Sharyl Attkisson explains why former acting CIA chief Mike Morell’s testimony regarding the Benghazi talking points is still full of problems.
The formulation of the talking points has been a key point of confusion and a story that has greatly evolved over time.
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.
Morell appears to be a very confused man over time — not a good quality in a CIA chief — or a dishonest man at convenient times for the more powerful people around him in government. Also, not a good quality in a CIA chief, at least when he’s under oath before Congress. The CIA is not supposed to be subject to the same partisan and political considerations that drive any administration.
After working her way through the above, Attkisson then tosses in this interesting bit.
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.
Morell is in at CBS, while Attkisson is out from CBS, and her dogged Benghazi reporting is among the causes for exit from the network.
The debacle at Benghazi painted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a terrible light. Her State Department had denied repeated requests to beef up security at the facility. She wants to be president, but she presided over the first death of a US ambassador in the field since the 1970s, and her decisions played a direct role. She and Obama both had every motive to cover up what happened at Benghazi, or at least introduce enough confusion, to get past the 2012 election. And they accomplished that.
Morell may have lied under oath during Wednesday’s testimony.
Was he bought with the promise of a comfy gig working with Clintonistas at Beacon?
We still don’t know who decided to blame the attack on a protest that was sparked by a video. Morell testified that he did not brief Ambassador Susan Rice before she went on five Sunday shows and blamed a movie.
Who made that decision? A year and a half after the attack, we still don’t know.
It’s a simple question. Why can’t the Republicans investigating Benghazi get the answer?