Rep. Peter King: Morell 'Not Truthful' on Benghazi

Thursday, 03 Apr 2014 03:27 PM

By Lisa Barron

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Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell was not honest in Wednesday's testimony before the House Intelligence Committee about the agency's talking points after the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, says GOP Rep. Peter King.

"I've felt that way for a while now. I can give you any number of reasons, but 15 to 20 different instances where he had to give explanations that were hard to believe. OK, that could all be true, if you had a reason to believe him, but from the very first moment, he has not been truthful with us," he told Newsmax TV's John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" Thursday.

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King represents New York's 2nd Congressional District and has served in the House since 1993.

"I was at the Intelligence Committee hearing ... in November of 2012 and Gen. [David] Petraeus had just stepped down, so Morell was sitting there as the acting director and the committee was going after Gen. [James] Clapper, who's the Director of National Intelligence, because we thought that he was the guy involved with talking points…and we're saying where are these talking points coming from? He says that's not what we… we drafted different talking points. Once they left our building they were changed. We don't know who changed them," he recalled.

"And this went on, Morell sat there and I guess none of us even thought about asking him because as far as we knew, he had nothing to do with the talking points. He wasn't a director of the CIA at the time and he sat there as if he, you know, this was something totally foreign to him ... Six months later, the emails are finally disclosed, Morell was all over the place. He did most of the rewriting, and the rewriting he did also served the purposes of the White House and the State Department."

During his testimony Wednesday, Morell denied there was any cover-up or political influence in the CIA's talking points on Benghazi.

The agency and the Obama administration came under fire in the aftermath of the attack, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, for calling it a demonstration in protest of an anti-Muslim video rather than a terrorist attack carried out by al-Qaida.

"You have emails there from Victoria Nuland of the State Department saying our leadership is not happy with these talking points because it might show that we didn't do our job, it might give Congress the opportunity to attack us. OK, that language was taken out. Then you have the White House, Ben Rhodes at the White House, talking about changes that should be made, his name is all over the emails," King said.

"Then we find out later, after he leaves the CIA, Morell goes into a firm where one of the leading partners is one of Hilary Clinton's very top people, one of those people in their leadership who was concerned about the talking points. Then, he also gets a job at CBS News. Who's the director of CBS News? The brother of Ben Rhodes, the guy at the White House who wanted these changes made."

Asked about the fact that nobody directly addressed Morell about the talking points and witnesses are told to answer only the questions put to them, King repled, "He brought that up. In his opening statement, he said that he always enjoyed, appreciated the opportunity to be frank with the committee. There was a good working relationship, and there had been… a working relationship between him and the committee. So these classified hearings are much more of a conversation type.

"And so I said to him that the fact that he didn't volunteer anything, I said that's either misleading by omission or lying by omission and we can't trust you again … There's a certain amount of respect that's accorded at these smaller hearings, these in effect closed-door hearings, and there's much more in a conversational tone with people who you believe you can trust. Now that mistake will not be made again."

Turning to Wednesday's shootings at Fort Hood, which left four people including the shooter dead and 16 wounded, King said, "First of all I would go back to what we say with Homeland Security, if you see something, say something. Assuming this is not terrorism, for the moment, this is a person who has a mental disorder, if you see anyone in the military acting in any unusual way that should be reported immediately."

The shooter was identified as a 34-year-old Iraq war veteran, Spec. Ivan Lopez, who was reportedly struggling with mental health issues.

King said there has to be more awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder. "We have to make it clear to our troops that there is no stigma with stress disorder, that just as a person who gets shot in the ankle or shot in the arm or any type of other wound, that's a lasting wound. So is stress disorder and they are entitled to be treated for it and treated respectfully."

"And the people on the ground, their commanding officers and their platoon sergeant and squad leaders, they should be looking for any type of disorder such as that and the waiting… is so long for treatment, we just can't allow that to go on," he added.

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