The Brutal Arrest and Political Targeting of Ray McGovern

  • Background

    Lawsuit Challenges Brutal Arrest at Clinton speech

    The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of U.S. military veteran and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern against John Kerry, in his capacity as the Secretary of State, and against officers at George Washington University. 

    The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia three years to the date of Mr. McGovern's brutal and false arrest at GWU during a speech of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. After the arrest, the PCJF uncovered that then 71-year-old McGovern was put on a "Be On the Look-Out" list, and agents were instructed to stop and question him on sight. The reasons cited included his "political activism, primarily anti-war" — a clearly unconstitutional order.

    Circumstances of arrest

    The circumstances of McGovern's 2011 arrest were marked by stinging irony. McGovern was brutalized and arrested after peacefully and silently standing with his back to Hillary Clinton as she gave a policy speech condemning authoritarian governments who repress dissenters and internet freedom.

    As described in the Civil Complaint: "As Secretary Clinton was reading from her prepared remarks regarding Egypt’s dictatorship saying, 'Then the government pulled the plug,' the then-71-year-old McGovern was forcibly and falsely arrested by GWU police officers, grabbed by the head, assaulted, and as Secretary Clinton continued undisturbed stating, 'the government ... did not want the world to watch,' Mr. McGovern was removed from public view with excessive and brutal force, taken to jail, and left bleeding with bruises and contusions."



    Political targeting

    The complaint continues: "The Department of State then opened an investigation into Plaintiff McGovern, including specifically his lawful, protected political beliefs, activities, statements and associations which it kept open for nearly seven months, despite all charges having been dropped against Mr. McGovern and despite having determined that Mr. McGovern was engaged in no criminal activity."

    As the complaint states: "The Department of State issued a Be On The Lookout Alert ('BOLO Alert') for the then- 71-year-old McGOVERN which described his 'considerable amount of political activism, primarily anti-war,' displayed his picture and directed law enforcement that if Mr. McGOVERN was encountered, 'USE CAUTION, stop' and question him and contact the Department of State Diplomatic Security Command Center."

    PCJF Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard stated: "Mr. McGovern's brutal arrest and his subsequent political targeting by the State Department stands in sharp contrast to the policy announcement that Secretary Clinton was delivering, which insisted that governments respect dissent and dissenters and their freedom of speech."

    Carl Messineo, Legal Director of the PCJF, explained, "Mr. McGovern is a veteran who committed no crime. Yet the State Department carried out a purely political investigation of him and put him on the BOLO list in clear violation of his Fourth and First Amendment protections."

    Mr. McGovern, 74, is a veteran Army officer who also served as an analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency for 27 years. Mr. McGovern wrote for the President’s daily brief under Presidents Nixon and Ford. From 1981 to 1985, he personally briefed this publication in the morning one-on-one to Vice President George H. W. Bush, the Secretaries of State and Defense, and other senior officials of the administration of Ronald Reagan.

    Upon retirement in early 1990, Mr. McGovern was awarded the Intelligence Commendation Award for his particularly commendable service and received a laudatory farewell letter from then-President George H. W. Bush.

    Thirteen years later, Mr. McGovern co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity to expose that intelligence was being falsified by the U.S. government to justify war on Iraq.




  • Legal Information

    U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
    Civil Action No. 14-215

    Briefs in the case can be viewed here:

    State Dept. Notice to "Be On the Look-Out" (BOLO) for Ray McGovern

    This image shows a BOLO notice from the State Dept. for former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, after he was arrested while peacefully protesting at a speech given by Hillary Clinton.

    DOS Photo of McGovern

    Photo obtained through the Freedom of Information Act with the Department of State, shows Ray McGovern
  • Press Coverage

    "Then the Government Pulled the Plug" -Hillary Clinton

    In less than a week after we cheered the outbreak of democracy in Egypt, we witnessed the spectacle of retired CIA analyst and Veteran for Peace Ray McGovern being dragged out of Hillary Clinton's press conference yesterday for a silent, peaceful protest.
  • Multimedia

    Mara Verheyden-Hillard on RT: Ray McGovern's Lawsuit Against the State Dept.

    A former CIA analyst is suing the State Department for putting him on a watch list on account of his political activities.

    Mara Verheyden-Hilliard discusses Ray McGovern lawsuit on Left Voices

    Three years ago Army veteran and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern was arrested for standing in silent protest during a speech by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. All charges were dropped but the State Department used the incident as a reason to issue a Be On the Look Out or BOLO advisory based solely on his political activism.