Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell is facing accusations from Republicans that he misled lawmakers about the Obama administration's role in crafting the bogus storyline that a protest gone awry was to blame for the deadly Benghazi attack.
Among other discrepancies, Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee allege Morell insisted the talking points were sent to the White House for informational purposes, and not for their input -- but emails, later released by the administration, showed otherwise.
"We found that there was actual coordination which could influence then -- and did influence -- what CIA conveyed to the committees about what happened [in Benghazi]," Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., told Fox News.
Burr was one of six Republicans who leveled the allegations against Morell, who also served as acting director, in an addendum to a recently released Senate Intelligence Committee report. According to the claims, in late 2012, Morell testified the so-called Benghazi talking points were sent to the White House "for their awareness, not for their coordination."
The 16-page addendum continues, "No effort was made to correct the record ... the Acting Director's (Morell) testimony perpetuated the myth that the White House played no part in the drafting or editing of the talking points."
After Morell's 2012 testimony, committee Republicans say they insisted on reading the raw email traffic in the days leading up to then-Ambassador Susan Rice's controversial Sunday show appearances, where she linked the attack to a protest. Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., told Fox News in a recent interview that they only got the emails between the CIA, State Department and White House because lawmakers threatened to hold up former White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan's confirmation as CIA director.
Once the emails were released, Republican lawmakers say the conflict with Morell's testimony was clear. Morell, who at the time was CIA Director David Petraeus' deputy, was at the heart of the process, cutting some 50 percent of the text -- and Republicans say White House coordination began at the earliest stages.
Also in late 2012, Morell and Rice met with Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; John McCain, R-Ariz.; and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. In a statement released at the time, the senators said Morell blamed the FBI for cutting references to Al Qaeda and did so to prevent compromising an ongoing criminal investigation.
"What I found curious is that he did not accept responsibility for changing the talking points. He told me the FBI had done this. I called the FBI. They went ballistic," Graham said in a recent interview. "Within 24 hours, his statement was changed where he admitted the CIA had done it."
Graham's characterization of the meeting was backed up by Ayotte in a recent interview. "I was in that meeting when Susan Rice was with Director Morell when he blamed the FBI for changing those talking points, and you know then we call the FBI, the FBI goes crazy and said 'we didn't change the talking points.' And so you have to wonder particularly now that we know that he may have received that email the day before what was going on."
The email Ayotte is referring to was sent by the CIA's top operative on the ground in Libya to Morell, and others at the CIA, one day before Rice's Sunday show appearances. In the Sept. 15, 2012 email, first publicly documented in the bipartisan section of the Senate Intelligence Committee report, the CIA chief of station in Tripoli reported the attacks were "not/not an escalation of protests."
One Republican lawmaker, Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia, is now urging that Morell be recalled to clear up his testimony.
"I think it's important for the integrity of the oversight," Wolf said, adding that congressional oversight would be rendered meaningless if Morell were not recalled given the allegations against him.
More at link: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/02/20/former-cia-official-accused-misleading-lawmakers-on-benghazi/