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Ex-CIA Official, Intel Briefer: Bush Admin Made False Claims on Iraq

HeadlineMay 20, 2015

A former top CIA official and intelligence briefer to President George W. Bush before the Iraq War has acknowledged Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney falsely presented information to the public. In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Michael Morell was asked about Cheney’s claim that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear weapons.

Chris Matthews: “Was that true?”

Michael Morell: “We were saying—”

Chris Matthews: “Can you answer that question? Was that true?”

Michael Morell: “No. That’s not true.”

Chris Matthews: “Well, why did you let him get away with it?”

Michael Morell: “Look, my job—my job, Chris, is to—”

Chris Matthews: “You’re the briefer of the president on intelligence. You’re the top person to go in and tell him what’s going on. You see Cheney make this charge he’s got a nuclear bomb, and then they make subsequent charges he knew how to deliver it, he had the capability to deliver it, and nobody raised their hand and said, 'No, that's not what we told him.’”

Michael Morell: “Chris, Chris, Chris, Chris, wasn’t my job. Right? My job—”

Chris Matthews: “To tell the truth.”

Michael Morell: “My job—no, as the briefer? As the briefer?”

Chris Matthews: “OK, go ahead.”

Michael Morell: “As the briefer, my job is to carry CIA’s best information and best analysis to the president of the United States, make sure he understands it. Right? My job is to not watch what they’re saying on TV and say, 'Yesterday—'”

Chris Matthews: “You think TV’s a joke?”

Michael Morell: “What?”

Chris Matthews: “You think it’s a joke that Cheney said it on TV?”

Michael Morell: “That’s not my job. That’s not my job.”

Chris Matthews: “Did you know he did that?”

Michael Morell: “No, I wasn’t paying attention. I was studying what was on my desk every morning.”

Chris Matthews: “So you’re briefing the president on the reasons for war. They’re selling the war using your stuff, saying that you made that case when you didn’t. So they’re using your credibility to make the case for war dishonestly, as you just admitted.”

Michael Morell: “Look, I’m just telling you what—”

Chris Matthews: “Well, you just admitted it.”

Michael Morell: “I’m just telling you what we said, Chris.”

Chris Matthews: “They gave a false presentation of what you said to them.”

Michael Morell: “On some aspects.”

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