Follow the Soapbox
Ray McGovern leads the “Speaking Truth to Power” section of Tell the Word, an expression of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  A former co-director of the Servant Leadership School (1998-2004), he has been teaching there for 15 years.

Ray came from his native New York to Washington in the early Sixties as an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then served as a CIA analyst from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. Ray’s duties included chairing National Intelligence Estimates and preparing the President’s Daily Brief, which he briefed one-on-one to President Ronald Reagan’s most senior national security advisers from 1981 to 1985.

In January 2003, Ray helped create Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) to expose the way intelligence was being falsified to “justify” war on Iraq. On the afternoon of the day (Feb. 5, 2003) Secretary of State Colin Powell misled the UN Security Council on Iraq, VIPS sent a blunt memorandum to President George W. Bush, in which VIPS gave Powell a C minus for content. They ended the memo with this:

“No one has a corner on the truth; nor do we harbor illusions that our analysis is irrefutable or undeniable [as Powell had claimed]. But after watching Secretary Powell today, we are convinced that you would be well served if you widened the discussion beyond … the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, after a five-year study by his committee, described the intelligence used to “justify” war on Iraq as “unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”  In other words, it was not mistaken; it was fraudulent.

As an act of conscience, on March 2, 2006 Ray returned the Intelligence Commendation Medallion given him at retirement for “especially meritorious service,” explaining, “I do not want to be associated, however remotely, with an agency engaged in torture.”  He returned it to Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R, Michigan), then-Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Hoekstra added to the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY’07 (HR5020) a provision enabling the government to strip intelligence veterans of their government pensions.  HR5020 passed the full House, but Congress opted instead for a continuing resolution.  Thus, Ray was spared from having to go back to driving part-time for Red Top Cab.

On the early afternoon of May 4, 2006, in Atlanta, Ray confronted Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on live TV with pointed questions like: "Why did you lie to get us into a war that was not necessary and that has caused these kinds of casualties?"

The impromptu, four-minute mini-debate that followed is still receiving hits on YouTube - Accused by TV pundits that evening of "following the Secretary of Defense all the way down to Atlanta," Ray explained that he had gotten to Atlanta first - to receive, that same evening, the ACLU's National Civil Liberties Award (won the previous year by Coretta Scott King).

Ray’s opinion pieces have appeared in many leading newspapers here and abroad.  His Web site writings are usually posted first on as well as here on, and they are usually then cross-posted widely on other Web sites.

Ray still serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity; VIPS’ 26 corporate issuances are posted on

He has debated twice at the Oxford Forum, most recently in Jan. 2013, when he chose to take a lighter tone in trying to explain why it is still possible to dream the American dream.

Ray has appeared on The Newshour, C-Span’s Washington Journal, CNN, Aljazeera, RT, PressTV and numerous other TV & radio programs and documentaries. (His favorite gig was debating former CIA Director James Wollsey on Charlie Rose on Aug. 20, 2004.)  Ray has also addressed a wide variety of audiences in the U.S. and abroad.

He studied theology and philosophy (as well as his major, Russian) at Fordham University, from which he holds two degrees.  He also holds a Certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown University and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.

A Catholic, Ray has been worshipping for over a decade with the ecumenical Church of the Saviour.  He has been invited to lecture at various interfaith and ecumenical events around the U.S., and has preached at a number of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues.

Ray is particularly fond of the “substitute teaching” he has been invited to do at universities and colleges.  At George Washington University, though, he quickly wore out his welcome when he stood silently with his back turned toward then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  He was seized and badly beaten while Secretary Clinton spoke eloquently about the need for freedom of expression – in Iran.


09/22/2015 11:34pm

I admire listening to the persons with curious minds and wide circle of interests. Thank you for giving such an opportunity!

10/01/2015 8:09pm

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01/28/2016 7:03am

The men are interesting to listen to. But I think that there is a little piece of propaganda in the speeches. But it may be just my own opinion.

01/29/2016 3:06am

It's a pleasure to listen to smart and interesting people. Thanks for this.


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02/03/2016 3:46am

There were many minds who stood for the theory that the government of USA made that situation up. And also there were millions of other crazy theories. I think that the truth will never come out because there are always people who don't need it to come out.

02/05/2016 8:03am

Very interesting. But it's scary to think that it's all not true.

02/09/2016 8:12am

Curious point of view. But it will never be proved

02/16/2016 5:59am

It will be a mystery for ever, I think

02/22/2016 4:45am

It's a very awkward topic to discuss. Things will never be the same again and all we can do is guess and believe

02/22/2016 7:42am

Interesting post. Although a little bit controversial

02/24/2016 8:44am

It's an interesting topic but who are we to judge anyone for anything?

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09/25/2016 9:34am



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