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Ask the Candidates Real Questions -- Like These

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Lead-in to question: A portion of intelligence funding goes to support intelligence analysis. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates worked in the analysis part of the CIA. [Actually, as an apprentice analyst 40 years ago, he worked in the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch that I led. His portfolio was Soviet policy toward the Middle East.]

Fast-forward 35 years to Dec. 5, 2006, when the Senate held a one-day hearing on Gates' nomination to become Secretary of Defense. When Sen. Lindsey Graham asked Gates whether he thought the Iranians would consider a nuclear attack on Israel, Gates answered [as already mentioned above]:

"I think that they would see it in the first instance as a deterrent. They are surrounded by powers with nuclear weapons: Pakistan to their east, the Russians to the north, the Israelis to the west and us in the Persian Gulf."

This is tell-it-like-it-is intelligence analysis [which exceeded my hopes as his erstwhile mentor]. It even included matter-of-fact mention of Israel's nuclear capability, which President Barack Obama himself has refused to acknowledge. When Helen Thomas pressed the issue at Obama's inaugural press conference (Feb. 9, 2009), the President awkwardly ducked the question, explaining he did not want to "speculate."

The Question: Do you agree with Mr. Gates that Iran would see a nuclear capability "in the first instance as a deterrent?" And how many nuclear weapons do Western experts believe Israel has? President Carter has said 150, but that was some time ago.

A Follow-up: Let's assume Iran does get a nuclear weapon: Do you think it would commit suicide by firing it off in the direction of Israel?


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Question 3

Background and Lead-In: This question deals with torture, an issue that has been given new life recently, with more and more Republican presidential candidates speaking in favor of it. We have surely come a long way since Virginia patriot Patrick Henry insisted passionately that "the rack and the screw," as he put it, were barbaric practices that had to be left behind in the Old World, or we are "lost and undone."

The Question: On Sept. 6, 2006, Gen. John Kimmons, then head of Army intelligence told reporters at the Pentagon, in unmistakable language:

"No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tells us that."

Gen. Kimmons knew that President George W. Bush had decided to claim publicly, just two hours later on the same day, that the "alternative set of procedures" for interrogation -- methods that Bush had approved, like water-boarding -- were effective. Whom do you think we should believe: President Bush? Or Gen. Kimmons?

This article first appeared in Consortium News

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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)

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 Mr. McGovern,  I read your article... by Ad Du on Friday, Nov 25, 2011 at 3:22:43 PM
Brilliant questions, delivered by a superior intel... by Paul Sedkowski on Friday, Nov 25, 2011 at 3:37:39 PM
It is not difficult to think that if such pertin... by Marika on Saturday, Nov 26, 2011 at 2:53:03 AM
It should be common knowledge that the next presid... by aberamsay on Saturday, Nov 26, 2011 at 4:31:18 AM
May he get elected and stay alive long enough for ... by Bruce on Saturday, Nov 26, 2011 at 6:57:11 AM
You can ask all the correct questions in your arse... by Nicholas Galindo on Saturday, Nov 26, 2011 at 1:01:03 PM
The GOP reminds me of someone who, to get his job ... by Donnie McLeod on Saturday, Nov 26, 2011 at 4:19:33 PM
The Dems are just as good at lying as the GOP. The... by Nick van Nes on Saturday, Nov 26, 2011 at 7:16:05 PM
It's all about control. Controlling the agenda, co... by Nick van Nes on Saturday, Nov 26, 2011 at 7:03:22 PM
Of course the Federal Reserve... by Lance Ciepiela on Saturday, Nov 26, 2011 at 9:10:31 PM
The so-called Federal Reserve, a private bank set ... by aberamsay on Sunday, Nov 27, 2011 at 5:28:20 AM
David Gregory on "Meet the Press" should have intr... by Alan MacDonald on Sunday, Nov 27, 2011 at 4:03:19 PM
The very most important question that the American... by Alan MacDonald on Sunday, Nov 27, 2011 at 4:24:45 PM
Found Guilty - Genocide, Crimes Against Peace,Crim... by Lance Ciepiela on Monday, Nov 28, 2011 at 6:38:40 AM
The emperor of the USofA is His Majesty The Federa... by aberamsay on Monday, Nov 28, 2011 at 11:50:03 AM