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April 03, 2014

More on Morell

I'm just getting to this. I had no idea these hearings were so explosive.

That's because I read the American Media.

I just got an email from CBS calling Benghazi a "local crime story." Also, any allegations of a White House cover-up campaign to deceive the public on Benghazi is also a "local crime story."*

This Bret Baier panel begins with a clip of Michelle Bachman telling Morrell that he himself made most of the changes in the Talking Points "for" the White House.

Steven Hayes notes that Morell had previously denied "coordinating" with the White House on the talking points -- stating that he had just provided the talking points to the White House for purposes of "awareness" -- but not testifies he delivered them for "final coordination" with the White House.

This Fox report (of course it's Fox; who else would report?) has video of Morell's testimony.

[H]e did confirm that he overruled guidance from the CIA chief of station in Libya that the attacks were "not/not an escalation of protests."

Morell, explaining his decision, effectively challenged the evidence his chief of station brought to the table in his message, sent via email a few days after the attack. He said the claim that there was no protest was based only on "press reports" and reports from officers who arrived in Benghazi after the attack had already started.

He said that basis was not "compelling" enough.

Still, Morell explained that when he received the email from the CIA chief of station, he recognized the "discrepancy" between what he was saying and what other analysts were saying. He said he quickly had his analysts "revisit their judgment" that a protest was underway -- but "based on a totality of the information available to them, they stuck with their initial conclusions."

The testimony was met with skepticism in some corners. One source who was on the ground in Benghazi that night questioned the claims.

"Why would he ever believe that people who weren't there hold credence [over] those of us that were...and even his own respected Chief of Station?" the source said. "It [makes] no sense."

Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., repeatedly pressed Morell on the flawed talked points and accused the administration of using them for political purposes.

Morell also answered questions about Beacon Globan Strategies.

The former CIA boss also fielded questions about Beacon Global Strategies, the firm he later went to work for, and Washington's revolving door. The company is led by people close to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as the former staff director for the intelligence committee.

Morell said his first discussions with the company about working for them began in November, four months after he left his job.

Another Fox report (of course) notes this:

According to a source with first-hand knowledge of events, during a secure video conference call two days after the Sept. 11, 2012 attack, Morell told the team in Libya that there was intelligence a demonstration preceded the assault. Fox News is told that based on communications with CIA headquarters, the chief of station understood as early as Sept. 13, 2012, that the burden was on him to prove that there was no protest.

The burden of proof was on the station chief to prove that Morell's "protest" story was false.

Morell, meanwhile, is also appearing for public testimony after facing accusations by Republicans of misleading lawmakers over his role in the talking points. He initially claimed the talking points, before Rice's interview appearances, were provided to White House officials for awareness and not for their input. Emails later released show administration involvement began at the earliest stages, and Morell personally cut 50 percent of the text.

Emphasis added.

Morell also claimed to not have seen Ambassador Rice's false claim that a YouTube video spurred the attacks, and did not even read about them until days after the appearance.

REP. JEFF MILLER, R-FL: What was your reaction when you saw her explanation about what happened?

MORELL: I did not see her on the Sunday shows, as I said --

MILLER: You have never seen -- you have never seen --

MORELL: I did not see her on the Sunday shows, as I said. And it was probably days later that I read what she said on the shows.

MILLER: And what was your reaction when you finally did?

MORELL: My reaction was two-fold. One was that what she said about the attacks evolving spontaneously from a protest was exactly what the talking points said, and it was exactly what the intelligence community analysts believed. When she talked about the video, my reaction was, that's not something that the analysts had attributed this attack to.


Krauthammer and others note that when Clapper was asked who changed the talking points, Morell was sitting right next to him. When Clapper claimed that he didn't know who changed them, Morell remained silent. He characterizes this as a deliberate effort to mislead Congress -- or permit them to be misled.

I'm sure CBSNews' new correspondent Michael Morell will have all sorts of input into this story.

* In case this isn't clear: Any statement that "I just got an email from [Important Newsmaker X]" is a joke. I have used this set-up a lot.

If, one day, an Important Newsmaker really does email me (doubtful), I will say something like "No, I'm serious this time, I actually got an email."

All other claims of getting emails and phone calls from VIPs and major corporations are jokes.

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posted by Ace at 01:21 PM

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