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Reprinted from Consortium News
Perhaps former CIA acting director Michael Morell's shamefully provocative rhetoric toward Russia and Iran will prove too unhinged even for Hillary Clinton. It appears equally likely that it will succeed in earning him a senior job in a possible Clinton administration, so it behooves us to have a closer look at Morell's record.
My initial reaction of disbelief and anger was the same as that of my VIPS colleague, Larry Johnson, and the points Larry made about Morell's behavior in the Benghazi caper, Iran, Syria, needlessly baiting nuclear-armed Russia, and how to put a "scare" into Bashar al-Assad give ample support to Larry's characterization of Morell's comments as "reckless and vapid." What follows is an attempt to round out the picture on the ambitious 57-year-old Morell.
I suppose we need to start with Morell telling PBS/CBS interviewer Charlie Rose on Aug. 8 that he (Morell) wanted to "make the Iranians pay a price in Syria ... make the Russians pay a price in Syria."
Rose: "We make them pay the price by killing Russians?"
Rose: "And killing Iranians?"
Morell: "Yes ... You don't tell the world about it. ... But you make sure they know it in Moscow and Tehran."
You might ask what excellent adventure earned Morell his latest appearance with Charlie Rose? It was a highly unusual Aug. 5 New York Times op-ed titled "I ran the C.I.A. Now I'm Endorsing Hillary Clinton."
Peabody award winner Rose -- having made no secret of how much he admires the glib, smooth-talking Morell -- performed true to form. Indeed, he has interviewed him every other month, on average, over the past two years, while Morell has been a national security analyst for CBS.
This interview, though, is a must for those interested in gauging the caliber of bureaucrats who have bubbled to the top of the CIA since the disastrous tenure of George Tenet (sorry, the interview goes on and on for 46 minutes).
A Heavy Duty
Such interviews are a burden for unreconstructed, fact-based analysts of the old school. In a word, they are required to watch them, just as they must plow through the turgid prose of "tell-it-all" memoirs. But due diligence can sometimes harvest an occasional grain of wheat among the chaff.
For example, George W. Bush's memoir, Decision Points, included a passage the former president seems to have written himself. Was Bush relieved to learn, just 15 months before he left office, the "high-confidence," unanimous judgment of the U.S. intelligence community that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in 2003 and had not resumed work on such weapons? No way!