Tags: George W. Bush | Homeland Security | Iraq | War on Terrorism | Michael Morell | Saddam Hussein | weapons

Michael Morell: GW Bush Didn't Tell CIA to Say Iraq Had WMDs

By    |   Wednesday, 20 May 2015 10:34 PM

Michael Morell, former deputy director and former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, tells Newsmax TV that then-President George W. Bush never directed the intelligence community to say Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Intelligence analysts already thought so, he said.

Morell told "The Hard Line" host Ed Berliner that the theme of his new book, "The Great War of Our Time: The CIA's Fight Against Terrorism - From al-Qaida to ISIS," is that, contrary to the belief of detractors, there was no effort to get the CIA to push the WMD narrative.

"We didn't have to be pushed there because we already believed it," Morell said. "The best way to prove that to you is to tell you that we told President [Bill] Clinton the same thing before George Bush ever came to office."

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Morell said that when Bush decided to invade Iraq, the 9/11 attacks were still fresh in the public consciousness.

"Three thousand people had just been killed; it's his job to protect the American people, and he feels that stronger than anybody else," he said. "He's sitting there thinking as bad as 9/11 was, how bad could it have been if Saddam would use those weapons of mass destruction against us or if Saddam would give those to the terrorist groups that he has supported over the years and they used them against us?"

That is what drove Bush to war, Morell said, adding that the vast majority of members of Congress agreed with him for exactly the same reasons.

Morell said he sees it as an unfair question to ask current presidential candidates if they would have acted differently against Iraq "knowing what we know now," because, obviously, everyone now knows there were no WMDs.

Politics has gotten in the way of fighting terrorism, Morell said, because the CIA finds itself in the middle of a "meat sandwich."

"People take bits of what we say and use it to their advantage," he said. "Benghazi is a great example of that."

It isn't healthy for the country or the agency, he said.

"I used to have to tell my analysts, 'Don't pay any attention to it, go back to work, call it like you see it. That's your job.'"

As for Benghazi, Morell said he is confident there was no planning of the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans – but he does think it was terrorism.

"What we still don't know is the motivation for those who did it, and we're not going to find out until we capture them and bring them to justice," he said.

Morell said one of the goals for his book was to let Americans know Islamic extremism remains a threat to the country.

He also wanted to clear up myths about the agency.

There is the "James Bond" view that there isn't a secret the CIA can't find or a plot it can't stop, he said. "That's a myth."

Another view, the "Maxwell Smart" view, is that everything the agency touches falls apart. "There isn't anything we can do right." That, too, is a myth, he said.

The third is that the CIA is a rogue organization, operating without the guidance of the White House and without the oversight of Congress. That view also is wrong, he said.

"The reality is this is an incredibly dedicated, hardworking people, trying to protect the country, who get most things right," Morell said,"but like any organization, gets a couple of things wrong."

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Michael Morell, former deputy director and former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, tells Newsmax TV that then-President George W. Bush never directed the intelligence community to say Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
Michael Morell, Saddam Hussein, weapons, intelligence
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2015-34-20
Wednesday, 20 May 2015 10:34 PM
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