CIA's Morell 'Scrubs' His Legacy on 60 Minutes

What to make of Mike Morell, former deputy director of the CIA, spilling his guts on 60 Minutes? To his credit, he did call Edward Snowden a traitor. But to say the stolen NSA documents represented the most serious betrayal in US history is a bit of a stretch. Aldrich Ames of CIA and Robert Hanssen of FBI in the 1980s and 90s are hard to best for cold-blooded treachery.

What came next from interviewer John Miller was predictable from the MSM. In solemn tones, Miller listed "unacceptable" enhanced interrogation techniques the CIA applied to extract information from terrorists and their couriers and cohorts: confinement in small spaces, stress positions, isolation, sleep deprivation, nakedness, subjection to loud music, and water-boarding. With the exception of water- boarding, these abuses sound more like  college kids enjoying a Saturday night after a big football win than torture as we know it from history.

The auto da fe employed by the Spanish Inquisition is what most people associate with authentic torture. In modern times, during World War II, the Japanese were adept in applying severe torture, including burying POWs alive. Hitler's SS and the Soviet NKVD routinely used torture to elicit confessions. The North Koreans were expert at so-called brainwashing and the North Vietnamese left a legacy of interrogation cruelty kept alive today by US veterans who survived imprisonment during the war. CIA enhanced interrogation, when compared to al-Qeada beheading reporter Daniel Pearl, is more like a fraternity initiation than cruelty.

Morell took the opportunity to express ex post facto guilt for CIA's interrogation techniques, in direct opposition to the views of General Michael Hayden, his boss from 2006 to 2009. Hayden, formerly director of NSA and CIA, told the audience at the 2011 Raleigh Spy Conference the interrogation methods undertaken were critical to uncovering al-Qeada operatives and targets critical to the eventual mission to kill Bin Laden.

Morell admitted his employees at CIA engaged in questioning terrorist suspects were performing as instructed with approval from Congress. But he felt compelled to say on TV "it was the wrong thing to do. It was inconsistent with American values." Peeling off finger nails, sticking hot pokers in orifices, now that would raise eyebrows. But water-boarding, by far the worst so-called torture admitted by CIA, is fast and causes no bodily harm. So what is the purpose of Morell's mea culpa? To make himself a sensitive hero at the expense of his superiors in the CIA?

No opportunity is ignored to drag in WMD, and interviewer Miller fell right in line to stain GW Bush for his successful foray into Iraq. The issue of WMD 10 years after the invasion of Iraq is kept breathing by the media to cover up Obama's incompetence in pulling out US troops in 2008 and creating disintegration and secular chaos. Morell said he wished he had "scrubbed" the data on WMD more thoroughly, and maintained today's analysts are more clear in their assessments. But he contradicts himself by pointing out that the move to invade the Bin Laden compound in Abbottabad was decided with only 60% certainty, far less than the percentage relied upon to invade Iraq.

The debate about WMD is a red herring anyway. Saddam Hussein murdered several hundred thousands of his own people, sent SCUD missiles into Israel daily, stockpiled chemical and biological weapons, invaded Kuwait, threatened the security of the Middle East and harbored terrorists. As it came out afterwards, Saddam's refusal to admit he did not have nuclear capability was designed to fool his enemy Iran that he had the ability to protect himself.

Television has become the favored confessional where the people replace the priest. The object is not absolution from God but a forum to "scrub" reputations -- to borrow a term -- not the soul. Once absolved in his television confession, his spirit now free to pronounce moral lessons, Morell opined that the "biggest security risks" in America are the economy and the government. He said he can't recall when the two political parties have been so divided, preventing compromise and driving down financial stability.

Yet, he is actually saying that objection to the president bankrupting the country with deficits and his signature Affordable Healthcare Act is heresy. If the economy is the number one security issue, followed by political divisiveness in the Congress, the blame does not fall on Republicans. It falls squarely on Obama  -with at least 60% certainty.

Bernie Reeves is Editor & Publisher, Raleigh Metro Magazine, and Founder of the Raleigh Spy Conference

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