President-elect Joe Biden is strongly considering Mike Morel, the former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, to run the CIA, according to four individuals familiar with the matter. But people familiar with the process say other candidates are still in the mix for the position of the country’s top spy chief.
Morel served as deputy CIA director for three years under President Barack Obama and twice as the agency’s director of work. According to three of the four sources familiar with the matter, another former deputy CIA director for the presidential-election position was considering both Morel and Aville Haines. But in an announcement on Monday afternoon, Biden chose Haynes, former deputy director for the CIA and deputy national security adviser under Obama, to become director of national intelligence.
Two of the above sources said that Biden is also considering Tom Donilon for the post. Donilon served as Obama’s national security adviser and has deep roots in Bidenworld. His brother, Mike Donilon, has already been tapped as a senior White House adviser for the presidential election.
Another name called in the mix is Jeh Johnson, former director of the Department of Homeland Security. But others pointed out that The Daily Beast Johnson was under consideration for the role of attorney general. As one source said of the current employee idea: “Too many people, too few chairs.”
Biden’s presidential transition team declined to comment.
Among those on Biden’s CIA shortlist, Morel may have the most directly relevant experience but, possibly, the most difficult to confirm.
This is because his selection would harm the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. A career CIA analyst who played a key role in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and that George W. on 9/11. Bush had an intelligence briefer – Morel was the agency’s aggressive defender of torture and drone strikes.
Sen. Ron Weiden (D-Ore), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, “No torturer can be confirmed as CIA director.” “This is a non-starter.”
“No torture pardon can be confirmed as CIA director. It is a non-starter.“
– Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore)
Putting Morel into the CIA would likely increase the likelihood of a large part of the national security establishment, who considers his expertise an asset, and believes he will be in the lead role in the agency. Sue Gordon, who served as the deputy director of the National Intelligence Department’s head in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said that, “the people who are mentioned for this position” are the ones who know Morrell best. Were.
Gordon said, “He will bring a lot of strengths: a sharp, analytical mind at every level in the agency; a broad perspective based on leadership and his time in the private sector.” “I know that he must be committed to meeting the needs of the people, the craft and the nation.”
But Morel’s nomination is likely to raise the immediate question of whether Biden intends for more continuity than departing terrorism in the nearly 20-year war, despite the campaign saying on the trail that he agreed to end the endless wars .
The “only way” to deal with terrorists, Morel said in a 2015 interview with Vice News, “is to keep the pressure on them at all times. When you overcome the pressure, they start planning and They succeed in that plan. “
Reuters first reported that Morden and Haines had emerged as key contenders to hold the positions of top detective in a Biden administration. A representative for Moral declined to comment.
A longtime Republican national security official who knows Morel indicated that he wanted to play the role, and Worry about his past should not be a hindrance.
“He is not an arrogant man, if you know him,” the source said. “He is obviously very professional. He is the kind of man who will work. “
During President Donald Trump’s term, Morel has been a CBS commentator and hosted a popular podcast in the national security circle, Intelligence matters, Which during the Trump era has been a reinforcement for democratic-aligned intelligence figures. Guests include Tony Blinken, joined by Biden Designated as Secretary of State On Monday, and Jake Sullivan, Biden Announced National Security Advisor.
While a former Republican intelligence official described Morel as “an upright shooter with integrity,” some Democrats may question his legacy.
In his 2015 memoir, The great war of our time, The drone named Morel strikes “single most effective” [counterterrorism] Tool over the past five years and dismissed civilian civilian accounts as “grossly exaggerated” with extreme inequality. ” In contrast, in 2016, survivors of drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen have described how the attack killed and killed their friends, their young relatives and their grandparents.
In a 2016 new York Times While endorsing the session-then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and inciting Trump, Morel credited the CIA’s counter-terrorism center chief who carried out the drone strikes at the time, the US since the Sept 11 attacks. Was responsible most for keeping it safe. “The man, Michael D’Andrea, allegedly went on to run the CIA’s Iran operations under Trump. (Morel did not identify D’Andrea, whose identity is an official secret.)
“Too many people, too few chairs.“
– A source familiar with Biden’s staffing decisions
Morel played a key role in highlighting the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 2014 report on CIA atrocities, mock drawings by the CIA, sleepiness, severely restricted diets, and painful contraception on at least 39 people, at least 119 Denied being a character portrayal despite being one of the. It remained in unintentional jails from 2002 to 2008. Some of them experienced sexual abuse under the guise of “rectal rehydration” or “rectal feeding”. One was subject to a mock execution. Another, Gul Rahman, was put to death in a CIA jail.
Morel told Vice in 2015, “I don’t like to torture it for one simple reason: to call it torture was torture on my people.”
Morel clashed with Sen. Dianne Finstein (D-California), the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who ran the chamber’s torture investigation. In 2015, his office issued a 54-page rebuttal to Morale’s account of the atrocity program. A representative for Feinstein did not return a request for comment.
In her 2015 Vice News interview, Morrell appeared to defend not only the efficacy of torture – which in a disbanded version of the Senate report stated that she was not only void but the agency was obscured by the pretense of lies – but also its morality .
“Morality has another side of the coin,” Morel said. What is morality No Using these techniques on a captive if you really believe that you have to do this to save American life? And so the question of morality becomes really difficult. “
Morel and Haines both endorsed their former CIA co-worker Gina Haspel, a central figure in CIA torture, whom Trump appointed as CIA director in 2018. Daniel J. Jones, the Senate’s chief torture investigator, left the intelligence community in his hands. Haynes and Morley will have the latest result after Obama’s decision to account for the CIA’s torture.
Jones told The Daily Beast, “Among the contenders reported for CIA director, Mike Morel would be the most disappointing candidate.”
“As deputy director, Morel showed that he was holding CIA officials responsible for the most serious wrongdoing. Morrell continued to deny torture to the CIA — not realizing that waterboarding in CIA interrogation methods , Rectal feeding and other abusive treatments that caused injuries and at least one detainee died, “Jones said.” And his disrespect for legislative oversight should be disqualifying. When we know Biden values monitoring and How much accountability is there, how can someone with Morel’s history be nominated? “