McGovern spent 27 years with the CIA, beginning in President Kennedy’s era and ending in George H. W. Bush’s administration. After leaving the agency, McGovern co-created the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, an organization of former intelligence officers protesting the use of faulty intelligence to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Scheer begins the conversation by asking McGovern about the CIA’s role in the Vietnam War, and McGovern expresses frustration that the intelligence he and other officers gathered didn’t influence White House policy.
“Our good analysis was published in-house, but most of it never got to the White House, or places where it might have affected policy,” McGovern explains of his early years working in the lower ranks of the agency. He and Scheer discuss how the fear of an international communist movement prompted U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
“This is the part I don’t get. You’re in the CIA, the intelligence agency, and you’re an expert on this,” Scheer tells McGovern. “And the evidence was so clear that what the Americans were being told was nonsense.”
“One has to understand that there are really two CIAs,” McGovern responds. “You can give the president the best of intelligence and the best of assessments, and he’s got other factors to consider.”
The two also draw parallels between the CIA’s faulty intelligence during the Vietnam War and the current political climate involving Russia and WikiLeaks. McGovern says the WikiLeaks documents on the Democratic National Committee were falsely tied to Russia as part of an effort to invalidate the leak. “I personally heard Hillary Clinton’s PR person—a woman, [Jennifer] Palmieri is her name—I heard her crow and brag about how, even at the convention, she expended all kinds of efforts to make sure that people focused on the Russians,” McGovern says. “Did WikiLeaks get hacks from the Russians? No way. WikiLeaks got leaks, and there’s a big difference.”
—Adapted from Truthdig.com