McGovern says he believes the president can’t hold either agency accountable for their violations of the law and human rights because of the power they hold over him.
MUNICH — A former CIA analyst believes the CIA and National Security Agency have become so powerful that the president is afraid to act against them when they break the law.
Ray McGovern retired from the CIA in 1990, following nearly 30 years of service to the agency. He was awarded the Intelligence Commendation Medal, which is given to agents who offer “especially commendable service” to the agency.
Outraged over the CIA’s open use of torture, he returned the medal in 2006 and became an antiwar activist. He was arrested in 2011 for a silent protest against a speech by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In an interview published Monday by acTVism Munich, an independent media outlet, McGovern warned that U.S. intelligence agencies are too powerful to be held accountable, even by President Barack Obama. He explained:
“I will simply say that he is afraid of them. Now I would have never thought that I would hear myself saying that the president of the United States is afraid of the CIA. But he is. He’s afraid of the NSA as well. How else to explain that the National Intelligence director, who lied under oath to his senate overseers on the 12th of March 2013, is still the director of National Intelligence?”
Statements made under oath to Congress in 2013 by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, in which he denied mass surveillance of Americans, were later revealed to be false by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. In 2014, some members of Congress, including California Rep. Darrell Issa, moved to have Clapper dismissed from his post, but their efforts were ultimately defeated.
McGovern continued: “How else to explain that the head of CIA, John Brennan, who deliberately hacked the computers of the senate’s intelligence community, that’s supposed to be overseeing him, he’s still in office?”
Brennan apologized to Senate leaders in July 2014 after CIA agents hacked Senate computers during a congressional investigation of the CIA’s use of torture, but neither the torturers nor the hackers would face any consequences for their actions. In January 2015, an internal CIA review board declared the hack had been a result of “miscommunication” and cleared all agents of wrongdoing.
In the interview, McGovern lamented the fact that political leaders, including President George W. Bush and Obama, have given their approval to unconstitutional behavior by government officials:
“Our bill of rights has been shredded. The Fourth Amendment specifically prohibits the kind of activities the NSA is involved in domestically.”
He also criticized Obama’s drone program, noting that “[t]he Fifth Amendment prohibits any president or anyone else from killing anyone without due process,” and dismissed the administration’s legal justifications for the killings as a “lawyerly diversion from the truth.”
“Not even George Bush claimed the right to kill American citizens without due process,” McGovern said.
Activism is one way to drive positive change and resist the erosion of Americans’ civil liberties, he said.
“You do what you know is good, because it’s good, and then you have a certain peace of mind, saying, you’ve been an activist in a constructive way,” he concluded.
Watch “Interview with former CIA-Analyst: Ray McGovern” on acTVism Munich