Former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell: ‘I Wasn’t Paying Attention’

There Was Never a Good War…

MSNBC’s “Hardball” host, Chris Matthews, in a very intense exchange with former Deputy CIA Director Mike Morell, made the following statement:

“I’m just surprised it doesn’t bother you as an American that your hard work and patriotism was abused.”

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The punch of Matthews? statement came after an exchange in which Matthews cornered Morell about the intelligence that was being fed to the American people regarding?the supposed weapons of mass destruction that became the basis for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Matthews showed a clip of former Vice-President Dick Cheney stating that Saddam Hussein was ?absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons.? When pressed, Morell admitted that Cheney’s words were not true. In fact, Morell went on to state that he “wasn’t paying attention”?to what was being said by Cheney.

These weapons of mass destruction ? the very basis for the war with Iraq that still has not yet ended ? these weapons of mass destruction that were touted by the Bush administration were not even worthy of the attention of the Deputy Director of the CIA. Instead of correcting Cheney’s words, the intelligence community allowed the Bush administration to lead the country into war ? albeit with weapons of only-a-few-at-a-time destruction.

…Or a Bad Peace

The ways in which people get caught up in the winning side are understandably motivating. An entire region becomes captivated by a sports team’s wins. We don’t say, ?Person X did something;? we say that we did something. Likewise, it is easy to get on board with a powerful country in the midst of war. It is easy to claim that a violent action is justified based simply on the fact that a violent despot must be stopped. But what happens when that intelligence is flawed? What happens when a “good” war turns out to be… not so good?

It would be unfair to characterize Mike Morell as simply careless, since he does explain that his criticisms in his recent book, The Great War of Our Time: An Insider’s Account of the CIA’s Fight Against Al Qa’ida, extend to the Bush administration. So why is it that Morell’s admitted failures seem to sting worse than others who admitted that they were wrong, such as Hillary Clinton?

War Is Hell

“I have been apt to think that there has never been, nor ever will be, any such thing as a good war, or a bad peace.”

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These words of Benjamin Franklin about war and peace ring true in the ears of the initiated. For the ?God, Guns, and Glory? crew, a simple acknowledgement that ?War is hell,? is enough to claim that war is necessary. But William Tecumseh Sherman, whose infamous legacy is not usually associated with temperance, said more:

“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.”

There is no good war. Perhaps?Clinton (and the rest of us) should be held accountable for her part in supporting the Iraq war ? but the difference between her and the likes of Cheney, Bush and even Morell, is that these men knew the deception they were invoking. Morrell knew he wasn’t “paying attention,” and he’did nothing about it. The Bush administration ?cried aloud for vengeance,? and today, in 2015, they are reaping the fruits of their labor.

Unfortunately, so are the rest of us. ?But this time, we are indeed paying attention.

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About Matthew Sterner-Neely

Matthew Sterner-Neely is a profoundly progressive Catholic Christian, a writer, a disabled Veteran, and a current English and tap and ballet teacher in Pueblo, Colorado. His work includes the systematic deconstruction of the patriarchal hegemony and joining his children for tea in the middle of the living room floor. He takes seriously the commission to love one's enemies, and rarely remains anything but friends with those he comes into contact with.

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