We had no asset in Saddam’s inner circle, says ex-CIA deputy director

Morell - IA senior Central Intelligence Agency official, who led the agency as its acting director before retiring in 2013, has said that not having sources in the Iraqi government’s upper echelons led to the intelligence failure of 2003. Michael Morell retired as deputy director of the CIA, after having served twice as its acting director, in 2011 and from 2012 to 2013. A Georgetown University graduate, Morell joined the agency in 1980 and rose through the ranks to lead the Asia, Pacific and Latin America divisions. In May 2015, Morell published his book, The Great War of Our Time: The CIA’s Fight against Terrorism from al Qa’ida to ISIS, which he has been promoting while working as a consultant in the private sector.

Morell spoke at the Aspen Institute earlier this month, and once again offered a public apology to former United States Secretary of State Colin Powell for the CIA’s erroneous estimates on Iraq. He was referring to the Agency’s claims prior to the 2003 US invasion that Iraq maintained an active weapons-of-mass-destruction (WMD) program. The claims formed the basis of Powell’s February 2003 speech during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, in which he claimed that the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had “biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce […] many more.” There was no question, said Morell, that Powell’s reputation “was tarnished” as a result of the speech, and that a public apology was in order. The same apology, said Morell, applied “to every single American.”

The retired intelligence official went on to say that the main cause of the CIA’s erroneous assessment of Iraq’s WMD program was that the Agency had failed to penetrate the highest echelons of the Hussein regime. “We were not able to come up with the right answer [because] we didn’t do our fundamental job of penetrating [Hussein’s] inner circles with a human asset,” said Morell. As a result, there was “no information to give to the [CIA] analyst to say ‘here’s what this guy is up to’,” he added. The author of The Great War of Our Time, went on to suggest that the CIA’s failure to penetrate the inner circle of the Iraqi government prior to 2003 was “quite frankly a national security failure.”

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 29 December 2015 | Permalink

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3 Responses to We had no asset in Saddam’s inner circle, says ex-CIA deputy director

  1. Juan F. says:

    I still think there was not such a “intelligence failure”. It was a deliberate manipulation of weak clues and that manipulation was not fabricated by CIA or NSA workers but politically appointed people following an agenda.

  2. “He [Powell] had walked into my office musing and he said words to the effect of, I wonder how we’ll all feel if we put half a million troops in Iraq and march from one end of the country to the other and find nothing” -Lawrence Wilkerson

    Morrell is just another failed actor spreading a CYA story. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, when they all write self-excusing apologetic screeds, this is no different. Powell should have known better and there are strong indications he not only knew better but knowingly played ‘team ball’ by creating his own embellishments.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-schwarz/colin-powell-wmd-iraq-war_b_2624620.html

    ^

  3. Mike says:

    Have there been any reports about other intel efforts (SIGINT) being successful or unsuccessful in collecting information in this matter?

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