In the unlikely setting of the Oxford University Debate Chamber on Wednesday, a former CIA and State Department official will receive an award from a group of retired U.S. intelligence veterans. The honor is not unrelated to the ongoing debate over whether the United States should attack Iran.
Tom Fingar, the onetime director of the U.S. National Intelligence Council, supervised the National Intelligence Estimate that helped head off the plans by some in the George W. Bush in administration in 2008 to attack Iran to eliminate its nuclear research capability. Fingar is also being recognized for “restoring respect for the battered discipline of U.S. intelligence analysis after the fraudulent assessments on Iraq’s non-existent” weapons of mass destruction following the U.S.-led invasion of that country in 2003, planners say.
Because Fingar is teaching at Stanford’s overseas program in Oxford, he agreed to accept the award from the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, one of whose leaders, retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern, has also been invited to Oxford to speak, McGovern told Government Executive.
The retirees group is named for a celebrated 1970s-era CIA analyst who famously “spoke truth to power” in challenging the U.S. military’s assertions on the winnability of the Vietnam war. Previous Sam Adams award winners include FBI pre-9/11 whistleblower Coleen Rowley; U.S. Army Col. Larry Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell; and WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.
By coincidence, McGovern said, the award to Fingar and his speech will occur a day after an ideological opponent, John Bolton, who was Bush’s undersecretary of State for arms control, speaks at that same Oxford Union.