CIA Deputy Director Who Crafted Benghazi Talking Points Resigns

Michael Morell announced his retirement as CIA deputy director on Wednesday, according to a statement from the CIA. Morell, who has been with the CIA for 33 years and played a major role in the 2011 Osama bin Laden killing, will be replaced by White House laywer Avril D. Haines. “As much as I would selfishly like to keep Michael right where he is for as long as possible, he has decided to spend more time with his family,” director John O. Brennan said. Morell will leave his position August 9.


Morell, 54, ran the day-to-day operations of the CIA under the agency’s high-profile former director, former Army Gen. David Petraeus. While Morell rankled some in the Obama administration for his role in crafting the early talking points about the Benghazi attack, it was him and not Petraeus who was involved in negotiating what Rice said.

Delivering those talking points would eventually derail Rice’s chances to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The White House later released e-mail traffic showing the inter-agency editing of the talking points that showed it was Morell — responding to concerns from the State Department — who eliminated references to al-Qaeda from the talking points.

During the Benghazi talking points discussion, Morell first changed language that assigned blame to al-Qaeda to say that outside the diplomatic post, the “crowd almost certainly was a mix of individuals from across many sectors of Libyan society.”

Later, according to documents released by the White House, Morell crossed out by hand entire sections of the talking points that speculated on who was responsible for the attack, the availability of weapons in Libya and previous attacks and threats in the country. He also eliminated language that referred to prior social media notifications taking place in Egypt.

Morell also "explicitly tried to tamp down on speculation" about the cause(for his departure)stating that “Whenever someone involved in the rough and tumble of Washington decides to move on, there is speculation in various quarters about the ‘real reason,’” he said in a statement. “But when I say that it is time for my family, nothing could be more real than that.”

I can't help it, I think the gentleman doth protest too much. Coupled with the fact that I haven't heard a Republican screaming "Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!" for a couple of days now, I'd say that it's highly possible something motivated Morell to decide it was time for the family.

Morell served twice as the interim CIA director, and was passed over twice for the top spot. He also delivered the president's daily brief (pdb)to George W. Bush in 2001, both before and after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Recall that now infamous August 6, 2001 pdb that warned bin Laden determined to attack within the United States? Here's Condoleezza Rice spinning like a top during a congressional hearing where she 'splains that the pdb was dismissed as a 'historical document.'


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service (revised 3/17/2016) for information on our posting policy.