Former CIA Acting Director Michael J. Morell testified Wednesday morning before the House Intelligence Committee on his role in the shaping of the administration’s widely discredited talking points on Benghazi. Republicans have been saying that Morell’s past accounts of his role on Benghazi were “often misleading and sometimes deliberately false.”
Republicans got few answers at the hearing, but a lot denials of wrongdoing. “I never allowed politics to influence what I said or did. Never,” the 33 year veteran of the agency who has served both Republican and Democrat presidents insisted.
Morell testified that he was deeply troubled by allegations “that I inappropriately altered and influenced CIA’s classified analysis and its unclassified talking points about what happened in Benghazi, Libya in September 2012 and that I covered up those actions.”
“These allegations accuse me of taking these actions for the political benefit of President Obama and then Secretary of State Clinton. These allegations are false,” Morell said.
When Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL) asked Morell if he complained to the White House following Susan Rice’s appearances on the five Sunday talk shows, he said that he did not complain to anybody.
Morell affirmed that he read the email the CIA Station Chief in Libya had sent him on September 15, informing him that the attack was “not an escalation of protests.”
The Special Report Panel discussed Morell’s testimony, Wednesday evening. Steven Hayes made note of the different stories that the former Deputy CIA Director has told. He said he expected more contrition from Morell about lying (by omission) to Congress when they questioned him about the talking points. There were two substantive pieces of information that came out at the hearing, Hayes said – that the video narrative came from the White House, and the other thing was that he said that the agency had taken the word of CIA analysts over eye witnesses on the ground. No matter how hard he spinned that at the hearing, he was unable to not make it seem absurd.
The Hill’s AB Stoddard said, “I was really surprised how completely confused, beyond inconsistant he was. It’s really beyond disconcerting. He couldn’t get to contrition because he really countered himself so many times it’s unbelievable.”
Krauthammer said, “It’s a curious coincidence that when he decides to ignore what he’s hearing from the people on the ground who are right there, who can actually see what’s going on – who are communicating on the ground live while it’s happening to other people, he decides that evidence is going to be ignored and he goes with an analyst in Langley whom he said — was not aware of eyewitness accounts… It is passing strange that the account of the analysts in Langley is precisely the cover story that will get the White House off the hook.”