Michael Morell, the former deputy CIA director, went before Congress on Wednesday and admitted that he favored the reporting of analysts far removed from the scene who said the attack in Benghazi was the result of a spontaneous reaction to a protest.
Testifying before the House Select Committee on Intelligence, Morell said he relied on the distant information in shaping his infamous “talking points,” ignoring top CIA officers on the ground who advised him that the attacks were “not an escalation of protests,” Fox News reported.
“This was not compelling because these officers did not arrive until almost an hour after the attack started and the protesters could have dispersed by them,” he said.
The talking points shaped by Morell resulted in then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice going on the Sunday talk shows after the terrorist attack to say it was a result of the nonexistent protest.
But Morell insisted that he did not “deliberately downplay the role of terrorists” in the attack.
Several Republican lawmakers took issue with his testimony, Politico reported.
“I read your testimony and you have an excuse for everything,” U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said at one point. “For everything. Which is fine, but when the chairman asks you about when you sat next to Director of National Intelligence [James] Clapper in November of 2012, you don’t have an excuse, you only have an apology.”
“He gave a lot of excuses today and a lot of reasons,” U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said during an appearance Wednesday on Fox News.
“The fact is, to believe him you have to believe, basically, everything is contradictory to the facts,” he said.
“Bottom line is, Susan Rice and the administration told the American people it arose out of a video and demonstration,” he continued. “They never mentioned terrorism at all and that’s is the reality. They can’t rewrite history.”
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