“Morell Testifies on Benghazi Talking Points: ‘Mistakes…not due to politics’”
Looks like the progressives have found their willing fall guy:
During a Congressional hearing that lasted more than three hours, former C.I.A. Deputy Director Michael Morell praised his former agency’s intelligence analysts as the best on the globe, yet ones who he admits were sorely mistaken when they reported that spontaneous protesters were to blame for the Beghazi, Libya terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2012.
“As you now know, subsequent information revealed their judgment to be incorrect [but]…that is where the best available information led them at the time, not because of politics,” Morell testified before the House Intelligence Committee today.
When Morell’s own C.I.A. station chief in Tripoli, Libya sent evidence that the Benghazi attacks were not the outgrowth of protests over a YouTube video, he says he and his Washington analysts disregarded it and didn’t pass it along to other agencies.
Morell was called to testify after several Republican member of Congress alleged new evidence shows he misled them by withholding what he knew about the genesis of the government’s so-called talking points after the attacks. It turns out that Morell was a key player in editing the talking points and interfacing with the White House.
Under questioning from members on the committee, Morell described a process under which C.I.A. analysts in Washington provided an early assessment without seeking or receiving information from the many C.I.A. officers and other witnesses on the ground in Libya. And when the C.I.A. Tripoli station chief attempted to correct the record in an email to headquarters on Sept. 15, 2012, Morell says it was discounted as unreliable. According to Morell, the email claimed the attacks were “not an escalation of a protest.” However, Morell said that intel relied on press reports and C.I.A. officers on sight who probably would have arrived too late to see a protest anyway.
“My actions were appropriate in response as Deputy Director of CIA,” Morell testified. “I immediately recognized the discrepancy between my station chief and the judgment of our [Washington] analysts.” Morell says he asked his analysts to revisit their judgment and “they stuck to their initial conclusion” that the attacks were by protesters. Morell defended the decision.
“I did not hide nor did I downplay the station chief’s comments as some have suggested, in fact I did the opposite,” Morell said today.
But as a result of the misinformation, the approved talking points provided to members of Congress and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice continued to perpetuate the mistaken narrative that spontaneous protesters rather than calculated terrorists launched the attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
[...] At today’s hearing, Morell stated that the C.I.A. believed then, and that he still believes, “some of the attackers” were “affiliated with al Qaeda.” That information, too, was edited out of the talking points but Morell said he was not responsible for that word change.
“I did not take al Qaeda from the talking points,” Morell said. When asked who did, he answered, “The group of officers from our office of Congressional affairs and our office of public affairs.”
Previously, government officials had vehemently denied that any public affairs officials made any edits to the talking points.
On Fri. Nov. 16, 2012, Petraeus told members of Congress that it wasn’t the CIA that revised the talking points to remove controversial references to “terrorism” and “al Qaeda.” The White House and the State Department said it wasn’t them. The CIA then told reporters that the edits were made at a “senior level in the interagency process” so as not to tip off al Qaeda as to what the U.S. knew, and to protect sources and methods. Soon thereafter, another reason was given. A source from the Office of the Director for National Intelligence (ODNI) told CBS News’ Margaret Brennan that ODNI made the edits as part of the interagency process because the links to al Qaeda were deemed too “tenuous” to make public. Then, in November of 2012, Morell provided yet another account. In a meeting with Republican Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Morell stated that he believed it was the FBI that removed the references “to prevent compromising an ongoing criminal investigation.”
But it was just a matter of hours before there was yet another revision. A C.I.A. official contacted Graham and stated that Morell “misspoke” in the earlier meeting and that it was, in fact, the C.I.A., not the F.B.I., that deleted the al Qaeda references. “They were unable to give a reason as to why,” stated Graham at the time.
When asked today how such an experienced intelligence expert could get such an important fact so wrong, Morell said, “I got it wrong and said the F.B.I. when in fact the C.I.A. was the one who took it out of the talking points…I got it mixed up.” Morell says he corrected the record within two to three hours of his mistake.
After retiring from the C.IA. last year, Morell was hired as counsel to Beacon Global Strategies, a communications firm operated primarily by former Obama administration and Hillary Clinton officials. He also became a consultant for CBS News.
Look, these guys can testify and lie until they’re blue in the face, but there are only two conclusions one can draw from Benghazi: that the Administration was remiss, distant, and completely ill-prepared, then were later too lazy to do any fact checking themselves; or else they were remiss, distant, and completely ill-prepared, and then when they realized how this attack would look, they tried to cover it up. As much stink as they can throw Petraeus they will. If only to muddy the waters.
If I were a betting man, I know where I’d put my money.
When we find out where Obama was for those missing 8 hours, then we can talk. The fact that Morrell retired has been given a cushy coupla gigs is just another wink and nod to the overriding corruption happening inside DC and this, the most embarrassing and corrupt administration ever. The rest is just noise.