Defense Secretary Donald Rumfeld’s confrontation with hecklers was big news. But the media didn’t tell us that the main heckler, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, has contributed articles to publications associated with political extremist Lyndon LaRouche, who served time in prison on financial fraud charges and once called for bringing into being “a new Marxist International throughout the capitalist sector.”
McGovern previously told AIM that he knows nothing about LaRouche but believes his researchers “do some fairly good work.” It looks like the major media don’t know much about LaRouche or McGovern. If McGovern is incapable of knowing the facts about LaRouche, a crank on the national stage, perhaps it’s a good thing he left the CIA.
McGovern is also a co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which regularly states that Israel is manipulating our foreign policy. As documented by Frontpagemag.com, McGovern spoke to Rep. John Conyers mock hearing last June that foreshadowed genuine impeachment hearings he will hold if the Democrats win control of the House this November. “In McGovern’s view,” wrote Jacob Laksin, “the sinister motivations for the war could be explained by the axiom O.I.L.: “O for Oil, I for Israel, and L for leveraging our land bases.”
What mattered to the media, of course, was that he was a Rumsfeld critic, and Rumsfeld is a popular media target these days. NBC and CBS led off their May 4 evening news shows with a report about the heckling of Rumsfeld. MSNBC led with it, and ABC ran it second. In addition to McGovern, who pressed Rumsfeld about missing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, protesters shouted out that Rumsfeld was a liar and a war criminal, and one stood in silence wearing a sign calling for President Bush’s impeachment.
Why is it the lead news story when a handful of people protest the war? Clearly the nation is divided on the issue. But it was a chance for the media to keep the pressure on, creating a sense that the Bush Administration is under siege. It was reported in the context of the six former military generals who have recently called for Rumsfeld to be fired or to step down, though clearly the real target is President Bush.
On NBC, Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski said that McGovern challenged Rumsfeld’s claim that Saddam had prior links to al Qaeda. Then it showed McGovern, asking Rumsfeld from the audience, “Was that a lie, or were you misled?” The report showed Rumsfeld responding by saying that al Zarqawi had been in Baghdad prior to the war. Al Zarqawi is of course the al Qaeda terrorist leading the attacks against the U.S. and its allied forces in Iraq. There was a lot more that Rumsfeld could have pointed to proving the links between Saddam and al Qaeda, some of which I reiterated in a column last December.
McGovern also asked Rumsfeld, “Why did you lie to get us into a war that was not necessary, that has caused these kinds of casualties?”
“Well first of all, I haven’t lied; I did not lie,” replied Rumsfeld. “Colin Powell didn’t lie. He spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence Agency and prepared a presentation that I know he believed was accurate. And he presented that to the United Nations?The President spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence Agency, and he went to the American people and made the presentation,” he continued. “They gave the world their honest opinion.”
McGovern has been making this claim for a long time. Last June he was making the case that the so-called Downing Street Memos proved that the Bush Administration had manipulated the evidence to help make the case to go to war. He debated this on the Lehrer NewsHour last June with former CIA officer Reuel Gerecht, now with the American Enterprise Institute.
Opting for the dramatic soundbites, all of the networks not only overlooked the bizarre views of Ray McGovern but the substance of Rumsfeld’s speech, in which he talked about progress in the war in Iraq and the global war on terrorism.
Rumsfeld emphasized the stakes, saying, “We are free people who believe in freedom and how important it is for you to be able to get up in the morning and say what you want, go where you wish, vote as you wish, and know that it is exactly that?that that threat from extremists is determined to terrorize and to alter our behavior in a fundamental way. It is that which we must not allow to happen.”
That freedom includes freedom of the press. It’s just too bad we don’t have a free press that exercises more responsibility.
The name of their game is obvious: get Rumsfeld. And after that, get Bush.