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Ray McGovern and Robert Parry on Truth Unflinching and the Price of Integrity

Ray McGovern and Robert Parry on Truth Unflinching and the Price of Integrity

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Published by Michael Collins
Ray McGovern and Robert Parry at the National Press Club on censorship, war, peace and honest reporting.
Ray McGovern and Robert Parry at the National Press Club on censorship, war, peace and honest reporting.

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Published by: Michael Collins on Jul 08, 2010
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The Agonist, June 8, 2010
Ray McGovern and Robert Parry on Truth Unflinching andthe Price of Integrity
Michael Collins (Washington, DC) Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern and investigative journalistRobert Parry spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, DC last night. They wereguests of The McClendon Groupwhich holds periodic meetings at the press clubfeaturing investigative reporters and newsmakers. Parry publishes and reports atConsortium.News.com. McGovern is on the steering committee of theVeteranIntelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).They focused on the risks of integrity in both journalism and government service. Parryhad a successful career with AP and Newsweek, where he was a leader in Iran-Contrareporting. McGovern's career in intelligence spanned three decades and put him in frontof presidents and cabinet members for daily intelligence briefings by the CIA, amongother duties.Both received awards and acknowledgments for their efforts. Yet both left the beatenpath of conformity to establish their own independent critiques of conventional wisdom
and establishment mythologies. They chose telling the truth as they knew it and saw itover the comfort of corporate and government perquisites and security.
Truth and Consequences - Parry's Lesson
 Robert Parry's investigative reporting was critical to breaking theIran-Contrascandal inthe1980's. Congress had barred President Ronald Reagan from funding the right wingrevolutionaries seeking to oust the freely elected leftist government in Nicaragua. Anillegal plan was hatched to provide funds through military arms sales to Iran by Israel,with the money going to fund the rightist military effort.When the scandal broke, there was general shock since just years earlier, Iran hadkidnapped U.S. diplomats and held them hostage for well over a year.Parry said that there simply wasn't the stomach for "another Watergate" among themainstream press. The tepid leader of the congressional investigation, Rep. Lee Hamilton(D-IN), had one goal - to make everyone happy. There were those who bucked the tide.Parry's reporting made a big difference but full public disclosure was curtailed.One related charge about Iranian involvement was more inflammatory than the illegalweapons sales. It concerned preelection contact between Reagan campaign and Iraniangovernment officials in 1980. There were charges that representatives of the Reagancampaignstruck a dealwith Iranian leaders to hold hostages through the end of thepresidential election, thus dooming any chance Carter had to win the election. Thehostages were released just minutes after Reagan's inauguration. Nothing came of thestory.Fast forward to the Bush-Clinton transition period in 1993. Parry managed to get accessto documents related to the Iran Contra affair. He was loosely supervised, which allowedhim reviewsecret and top secret documents. In these documents and other informationthat was emerging at the time, he saw a very strong case for what was called "the Octobersurprise" - that representatives from the Reagan campaign had indeed struck a deal toholding the hostages past Election Day 1980.The mainstream media was not interested. Even though Parry argued that the documents"change our history," there was no expose.
Parry pointed out that often times there are "so many disincentives that reporters stopped"digging and that "those who didn't were marginalized."Parry commented on a spin off of the Iran Contra scandal, the investigative reporting byGary Webb of the San Jose Mercury. Webb exposed drug sales by the Contras todomestic markets, most notably Los Angeles (The Dark Alliance). The product was anew one, crack cocaine. The scandal hinged on the fact that the Contras were support bythe CIA at the very same time they were starting a crack epidemic in urban areas acrossthe country.Parry noted that in this instance, it wasn't just the government that held up the free press.It was the press itself. TheNew York Timesand Washington Post ripped into the story.By disputing a few facts not central to the main story, the reporter was discredited andmarginalized. Webb ended up unemployed. He died in 2004, allegedly bysuicide.
Ray McGovern's Tale of Despair and Hope
 Ray McGovern has an advantage that most critics of U.S. foreign policy lack. Hewitnessed it being made and participated in the process. McGovern has been active assteering committee member for the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).He took on then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld inJune 2006accusing him of lying about the certainty of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and false claims aboutIraqi ties to terrorists. He is a regular critic of foreign policy fiasco and intelligencematters.McGovern offered stark reality check on current foreign policy operations. PresidentObama's appointment of long time intelligence executive General James Clapper asDirector of National Intelligence was the case in point. McGovern reminded the audience

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