Michael Morell, the deputy director of the CIA who announced his retirement today, last found his name in the news after the White House released a trove of e-mails detailing how the much-maligned Benghazi talking points came to be. The documents suggest it was Morell who insisted on removing references to terrorism from the talking points, which U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used on the Sunday talk shows after the attack. That omission has helped fuel cries that there was a cover-up of the nature of the attack. But Morell insists his departure a month later has nothing to do with the fact he was left holding the talking points bag.
“I am passionate about two things in this world — the Agency and my family. And while I have given everything I have to the Central Intelligence Agency and its vital mission for a third of a century, it is now time for me to give everything I have to my family,” Morell said in a statement. “Whenever someone involved in the rough and tumble of Washington decides to move on, there is speculation in various quarters about the ‘real reason.’ But when I say that it is time for my family, nothing could be more real than that.”
Morell’s replacement, Avril Haines, has been a White House deputy assistant and deputy counsel for national security affairs since 2010, according to the Associated Press. She’ll be the first woman ever to hold the position.