Ex-CIA official: GOP distorted analysis of Benghazi

Associated Press

Washington — A former CIA deputy director says Republicans repeatedly distorted the agency’s analysis of the Benghazi attack in 2012 that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. He also says U.S. intelligence agencies failed to recognize that al-Qaida would rapidly regain strength after the killing of Osama bin Laden.

In his new book, Michael Morell dismissed the notion that CIA officers and the military “were ordered to stand down” and not come to the aid of their comrades in Benghazi, The New York Times reported. Morell also says there is no evidence the Central Intelligence Agency had conspired with the White House to spin the Benghazi story to protect then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But he also wrote that the White House embellished some of the talking points provided by the CIA about the Benghazi attack, which killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in September 2012.

Morell also wrote that U.S. intelligence agencies failed to recognize that the al-Qaida terrorist network would rapidly retain strength in the Mideast after bin Laden was killed in 2011. The CIA told policymakers that the Arab Spring movement would “damage al-Qaida by undermining the group’s narrative,” Morell wrote.

Morell’s book, “The Great War of Our Time,” provides details of his thinking about the Benghazi attack and its aftermath that are the subject of congressional hearings that some in the GOP will likely use to criticize Clinton as the likely Democratic nominee runs for president.

Morell was a career analyst who rose through the ranks before ending up in the position of deputy director. He served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.