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‘The Great War of Our Time’

Michael Morell spent 33 years in the CIA, rising to be its acting director for a time, and finishing a distinguished career as the Agency’s Deputy Director.

There are few truly “must read” books out there, but along with Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower, Morell’s new The Great War of Our Time is one of them. Combine Wright’s and Morell’s books and you have a history of the rise of Islamist fanaticism vis-a-vis the United States from the end of World War II to the present. Everyone running for president should read both books, but it is doubtful that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will, because the former book indicts her husband and the latter herself.

Morell isn’t grinding any axes here — he is an equal opportunity assessor of Republicans and Democrats, the Agency and its critics, and especially — unsparingly — of himself.

Morell was wrapped up in the “talking points” fiasco over Benghazi. But whatever one thinks of that particular controversy, this book is about the whole war. Morell was President Bush’s briefer for the year 2001 and was thus with him on 9/11. He was also in London on the day of the 7/7 attacks there. Morell has spent nearly 15 years on the front lines of the war against Islamic fanaticism, and his book must be read and taken seriously by everyone in this war.

This is not a book for partisans (Presidents Bush and Obama both come in for praise and criticism) but one for future decision makers. It is also one for political writers.

I conducted an extended interview with Morell on Friday — the complete audio and transcript of which are posted at It is unusual for me to spend as much time as I did with Morell, but I could easily have gone twice as long, so vast is his experience with “the great war of our time.”

One exchange, towards the end of our conversation, caught the eye of reporters at Politico, The Daily Caller and elsewhere — as it should have. I asked him about former Secretary of State Clinton’s decision to conduct her official business on a private server in her own house.

Morell: So I don’t think that was a very good judgment. I don’t know who gave her that advice, but it was not good advice, and you know, she’s paying a price for it now. Yeah, it was not good.

Hewitt: As a professional matter, do you believe that at least one or perhaps many foreign intelligence servers, services have everything that went to and from that server?

Morell: So I think that foreign intelligence services, the good ones, the good ones, have everything on any unclassified network that the government uses, whether it’s a private server or a public one. They’re that good.

Hewitt: So that’s a yes?

Morell: Yup.

I did not expect such bluntness from so high ranking a former official, but this is exactly the same answer I have received off the record from four other very senior, very experienced decision makers in the long war. The fact is clear that Clinton acted with reckless disregard for the security of the nation she was sworn to serve.

The existence of the server on its own should be a disqualifying revelation, and the cover-up of its contents in whole or in part the trigger for a deep investigation into what has been compromised or potentially compromised. No, I do not trust her or her lawyers to have acted from the national interest when they “wiped it down.” How could any reasonable person trust her when the setting up of the server was itself a breach of trust?

Mr. Morell’s book is a great public service. So too was his candid assessment of what Clinton likely did throughout her tenure, which was provide our nation’s enemies with a backdoor, full view of what the United States was planning and doing across all theaters of all conflicts at all times.

Let that sink in. Then go and read all of Michael Morell’s remarkable book.


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