• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

SPRING FUNDRAISER

Is it time for our Spring fundraiser already? If you enjoy what we offer, and have the means, please consider donating. The sooner we reach our modest goal, the faster we can get back to business as (un)usual. Please, stay safe and we’ll see you down the road.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

A CIA Insider’s View of Robert Gates

The lame-duck Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee seems determined to force through confirmation of Robert Gates to replace Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense. The hurry is synthetic — and totally unnecessary.

I know, I know — everyone but Barney the dog wants Rumsfeld out of the Pentagon tout suite. According to a Pentagon spokesman, however, Gates has commitments that would preclude his taking the reins at the Pentagon until January. So, senators, relax already. Let Rumsfeld spend December at one of his houses in Taos, while you do your homework. There is no exaggerating the importance of the Gates candidacy.

Even Democrats on the committee are saying Gates is a shoo-in barring an unexpected disclosure. But the likelihood of such a disclosure seems nil, with Gates the sole witness at his hearing Tuesday. Still, Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., who was an analyst in the State Department’s intelligence bureau and now sits on the House Intelligence Committee, has called Gates’ nomination ”deeply troubling” and appealed for hearings that are “thorough and probing.”

Gates has primarily two things going for him, which hardly suffice to justify confirmation:

o The Anyone-But-Rumsfeld syndrome, which has understandable appeal. Just how much appeal was brought home to me last week, when a former colleague who worked closely with Gates during Iran-Contra said, “Despite my misgivings, I would support Satan himself in preference to Rumsfeld.”

o The Not-Enough-Evidence-To-Indict bromide offered reluctantly by Lawrence Walsh, the independent counsel who led the investigation of the Iran-Contra affair. Walsh was frustrated by Gates’ remarkable inability to recall explosive information that his subordinates swore under oath they had told him ”about Oliver North’s illegal activities,” for example. (Gates’ supporters still brag about his ”eidetic [institutional] memory.”) Walsh wrote:

“The statements of Gates often seemed scripted and less than candid. Nevertheless . . . a jury could find the evidence left a reasonable doubt that Gates either obstructed official inquiries or that his two demonstrably incorrect statements were deliberate lies.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

The Armed Services Committee’s ranking member, Carl Levin, D-Mich., who voted against Gates’ nomination in 1991 to be director of the CIA, said he wanted to give Gates a ”fresh look; a lot of time has passed.” Well, highly damaging evidence has come to light since 1991, implicating Gates in some of the most serious national-security scandals of the 1980s. Veteran investigative reporter Robert Parry, for one, has been providing chapter and verse on Consortiumnews.com.

For example, in January 1995, Howard Teicher, who served on President Reagan’s National Security Council staff, submitted a sworn affidavit detailing the activities of Gates and his then-boss, CIA Director William Casey, in secretly providing arms to Iraq. This violated the Arms Export Control Act in two ways: ignoring the requirement to notify Congress; and providing arms to a state designated as a sponsor of terrorism.

It gets worse. To grease the skids for this dubious adventure, Gates ordered his more malleable subordinates at the CIA to cook up intelligence reports to provide some comfort to Reagan in acquiescing to these activities. A National Intelligence Estimate of May 1985 predicted Soviet inroads in Iran if the United States did not reach out to ”moderates” within the Iranian leadership.

In addition, Gates’ analysts were pressed to publish several reports beginning in late 1985 — as HAWK anti-aircraft missiles wended their way to Tehran — that Iranian-sponsored terrorism had ”dropped off substantially.” There was no persuasive evidence to support that judgment.

As part of my official duties at the time, I took steps to make Gates aware of this a month before he wrote in articles in the Washington Post, Foreign Affairs magazine and our professional journal Studies in Intelligence that, ”No CIA publication asserted these things.” I then tried in vain to get him to correct the record.

Hold the nomination

Since this episode casts serious doubt on Gates’ veracity, I felt a responsibility to bring it to the attention of the senators weighing Gates’ nomination to become CIA director in 1991. On Oct. 7, 1991, I swore in an affidavit laying out the facts and gave it to the Senate Intelligence Committee. I heard nothing.

It is difficult to believe that senators have become so used to being diddled by administration officials and nominees that they shy away from looking seriously into such matters. After the brutal nomination hearings in 1991, then-Sen. Tom Daschle addressed the $64,000 question — ”Whether Gates might continue to trim the truth” — and insisted: “We cannot afford to take that chance.”

Nor should we take that chance now. As Iraq goes down the drain, and ”the crazies” accelerate their campaign to bomb Iran, what is more important than a defense secretary from whom Congress can expect truthful testimony? Hold the Gates nomination over to January.

RAY McGOVERN was a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990 and Robert Gates’ branch chief in the early 1970s. McGovern now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). He is a contributor to Imperial Crusades, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. He can be reached at: rrmcgovern@aol.com

 

 

More articles by:

Ray McGovern was an Army officer and CIA analyst for almost 30 year. He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). He can be reached at: rrmcgovern@gmail.com. A version of this article first appeared on Consortiumnews.com.  

May 28, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s War on Arms Control and Disarmament
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Virtues of Not Eating Animals
Jeffrey St. Clair
Last Stand in the Big Woods
Jack Rasmus
Two Fictions of Mainstream Economics
Louisa Willcox
“What Are We Fighting About?” 9th Circuit Hears Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Delisting Case
Danny Sjursen
The Future of Forever War, American-Style
Steven Salaita
To Students and Teachers Targeted by the Israel Lobby
David Rosen
Silence=Death: Larry Kramer, RIP
Dean Baker
Restaurants in the Pandemic
Martin Billheimer
There is No Vacation Anymore
Jesse Jackson
It’s Time for Bold Responses to a Stark Crisis
Deborah Toler
Is Stacey Abrams Progressive?
Binoy Kampmark
Budget Cockups in the Time of Coronavirus
May 27, 2020
Ipek S. Burnett
The Irony of American Freedom 
Paul Street
Life in Hell: Online Teaching
Vijay Prashad
Why Iran’s Fuel Tankers for Venezuela Are Sending Shudders Through Washington
Lawrence Davidson
National Values: Reality or Propaganda?
Ramzy Baroud
Why Does Israel Celebrate Its Terrorists: Ben Uliel and the Murder of the Dawabsheh Family
Sam Pizzigati
The Inefficient and Incredibly Lucrative Coronavirus Vaccine Race
Mark Ashwill
Vietnam Criticized for Its First-Round Victory Over COVID-19
David Rovics
A Note from the Ministry of Staple Guns
Binoy Kampmark
One Rule for Me and Another for Everyone Else: The Cummings Coronavirus Factor
Nino Pagliccia
Canada’s Seat at the UN Security Council May be Coveted But is Far From a Sure Bet
Erik Molvar
Should Federal Public Lands be Prioritized for Renewable Energy Development?
R. G. Davis
Fascism: Is it Too Extreme a Label?
Gene Glickman
A Comradely Letter: What’s a Progressive to Do?
Jonathan Power
The Attacks on China Must Stop
John Kendall Hawkins
The Asian Pivot
May 26, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Trump Administration and the Washington Post: Picking Fights Together
John Kendall Hawkins
The Gods of Small Things
Patrick Cockburn
Governments are Using COVID-19 Crisis to Crush Free Speech
George Wuerthner
Greatest Good is to Preserve Forest Carbon
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Covid-19 Conspiracies of German Neo-Nazis
Henry Giroux
Criminogenic Politics as a Form of Psychosis in the Age of Trump
John G. Russell
TRUMP-20: The Other Pandemic
John Feffer
Trump’s “Uncreative Destruction” of the US/China Relationship
John Laforge
First US Citizen Convicted for Protests at Nuclear Weapons Base in Germany
Ralph Nader
Donald Trump, Resign Now for America’s Sake: This is No Time for a Dangerous, Law-breaking, Bungling, Ignorant Ship Captain
James Fortin – Jeff Mackler
Killer Capitalism’s COVID-19 Back-to-Work Imperative
Binoy Kampmark
Patterns of Compromise: The EasyJet Data Breach
Howard Lisnoff
If a Covid-19 Vaccine is Discovered, It Will be a Boon to Military Recruiters
David Mattson
Grizzly Bears are Dying and That’s a Fact
Thomas Knapp
The Banality of Evil, COVID-19 Edition
May 25, 2020
Marshall Auerback
If the Federal Government Won’t Fund the States’ Emergency Needs, There is Another Solution
Michael Uhl
A Memory Fragment of the Vietnam War
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail