if they felt some sense of pressure; and you felt the same thing about Assad, and that he had to feel some fear about his own position in order to agree to some kind of transition.


Tell me what you meant to say, because some people who might not have seen the interview, said, you know, you are in bed with the neocons, a warmonger, a Trumpian.  So all these things came down on top of you and, perhaps because you did not speak as precisely as you should have or that I didn’t ask the right questions.


Morell:  No, no, Charlie, you always ask the right questions.  So, you know, one of the things you’re taught as a young analyst at CIA is precision of language and clarity of message.  It’s beaten into you and sometimes you don’t, you don’t, you don’t do what your were taught.  So I don’t think I was as clear with you and your viewers as I should have been.  So let me try to make this clear.


The Syrian civil war has to end, and the reason it has to end is because it is feeding extremism in Iraq and Syria.  Even if we get our arms around ISIS and squeeze ISIS down, and down, and down, the civil war will continue to breed extremism.  ISIS will go away and some other group will replace it.


The Syrian civil war needs to end, okay?  In my view, there is not a military solution to that.  And the reason there is not a military solution is because a military solution would end up with the destruction of the Syrian military, the Syrian security services, the Syrian intelligence services, etc., etc., etc., the Syrian police, and if you destroy all of those in an attempt to end the civil war, you are left with a complete vacuum here, a security vacuum, a stability vacuum; you end up with Libya.


CR:  Or Iraq.


MM:  Or Iraq.


MM:  So you don’t want to do that.  So there’s not a military solution to this, there is only a political solution to this.  And that political solution is, in my view, a transition of power from Assad to a, a, a transitional government that represents all of the Syrian people. That is only going to happen if Assad wants it to happen, if Russia wants it to happen, if Iran wants it to happen.  So what we need to do is, we need to increase our leverage over those three people and groups, three people and countries, in order to get then more interested in having a conversation about a transition to a new government.


CR:  That’s exactly what the 51 diplomats said in their letter.


MM:  Exactly.


MM:  And sometimes you use military force for military ends.  Sometimes you use military force to give you political leverage.  And one of the reasons to be involved in Syria – which Vladimir Putin is now discovering – is that all of a sudden you’re a player in how the game gets discussed around the table.


So what I tried to say was, Look, we need to find some ways to put some pressure on Assad, or put some pressure on Russia, and put some pressure on Iran..  Now, with regard to Russia and Iran, what I said was, what I wanted to say was, Look, the moderate opposition, which the United States is supporting (everybody knows that, right?), the moderate opposition is already fighting the Syrian government, and they’re already fighting Russians and Iranians. …


So one of the wars that’s going on now is the Syrian military supported by Russia and the Iranians fighting the moderate opposition.  And the moderate opposition is already Iranians and Syrians.  What, what I said is that’s an okay thing, right, because it puts pressure on Iran and Russia to try to see some value in ending this thing politically.


And what I said is that we should encourage the moderate opposition to continue to do that and perhaps get a lot more aggressive.


CR:  You weren’t suggesting that the United States should do that, but the moderate forces on the ground.


MM:  And I think I came across as saying U.S. Special Forces should go in there and start killing Iranians and Russians.  I did not say that.


So that’s Russia and Iran.  Now, Assad.  How do you put some pressure on Assad, right?  And here I did argue, Charlie, that the U.S. military itself should take some action, and what I would see invaluable is limited, very, very, very limited U.S. airstrikes against those assets that are extremely important to Assad personally.


So, in the middle of the night you destroy one of his offices; you don’t kill anybody, right, zero collateral. … You do this with the same rules of engagement we use against terrorists. …


You take out his presidential aircraft, his presidential helicopters, in the middle of the night, right, just to send him a message and get his attention that, that maybe your days are numbered here, just to put some pressure on him to think about maybe, maybe the need to think about a way out of this.  Now these issues that I’m talking about here, right, are talked about in the sit room.  They’re talked about in national security circles all the time, right.  These are debates that people have, and I certainly understand that there are people on the other side of the argument from me, right.


But I wasn’t talking about the U.S. starting a major war with Iran and Russia, and I think that was the way [indistinct: seems to be “… the way people interpreted it.”


CR:  And all the rest of it …. [indistinct]


MM:  And all the rest of it … [indistinct]


This segment ends at minute 35:30

An oops-moment from Michael Morell as he lavished praise on Hillary Clinton on the Charlie Rose show just ten days after he lavished praise on Hillary Clinton on the Charlie Rose show ten days ago.  (Get the picture?)  It was clear, from some of the things Charlie said, that he, CBS, and Morell had gotten so much flak for what Morell said on August 8, that it was decided to give Morell a mulligan on August 18.


Morell’s oops-moment starts at about minute 50.


“You know, it’s interesting, Charlie:  I worked with her [Hillary Clinton] for four years.  Leon Panetta, David Petraeus worked with her for four years.  We trusted her word; we trusted her judgment.  You know, Charlie, Director Panetta, Director Petraeus, I provided her with some of the most sensitive information that the CIA collects and she never gave us one reason to doubt how she was handling that.  She spoke to us forthrightly. … I trust her word and I trust her judgment.  You know, she spoke to us forthrightly. … I trust her word and I trust her judgment.” (End of scripted interview – Emphasis added)


Surprise; surprise! Charlie didn’t think to ask Morell if he were the only person in Washington unaware that FBI Director James Comey branded “extremely careless” her handling of sensitive CIA information by using highly vulnerable, unclassified servers. And this might have been a follow-up question for Charlie to ask: “Did Mrs. Clinton speak ‘forthrightly’ to you, Michael, about “how she was handling that?”


Michael Morell is welcomed back for another hour with Charlie Rose, remarkably, ten days after the interview in which he told Charlie he wanted to kill Russians and Iranians, so that he could ‘splain that he really didn’t want to start a war.  But he still wanted to do the kinds of’ things to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that fit the classic definition of terrorism: “The use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.”


Morell should be apprehended as an international terrorist.  But more on that later.  I made the sacrifice of watching the whole 54-minute interview.  Just after minute 50.  Morell has just told a heartwarming story about how compassionate Secretary Clinton was when he lost out to John Brennan, whom Obama picked to be the CIA Director.  The day after Morell was un-picked for the job, he was in the Situation Room [it’s always “in the Situation Room!”] and Secretary Clinton, “sat down next to me, put her hand on my shoulder, and she simply said, ‘Are you okay?’  There is humanity there, and I think the public needs to know.”


Charlie goes on to lament how hard it is for Clinton to convey what he calls her “humanity” and how she is worthy of trust … then does a riff on the Biblical passage about those who can be trusted in small matters [like sitting down next to Morell, putting her hand on his shoulder, and asking him if he is okay].  A nice soft pitch from Charlie; Morell gives every indication that he hit it out of the park.  And … the oops! mentioned above.

“The Heat:” US elections and Russian relations: panel on CCTV August 17 discusses how and why Russia has been dragged into the U.S. election campaign; how seriously to take the notion that President Putin would prefer Trump; and how the resuscitated Cold War could be still colder – or a lot hotter – if only Putin would oblige by doing tit for tat.

Wide ranging discussion includes James Jetras, Soviet desk officer at State Department in early 80s; Vladimir Goldstein, Assoc. Professor of Slavic Studies at Brown; and Ray.  Half-hour program in two parts:

Part 1 (16 minutes)


Part 2 (9 minutes)

KPFA radio’s “Flashpoints” interviewed Ray (20 min.) and Robert Parry (30 min.) on August 16.  First question to Ray was about what former acting CIA director Michael Morell told Charlie Rose on August 8 about killing Russians and Iranians, in order to “scare” Assad into leaving (sic).  Ray brought up the classic definition of “terrorism” — the use of violence to frighten people as a way of trying to achieve a political goal, and suggested that very, very tough little Michael Morell might wish to think about that.


Also discussed are Israel’s influence on U.S. policy toward Syria; fanciful “moderate” rebels in Syria; the infamous “barrel bombs” compared with $11.5 million of ordnance dropped that the U.S. drops on Syria ever day; Chechnya, where – unlike Obama – Putin has real skin in the game; the U.S. media playing charlatan again,; body bags and  bringing back the draft.

Ray’s segment goes from minute 1:20 to 21:48.  Robert Parry picks up from there, with a more of a broad-brush tour d’horizon of U. S. foreign policy and the implications of what-if it’s Trump and what-if it’s Hillary Clinton.

John Kiriakou & Ray on Watching the Hawks, August 12, critique the excellent-adventure schemes proposed by former CIA acting director Michael Morell – a very, very tough supporter of Hillary Clinton.


Mike wants to “go after” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and “scare” him by blowing up buildings, cars, and aircraft and covertly-killing (sic) Russians and Iranians.

John and Ray were given time to discuss some of the real issues, and Ray made a try at impersonating vacuous-but-earnest Mike oozing charm from every pore.


(13 minutes: from minute 1:25 to 14:45)

Mike Morell: Travels With Charlie (Rose)


Sputniknews (radio) asked Ray to comment on the childish comments of former Acting Director of the CIA, Michael Morell, who told Charlie Rose on August 8 he (Morell) wanted to “make the Iranians pay a price in Syria. … make the Russians pay a price in Syria.”  I am not making this up.  Here’s how that segment went:


Rose: “We make them pay the price by killing Russians?”

Morell: “Yeah.”

Rose: “And killing Iranians?”

Morell: “Yes … You don’t tell the world about it. … But you make sure they know it in Moscow and Tehran.”


Here is Ray’s interview: (5 minutes)



What excellent adventure earned Morell his latest appearance with Charlie Rose?  An August 5 NY Times op-ed titled “I ran the C.I.A. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton.”



Peabody award winner Rose having made no secret of how much he admires the glib, smooth-talking Morell, performed true to form.  Indeed, he has interviewed him every other month, on average, over the past two years.  This interview, though, is a must for those interested in gauging the caliber of bureaucrats that have bubbled to the top of CIA since the disastrous tenure of George Tenet (sorry, the interview goes on and on for 46 minutes).



A Heavy Duty


Such interviews are a burden for unreconstructed, fact-based analysts of the old school.  In a word, they are required to watch them, just as they must plow through the turgid prose of “tell-it-all” memoirs.  But due diligence can sometimes harvest an occasional grain of wheat among the chaff.


For example, George W. Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, included a passage the former president seems to have written himself.  Was Bush relieved to learn, just 15 months before he left office, the “high-confidence,” unanimous judgment of the U.S. intelligence community that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in 2003 and had not resumed work on such weapons?  No way!  In his memoir he complains bitterly that this judgment in that key 2007 National Intelligence Estimate “tied my hands on the military side. … After the NIE, how could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?”  No, I am not making this up.  He wrote that.


In his memoir, At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA, CIA Director George Tenet described Michael Morell, whom he picked to be CIA’s briefer of President George W. Bush, in these terms:  “Wiry, youthful looking, and extremely bright, Mike speaks in staccato-like bursts that get to the bottom line very quickly.  He and George Bush hit it off almost immediately.  Mike was the perfect guy for us to have by the commander-in-chief’s side.”


Wonder what Morell was telling Bush about those “weapons of mass destruction in Iraq” and the alleged ties between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.  Was Morell winking at Bush the same way Tenet winked at the head of British intelligence on July 20, 2002, telling him that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” of invading Iraq?


Tenet High on Morell – Just One Little Problem

Not surprisingly, Tenet speaks well of his protégé and former executive assistant Morell.  But he also reveals that Morell “coordinated the CIA review” of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s infamous Feb. 5, 2003 – a dubious distinction if there ever was one.  So Morell reviewed the “intelligence” that went into Powell’s thoroughly deceptive account of the Iraqi threat!  Powell later called it a “blot” on his record.  Morell even apologized to Powell in 2015.

It is sad to have to remind folks almost 14 years later that the “intelligence” was not “mistaken;” it was fraudulent from the get-go.  Announcing on June 5, 2008, the bipartisan conclusions from a five-year study by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Jay Rockefeller described the intelligence conjured up to “justify” war on Iraq as “uncorroborated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”

It strains credulity beyond the breaking point to think that Michael Morell was unaware of the fraudulent nature of the WMD propaganda campaign. Yet, like all too many others, he kept quiet and got promoted.


A Deus-ex-Machina Escape


And, for services performed, Tenet rescued Morell from the center of the storm, so to speak, sending him to a plum posting to London, leaving the hapless Stu Cohen holding the bag.  Cohen had been acting director of the National Intelligence Council and nominal manager of the infamous Oct. 1, 2002 National Intelligence Estimate warning about Iraq’s [non-existent] WMD.


Cohen made a valiant attempt to defend the indefensible in late November 2003, and was still holding out some hope that WMD would be found.


He noted, however, “If we eventually are proved wrong — that is, that there were no weapons of mass destruction and the WMD programs were dormant or abandoned – the American people will be told the truth …”  And then Stu disappeared into the woodwork.


In October, the 1,200-member “Iraq Survey Group” commissioned by Tenet to find those elusive WMD in Iraq had already reported that six months of intensive work had turned up no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.  By then, the US-sponsored search for WMD had already cost $300 million, with the final bill expected to top $1 billion.


In Morell’s own memoir, The Great War of Our Time, Morell writes, “In the summer of 2003 I became CIA’s senior focal point for liaison with the analytic community in the United Kingdom.” He notes that one of the “dominant” issues, until he left the UK in early 2006, was “Iraq, namely our failure to find weapons of mass destruction …”  (It was a PR problem; Prime Minister Tony Blair and Morell’s opposite numbers in British intelligence were fully complicit in the “dodgy-dossier” type of intelligence.)


Landing on His Feet


When the storm subsided, Morell came back from London to bigger and better things.  He was appointed the CIA’s first associate deputy director from 2006 to 2008, and then director for intelligence until moving up to become CIA’s deputy director (and twice acting director) from 2010 until 2013.


Reading his book and watching him respond to those softball pitches from Charlie Rose Monday, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that glibness, vacuousness, and ambition can get you to the very top of U.S. intelligence in the 21st century – and can also make you a devoted fan of whoever is likely to be the next President.


Wisdom on China


For those who did not make it to the very end in watching the most recent Michael-and-Charlie show, here is an example of what Morell and Rose both seem to consider trenchant analysis.  Addressing the issue of U.S. relations with China, Morell described the following as a main “negative:”


“We both have large militaries in the same place on the planet, the Pacific.  What does that mean?  It means you have to plan for war against each other, and we both do; it means you have to equip yourself with weapons systems for war against each other, which both of us do; and it means you have to exercise those forces for war against each other, and both of us do.  And both sides see all of three of those things.  That leads to a natural tension and pulls you apart. …”


Those who got to the end of Morell’s book had already been able to assimilate that wisdom on page 325:


“The negative side [regarding relations with China] includes the fact that … each country needs to prepare for war against each other (because our militaries are in close proximity to each other).  Each plans for such a war, each trains for it, and each must equip its forces with the modern weaponry to fight it [leading] to tension in the relationship. … 


Well, Morell is at least consistent.  More telling, this gibberish is music to the ears of those whom Pope Francis, speaking to Congress last September, referred to as the  “blood-drenched” arms traders.  Morell seems to be counting on his deep insights being music to the ears of Hillary Clinton, as well.


Finally, it was not hard to see all this coming, as Morell rose higher and higher in a system that rewards deserving sycophants.  Ray addressed this five years ago in the “Rise of Another CIA Yes Man.”


That piece elicited many interesting comments from senior intelligence officers who knew Morell personally; sine of those comments are tucked into the end of the article.