<\body> Stories in America: Transcript of Ray McGovern Taking on Rumsfeld

Friday, May 05, 2006

Transcript of Ray McGovern Taking on Rumsfeld

Here's the transcript of Ray McGovern, a 27-year veteran of the CIA, taking on Rumsfled yesterday in Atlanta at the Southern Center for International Studies:
RAY McGOVERN: And so, I would like to ask you to be up front with the American people. Why did you lie to get us into a war that was not necessary and that has caused these kinds of casualties? Why?

DONALD RUMSFELD: Well, first of all, I haven't lied. I did not lie then. Colin Powell didn't lie. He spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence Agency people and prepared a presentation that I know he believed was accurate, and he presented that to the United Nations. The President spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence people, and he went to the American people and made a presentation. I'm not in the intelligence business. They gave the world their honest opinion. It appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction there.

RAY McGOVERN: You said you knew where they were?

DONALD RUMSFELD: I did not. I said I knew where suspect sites were, and we were --

RAY McGOVERN: You said you knew where they were, "near Tikrit, near Baghdad, and northeast, south and west of there." Those were your words.

DONALD RUMSFELD: My words -- my words were -- no, no, no, wait a minute! Let him stay one second. Just a second.

RAY McGOVERN: This is America, huh? Go ahead.

DONALD RUMSFELD: You're getting plenty of play, sir.

RAY McGOVERN: I'd just like an honest answer.

DONALD RUMSFELD: I'm giving it to you.

RAY McGOVERN: We're talking about lies and your allegation that there was bulletproof evidence of ties between al-Qaeda and Iraq. Was that a lie or were you misled?

DONALD RUMSFELD: Zarqawi was in Baghdad during the prewar period. That is a fact.

RAY McGOVERN: Zarqawi, he was in the north of Iraq, in a place where Saddam Hussein had no rule. That's where he was.

DONALD RUMSFELD: He was also in Baghdad.

RAY McGOVERN: Yeah, when he needed to go to the hospital. Come on, these people aren't idiots. They know the story.

DONALD RUMSFELD: You are -- let me give you an example. It's easy for you to make a charge, but why do you think that the men and women in uniform every day, when they came out of Kuwait and went into Iraq, put on chemical weapon protective suits? Because they liked the style? They honestly believed that there were chemical weapons. Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons on his own people previously. He had used them on his neighbor, the Iranians. And they believed he had those weapons. We believed he had those weapons.

RAY McGOVERN: That's what we call a non-sequitur. It doesn't matter what the troops believe. It matters what you believe.

MODERATOR: I think, Mr. Secretary, the debate is over. We have other questions, courtesy to the audience.
McGovern was on Democracy Now this morning. Be sure to read the entire interview. Here are a few excerpts:
AMY GOODMAN: Well, tell us about this event yesterday, a quite raucous event, interruptions and then your questioning. A very rare moment for one of the more insulated government officials to be questioned by, well, a former C.I.A. analyst.

RAY McGOVERN: Well, Amy, just listening to this little clip here, I find it scary. These were ostensibly educated normal people, and their reaction was very much like the one that Goebbels stirred up. You can see it was a very unfriendly audience to anyone who posed any kind of question to the Defense Secretary. So -- and listening to it, I'm sort of scared, because if this is indicative of the brainwashing that has taken place, it's going be a long, long struggle to speak truth to power, as Fannie Lou Hamer so famously said, and Damu Smith, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Ray, let's go through the questions and how the secretary responded to you. The issue -- the last one, of Zarqawi, saying that there is a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq.

RAY McGOVERN: Yeah, that's the best they could come up with after all of this misinformation, with Cheney saying there were contacts between Iraqis and people in Prague and so forth. Zarqawi was up in the north part of the country. He had no contact with Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein was not ruling that part of the area.

AMY GOODMAN: Wasn't the U.S.?

RAY McGOVERN: Yeah, the U.S. and the Kurds were up there. They could have got Zarqawi in an eyelash, in a moment, but they chose not to. So it was completely disingenuous, and for the people not to be able to listen to that, to hear it, but simply join in the applause for Rumsfeld was a bit disquieting.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Ray, when you were asking the questions, at one point off camera, you were saying, "This is America." What was happening at that point?

RAY McGOVERN: Well, curiously enough, a very large man came down with a white coat on, and he stuck his elbow into my chest and started pushing me back. And I pushed back, literally and figuratively. And it was the moment of truth. Would Don Rumsfeld want me thrown out of there, having asked in a very civil manner simply pointed questions, or would he ask them not to remove me? He chose the wiser course. I first thought that this was him being gracious, but when I thought of the P.R. debacle it would have been for him to have me removed after simply posing these questions, which nobody else has the guts to pose him, that he chose the wiser course from a P.R. point of view, as well.


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