It is chilling to think about, but the United States will likely be fighting the war on terror for generations to come, Michael Morell, deputy director of the CIA from 2010 to 2013, told Newsmax TV
"Probably the scariest thing at the end of the day is, I believe, based on my experience, that my children's generation and my grandchildren's generation are still going to be fighting this fight," Morell said on "The Steve Malzberg Show."
The grim prediction comes despite the opinion of Morell — author of "The Great War of Our Time: The CIA's Fight Against Terrorism From al Qa'ida to ISIS"
— that the U.S. has done an excellent job of protecting the homeland.
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"Something that we've done exceptionally well since 9/11 ... is to deal with terrorists who already exist who are trying to kill us," Morell said.
"We've done an exceptional job of protecting the homeland — there hasn't been another attack since 9/11 from the outside, [although] we've had a couple on the inside.
"We are very good at protecting the homeland, very good at taking off the battlefield, capturing, and killing bad guys."
But what the U.S. has not been successful at is stopping the radicalization process.
"The process that creates new terrorists. So, as fast as we take them out of the battlefield, they're putting them back onto the battlefield. That is a very hard thing for the United States of America to get its arms around," he said.
"That's because we don't have a lot of credibility in the conversation that actually has to take place here about what this religion is all about — that it really is peace-loving, it's not about violence.
"It's not a conversation we can have, it's a conversation that Muslim leaders have to have with their people, Muslim clerics with their congregation."
There is some indication that is happening in some Middle Eastern nations, Morell said.
"We are starting to see [this in] some Muslim countries ... Indonesia ... has done nationally a very good job over the past five or six years trying to change the conversation with their people, trying to change the way they think," he said.
"The other is President Sisi of Egypt, [who] just stood up and gave a speech about how we need to start thinking about our religion, and it was a really important first step — a first step in a conversation with his people. That ... has to happen a lot more. Absolutely."
Morell is not distressed that President Barack Obama refuses to mention Islam when he calls out terrorist attacks.
"I understand why he doesn't want to put the world 'Islamic' in front of the word 'extremism.' I understand that because he doesn't want to paint the entire religion as being violent," Morell said.
He said the U.S. strives to capture rather than kill terrorists, although that's not always possible.
"The strong preference is to capture ... to get intelligence, get what's in their head," he said.
"But when you've got them in a part of the world where you cannot easily go get them and you know that they are plotting against you, to kill you, and you know they have the capability to do that ..."
Morell said he agrees with the U.S. strategy of having the Iraqis ultimately win the war against the Islamic State (ISIS) group.
"We cannot be there forever, right? So, we need an Iraqi security force that is capable of taking back this territory, and we're going to have to train them in order for them to do this. Clearly they're not ready yet," he said.
Asked about the ongoing investigation into the origins of the 2012 Benghazi attack in which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed, Morell said it is still unclear whether an anti-Islamic video posted on YouTube was responsible.
"We don't know. What the analysts said at the time was they thought that what happened in Benghazi was a copycat attack of what happened in Cairo. My chief of station in Tripoli speculated that one of the reasons might have been the video," he said.
"In February 2014, the FBI told the House Intelligence Committee that an individual in Benghazi ordered the attacks in part because of the video.
"We are not going to know for sure until we capture enough of these guys who were actually there that night, who actually committed murder that night, and have them talk to us and tell us why they did it."
In his book, which is published by Twelve, Morell offers a candid assessment of the CIA's counterterrorism successes and failures of the past 20 years. He argues that the threat of terrorism did not die with Osama bin Laden.
He also writes of secret, back-channel negotiations he conducted with foreign spymasters and regime leaders in a bid to secure a peaceful outcome to the unrest launched during the Arab Spring.
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