The CIA’s deputy director announced his shock retirement following a 33 year career at the agency today. / His replacement will be White House lawyer Avril D. Haines


Michael Morell, 54, made a joint statement  with CIA Director John O. Brennan this afternoon explaining that he wants to  devote more time to his family.

He is married with three college aged  children.

Departing and arriving: Michael Morell, left, will step down as CIA Deputy Director while White House lawyer Avril D. Haines, right, will take his placeDeparting and arriving: Michael Morell, left, will step down as CIA Deputy Director while White House lawyer Avril D. Haines, right, will take his place

Departing and arriving: Michael Morell, left, will step  down as CIA Deputy Director while White House lawyer Avril D. Haines, right,  will take his place

The deputy, who has twice served as acting  director, recently made the headlines after it emerged he agreed to the State Department’s request to  remove a  reference to militants in a controversial memo of talking  points on  Benghazi.

But he insisted that any speculation that  family wasn’t his ‘real reason’ for stepping down was misplaced.

His replacement will be White House lawyer  Avril D. Haines, who will take over the role on August 9.

She is currently deputy counsel on national  security issues to President Obama and will be the first woman to hold such a  senior role in the Agency.

Not a fan: Acting CIA Director Michael Morell lambasted the film in a public statement to his employees on Friday claiming it doesn't fairly portray what really happened in 2011 or the decade of work beforehandRetiring: Michael Morell announced his decision to leave  the CIA after a 33 year career today

‘I am passionate about two things in this  world — the Agency and my  family,’ Morell said in his statement.

‘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.’

‘I will miss many things about this Agency  and about the job that I  have been blessed with for the last three years.’


‘But most of all, I will miss the people—the  talented and dedicated officers on the senior  leadership team, my colleagues on  the Deputies Committee with whom I  have spent countless hours in the Situation  Room, and, most of all, the  CIA workforce—the heroes of this place, the people  at the pointy end of  the spear, the patriots who do the work of keeping the  country safe  every day.’

‘The presence of John Brennan in the office  next to mine has made this decision both tougher and easier.’

‘It has made it tougher because John  has  been a friend and a mentor for years and because the Agency is going to  accomplish great things under his leadership, and I am sorry that I  will not be  at his side as that unfolds.’

‘At the same time, it is easier  because I  will leave knowing that the Agency is in the best possible  hands. Given my love  for this place, that is a very reassuring thing.’

He added: ‘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.’

Held up: Democratic leaders had hoped to hold a final vote by the full Senate to confirm Brennan (pictured) on Wednesday 

Full of praise: CIA Director John Brennan had kind words  for his deputy of 33 years Michael Morell, who announced his shock resignation  today

Morell a Georgetown economics graduate joined  the CIA in 1980.

He quickly rose through the ranks and has  twice served as acting  director.

He stepped in and managed the resignation of  former CIA Director David Petraeus over an extramarital affair but was passed  over for the top spot in favor for Brennan, who was selected his permanent  replacement.

Morell has drawn criticism for stating that  the CIA’s interrogation program produced some useful information and unusually  went public to criticize the movie Zero  Dark Thirty for its depiction of the agency.

Brennan underlined that it was fully Morell’s  decision to leave the agency and complimented him on a long and prestigious  career.

‘Michael’s devotion to the men and women of  the Agency, our intelligence mission, and to a job well done has been  exemplary,’ his statement said.

‘As much as I would selfishly like to keep  Michael right where he is for as long as possible, he has decided to retire to  spend more time with his family and to pursue other professional  opportunities.’

‘In many respects, Michael has come to  personify the strengths and qualities of this great organization, and it is  difficult for me to imagine CIA without Michael’s exceptionally sharp mind,  tremendous energy, and absolute dedication to mission.’

‘But I am comforted by the fact that Michael  will be able to spend more time with his wonderful family.’

Brennan also praised Haines, calling her ‘a  tremendously talented public servant with whom Michael and I — and  many other  senior national security officials — have worked closely  over the past several  years.’

Morell also welcomed her to the agency.

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Categories: Intelligence Gathering, M.I.C.E.

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