Note: Ray McGovern and 15 others took action Thursday in the halls of Congress.
The 16 donned orange jumpsuits similar to those worn by detainees at Guantánamo
Bay. They wore gags over their mouths decorated with one word torture.
Not another word needed to be said as they walked the halls of Congress. McGovern,
a 27-year veteran of the CIA, also returned his Intelligence Commendation Award
medallion, which was given to him for "especially commendable service."
He delivered the medal to Congressman Pete Hoekstra along with the letter below.
Hon. Pete Hoekstra, Chair
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Dear Congressman Hoekstra:
As a matter of conscience, I am returning the Intelligence Commendation Award
medallion given me for "especially commendable service" during my
27-year career in CIA. The issue is torture, which inhabits the same category
as rape and slavery – intrinsically evil. I do not wish to be associated, however
remotely, with an agency engaged in torture.
Reports in recent years that CIA personnel were torturing detainees were highly
disturbing. Confirmation of a sort came last fall, when CIA Director Porter
Goss and Dick Cheney – dubbed by the Washington Post "Vice President
for Torture" – descended on Sen. John McCain to demand that the CIA be
exempted from his amendment's ban on torture. Subsequent reports implicated
agency personnel in several cases of prisoner abuse in Iraq, including a few
in which detainees died during interrogation.
The obeisance of CIA directors George Tenet and Porter Goss in heeding illegal
White House directives has done irreparable harm to the CIA and the country
– not to mention those tortured and killed. That you, as Chair of the House
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, show more deference to the White
House than dedication to your oversight responsibilities under the Constitution
is another profound disappointment. How can you and your counterpart, Sen. Pat
Roberts, turn a blind eye to torture – letting some people get away, literally,
with murder – and square that with your conscience?
If German officials who were ordered to do such things in the 1930s had spoken
out early and loudly enough, the German people might have been alerted to the
atrocities being perpetrated in their name and tried harder to stop them. When
my grandchildren ask, "What did you do, Grandpa, to stop the torture,"
I want to be able to tell them that I tried to honor my oath, taken both as
an Army officer and an intelligence officer, to defend the Constitution of the
United States – and that I not only spoke out strongly against the torture,
but also sought a symbolic way to dissociate myself from it.
We Americans have become accustomed to letting our institutions do our sinning
for us. I abhor the corruption of the CIA in the past several years, believe
it to be beyond repair, and do not want my name on any medallion associated
with it. Please destroy this one.
Reprinted courtesy of Truthout.com.