Former CIA Director on Benghazi: What difference at this point does it make?

Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell, testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, about the terrorist attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi. The Committee seeks to gain additional information from Morell about his role in the development of the Benghazi talking points and in shaping the administration’s public narrative of the terrorist attack. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Michael Morrell

Former CIA Director, the nonpartisan former chief of the nonpartisan CIA, Mike Morrell has taken to the nonpartisan POLITICO to snivel about the emails Benghazi emails being released by Judicial Watch. The results are so pathetic that one gets the feeling that Morrell, himself, is laughing as he writes it. He calls his effort Debunking the Benghazi Myth.

The obvious flaw in Morrell’s piece is that he doesn’t identify any “myth.” What he objects to is any interpretation of the data that contradicts the administration’s talking points. Any of them. Those before Susan Rice’s disastrous and disgraceful Sunday show appearances following the attack and the way the story has morphed over time. In short, Morrell’s story is that you have to believe him, no matter which version of events he’s disgorging, because he a High Priest of National Intelligence.

On the emails that show that by the day after the attack that the US government knew the attacks were a) planned and b) had been in some form of planning for at least 10 days:

But the only thing that newly released document proves is that the people who trot out these reports do not understand the world of intelligence and do not take the time to ask the right people the right questions before publishing the “news.” The DIA report in question was an “Intelligence Information Report” or IIR. It is what we term “raw intelligence.” It was not the considered view of DIA analysts.

The real question that should be asked, if this is the case, is a) why was raw and unevaluated intelligence distributed to b) the highest level of government peopled by c) political hacks without the training, intelligence, or motivation to analyze the intelligence. You could also ask why we should believe the analysts who, according to Morrell, saw these reports of an impending attack on the Benghazi consulate and blew them off. You may believe this if you want but the more plausible explanation is much more banal: that this was actually a reiteration of a previous warning and the intelligence agencies are warning the political leadership that they will not be the sacrificial lamb for this fiasco. Ask yourself, how many stories have you read on this being an intelligence failure? Why was it plausible for the administration to immediately glom onto the silly video excuse.

In describing the attacks at the State Department facility, the slides say “attackers moving in multiple directions,” “attackers do not appear well coordinated” and “no organized effort to breach every building.” Not the words one would expect to see associated with an attack planned well in advance.

This kind of idiocy is only possible from someone who has never participated in a night attack. I have participated in plenty of night operations, even ones with the benefit of rehearsal, that quickly acquired the appearance of a soup sandwich. When you add to this the fact that you aren’t dealing with trained troops, it would be a surprise if you saw anything other than a rather large level of confusion. The source here, to be clear, are the same analysts who Morrell is now claiming saw the warning of the impending attack and discounted it.

Some of the media reporting on the DIA IIR say that they have found another gotcha as well. They say DIA’s report was issued on September 16th—the same day that former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice appeared on five Sunday talk shows, so she must have known before she went on the air, right? Wrong. The DIA report was issued hours after her final TV appearance that day.

This is because the reports are not written, discussed, argued about, and circulated for comment and approval. Reports, we all know, are immediately issued from the fourth point of contact of a senior intelligence official. Here we are to believe that the same people who received the raw, unfiltered intelligence from the DIA on September 12, were not consulted or given a heads-up on what the report that was “issued” the very day of Rice’s television appearances contained.

The most strident voices on Benghazi ridicule the notion that a video might have played any role. But among those who have argued that the video may have been a factor include the FBI, who told the House Intelligence Committee in February 2014 that the attacks were ordered in response the YouTube video and to Zawahiri’s call for avenging the death of al-Libi.

Umm, yeah. This is mostly because the information we have shows, conclusively, that the rationale of blaming the video for the attack didn’t surface until days after the attack. We know there were no demonstrations in Benghazi the evening of the attack. This latter point, alone, points to the video having zero impact on the Benghazi attack. Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is among those Morrell is attacking. Panetta says he told Obama immediately it was a terrorist attack which places him on the side of the “raw intelligence” Morrell rejected. (Quick question for Morrell on the US goverment. To which executive department does the FBI belong? Who was the head of that deparment when this FBI report was issued?)

The Morrell goes Full Metal Hillary:

What those who focus on the questions of the amount of pre-planning and the role of the YouTube seem to miss is that the answers to those questions make no difference to the bottom line: That the attacks were terrorism and that the terrorists murdered four Americans. And they make no difference to the most important point going forward—that the U.S. must do the best job it can in protecting its diplomatic, intelligence and military personnel serving in dangerous places.

It matters a lot. The record is becoming clear that the administration had advance notice of the terror attack in Benghazi and did nothing. In the aftermath they foisted a lie upon the American public and for nearly two weeks held to the story that the attack was a spontaneous demonstration brought on by a video available on YouTube. We can’t protect anyone going forward until we fix what Morrell is covering up on Benghazi.