'Ex-CIA Director's 'kill Russians in Syria' comment reveals neocon influence'

© RT
Former CIA Director Michael Morell sparked uproar when he said in an interview on Charlie Rose that Russians and Iranians should be killed in Syria. Was the provocative statement an effort to promote himself as the new CIA Director under Hillary Clinton?

Morell has proposed the US change tactics in Syria by targeting President Bashar Assad's allies, adding that killing Russians should be done covertly.

“We need to make the Iranians pay a price in Syria, we need to make the Russians pay a price,” Morell told a stunned Charlie Rose, who asked if that means killing Iranians and Russians. Morell answered “Yes,” saying the killings should be done “convertly” but done in such way that “Moscow would get the message.”

Two former CIA officials turned whistleblowers, Ray McGovern and John Kiriakou, appeared on RT's "Watching the Hawks" program to give their analysis on the disturbing comments, as well as other tantalizing bits of information.

RT (Tyrel Ventura): Morell was suggesting to kill Russian and Iranian people – I’m assuming soldiers, even though he wasn’t that specific – as payback for their actions in Syria and Iran’s actions in Iraq. Apparently Iran was providing supplies and armaments to the people we were fighting there during our occupation. Is this of strategy or tactics the norm or the oddity for the CIA in planning?

John Kiriakou: This is the exception. It’s not the norm. Even under George W. Bush when the CIA wanted to initiate or institute a policy or program that would result in the killing of foreign nationals, my God, we went to the UN Security Council and asked for a vote. What Mike Morell is proposing is quite simply illegal. You just can’t wantonly kill people because you don’t like their politics. One of the important things that Mike Morell has forgotten or has chosen to ignore is that [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, whether we like him or not, is the internationally recognized leader of a sovereign country. And the Russian military has been invited into that country by its sovereign leader. So it’s not up to us to decide we don’t like that, and so we are going to start killing people because of it.

Ray McGovern: What a fraud. A transparent fraud. John knows him better than I do because John dealt with him.

JK: I worked closely with Mike Morell for several years in CIA headquarters. Mike Morell was a golden boy for many years. He was a very young manager and rose quickly through the ranks, and had the most important jobs in the CIA, at least on the analytic side… Once he got into the senior intelligence service, he took on a broader role, but that role never involved operations. This is a problem inside the agency. It’s emblematic of what has happened with what I like to think is a neoconservative takeover of CIA policy. You have somebody who has never served overseas except in the very final years of his career in a very cushy position. But certainly never operationally. He’s never recruited a foreign national to spy for the United States; he’s never been involved in difficult or dangerous operations, yet he’s advocating putting American lives on the line to kill foreign nationals against whom we have no declaration of war.

RT (Tabetha Wallace): Say he gets the chance to implement this great strategy of his which is apparently murdering a bunch of people and blowing up a bunch of stuff around Assad. How does that bring peace to Syria?

JK: It doesn’t, it can’t and it won’t. This whole idea that he espoused on the Charlie Rose show will not come to pass. If Mike Morell were serious about this, if this were something that Hillary Clinton would seriously consider, it would be kept so secret and so private that even inside the CIA 99 percent of employees wouldn’t know anything about it. So for him to just go on TV and dramatically say this is what he would do… it’s just grandstanding.

This is such an obviously transparent bid by Michael Morell to be the CIA Director under a Hillary Clinton administration... This is a political ploy by him that is not thought through at all - Gareth Porter, investigative journalist, to RT in a separate interview.

RT (Tyrel Ventura): Why do you think Morell is getting on TV and grandstanding like that? What is his motivation for doing this?

RM: He’s not the only one. There are others who are candidates to be head of the CIA or other high positions. The whole thing is so vacuous. Charlie Rose has had this guy on 11 times in the last two years. They never question the unspoken premises. I mean, Hello? Why does Bashar al-Assad have to go? Is he a threat to the United States? No. Then why does he have to go? It’s very simple. The neocons want him to go. Why do the neocons want him to go? The definition of a neocon is somebody who has great difficulty distinguishing between the strategic interests of Israel, on the one hand, and the strategic interests of the United States on the other. Israel wants bedlam in Syria, and they’ve got it.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.