Former CIA deputy director expounds on Libya, Al Qaeda, ISIS

Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell writes about 2012’s deadly Benghazi, Libya attacks that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton being investigated for in his upcoming book

Photo by: Central Intelligence Agency
Photo by: Central Intelligence Agency

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The former deputy director of the CIA argues in a new book that Republicans distorted CIA’s analysis of deadly attacks at the US diplomatic mission and a nearby base in Libya that killed four Americans. He also recommends that the CIA should refrain from providing “talking points” for national security events that have a tendency to turn partisan.

On Sept. 11, 2012, an attack was launched against the US diplomatic compound  in Benghazi, Libya, killing four Americans. On the same day, another attack targetted a nearby CIA compound, resulting in the deaths of two CIA contractors while injuring 10 others.

Michael J. Morell in his book “The Great War of Our Time: The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism - From Al Qa’ida to ISIS” says that there is “no evidence” indicating a conspiracy between CIA and the White House “to spin the Benghazi story in a way that would protect the political interests of the president [Barack Obama] and Secretary [Hillary Rodham] Clinton.”

Morell also denies that CIA officers and the military “were ordered to stand down” and leave their colleagues to fend for their fate in Benghazi, Libya.

Michael Morell retired from the CIA in 2013, having served the agency for 33 years. He was a central figure in the United States’ fight against terrorism. He has served under both Republican and Democrat presidents and held many high-ranking positions including acting director during his time in office.

Morell concedes that the Obama administration misused some of the talking points furnished by the CIA about the Benghazi attack and shared the initial, inaccurate CIA assessment with the media, leading to a series of events that prevented Susan E. Rice, currently the national security adviser, from being appointed secretary of state.

While Morell accuses the White House of embellishing some details of what happened in Benghazi, he also criticises Republicans for purposely bending the accounts of the incident to suit their partisan agenda.

In February, a Republican-led congressional panel received Hillary Clinton’s emails from the State Department to investigate the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya which left the US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.

The approximately 300 emails that are expected to be made public soon, say two people familiar with the material, do not demonstrate that Clinton, in her capacity as secretary of state at the time, was personally involved in decisions that resulted in weak security at the Benghazi locations.

In his book, the New York Times reports, Morell is critical of the State Department for not enacting heightened security measures in Libya for its staff, unlike the CIA, which did, but admits that the attack in Benghazi appeared neither to have been pre-planned nor well organised.

Morell, an intelligence analyst who has worked for the CIA for 33 years, also discusses the Arab Spring, Al Qaeda and the rise of ISIS, in detail.

TRTWorld and agencies