WASHINGTON — The former acting director of the CIA is taking the fall for the Benghazi fiasco to preserve Hillary Clinton’s ability to run for president, according to Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.
In an exclusive interview with WND, Bachmann said former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell could be repaid for his efforts by being named head of the CIA if Clinton is elected president.
Bachmann said Morell’s testimony Wednesday before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence was the narrative that will be pushed to protect Clinton from any future Benghazi political fallout.
“She couldn’t have a better person to take the fall for her because Morell was involved in rewriting the talking points and was the No. 2 at CIA. So, he can come in authoritatively say, ‘No, that’s not the story. The story is the fake story we tried to push.'”
Bachmann explained to WND that Morell is taking the fall by pointing at underlings and saying he relied on analysts. That way, “he can preserve his status, so, if Hillary becomes the next president, he can safely become the next director of the CIA. That’s what this is all about.”
“They don’t care about Obama now,” she said. “The more important thing is making sure it preserves the way for Hillary, because Democrats can’t afford to be exposed for what they are: failures on foreign policy, defense and intelligence. We have never had a bigger failure than under the Obama administration in any of those areas.”
Bachmann pointed out Morell is now working for Beacon Global Strategies, run by three very strong friends of Clinton, and called it an effort to preserve the former secretary of state, who was in office when terrorists killed four Americans at the U.S. embassy compound in Benghazi, Libya, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
“So, they’re essentially buying out Morell,” Bachmann said. “The cover story matches the Obama story. And all Morell has to do is point to the wrong view of the underlings and say, ‘Well, I was relying on what they told me. The president was relying on his analysts. Hillary Clinton relied on the analysts.'”
She was referring to testimony by Morell that he discarded information from the CIA’s own station chief on the ground in favor of the opinion of office analysts relying on press accounts from Libya.
Morell admitted to the committee that he received an email from the CIA station chief in Libya on Sept. 15, 2012, that the attack on the U.S. compound was “not an escalation of protests” and there was no anti-American protest that sparked the attack.
As WND detailed, Morell tried to explain why, one day later, then-U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice went on several Sunday talk shows and incorrectly told the American public the attack was sparked by a protest against an anti-Islamic video.
He said he had asked the station chief for a more detailed explanation of that email, and it arrived one day later on Sept. 16, the same day as Rice’s appearance on those talk shows.
Morell said when he forwarded that more-detailed email to CIA analysts, they got back to him in just one hour to inform him that they were rejecting the information from their own man on the ground and were sticking to their initial judgment.
Morrell told the committee that the CIA analysts told him they based their decision on Libyan press reports that there were, in fact, anti-American protests and, therefore, they would stick with their own version of events.
But he couldn’t explain why President Obama stuck to that incorrect narrative and still blamed the attack on a protest against a video when addressing the United Nations on Sept. 25, two weeks after the attack.
Bachmann stumped Morell by pointing out, by the time Obama spoke to the U.N., the CIA had received numerous intelligence reports that the attack was not a spontaneous video sparked by the video.
When she asked why did Obama blame the terror attack in Benghazi on an anti-Islamic video on YouTube, she never got an answer.
WND asked Bachmann: Is it conceivable that by Sept. 25 the CIA still believed the attack began as a protest over the video?
“Utterly impossible,” she said. “By that time, we had the information from all of the people on the ground.”
Bachmann said there was not a shred of information supporting that conclusion, and by then the U.S. had captured the closed-circuit television footage.
“Nothing pointed to a protest on the ground. Nothing,” she said. “The only ones pushing the protest narrative were Obama and Hillary Clinton.”
“Now, its about preserving the chance for Hillary to get elected. And the only way they can do that is absolve her from any responsibility. And so Morell, who is now in Hillary’s think tank, probably being paid very well, is in cold storage for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to take the fall for Hillary Clinton and clean up any dirt from Obama.”
So, WND asked, by the time the president addressed the U.N., the CIA knew the video and the protest narrative was unquestionably wrong, correct?
She said that was beyond question, and, as a matter of fact, “The State Department put out two cables during the assault that it was a terrorist attack by the al-Qaida affiliated group Ansar al-sharia.”
Did it say anything to her that the CIA apparently did not try to stop the president from continuing to push the false narrative?
“It says to me that Morell clearly took the fall today for the president and for Hillary Clinton.”
While questioning Morell, the congresswoman pointed out that numerous emails, cables and eyewitness, including the Turkish ambassador, reported no indication of any gathering of any protesters around the compound at Benghazi.
However, she noted:
- Ansar al-Sharia, an al-Qaida-linked terrorist group operating in Libya, claimed credit for the attack at 6:08 p.m. on Sept. 11
- A cable on Sept. 12 from the CIA station chief in Libya reported eyewitnesses had confirmed that Islamic militants had attacked the compound
- Even the CIA’s first draft report on Sept. 12 at 11:05 a.m. confirmed the U.S. government knew that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qaida participated in the attack
Only one thing had changed, said Bachmann: The talking points.
And, she noted, the talking points changed after they were seen by the White House and the State Department, “And we know from the emails … particularly from the emails (former State Dept. spokeswoman Victoria) Nuland wrote that the problem remained. Her superiors were unhappy.”
Bachmann called it “really odd” that the false narrative that eventually emerged in the talking points “somehow strangely” coincided with the view of the White House, “just six weeks before the presidential election, that al-Qaida was nearly defeated and the global war on terror was over … against all knowledge from people on the ground.”
“That’s why we’re upset, because the American people, from my perspective, were intentionally misled by this administration as to what happened in Benghazi,” added Bachmann.
Morell said the White House didn’t change the talking points, and that “the State Department and the White House made five changes only, all of them, in my view, fairly insignificant.”
Bachmann replied, “Mr. Morell, they didn’t have to change, because you made the changes for them.”
She, continued, “That’s the point. That’s why you’re in front of this committee today. You made significant substantive changes for the White House. Whether it was on their behalf, we don’t know, but we know you are the one who made those changes.”
Morell, who earlier in his testimony conceded that he was, in fact, responsible for the changes to the final version of the talking points, countered that the “changes I made were fully consistent with what our analysts believed at the time, period.”
But, Bachmann observed those analysts “were part of the bureaucracy, not the individuals who were on the ground, who had eyewitness testimony and who as early as September 12th had sent you a cable that it was not a protest, that it was in fact an attack — those were intentionally ignored.”
Indeed, critics have claimed the internal analysts Morrell chose to rely upon were more likely to be political appointees sensitive to administration goals and desires than those stationed in the field. And that Morrell was thought to be angling to become CIA director because, at the time, Petreus was under investigation.
Critics in Congress believe Morrell’s testimony raised more questions than it settled. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., repeated her call for a select committee to conduct a full-scale investigation into the Obama administration’s actions before, during and after the attack in Benghazi.
Follow Garth Kant on Twitter @DCgarth