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Alumnus Says Activism Requires Courage


A former CIA officer, peace activist and Fordham alumnus urged graduating students in the Fordham’s Peace and Justice Studies Program to follow their consciences when they see injustice, reminding them that to do so often requires courage and risk.

Ray McGovern (FCRH ’61, GSAS ’62), co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), and a CIA intelligence analyst for 27 years, called the Bush administration’s justification for the Iraq war “95 percent charade” and warned against the loss of constitutional rights through a lethargic press and public.

Ray McGovern Photo by Ken Levinson

“The cardinal sin in intelligence work is to fix the intelligence to suit the policy,” he said, referring to the administration’s abrupt turn-about, following 9/11, to portray Saddam Hussein as dangerous and harboring weapons of mass destruction. “They were trying to justify the unjustifiable—the Iraq war.

“Peace is nothing more than the experience of justice, and you can’t have justice without truth. We can change things, but it requires sticking our necks out.”

McGovern praised his education at Fordham, recollecting a teaching from St. Thomas Aquinas. “Aquinas complained bitterly that the virtue of anger remains unnamed,” said McGovern. “If you can live amidst injustice without anger, then you, too, are unjust. What we need is a little less unreasoned patience, and a little more anger.”

McGovern graduated summa cum laude with a master’s degree in Russian Studies and served two years in the U.S. Army as an infantry/intelligence officer before moving to the CIA. The group VIPS consists of current and former officials of the United States Intelligence Community who are concerned with the misuse of information to justify war.

Robin Andersen, Ph.D., associate professor of communication and media studies and director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program, presented certificates to graduating seniors. The program provides students with the opportunity to address contemporary issues of war and the arms race; social, racial and gender equality; causes and resolution of conflicts and strategies for community and cultural empowerment. It draws its faculty advisory members from various departments of the University.


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