CIA Vets McGovern & Kiriakou: It’s Scoundrel Time Back in the USA

Podcast and Transcript; Intro & Highlights (Below) By Ray McGovern

by Robert Scheer, May 20, 2022


Younger readers/listeners may ask, who is Robert Scheer? He certainly deserves a full introduction, but I will keep it short. A fearless journalist in the tradition of I.F. Stone and Sy Hersh, Scheer was one of the earliest and boldest to see Vietnam as tragic fiasco, and to call it like it was. He poured his considerable energy and gifts into reporting on Vietnam (and similar U.S. policy fiascos) in Ramparts magazine and other media. He was one of the deepest, most painful thorns in the side of an Establishment that, though Neck Deep in the Big Muddy, kept pushing on, leaving millions dead.

Later, Scheer wrote for The Los Angeles Times and taught at UCLA. He was also a Fellow in Arms Control at Stanford. He is the son of immigrants, who worked in the garment industry. Scheer was born and raised in The Bronx (two miles from where I grew up). He has written nine books and now runs “Scheer Intelligence”.

Robert Scheer asked to interview John Kiriakou and me to hear us comment on our personal experiences working alongside “scoundrels”. It should go without saying that not all of our former co-workers were scoundrels. There were enough of them in senior posts, though, to grease the skids for things like wars of aggression and what Nuremberg called the “accumulated evil” flowing from such wars — think torture, for example. None of the torturers were held to account. One was made CIA director. John Kiriakou resisted being trained in torture techniques, and eventually blew the whistle on torture. He was “rewarded” by being sent off to prison for two years (a long but compelling story).


Discussing operational intelligence relations with Russia after the USSR fell apart, John Kiriakou reminded us that there were extremely promising prospects for bilateral cooperation in key areas — counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics, to mention just two. According to John, several initiatives toward that kind of cooperation ran aground on U.S, intelligence’s insistence on treating the Russians as mentees — not as equals. In wider perspective, John reminded us that both Yeltsin and Putin asked to join NATO and were rebuffed. U.S. arms manufacturers and dealers need an enemy to “justify” obscene expenditures on weapons (and sharing a slice of their profiteering with congressional candidates, who then can be counted on to appropriate still more money for “defense”).

Commenting on the culture at CIA, John expressed some wonderment at hearing gratuitous comments regarding “our most evil enemy, Russia”, long after the Soviet Union disintegrated and its successor posed little, if any, strategic threat. (The CIA is in no less need of a credible threat than the rest of the MICIMATT — the Military-Industrial-Congressional-IntelligenceMedia-Academia-Think-Tank complex, of which the U.S. intelligence establishment has become an integral part. Not to mention the pivotal role played by the corporate media — the acronym’s middle “M’ — which is owned and operated by co-conspirators to its left and right on MICIMATT.)

At Scheer’s request, John Kiriakou provided examples of the trouble he has encountered trying to get his books (he’s just completed his 8th) cleared by agency censors for publication. It is a little like Kafka.


I didn’t take notes on what I said. I do remember trying to explain that what the Soviets used to call “the world correlation of forces” had markedly changed — actually, a tectonic change caused by the surprisingly close alliance between Russia and China. (It is not possible to exaggerate its importance.) Biden’s benighted advisers still don’t seem to “get it”, even after the embarrassingly incompetent misstep last June, when Biden apparently commiserated with Putin over Russia being “squeezed” by China (sic)!

RIP, Unipolar World. Amid all the talk of an emerging “multipolar” world, I suggested it might be more instructive to use “bipolar” — in both senses of the word! In the political sense, what is emerging is (1) a lily-white West against (2) people of color (the great majority). Russia has been painted so thoroughly black over recent years (with Russia-gate and all the rest), that even a hot soapy bath would fail to remove all the paint. So it can fit in nicely alongside people of color — in China, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, for example.

Indeed, it should be clear by now that rhetorical points about how isolated Russia has become after the invasion of Ukraine are illusory. Moreover, as economic sanctions begin to bite harder and harder, most of the world seems likely to assign primary blame to lily-white NATO, not Russia. (Since Biden took office, I have grown more and more convinced that his economic advisers are on a par with those who advise on foreign policy. This is not a compliment.)

I also talked a bit about the increasing danger of nuclear war and the nonchalance — and surrealism — with which that existential issue is being addressed by policy makers and pseudo-savants in Washington. Take this syllogism, for example:

1 — The U.S. does not want nuclear war.

2 — Putin might resort to nukes to stave off defeat in Ukraine.

3 — Ergo: The U.S. must defeat Putin in Ukraine.


I hope you find the interview informative. I was a pleasure being on with John and Robert.

Putin: If Finns, Swedes Get NATO ‘Military Infrastructure’, We’ll Respond

By Ray McGovern (14 minutes)

On May 16, just before I was interviewed for The Critical Hour, Putin addressed Finland’s and Sweden’s plans to join NATO, using words far milder than had most expected:

“Russia has no problems with these states. There is no direct threat to Russia in connection with NATO’s expansion to these countries.”

Then, the kicker:

“But the expansion of NATO’s military infrastructure to these territories will certainly evoke a response on our part. We will see what it will be like based on the threats that are created for us.”

So Who’s Already Got ‘NATO’s Military Infrastructure’?

The interview with The Critical Hour, provided an opportunity to underscore what the Russians seems to fear the most — the emplacement of what they call “offensive strike missiles” in sites near Russia’s border. In other words, THAT kind of “military infrastructure”. For several years Putin has complained that so-called “ABM” sites already completed in Romania and almost complete in Poland can be converted overnight into launchers for “offensive strike missiles” — Tomahawk cruise missiles, for example, and, later, hypersonic ones.

A major concern, of course, is warning time; that is, the shrinking minutes from the missile launch to target.

After Presidents Biden and Putin talked by telephone on Dec. 30, 2021, the Kremlin readout included this:

“Joseph Biden emphasized … that Washington had no intention of deploying offensive strike weapons in Ukraine.”

No one challenged that readout at the time. Does anyone know why/how that that key point made by Biden fell into the cracks? We are talking here about one president’s direct personal assurance to the other. The key role played by trust (or distrust) can hardly be exaggerated.

The following short video clip from 2015 provides a sense of how frustrated Putin has been, in trying to get people (in this case Western journalists) to put themselves in his shoes. You may wish to click on the two-and-a-half minute segment — from minute 10:20 to 12:55 — at the following link ( )

Erdogan Opposed to Finland, Poland in NATO

It takes a unanimous vote by all 30 NATO countries to accept new members. So one big question is whether Turkey’s President Erdogan will relent and acquiesce in Finland and Poland joining the alliance. Hard to predict, but my guess is that NATO will sweeten the pot enough for Erdogan that he will let himself be bought off.  I referred the interviewers to a Tweet I had posted earlier in the day, suggesting that, even though Turkey once faced down the U.S. (on Iraq), I would not bet much on Erdogan facing down the immense pressure on this one. But who knows?

Purchasing Power…

Will Turkey’s Erdogan be bought off on Finland & Sweden membership in NATO? 19 yrs ago when Turkey saw the US/UK March of Folly into Iraq for what it was, it summoned the guts to say NO to an axis of attack from the north. Smart money says he’ll let himself be seduced this time.

Ritter and McGovern on Ukraine

By Ray McGovern, May 14, 2022
Garland Nixon interviewed Scott Ritter and me this morning for a bit over an hour, giving us time for an update on changes in the lay of the land and speculation as to what might be in store in coming weeks.

Important Veterans For Peace Zoom Event Tomorrow 6pm Eastern

Below is from an email notification from Gerry Condon of Veterans For Peace
Ray McGovern to Speak on Possible Use of Nukes re Ukraine
Friday, May 13, 6 pm Eastern, 3 pm Pacific

Ray McGovern to Speak on Possible Use of Nukes re Ukraine
Friday, May 13, 6 pm Eastern, 3 pm Pacific

Ray writes, in some wonderment, that US officials are being insanely nonchalant about the likelihood that Russia might use nuclear weapons to avoid defeat in Ukraine. Read his latest: US Counting On Putin To Signal Before Using Nuclear Weapons

The above piece is based on what the two remaining intelligent intelligence directors summoned the courage to say on May 7 and 10 — which, in turn dovetails with the May 1 Memorandum for The President by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. (See: ).

The “Sanity” in VIPS appears to have taken on new significance.

Zoom link:

Ray Addresses: Can a CIA Analyst Save His/Her Soul?

A Talk and Q&A with HS students: now a podcast episode

“An insanely good episode” was first comment, but you be the judge

A year ago I was asked by Aaron Good, a Peace Studies teacher at a fancy private high school, to address his students on how one could navigate the ‘Deep State’ and emerge as I did. We left a good bit of time for students’ questions. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and was used a number of opportunities to weave in a some instructive vignettes from back in the day.

Episode Description:

This episode features Aaron Good and his Peace Studies of the American Century students in conversation with retired CIA officer Ray McGovern. The discussion ranges across Ray’s experiences as a CIA officer from the Kennedy administration to the first George Bush administration—as well as his post-CIA work as a peace activist weighing in on Iraq WMD, CIA torture, Julian Assange, and the Russia-gate hoax.

The original Mothers’ Day Proclamation, 1870

“Arise, then… women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of tears! Say firmly: We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.

From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence vindicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of council.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own kind the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women, without limit of nationality, may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient, and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.“

~ Julia Ward Howe