I've come to admire Ray McGovern, the former CIA analyst turned peace advocate. Although he has said a few things I cannot agree with, his heart seems to be very much in the right place.
Even if you are not a McGovern fan, you should be troubled by the circumstances surrounding his arrest on the 30th of October. He had paid to attend a lecture by General Petraeus. McGovern intended to ask an important (albeit uncomfortable) question or two about the general's ever-optimistic reports about the prospects for victory in Iraq and Afghanistan.
(I'd like to ask the General this
question: If America did such a bang-up job of training a new Iraqi army, why did that army fold like origami paper when ISIS came marching in?)
But McGovern never got a chance to ask his question. The "organs of state security" were waiting for McGovern when he showed up, ticket in hand. FDL
has a good account of the confrontation:
World Can’t Wait activist Stephanie Rugoff said a guard stopped McGovern. “Ray, you’re not going in,” the guard said.
McGovern, who is 74 years-old, told the guards something to the effect that the Bill of Rights gave him the right to go into the event. McGovern had a ticket too. But the guards would not let him pass and soon New York police officers surrounded him.
McGovern's arms were twisted painfully when he was handcuffed. (He had suffered an injury to his shoulder a few days earlier.) He experienced great pain during his trip to the police station.
Rugoff heard him screaming. He was shouting about how they were hurting his shoulder. He asked the officers to stop twisting it so they did not aggravate his shoulder and possibly re-injure it.They seemed to know who people were...
“I had a ticket as well,” Marini explained. “They recognized me as well and called me by my name, my first name. They seemed to know who people were.”
, my friends, is the mystery -- the big, big mystery which McGovern describes in The Consortium
The “organs of state security” (the words used by the Soviets to refer to their intelligence/security services) were lying in wait for me when I walked into the Y? Why? How on earth did they know I was coming?
It appears that the authorities knew that McGovern was coming because they were spying on his email
. And that, my friends, makes this incident extremely
McGovern says that when he travels to New York, he stays at the Catholic Worker house founded by Dorothy Day.
Naturally, he communicated with those people before showing up in the city.
Moreover, the Catholic Worker Movement is an international organization widely looked upon as subversive of the Establishment, and this adds to the suspicion. In recent years, many of my Catholic Worker friends have been arrested for protesting the use of drones to kill foreigners dubbed “militants,” most of whom don’t look like most of us.
My Catholic Worker friends comfort the afflicted, while in no way shying away from afflicting the comfortable, as the saying goes. And for that, they often pay a price, including being snooped upon, in violation of the Fourth Amendment, for exercising their rights under the First.
I am not making this up: In the fall of 2010, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine criticized the FBI for conducting “anti-terrorism” spy operations against the Catholic Worker Movement and even the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh. According to Fine, spies were sent into the Merton Center to “look for international terrorists.” One of the informers photographed a woman he thought was of “Middle Eastern descent” to have her checked out by “terrorism analysts.”
So my possible tradecraft lapse may have been contacting my Catholic Worker friends. On Oct. 26, I sent Martha an email with the innocuous title, “Room in the Inn?” It contained the usual request for simple lodging at the Catholic Worker together with details regarding my classes at Fordham and Manhattan and the Petraeus event.
How did they know who Ray and the other unwelcome guests were? How did the cops know them by sight? Why were these people addressed by their first names?
Spying. Unlawful spying on the Catholic Worker people.
I can't think of any other likely explanation.
Our nation's sheep keep bleating the refrain: "If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about." Ray McGovern wasn't doing anything wrong. The authorities had no
right to read his private messages to and from the people at the Catholic Worker House.
Folks, we have plenty
to worry about. All of us. A culture in which such things happen cannot be labeled a democracy.