Is Impeachment Necessary to Protect the Constitution?

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Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, NYC
March 9, 2008

Statement by Ray McGovern

Congressman Nadler, I am Ray McGovern, born and bred in the Bronx a bit north of your district.

I regret not being able to be with you in person to give my perspective on whether impeachment is necessary to protect the Constitution—and specifically, whether the manufacturing of false intelligence to “justify” an unprovoked war fits the category of “high crime or misdemeanor.”

I was an analyst at the CIA for 27 years, after serving as an Army infantry/intelligence officer in the early Sixties. You may recall that we first met on June 16, 2005, in the basement of the Capitol, the only room made available to Congressman John Conyers to take testimony on the Downing Street Minutes.

The minutes were the official British record of a briefing of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair on July 23, 2002. At that briefing, the chief of British intelligence reported on his discussions with his counterpart in Washington, who told him three days earlier that, President George W. Bush had decided to make war on Iraq, and that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

In my testimony in the Capitol that day I drew attention to the words of Vice President Dick Cheney on August 26, 2002—words that framed the discussion for the next 45 days during which Congress was deliberately misled into giving the president approval to make war on Iraq.

This is what Cheney said:

“We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. Among other sources, we’ve gotten this from the firsthand testimony of defectors—including Saddam’s own son-in-law.”

This was a lie.

Saddam’s son-in-law told us just the opposite when he defected in 1995.

You can find it on page 13 of his debriefing report. He said: “All weapons – biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed.”

Cheney continued:

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction…Many of us are convinced that [Saddam] will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon.”

In a memoir published last year, then-CIA director George Tenet complained that Cheney did not follow the usual practice of clearing the speech with the CIA, and that what Cheney said “went well beyond what our analysis could support.”

Tenet added his “impression” that “the president really wasn’t any more aware of what his number-two was going to say.” Yet, Tenet admits that he did not raise the issue with either the president or vice president. Tenet was all too well aware that the intelligence was being “fixed around the policy.”

The Power to Intimidate

Intimidated by the vice president, Tenet ended up ordering his analysts, my former colleagues, to prepare a National Intelligence Estimate to Cheney’s terms of reference—you remember, the one that said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties with al-Qaeda; the NIE that appeared just ten days before Congress voted to give the president the power to make war on Iraq.

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, and who chaired the preparation of Powell’s Feb. 5, 2003, speech at the UN, was asked about all this when Wilkerson testified before Congress on June 26, 2006.

The question came from Republican Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina: Why was it that a small number of individuals got so much power in the administration that they “had more influence than the professionals?”

Wilkerson gave a three-word answer: “The Vice President.”


It is an open secret that Vice President Cheney was, and continues to be the prime mover behind torture. As some will recall, speaking on open radio Cheney called the use of waterboarding a “no-brainer.”

It was his lawyer, David Addington, who prepared the Jan. 25, 2002, memorandum signed by then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales recommending that the laws against torture could be circumvented.

George Bush applied that advice in his own presidential memorandum of Feb. 7, 2002, launching our country onto “the dark side,” as Cheney has put it.

That memorandum opened the gaping loophole through which the administration drove the Mack truck of torture.

High crimes? Misdemeanors? Who will argue the point?

The Constitution

Congressman Nadler, articles of impeachment for Dick Cheney have sat in your in-box since last November. You are Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution; you have refused to take action.

As an Army officer I took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic. You took that same basic oath as a congressman.

With all due respect, let me suggest you have a duty to act on that oath—and not on some promise you may have made to avoid anything that could be viewed as divisive and thus jeopardize Democratic Party election wins in November.

I hope you will agree that the transcendent value is to protect the Constitution, and for that, impeachment is indeed necessary. Please take the articles of impeachment regarding Dick Cheney out of your in-box and launch the investigation.

Thank you.

Ray McGovern
Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

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