You might call it bloody irony… literally. On Tuesday, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton walked into the auditorium at George Washington University to give an address, the applause subsided and those in attendance took their seats. Still standing was Ray McGovern, veteran U.S. Army officer, and former senior CIA analyst, having served for 27 years from Presidents Kennedy to George W. Bush, providing security briefs to President Ronald Reagan, as well as the President’s Daily Brief to George H. W. Bush. A man of conscience, McGovern has worked for more than a decade now as a political activist, involved with numerous organizations such as Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) and Veterans for Peace, exposing and confronting corrupt and fraudulent actions on the part of the CIA and intelligence community. He has been vociferously critical of the misuse and proven questionable nature of the intelligence used by the second Bush administration to launch the Iraq War – even confronting Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld live on CNN during a Q & A session in 2006. Peaceful, yet unafraid, the 71-year-old McGovern not only remained standing, but turned his back on her highness, Hillary, in silent protest of her policies and of the lies and dishonesty she was about to speak.
As McGovern stood, Clinton began her address -a soliloquy on the right of free speech among a free people. She waxed politically and philosophically about the Egyptian government’s terrible abridgment of its people’s free speech by pulling the plug on their internet. Ironically, I suppose Americans are meant to pay no never mind to the U.S. Congress’ current debate over our own Internet Kill Switch Bill, which would allow the President to essentially “shut down” portions (or all?) of the internet in the case of a “cyber emergency”, such as he may define it. After a few short minutes, however, McGovern was approached by several apparent security agents lead by a yet unidentified individual who violently grabbed him, and dragged him out of the auditorium in view of everyone present, Clinton included. McGovern can be heard questioning, as he’s dragged out, “So, this is America?” Once outside, he was roughed up, put in double handcuffs, and handed over to the D.C. police, but not before he had been bruised, cut, and left bleeding – all while not resisting. D.C. police charged and processed him with disorderly conduct and subsequently released him, while the security detail who beat him were apparently not charged at all. McGovern, still bloody from the altercation, took a cab to a nearby hospital to have his wounds treated.
As Mr. McGovern also pointed out in an interview on the Alex Jones Radio Show, just a few short paragraphs after having watched him being dragged from the auditorium and without intervening (or even so much as a pause in her speech), Clinton went on to say, regarding the situation in Egypt, “What happened is once again… using violence against protesters who are seeking basic freedoms”, and going on to reference that, “they stood and they marched.” If this doesn’t paint a picture of the disingenuous spirit with which these words were spoken, I’m not sure what does.
That I agree or not with everything that Ray McGovern says or advocates is of little issue, nor does the disturbing thing that occurred really have anything to do with him, personally. What’s a shame about the incident with Ray is a shame for all of us: the open, unrepentant disregard for and disintegration of our First Amendment rights and our ability to non-violently redress the establishment and protest our elected and appointed public servants. When a man is treated in a Stazi-style manner for the simple act of standing – be it physically or in principle – for his political convictions, and turning his back on a “god” of government, it ought to grab our attention. Whether we choose to stand and turn our backs on the liars and criminals in our government, or whether we choose to raise our voices over issues, it’s our right to do so. And a right not exercised is a right forfeited. For this reason alone, we should all “stand” like Ray.