GOP Senators Criticize CIA Ex-Official, Demand Benghazi Probe

Image: GOP Senators Criticize CIA Ex-Official, Demand Benghazi Probe Michael Morrell

Thursday, 10 Apr 2014 09:17 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Former acting CIA director Michael Morrell's explanation for talking points parroted by the administration following the 2012 Benghazi attack was "not remotely credible" and warrants further investigation, according to Republican senators, Fox News reported.

Last week, Morrell testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, maintaining that neither he nor anyone else at the agency "deliberately misled anyone in Congress about any aspect of the tragedy in Benghazi," according to Politico.

Morrell blamed the FBI for erroneous claims that an anti-Muslim YouTube video sparked an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012. Susan Rice, the then-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, made the Sunday talk show circuit following the attacks, giving the spontaneous protests explanation.

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Morrell said he responded immediately after learning of the false explanation, according to Fox News.

"I didn't wait until I heard that the FBI was upset before I corrected the record," Morrell testified under oath. "I corrected the record as soon as I found out. How many people in this town do that?"

But three Republican senators — Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Arizona's John McCain — accused Morrell of passing the buck by fingering the FBI for altering the talking points, including deleting any reference to al-Qaida. But it was Morrell who "personally cut 50 percent of the text based on emails released by the administration," according to Fox.

Morrell met with the senators two months after the killings and, according to the senators, he sidestepped questions about who changed the talking points and blamed the FBI.

The senators want a special select committee to investigate persisting inconsistencies about the incident, which occurred on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Some 150 gunmen attacked the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, killing U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and another diplomat as well as a second attack at a nearby CIA annex, killing two U.S. embassy security workers.

"We will never stop demanding answers and accountability when our national security is at stake and we owe that to the families of those brave American citizens who were murdered," McCain told reporters.

Morrell has since retired from the CIA and gone to work with Washington consulting firm Beacon Global Strategies, which has "close ties to Hillary Clinton," according to Fox. Graham cast suspicion on the move.

"I believe this conflict of interest justifies a new set of eyes, justifies a select committee," he said. "This is what's wrong with Washington. How do I go back to the families of the dead, and to South Carolinians who care about Benghazi, and tell them this is OK?"

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer opined on Fox News' "Special Report with Bret Baier" that a special committee should have been appointed from the beginning, but that Democrats succeeded in dragging out the investigation.

"Politically speaking, the administration has won," Krauthammer said. "They ran out the clock."

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