An Appeal to Admiral Fallon
By Ray McGovern
I have not been able to find out how to reach you directly, so I drafted this letter in the hope it will be brought to your attention.
First, thank you for
honoring the oath we commissioned officers take to protect and defend the
Constitution of the
But our oath has no expiration date. While you are acutely aware of the dangers of attacking Iran, you seem to be allowing an inbred reluctance to challenge the commander in chief to trump that oath, and to prevent you from letting the American people know of the catastrophe about to befall us if, as seems likely, our country attacks Iran.
Two years ago I lectured at
This brought to my mind the
photos of German generals and admirals (as well as top church leaders and
jurists) swearing personal oat
I was aghast that only the third Mid I called on got it right that the oath is to protect and defend the Constitution, not the president.
No doubt you are very clear that an attack on Iran would be a flagrant violation of our Constitution, which stipulates that treaties ratified by the Senate become the supreme law of the land; that the United Nations Charter which the Senate ratified on July 28, 1945, by a vote of 89 to 2 expressly forbids attacks on other countries unless they pose an imminent danger; that there is no provision allowing some other kind of "pre-emptive" or "preventive" attack against a nation that poses no imminent danger; and that Iran poses no such danger to the United States or its allies.
You may be forgiven for thinking: Isn't 41 years of service enough; isn't resigning in order to remove myself from a chain of command that threatened to make me a war criminal for attacking Iran; isn't making my active opposition known by talking to journalists isn't all that enough?
With respect, sir, no, that's not enough.
The stakes here are extremely high and with the integrity you have shown goes still further responsibility. Sadly, the vast majority of your general officer colleagues have, for whatever reason, ducked that responsibility. You are pretty much it.
In their lust for attacking
Indeed, there are clear
signs the media have been given their marching orders to support attacking
At CIA I used to analyze the Soviet press, so you will understand when I refer to the Washington Post and the New York Times as the White House's Pravda and Izvestiya.
Sadly, it is as easy as
during the days of the controlled Soviet press to follow the
In some respects the
manipulation and suppression of information in the present lead-up to an attack
It seems entirely possible that you are unaware of this, precisely because the media have put the wraps on it, so let me adduce a striking example of what is afoot here.
The example has to do with
the studied, if disingenuous, effort over recent mont
But Not for Fiasco
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, told reporters on April 25 that Gen. David Petraeus would be giving a briefing "in the next couple of weeks" that would provide detailed evidence of "just how far Iran is reaching into Iraq to foment instability."
Petraeus's staff alerted
When American munitions experts went to
News to you? That's because this highly embarrassing episode went virtually unreported in the media like the proverbial tree falling in the forest with no corporate media to hear it crash.
So Mullen and Petraeus live, uninhibited and unembarrassed, to keep searching
for Iranian weapons so the media can then tell a story more supportive to
efforts to blac
The suppression of this episode is the most significant aspect, in my view, and a telling indicator of how difficult it is to get honest reporting on these subjects.
Meanwhile, it was announced
that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had formed his own Cabinet
committee to investigate
Dissing the Intelligence Estimate
Top officials from the president on down have been dismissing the dramatically new conclusion of the National Intelligence Estimate released on Dec. 3, 2007, a judgment concurred in by the 16 intelligence units of our government, that Iran had stopped the weapons-related part of its nuclear program in mid-2003.
Always willing to do his
part, the malleable CIA chief, Michael Hayden, on April 30 publicly offered his
"personal opinion" that Iran is building a nuclear weapon the
National Intelligence Estimate notwit
For good measure, Hayden added: "It is my
opinion, it is the policy of the Iranian government,
approved to the highest level of that government, to facilitate the killing of
I don't need to tell you
about the Haydens and other smartly saluting generals
Let me suggest that you have a serious conversation with Gen. Anthony Zinni, one of your predecessor CENTOM commanders (1997 to 2000).
As you know better than I, this Marine general is also an officer with unusual integrity. But placed into circumstances virtually identical to those you now face, he could not find his voice.
He missed his chance to
interrupt the juggernaut to war in
Zinni happened to be one of the honorees at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention on Aug. 26, 2002, at which Vice President Dick Cheney delivered the exceedingly alarmist speech, unsupported by our best intelligence, about the nuclear threat and other perils awaiting us at the hands of Saddam Hussein.
That speech not only launched the seven-month public campaign against Iraq leading up to the war, but set the terms of reference for the Oct. 1, 2002 National Intelligence Estimate fabricated yes, fabricated to convince Congress to approve war on Iraq.
later shared publicly that, as he listened to Cheney, he was shocked to hear a
depiction of intelligence that did not square with what he knew. Although Zinni had retired two years earlier, his role as consultant
had required him to stay up to date on intelligence relating to the
One Sunday morning three and a half years after Cheney's speech, Zinni told "Meet the Press": "There was no solid proof that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. I heard a case being made to go to war."
had as good a chance as anyone to stop an unnecessary war not a
"pre-emptive war," since there was nothing to pre-empt and Zinni knew it. No, what he and any likeminded officials
could have stopped was a war of aggression, defined at the post-WWII
Sure, Zinni would have had to stick his neck out. He may have had to speak out alone, since most senior officials, like then-CIA Director George Tenet, lacked courage and integrity.
In his memoir published a year ago, Tenet says Cheney did not follow the usual practice of clearing his Aug. 26, 2002 speech with the CIA; that much of what Cheney said took him completely by surprise; and that Tenet "had the impression that the president wasn't any more aware of what his number-two was going to say to the VFW until he said it."
It is a bit difficult to believe that Cheney's shameless speech took Tenet completely by surprise.
We know from the Downing
Street Minutes, vouched for by the
Admiral Fallon, you know
that to be the case also with respect to the "intelligence" being
conjured up to "justify" war with
No doubt you have long since
I was one of his first
branch chiefs when he was a young, disruptively ambitious CIA analyst. When Ronald Reagan's CIA Director William Casey sought someone to
shape CIA analysis to accord with his own conviction that the
After Casey died, Gates admitted to the Washington Post's Walter Pincus that he (Gates) watched Casey on "issue after issue sit in meetings and present intelligence framed in terms of the policy he wanted pursued." Gates' entire subsequent career showed that he learned well at Casey's knee.
So it should come as no
surprise that, despite the unanimous judgment of the 16
Some of his earlier statements were more ambiguous, but Gates recently took advantage of the opportunity to bend with the prevailing winds and leave no doubt as to his loyalty.
In an interview on events in
I imagine you are no more
surprised than I. Bottom line: Gates will salute smartly if Cheney persuades
the president to let the Air Force and Navy loose on
You know the probable consequences; you need to let the rest of the American people know.
A Gutsy Precedent
Can you, Admiral Fallon, be completely alone? Can it be that you are the only general officer to resign on principle?
And, of equal importance, is
there no other general officer, active or retired, who has ta
Gen. Brent Scowcroft, who was national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush, took the prestigious job of Chairman, President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board when asked to by the younger Bush.
From that catbird seat,
Scowcroft could watch the unfolding of
policy in the
In an interview with
Needless to say, Scowcroft
was given his walking papers and told never to dar
There is ample evidence that Sharon's successors believe they have a commitment from President Bush to "take care of Iran" before he leaves office, and that the president has done nothing to disabuse them of that notion no matter the consequences.
On May 18, speaking at the
World Economic Forum at Sharm el Sheikh, Bush threw
in a gratuitous reference to "
"To allow the world's
leading sponsor of terror to gain the world's deadliest weapon would be an
unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world
must not allow
Pre-briefing the press,
Bush's national security adviser Stephen Hadley identified
The Rhetoric is Ripening
In the coming weeks, at
In that controversial speech in 2005, Ahmadinejad was actually quoting from something the Ayatollah Khomeini had said in the early 1980s.
Khomeini was expressing a hope that a regime treating the Palestinians so unjustly would be replaced by another more equitable one.
A distinction without a difference? I think not. Words matter.
As you may already know (but
the American people don't), the literal translation from Farsi of what Ahmadinejad said is, "The regime occupying
Contrary to what the
administration would have us all believe, the Iranian president was not
threatening to nuke
President Bush is way out in front on this issue, and this comes through with particular clarity when he ad-libs answers to questions.
On Oct. 17, 2007, long after
he had been briefed on the key intelligence finding that
"But this we got a
Some contend that Bush does
not really believe his rhetoric. I rather think he does, for the Israelis seem
to have his good ear, with the tin one aimed at
But, frankly, which would be
worse: that Bush believes
Or that it's just rhetoric
What you can do, Admiral Fallon, is speak authoritatively about what is likely to happen to U.S. forces in Iraq, for example if Bush orders your successors to begin bombing and missile attacks on Iran.
And you could readily update Scowcroft's remarks, by drawing on what you observed of the Keystone Cops efforts of White House ideologues, like Iran-Contra convict Elliot Abrams, to overturn by force the ascendancy of Hamas in 2006-07 and Hezbollah more recently. (Abrams pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of misleading Congress, but was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush on Dec. 24, 1992.)
It is easy to understand why no professional military officer would wish to be in the position of taking orders originating from the likes of Abrams.
If you weigh in as your (non-expiring) oath to protect and defend the Constitution dictates, you might conceivably prompt other sober heads to speak out.
And, in the end, if profound
ignorance and ideology supported by the corporate press and by both political
parties intimidated by the
You will not have to live with the remorse of not knowing what might have been, had you been able to shake your reluctance to speak out.
There is a large Tar Baby
A "Fox" Fallon,
still pledged to defend the Constitution of the
Ray McGovern; Steering Group; Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
Ray McGovern, a veteran Army
intelligence officer and then CIA analyst for 27 years, now works with Tell the
Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour