By Ray McGovern and Robert Scheer / Original to ScheerPost

In the sixth episode of “Playing President,” Ray McGovern, 27-year CIA veteran and briefer of five presidents, continues to make sense of the world to “President” Scheer, who prepared for this role through his decades as a journalist, including in-depth interviews with five presidents from Nixon to Clinton. This week, McGovern briefs the president on the Rafah airstrike that killed at least 45 people and injured hundreds more. The two also go over the UN Security Council meeting on the attack as well as developments with Putin and Ukraine.


This transcript was produced by an automated transcription service. Please refer to the audio interview to ensure accuracy. 

Ray McGovern: I’ve been watching the UN proceedings today. I don’t have any finished intelligence for you, but I do have observations from what we saw, having to do with the very, very tough resolution that the Algerians tabled there and the discussion that ensued. And may I begin with that, Mr. President? 

POTUS: Yeah, that’s not gonna make me happy. Go ahead. Everybody’s beating up on us fiercely. 

McGovern: Mr. President, I wish I could say no, but that is the case. One way I heard said, “What’s the plural of pariah?” Not funny, pariah being Israel these days, at least at the U. N. Security Council. And, the second one, people are replying that it would be us, the United States. 

POTUS: So how did we let Russia off the hook? That’s what I’d like to know. 

McGovern: We don’t, of course. In this particular mix, people are saying that the only real supporter of keeping Israel at work doing what it’s doing in Gaza, and those photos over the weekend.

Mr. President, how can I say this? To be very candid, those photos of burning babies and things like that, there’s a big difference between now and when Madeleine Albright was asked about the deaths of 500, 000 Iraqi children dead because of our sanctions. There were no photos, Mr. President.

That’s big. Many of the people referred to the images coming out of that detention, that camp that was deliberately bombed by Israel, and some of them made the point, as CNN has now done, actually, made the point that, a piece of a U. S. produced missile was found right at that camp, and it was a precision guided missile.

So the notion that this was some kind of big mistake, it didn’t hold with many of these members. Let me just make some notes here. Let me just make sure I cover the most salient points. What the Algerian resolution says is that, look, under international law, Israel is still the occupying power.

That was decided way back in November of 1967, after the war, the idea is it must immediately halt its military offensive in Rafah, and then it cites the International Court of Justice ruling, which says, of course, precisely the same thing. I believe that was last Friday. And then the other thing you need to know, Mr. President, is that there’s likely to be a vote, an actual vote in the Security Council within a few days on this resolution. Maybe a little codicil to that is that several of the delegates, including the French and the Swiss, as well as other delegates, made a point of saying, Look, what we do here is binding, okay, like the International Court of Justice ruling order is binding.

Now, what that’s all about, of course, is that your representative at the U. N. after the last vote where we abstained, that still wasn’t enough just to satisfy the Israelis. So we said, they’re not binding these U. N. Security Council resolutions. Of course they are. I just want to make sure that, gratuitously like the French, like the Swiss, they made that point in a way that was, in fact, gratuitous, but reminded the US representative that they’re listening to all this and that.

With this coming vote on this resolution, if the U. S. chooses to abstain, the view of these delegates, at least, is that it doesn’t matter. It’s still binding. 

POTUS: What does that mean? I thought this court, we didn’t sign, this isn’t about the genocide, right? 

McGovern: Yeah, this is, the last one was about a ceasefire, and we had a bit to do with Israel before the vote.

They didn’t, they really objected to something saying a permanent ceasefire. They didn’t want it to say permanent, so we did a little wordsmithing and said, how about enduring? How about enduring ceasefire? And the Israeli says, no! But the cat was out of the bag. We went with enduring. We abstained.

And the Israelis are really mad. They cancelled the visit of high level officials to Washington and so forth. Suffice it to say that, the Israelis will not be happy about the outcome here, no matter what it says. And I guess you should know that the Israeli representative today at the Security Council was not the fellow who was all fire and brimstone.

They had a much more dignified and much more gentlemanly mean, but when he thought he was off camera, or maybe he knew he was on camera, he made an ostentatious show of texting. He was always texting, and he got his people behind him to be texting. And otherwise, we don’t care what the rest of you say.

We said our peace, now we’re going to just text away and see what happens. So I think the Israelis continue to do. Oh, here’s an example. Here’s a screenshot of, during, and before his speech and after his speech, this just a way of showing Israel’s apparent disdain for colleague members here, full members or non permanent members.

So he’s invited to speak, and this is the respect he shows to the rest of them. I don’t think that goes over really well now. The other thing I’ll say 

POTUS: You’re not the stage manager here. Get to the chase here, because, the fact is, can they arrest Daniel? And the Hamas leaders and they, or is this something we could shine off?

And, you could say the UN, I’m worried about the U. S. Congress and you got Netanyahu maybe getting invited to come here and he’s going, I’m going to be caught in a squeeze play. He’s going to denounce me on one side. Trump’s going to denounce me on the other. And there goes the election.

Let’s get serious. 

McGovern: I think your people are showing the same kind of concern. Actually, John Kirby, who is Sullivan’s spokesperson has said, no, this, we’ve the preliminary thing here, but we find it very imbalanced. This it’s very, why is it imbalanced? Because it does not refer to October the 7th when Hamas launched that horrific attack.

So it’s the same wordage being used now as when three of those resolutions were vetoed by the U. S. and then one abstained about. All I’m saying, Mr. President, is that it’s getting pretty tense here. When, when John Kirby gives this preliminary reaction. You, of course, you don’t need me to tell you this.

You’re free to decide what the U. S. representative will be instructed to do when this comes to a vote in just a couple of days. But I’ll go back to my, this little quip that I heard over the air about how many pariahs, is pariah a plural, pariahs or was it some, somebody else? In other words, pariahs are gonna be at the UN.

It depends on how that vote goes, and that will be the next real challenge that you’ll have to come up with. I would add one more thing, and that is that people are citing the red line now. It was only 20 days ago, actually the 9th of May. When you told that press conference to look, I’m not going to give them the arms to do in Gaza what they’ve done before.

You were holding up that one shipment. So the press really said, look, this is unprecedented. This is a red line. There’s been so much washing of that red line, it could be called a pink line now because you do continue to give arms and every other kind of support to Israel. And it’s very clear, from their reaction so far, that they will, in typical fashion, thumb their nose at the rest of the Security Council.

Witness, or maybe they’ll just text away and they won’t pay any attention to what you or anybody else says. 

POTUS: Ray, you’ve been around the block, what, 27, I can’t get over that, how long you’re still there. I don’t know how long we’re going to keep you. But let me just get something straight.

I said we can be sending in these 2000 pound, ton bombs and all that stuff, but this was a narrow one, wasn’t it? The thing made by Boeing that they’re talking about in that CNN report. It was a small one. And didn’t they hit some arms there or something? That’s what the Israelis say, that it wasn’t intended to do all this damage, right? And aren’t we being nailed over that unfairly? 

McGovern: I think Mr. President, you’re referring to a previous instance of this kind of thing happening. The thing I mentioned from CNN just today was it replete with burning tents, and it was really pretty graphic. And then it said look, this is what happened.

And what we found right there was a fragment of a U. S. precision guided missile. So the reason I mentioned that is because this did come up and the notion that this was some sort of mistake because it or some sort of errant missile. No, it was precision guided, and it looks like the burden of proof would be on the Israelis to show that this was some kind of accident, as Netanyahu has claimed.

POTUS: But isn’t the thing designed not to get all this collateral damage, civilians, women and children that you got those photographs about ,this is supposed to be a targeted like you say? 

McGovern: Yes, this came up again today at the UN Security Council actually it was the British representative.

 Who started out by saying she, was appalled, and then she finished up saying, this is catastrophic. And the only bow she made to the typical Western position was to say, look, we tried to get the Israelis to stop and to have a plan to avoid civilian casualties, but they had no plan.

We tried. But they have no plan. Now, that’s the British, for God’s sake. The French were even worse in saying that, look, this is binding resolution. And if I heard them right, a South Korean said, look, would you stop all arms provision to Israel now. South Korea, now maybe I misheard that fellow, I couldn’t replay it because it was live, but there’s a lot of erosion in support for the U. S. position, and I think forewarned is forearmed in this case. The Russians didn’t say anything terribly interesting, the Chinese did. What’d the Chinese do? Oh, they said, look, this has gone on long enough. There are 2, 000 trucks lined up at one of the entry points to Gaza? This is a genocide by starvation.

And what else? Yeah, you shouldn’t use hunger is a weapon. And besides that, he noted ‘oh, and by the way, very senior Arab officials are now in Beijing talking to Xi Jinping about what we do all about all this.’ This is not some idle speculation. The Chinese are involved in the Middle East in a way they have never been before.

Witnessed the fact that they negotiated agreement between Saudi Arabia, if you will, and Iran, mortal enemies until then. Mr. President, this is erosion that you need to know about. And I hope that the other people that you consult, like Tony Blinken, will confirm what we in the intelligence services say, the time is coming when, there may be just two pariahs left.

We’d all hate to see the U. S. being one of those pariahs.

POTUS: Ray, let’s not get caught up in this kind of, language pariahs or what have you. And, you’ve been around a long time. This is not anything worse than, you were there around Vietnam, weren’t you? And you blow up the whole countryside. Yeah. And McNamara, he said it was a three and a half million were killed.

And there were a lot of children, women there. That’s war. And, what the Russians are doing there in Ukraine, they’re killing women and children. So why are we the pariah? The problem is the media is feeding this. What is CNN doing, putting out this stuff? When you say the French, the British, don’t they have any control of the story?

What’s, going on here? Are they cutting and running on this? 

McGovern: Curiously enough, Mr. President, McNamara, I remember him well. He worked with Air Force General Curtis LeMay. And as they were targeting the Japanese, and bear in mind that, those incendiary bombs killed many more people than the atomic bombs.

He told LeMay and LeMay concurs, ‘if we lose, if we lose, we would be raw criminals for sure.’ And LeMay said, ‘yeah, we would be but we’re not going to lose.’ We did lose in Vietnam. And if memory serves, I can’t remember a war that we fought except in Panama and Grenada that we prevailed in.

So this one, as you know, the International Criminal Court is about to serve indictments against Netanyahu and the Defense Minister Gallant, as well as three Hamas folks. Now, I understand, the world understands how reluctant your administration is to allow that. And everyone from Mike Johnson and everybody else has been speaking out against it.

And most of the world considers a little overboard because they think that you don’t want genocide to be the subject of an ICC criminal indictment, because by extension, genocide is enabled by the people providing the arms for this genocide. And that could be, let’s be candid, that could be you, Mr. President. So we all understand why you don’t want this thing to go through. But our best guess is that within two or three weeks at most, those indictments will be served, that the permanent chamber of the ICC will serve those up. And then Netanyahu and Gallant will not be able to travel abroad without fear of being scooped up and given over to the ICC under the principle of universal jurisdiction. So it’s getting pretty hairy for those folks. And for people who are supporting them, I guess one obvious question here is, how long should they be supported in this way? And maybe it’s time to go with the flow there at the UN Security Council and realize that most people can’t put up with the kinds of photos that were shown over the weekend by what Israel deliberately has done, in my view.

And I think that fragment of that missile 

POTUS: How are you going to do foreign policy? How are you going to fight wars when it’s needed? How are you going to stop aggression? Unless you stop those photos, and we had, we didn’t show that many photos when we went into Iraq. There were some, they didn’t show all the body bags and everything, and I’m ‘not for telling the press what to do, they’d eat me for lunch if I do, but isn’t there some sense of responsibility.

And let me get back to responsibility, Ray. It’s not your department, but I think this red line you want me to impose, I was told these weapons are, as you said, precisely targeted. So what’s your assessment of what the Israelis are doing? Are they not listening to us? Did they know there’d be collateral damage?

They got their own story that maybe it hit off a munitions dump or something. What’s the answer on that? I can’t cut off all military. And, this thing I read in CNN, I saw that and they said, it’s a Boeing. What, is Boeing doing making those things? And what are they?

How do they launch? I don’t even know. No one’s told me. 

McGovern: Mr. President, I think the last figure I saw was about 70, 80 percent of the munitions that Israel uses comes in one form or another from us. So that would be a big deal. In other words, if the South Koreans are calling for the end of arms provision to Israel, they’re wandering off the reservation and that’s big and there’s not the only one.

So in answer to your question, what does Netanyahu want? I hate to be very candid about this, but he wants to exterminate those Palestinians that remain in Rafah and that part of Gaza. The Israelis have told them to go to this safe place, and then they bombed that, this safe place. They bombed all the safe places that they designated beforehand were safe.

So the idea is not that they’re trying to eliminate what’s left of Hamas, they want to eliminate the rest of the Palestinians. And I think once people understand that once that. Let me give you one for instance, so you don’t have to depend on me. In his last major speech, Netanyahu, at the end, gave a Hebrew rendition of a verse from the prophet Samuel who is talking to Saul.

Okay. Now Saul had messed up. Okay. This is all in the Hebrew Bible. Saul had messed up. The Amalek tribes had done really bad things to the Israelis. And this God of Israel said, look, destroy the Amalek, destroy their cattle, destroy their children, destroy them. And guess what happened? Saul said, maybe I’ll keep some of the best cattle.

Maybe I’ll keep some of the best crops. And Yahweh according to Samuel said, no dice, you violated that, you are going to be punished. Now, we don’t, we didn’t see that, was in Hebrew, okay, but what does that say to the Israeli people? We give them no quarter. We destroy not only the Palestinians and Hamas, but we destroy everybody so that everybody is either destroyed or moved out into the Sinai where we don’t have to worry about it anymore.

And we have freedom from the river to the sea, which is something the Israelis are allowed to say. You say that in Commons in Britain, or even in the House of Representatives, then you are accused of being anti-semitic. So it’s pretty complicated, but the bottom line is they want them all gone. And if they’re all gone by letting them choose other places to live, and that can be arranged with the Egyptians, which had been hard so far, or whether they’re all gone from starvation.

Or if they’re all gone, like the ones over the weekend, 42 of them and 200 wounded, 42 killed, including several, little children whose images we saw. And the point about the CNN report and the little fragment of the U. S. Precision Guided Instrument is that, it was precisely guided. And so that it was some sort of mistake stretches the imagination beyond the breaking point.

And as I say, that case was made. So be prepared for a really bitter debate when this comes up on the table, the resolution that Algeria has put out there. And, it will be a big distraction from some other, priorities you have, for example, Ukraine and Russia. I’d be happy to transition to that now, unless you have other questions on Gaza and Israel.

POTUS: Yeah. Oh, I don’t have questions, but I shouldn’t say I enjoy having you here, but I do pay some respect for your 27 years of service. Still lucky you’re pretty alive there. But, where’s the rest of the staff? Why, am I not getting this? And the people running state defense, what’s going on here?

Are you some weirdo Looney Tunes guy on the fringe? they get the same information. what’s happening here? And, let me ask you ask you a question, even though it’s not your department. What, how do we shift this back on? Maybe that’s what you’re going to talk about now. I was looking pretty clear on foreign policy and freedom and defending it, as long as we kept the narrative on Ukraine. Was this a Russian maneuver? They get Hamas to move like that? Did they create all this? Because it got them off the hook. Every time we make a charge about what they’re doing, which, pretty clear, terrible, then they can come back now with Israel.

How did we get this in? What was going on? Why did this happen now? 

McGovern: Short answer, Mr. President is that Hamas has been on the receiving end of the most oppressive, policies by the Israeli government, not only Hamas, of course, but the, Palestinians themselves. Back in 2005, I believe it was, Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State at the time, said, hey, we should have, we should have elections, the Palestinians should be democratic, and so let’s have elections, and they did.

She was warned it might not come out the way you like, and indeed that’s the way it happened. Hamas won, and the landslide, the PLO and the people that used to follow Yasser Arafat were marginalized. 

POTUS: Where is that White House intern? He’s never here. I don’t know what’s going on. I guess we got to back on.

You there, Ray? 

McGovern: Yes, Mr. President, I’m sorry for the interruption. We were beginning to talk about Ukraine, and I think that it’s really important for you to know what Putin said just yesterday. He was leaving Tashkent after a two day visit there. Tashkent being the capital of Uzbekistan. 37 million people, one of the larger republics that scattered off from the Soviet Union back in the 1990s or so.

Now, what I’d like to say is that he was asked about these, challenges from none other than, Secretary General Stoltenberg from NATO, saying, the NATO countries should have the purview of using the missiles that are given to them such as they are the, British Storm Shadow, the ATACMS from the U. S., any way they like, to include attacking targets within Russia’s borders. And so he was asked about this, and I don’t want to misquote him, but this is what, Putin said about Stoltenberg, now Stoltenberg’s been the secretary general of NATO for at least eight or nine, 10 years.

So he’s no dolt, but he says very strange things. And this is what Putin says in reaction, “I’m not sure what the NATO secretary general is talking about. Using Missiles to attack Russia? NATO missiles?” He says, I’ve dealt with him as Prime Minister of Norway, and we generally had pretty good discussions on other issues, so I’m positive that he was not suffering from dementia back then.

He should be aware of the fact that long range precision weapons cannot be used without space based reconnaissance. That is the most essential point. Now, Putin goes on to say, look, a lot of these weapons, including the attack bombs from the U. S., cannot be used without direct info from satellites flying around and the only way that information gets to them is through the United States.

In a word, anytime these things are used, they will be considered to be attacks by the UK or by the United States. And Russia has already officially threatened to retaliate against the UK, for example. If that happens, we feel free to attack any U. K. military base, and beyond. Not only in Ukraine, but beyond. There’s the same kind of thing with respect to France putting in foot soldiers. What we’d like to know, Mr President, is that Putin has his own red line, if you will. And that is, if these missiles, the French can go 155 miles.

They attack them, I think, 200 miles. If they attack sensitive installations in Russia more than they already doing, that’s a red line for Putin. And then what he said is, look, we know that cannot be done without support from NATO surveillance, the satellites you have up there. So read the consequences. We will retaliate against Britain and Europe first, and maybe there’s some solace in that. They have the means to attack Britain and France and even anybody else in Europe with hypersonic missiles that don’t require a nuclear warhead. They can do just as much damage just as they are.

So they, there’s no, no real immediate fear of nuclear weapons usage, but there is some fear that when these missiles hit Russian targets or when F 16s come in and try to fly out of bases to attack, Russian targets, all’s fair in love and war, says Putin. we know who directs that. We know where the satellite information comes from, who controls it, and we will react accordingly. He’s never been so definitive in spelling out his knowledge, not only of what our allies are doing, but the fact that we all know that they couldn’t do it without U. S. technical surveillance and other technical help.

It’s getting a little bit more complicated than ever before in Ukraine. In his next sentence, he always says, But, I’m willing to negotiate. I’m willing to go back to where we were way back in April of 2022, just six weeks after the invasion of Ukraine. I have nobody who I can talk to because we do not consider that Zelensky is a legal representative of Ukraine because his term expired last week.

So who are we going to talk to? I think the arm is out there to talk to somebody, not Zelensky, but I think the Russians are preparing to negotiate from a position of relative strength, vis a vis, what they had back in April of 2022. So we just want to make sure that you’re aware of these latest descriptions of how the Russians read or what we will be enabling if indeed those things strike in the heartland of Russia.

POTUS: Ray, I don’t like to attribute to your advanced age now and becoming some kind of college hippie or peacenik or something. Remember that we used to have those people. But the fact of the matter is we got a real problem there in the Ukraine that the war is not going well. And we can’t reward aggression, and we made that very clear, and so what your former colleague or friend from NATO is trying to say, we gotta be able to punch back.

Now, I thought we had an answer with the, going after their ships. And that seemed to be doing a lot of damage. But you remember, we got into this thinking that the Russian military was a paper tiger. That they were going to collapse. And that was information that your agency seemed to back along with all the others.

Now, suddenly, I’m faced with not a collapsing Russia, and Putin being wiped off the stage of history. But his support there in Russia seems to be stronger than ever. He’s into his new term. He runs off to China and they got this, what do they call it? This love affair, this special relationship, this partnership without limits.

I forget all the language. And, meanwhile on the ground, it’s not good looking good for the free side of Ukraine, for our side, we’re back. And so you should be a little more sympathetic to why the head of NATO, who is charged with extending freedom, protecting it, is worried.

And you’re reading into this, an unacceptable threat. What else are we going to do now? What are we going to do? The Russians, is it not true that they’re advancing? Is it not true that the freedom of the Ukrainians is at stake? What are you recommending here? 

McGovern: Mr. President, you know that we intelligence folks are not supposed to be recommending anything.

POTUS: Yeah, but you’re recommended all the time. I’ve been around here, not as long as you, but come on, what would you do if you were president, abandon the Ukrainians, forget everything we said about preserving their freedom. 

McGovern: Mr. President, just between you and me, not in a professional way as an intelligence officer.

I would recommend that you fire Lloyd Austin and his superior generals who told you what you wanted to hear when you should have been told the truth. The people in the bowels of the CIA from which I come knew quite well that Ukraine could not possibly win this war. As a matter of fact, the President of the United States, Mr. President, Obama, under whom you served as Vice President, warned in 2015, the worst thing we could do for the Ukrainians would be for us to give them the idea that they could prevail militarily against a much more powerful Russia. Matter of fact, that’s why we should never give them offensive weaponry.

We should realize that Ukraine is a core interest of Russia, says Obama. It’s not a core interest for us. We should be real careful about what wars we decide to wage. Okay. That’s Obama. And this is a little, there was a deputy secretary of state at the time who said exactly, it took it a couple of steps further.

He says, look, if we give arms to Ukraine to fight against Russia, the Russians will match it. They’ll double it, they’ll triple it, they’ll quadruple it, end quote. Now who was that? That was Tony Blinken. That was Tony Blinken in 2015, okay? I don’t know, maybe he thought that the geography changed, that the Russians lost their industrial capability, or maybe, I don’t know what he thought, but he changed his mind.

So what I’m trying to tell you is that we don’t have the capability within the CIA anymore to do military intelligence per se. Okay. We know what’s going on, but we ceded that capability under Bobby Gates to the Pentagon. So the Pentagon is what tells not only the you, the president, but also the Secretary of State and the head of the CIA, what’s going on in the battlefield. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be, Mr. President. We were supposed to be set up, the CIA, to tell you untainted intelligence. That was Truman’s word, right? Untainted. That meant not any develop what he called departmental massaging, okay?

You’re getting a lot of massaging by the State Department and by the NSC and by the, and, 

POTUS: I’m going to end this Ray, but let me just say something. And I’ve known you a long time, and your service to the country has been admirable, and you actually started out, volunteering, right?

 For the armed forces, and then you went to the CIA, and everything. And, but, listening to you, I don’t know whether you’re getting soft on, on, on this stuff, but I hear what you said. A lot of the analysts at the CIA, they even were against Vietnam and everything, so you never know. But I know you don’t, you’re not supposed to talk about politics, but you guys change governments all around the world.

So you obviously know a lot about, right? You’ve overthrown a lot of governments around the world. You’ve picked leaders around the world. I don’t know what your relation is to Zelensky and so forth, but I’m sure you had a hand in that. So don’t give me, hold it Ray,I am the president. Don’t give me this lip about, you don’t do politics.

But, we’ve been doing this back and forth now for a number of years. So Ray, and I go back a long way with you. I thought this election was going to be a piece of cake or I wouldn’t sign up for it again. I know I’m getting old. Okay. I know. I know what it feels like. I’m, not as old as you, but I’m old.

I got it. I thought it was going to be a piece of cake because I thought Trump was going to be just the Putin simp that we got him cornered as, and that he’s the guy who was weak on defense, and I thought that this war in the Ukraine was supposed to have a turning point, that, by now, the Ukrainians would be victorious and it would be Putin that would be begging for some kind of peace deal.

And I certainly didn’t expect this thing that’s happening in Israel and everything. This disaster that makes Putin look good, in terms of oppressing your own people or people you’ve captured or what have you. So the real issue here is, all I hear from you is somehow I should cut our losses in the Ukraine and I should anger Putin and Netanyahu even more in Israel.

You may not want give political advice. What are you advising suicide? Is that your function? That’s it. Political suicide. I’ll just tell you right here, I get a little bit irritated. I’ll see you next week, next time, really try to put yourself in my shoes and try to think, how do you help your country now when, we got some pretty big messes out there and we got to figure out how we, come out looking, at least responsible.

McGovern: Mr. President, may I have a, may I have a last word here? Just to clarify something. Okay. There are two central intelligence agencies. I work for the folks who do the analysis. We know nothing. We know no more than a reader of the New York Times about governments being overthrown by people who work and live on the other side of those turnstiles at headquarters building, okay?

Just to give you a short vignette from the past, before the Bay of Pigs, that terrible operation that John Kennedy was sucked into, before that happened, he was assured that Castro would fall as soon as somebody landed on the beach. Who told him that? The operations guys who were running the operation. What did the analysts tell them? Nothing. Why? Because they were cut out of it. Now, how do I know that? Arthur Schlesinger, a very famous historian who was working for John Kennedy for a couple of years in the beginning, wrote a book about it, and he said he found out that when they told him Castro’s gonna fall, it’s just gonna be fine, they never consulted with the Cuban experts on the analysis side.

So what I’m saying to you, Mr. President, is that you’ve got hundreds of people in the CIA, the other CIA in Kiev and elsewhere, they’re going to tell you we’re going to win. Of course, we’re going to win because we’re involved. Okay. When I’m talking to the analysts in our thing who said, when you said in July of last year that Putin has already lost, they said, what?

So we know that you’re getting bad advice. We’re trying our best to give you, we’re going to try our best to, tell it like it is. And we know that sometimes that is not appreciated, but thanks for your consideration and thanks for welcoming me back if you decide to do that. 

POTUS: I’m going to let you back because, sometimes you need some of this.

I hope it’s not a reality check. I hope you’re all wrong. But, I’ll have to be honest with you, Ray. I never thought. This Israel-Gaza, I think we had, I thought it was cooled out. We’re getting Israel together with Saudi Arabia for God’s sake, and so who cares about the Palestinians?

We have an agreement like we’ve had with Egypt forever with Jordan, and so I, the last thing I thought it was going to be chopped at the knees by Netanyahu here. And then, yeah, we bought in that the war was going to, we’re going to win, Ukraine’s going to win. But, try to look for some things that I actually can do.

The next time we talk. Okay. Without, I might as well resign and forget about even competing in the election. See what maybe Kamala can do. all right. On that note, see you next week, Ray. 

McGovern: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President.

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Ray McGovern

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. His 27 years as a C.I.A. analyst included leading the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and conducting the morning briefings of the President’s Daily Brief. In retirement he co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Robert Scheer

Robert Scheer, publisher of ScheerPost and award-winning journalist and author of a dozen books, has a reputation for strong social and political writing over his nearly 60 years as a journalist. His award-winning journalism has appeared in publications nationwide—he was Vietnam correspondent and editor of Ramparts magazine, national correspondent and columnist for the Los Angeles Times—and his in-depth interviews with Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachev and others made headlines. He co-hosted KCRW’s political program Left, Right and Center and now hosts Scheer Intelligence, a KCRW podcast with people who discuss the day’s most important issues.

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