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From Prison to Award for Iraq War Whistleblower

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On Jan. 26 in Copenhagen, I had the privilege to present to former Danish intelligence officer, Frank Grevil, the annual Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence.

The late Sam Adams was a CIA analyst colleague who challenged the "fixing" of intelligence during the Vietnam War.

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Thirty-five years later, as we again watched the corruption of intelligence amid the drumbeat for war on Iraq, a small group of Sam's former colleagues formed Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence.  Our purpose was not only to honor Sam's memory; it was also to show future generations of intelligence officers that it is possible—actually, it is morally required—to expose the lies that facilitate war.

In 2002-2003, our profession of intelligence analysis was systematically corrupted in order to deceive Congress out of its Constitutional prerogative to authorize war.  This also happened elsewhere in the "coalition of the willing"—in London, Canberra, and Copenhagen.  Sadly, out of the hundreds of "coalition" intelligence officers aware that war was being "justified" on false pretenses, only two—Elizabeth Gun in the U.K. and Frank Grevil in Denmark—provided documentary evidence exposing the mandacity of their governments.

Both were brought to trial for exposing secrets.  The British government quickly realized that proceeding against Katharine Gun was not worth the inevitable embarrassment.  In Copenhagen, vindictive officials with guilty consciences sent Grevil to jail.

There is no need to rehabilitate Frank Grevil.  There is a need to honor him.  And so, with heartwarming help from that segment of the Danish populace who care about speaking truth to power, we gave Grevil the Sam Adams Award.  Katharine Gun read the citation and presented the actual award, while I chaired the ceremony.

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In an attempt to do the occasion justice, I prepared the remarks set forth below, from which I drew in an attempt to provide background.  As you will see, I found the whole subject so dim and dismal that I thought I would start with a light-hearted approach—however incongruous.  My remarks follow:

Thank you, one and all, for coming this evening at such short notice and in such encouraging numbers.  Our first order of business is the presenting of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) award to former Danish intelligence officer, Maj. Frank Grevil.

You each have a handout [available on request] explaining who former CIA analyst Sam Adams was, and why we, his former colleagues, created this movement in his memory.  Representing the Sam Adams Associates, I have the privilege, together with former British Intelligence officer Katharine Gun, who received the award in 2004, to honor Frank Grevil with the sixth annual Sam Adams Award.

We are grateful to the Danish newspaper Politiken for making the hall available and for publishing notice of this event.  Following the award ceremony proper, Politiken journalist Claus Blok Thomsen will moderate the Politiken-sponsored part of the evening.  That will include, we expect, a free and lively discussion with Q&A, after brief presentations by Katharine, Frank, and me.  But first let me say a word regarding why I feel truly honored to present this award to Maj. Frank Grevil.

Hans Christian Andersen and Shakespeare

Whenever I come to Denmark, ringing in my ears are the wonderful stories with which your Hans Christian Andersen gifted the world.  Not to mention the words that The Bard put in the mouths of his vivid characters in Hamlet, set in Denmark.

First, Hans Christian Andersen (we shall get to Shakespeare later):  Most of you will remember the story about the king's "Magic Suit of Clothes."  The American actor Danny Kaye immortalized that story on film.  As a boy, I memorized much of his musical rendition of those tales and I now sing them to our grandchildren.

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What follows is a kind of allegory with, I think, some teaching points.

Once upon a time, in a land far away…no, not far away, but here, in this land, Denmark…there was a king, who was simply insane about new clothes, because he thought they would enhance the distinguished image he craved.  Well, one day swindlers came to see the king—there is an unconfirmed report that they came from the American embassy.  In any case, they came to persuade the king to buy a suit made out of whole cloth—a suit they said was a "magic suit."

Now, in truth, as they held up the supposed raiment, there was nothing there at all.  But the swindlers were very clever.  They told the king—or was it the prime minister?—that this was a magic suit and only a wise man would recognize this.  To a fool the suit would be invisible.

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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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