“I’m leaving to spend more time with my family” is to Washington career death what “Wait here, I’m going to get some beer” is to teenage slasher films. The latest official to decide he has neglected his family long enough is Deputy CIA Director Michael Morrell, whose retirement from a three-decade Agency career was announced on Wednesday afternoon.
This has absolutely nothing to do with those doctored Benghazi talking points, not at all. “Whenever someone involved in the rough and tumble of Washington decides to move on, there is speculation in various quarters about the real reason,” said Morrell. “But when I say that it is time for my family, nothing could be more real than that.” According to Reuters, he will now serve on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, a position which presumably allows far more quality time for family activities.
Morell’s replacement will be Avril Haines, a White House legal adviser who is said to be close to CIA Director John Brennan. Curiously, Haines was only recently nominated to serve as the State Department’s legal adviser, which is probably a position that would allow even less to spend with the family than Deputy CIA Director, given the massive line of scandal thunderclouds bearing down on the State Department.
(Speaking of which, for those playing Obama Administration Scandal Bingo at home, Hillary Clinton’s office has played the “We learned of it from the media and don’t know anything beyond what’s been reported” card. Please mark the “only know what I see on the news” space on your bingo cards accordingly.)
Update: Morrell’s replacement Avril Haines doesn’t appear to have much intelligence experience – although she “oversaw the approval process for the CIA’s covert actions” as a White House lawyer, according to the Daily Beast – but she does know her way around an Anne Rice novel, having read them out loud at the “Erotica Nights” her bookstore in Baltimore used to host. This could lead to a fun game at the CIA offices, perhaps to cap off Casual Fridays, where Haines reads a steamy passage to her staff, and they try to guess whether it’s from an Anne Rice novel, or the emails between former CIA director David Petraeus and his mistress.
The Daily Beast article also includes a passage that hints at her true qualifications for the job:
Haines was also well respected in the close-knit waterfront neighborhood of Fells Point, according to former neighbors.
One of them, long-time neighborhood fixture Steve Bunker, who has since retired to Maine, raved about Haines to The Daily Beast, saying ???She???s brilliant, has a genius IQ, is easy to work with and reliable.??? He recalled going to New Year???s Eve parties with her at the $22 million dollar townhouses then owned by her father, Dr. Thomas Haines, a liberal activist and noted chemist, on the Upper West Side of New York.
Sounds like President Obama really wants to pull the CIA more firmly into his orbit. But won’t that make it more difficult for him to claim he only learns what the Agency is doing when he reads the newspapers, after the next scandal breaks?