Former CIA, McGovern, Speaks in Atlanta on Osama, Clinton, and Erosion of Rights

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(APN) DECATUR — Ray McGovern, 71, former CIA analyst and current anti-war activist, visited Decatur on Monday, May 02, 2011, at the Atlanta Friends Meeting House, for a forum organized by the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition’s Atlanta chapter.

Hundreds attended the event and there was standing room only.

As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, McGovern’s last visit to the Atlanta area was in 2006, when he challenged former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at the Atlanta History Center for not being truthful during an event on May 04, 2006.

On what was the fifth anniversary of that event, the group applauded four activists who had joined McGovern in disrupting Rumsfeld: Randy Aranov; Justin Carter; Tracie Stern; Gloria Tatum, now a Senior Staff Writer with APN.  The four had stood up and turned their backs on Rumsfeld.  They were removed from the event and television footage of the whole affair became an international media sensation.

McGovern worked as a CIA intelligence officer for twenty-seven years, serving under seven US Presidents.  During this time, McGovern prepared daily briefs for President George H.W. Bush.

Although McGovern is no longer with the CIA, he is a leading policy critic and has done numerous interviews and public speaking engagements around the world.

McGovern’s May 02 appearance earlier this week turned out to be the day after President Barack Obama and the US goverment announced the death of Osama bin Laden.

“Look at Osama bin Laden.  Since when does a man who was a constitutional law professor [Obama], have the right to accuse, try, and be executioner?  What happened to the right to a fair trial?  Wasn’t [former Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein given a trial?  What is happening to our rights?  Are our rights boiling away before our eyes?” McGovern said in an interview with Atlanta Progressive News.

McGovern noted in his speech how the US government is creating examples like Bradley Manning, who was locked up for telling the world via Wikileaks about US war crimes.

Manning spent months in solitary confinement, being tortured by the US government.  Yet, McGovern credits the activist community for protesting, which he believes led to the government reducing the number of daily hours of Manning’s solitary confinement.

When McGovern was asked by APN what has changed over the past five years, he said, “We have become like frogs, slowly boiling in a melting pot, and if nothing is done, we will have no rights at all.”

McGovern recalled how five years ago, when he challenged Rumsfeld, he did not get beat up by police, and was at least given the opportunity to interact with Rumsfeld.

By contract, when McGovern disrupted a speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on February 15, 2011, he was arrested.  All he did was turn his back on Clinton at a speech at Georgia Washington University.

After turning his back on Clinton, McGovern was dragged out of the room, and left with blood dripping down his pants.  This seems unbelievable, as McGovern poses no threat, is a 71 year-old calm gentleman, and a respected former CIA official.

McGovern talked during his speech about sharing a jail cell with a homeless Black man, who said he was in jail for drinking a beer.  “He has no home.  Where does a homeless man have a right to drink his beer?”

McGovern felt sadly “privileged” as he was set free, knowing the homeless man would remain in jail.

When asked by APN if there was a law against getting beat up for turning our back on a speaker, McGovern said, “Yes there is a law, but we have no rights.”  McGovern said there was nothing he could do about it and he still does not know who the specific individuals are who beat him up.

McGovern told the crowd that during Hillary Clinton’s speech, she was talking, ironically, about how other countries should have the right to protest.  He said during her pro-protest speech, Clinton watched him get violently taken out of the room, but did not miss a syllable.

The topic of McGovern’s speech Monday was “How to the Stop Endless War: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Beyond.”  However, McGovern did not offer specific strategies for ending any of these invasions or occupations.

When McGovern was asked how we can stop this war, his reply was “Let people know the truth, and have them protest, or go to their representatives office.”

Yet, how effective can disruptive protests be, when McGovern himself was brutalized by police for attempting to do so?

McGovern says that Clinton’s inaction could be a scare tactic.  But he insisted that people must continue protesting and speaking out.

(END / 2011)

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