The much-anticipated testimony of former acting CIA director Mike Morell before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee didn’t produce any definitive information to answer the many conflicting viewpoints and concerns related to the official “talking points” on the Benghazi tragedy.
Perhaps one of the most visible observations relative to the hearing was the genuine frustration of both Republican and Democratic members of the committee that they couldn’t get any solid proof of what went wrong and why it went wrong.
Another surprising disclosure is that Morell, a 37-year CIA employee, placed more confidence in the conclusions of an analyst at CIA headquarters in Virginia than he did on reports from the CIA station chief who was on the scene in Benghazi. This runs counter to the traditional practice of the CIA and must raise many questions in the minds of current CIA station chiefs serving in dangerous situations around the world.
Partisan politics cannot be dismissed, and questions remain about how much the Obama White House doctored or influenced the Benghazi talking points, how much Morell may have omitted — and why certain reports were omitted — from the CIA analysis that was forwarded to the White House.
Morell’s testimony indicated he was aware and protective of the White House and State Department not only in what he said at Wednesday’s hearing but also in how he prepared the initial report to the White House. The question of when officials realized it was a well-planned terrorist attack rather than what the CIA analyst called a demonstration and why he did not correct the White House spokeswoman and President Obama, who continued calling it a demonstration when he knew it was a terrorist action has not been addressed to the satisfaction of many on the House committee.
The Benghazi affair continues to be a tragedy in how it was allowed to happen, how it was reported and how there continues to be many reasons to wonder why the Obama administration has not been more open and transparent. Even Morell raised questions when he testified that the CIA knew from confidential sources that it was a well-planned terrorist attack, but he didn’t acknowledge this at the outset because he didn’t want to compromise intelligence sources.
The one sure thing is that as the upcoming midterm elections draw nearer, as well as the 2016 presidential elections, and if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the Democratic presidential nominee, the Benghazi tragedy will surface as a hot topic.
This is why it is unfortunate the fault or blame for the death of a U.S. ambassador and three CIA operatives cannot be put to rest at this time. Why not tell the whole truth, the whole story, as embarrassing as it may be, rather than allow it to continue as a sad, sad chapter that sends mixed messages within the CIA as well as to the growing number of terrorist organizations that want to kill Americans and weaken the image of Uncle Sam around the world?
It would be nice if the public had reason to believe in the honesty openness and transparency of the White House.