McGovern, as we noted on Friday, is one of a number of high-level intelligence whistleblowers and former government officials who signed a very strong statement in support of WikiLeaks and Assange last week. Other signatories of the statement include Pentagon Papers' whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and the FBI's 9/11 whistleblower and TIME 2002 Person of the Year, Colleen Rowley.
McGovern, who was formerly personally responsible for giving Presidential Daily Briefings to both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton has, for years, been an outspoken opponent of the Bush Administration's unprecedented secrecy regime. He's perhaps best known for his remarkable 2006 confrontation with Don Rumsfeld, calling him directly out as a liar for tying Iraq to WMD and al-Qaeda.
It's embarrassing enough, in the below, to see CNN shamefully use the chyron "ASSANGE: JOURNALIST OR TERRORIST," since Assange has not been charged with anything remotely akin to "terrorism", nor has he like, ya know, a terrorist, either killed someone, tried to kill someone, or even advocated killing anybody --- unlike many of those who have advocated killing him.
But in the exchange that follows, as posted yesterday, note the telling positions expressed by CNN's Don Lemon about not only his, but CNN's apparent regard for WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange as "a pariah". He seems genuinely taken aback at the notion that, as McGovern tells him, CNN "should be following his example."
Watch the whole thing, please, for other important points and CNN embarrassments, but the section I mention above is transcribed below the video, along with one point on which McGovern appears to be wrong...
DON LEMON: You really think we -- and I'll say we, I'm a journalist -- you really think we have it wrong and that he [Assange] is actually not a pariah and we should be praising him and following his lead rather than calling him a pariah?
RAY MCGOVERN:Yeah, actually, with all due respect, I think you should be following his example. Seek out the secrets. Find out why it is that my tax-payer money is going to fund trafficked young boys performing dances in women's clothing before the Afghan security forces who we are recruiting to take over after we leave. Take a look at the documents and see the abhorrent activities that our government has endorsed or done through its contractors. And then tell me you don't think the Americans can handle that. Well I think they can handle it. But they can't handle it if they don't have it.
I should note, to be fair, McGovern does appear to be incorrect on one point in the above interview, however. He asserts WikiLeaks is not redacting documents because the Pentagon has declined to help them do so. While some of their earlier leaked documents (CNN and Lemon might be shocked to learn WikiLeaks has been doing this for about four years) were correctly criticized for lacking redactions that might have endangered sources, in fact they have been redacting documents since then, including their Afghan logs, Iraq War logs and the current batch of diplomatic cables. In at least one instance, however, the New York Times published the name of a sensitive source in their publication of one of the documents, whereas WikiLeaks had redacted that name when they published it.
All of which raises the key question which I hope CNN will discuss next: "NEW YORK TIMES: JOURNALISTS OR TERRORISTS"?