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Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell is sworn-in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, prior to testifying before the House Intelligence Committee. Morell, who edited the widely debunked talking points on the 2012 Benghazi attack, answered questions from the House intelligence committee in a rare open session. The hearing provides Morell with a chance to explain why he deleted references to al-Qaida. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

5 facts you need to know about the former CIA boss who called Trump 'dangerous'


Former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell is the latest high-profile figure to publicly endorse Hillary Clinton for president.

In an op-ed published in the New York Times on Friday, Morell -- who is not registered to either major political party -- said he believes Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump would pose too great a threat to America's national security.

"In sharp contrast to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump has no experience on national security," Morell wrote. "Even more important, the character traits he has exhibited during the primary season suggest he would be a poor, even dangerous, commander in chief."

One of Morell's more notable criticisms was that Trump is being used as a pawn by Russia.

The Trump campaign reacted quickly to Morell's Clinton endorsement, saying Morell, too, was a pawn -- for Clinton and the Obama administration. 

But who exactly is Morell? What has his career with the CIA looked like? 

He has worked for both Republicans and Democrats, but has never revealed his political preferences -- until now. 

At the CIA, Morell worked for both President George W. Bush and President Obama.

In his Times op-ed, Morell said he has supported candidates from both parties in the past -- but this was the first time he'd ever publicly stated who he would support for the White House.

"In my 40 years of voting, I have pulled the lever for candidates of both parties," he wrote. "As a government official, I have always been silent about my preference for president."

He was President George W. Bush's briefer during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

According to an extensive profile of Morell in The Daily Beast, he was in the room with President Bush when they first learned that a plane had struck one of the twin towers. 

Morell reportedly knew from the get-go what had happened. From the Daily Beast: "When Bush asked, 'Who did this?' Morell said, 'I haven't seen any intelligence, but I would bet every dollar I have that it's al-Qaida.'

He went toe-to-toe with Republicans -- and the Obama administration -- over Benghazi.

Morell released a book in 2015 that, among other things, criticized many Republicans for "politicizing the killing of the American ambassador to Libya" and "distorting the agency's analysis of events."

But his criticisms were also bipartisan -- He also said the Obama administration "embellished some of the talking points provided by the Central Intelligence Agency" in the aftermath of the attack.

He admitted the CIA's intelligence about Iraq's nuclear weapons was flawed, and apologized.

Also in his 2015 book, Morell admitted that the CIA was wrong to say that Saddam Hussein had obtained weapons of mass destruction -- a conclusion that led to the American invasion of Iraq.

"We said he has chemical weapons, he has a biological weapons production capability, and he's restarting his nuclear weapons program. We were wrong on all three of those," Morell wrote.

Morell also said he wanted to apologize "to every American" for the misinformation.

He is very, very worried about ISIS.

In his role as a contributor for CBS News, Morell has long warned about the dangers of ISIS, and America's current similarities to the pre-9/11 era.

"For me, who lived through the pre-9/11 years, there's a similarity here that's a bit frightening to me," Morell said last year. "You have a group who says it wants to attack us, just as [Osama] bin Laden said he wanted to attack us, you have them building that capability just as bin Laden built it, we don't have great visibility into that capability, just as we did not do then."

Morell is the latest in a long line of Republicans and independent-minded figures to endorse Clinton over Trump in the last week. On Tuesday, New York Rep. Richard Hanna became the first congressional Republican to back Clinton. Meg Whitman, a tech executive and Republican fundraiser, also said this week she is supporting Clinton. 

New national polls released this week also show Clinton gaining over Trump. A McClatchy-Marist survey of of 1,132 adults show Clinton beating Trump by 15 points.

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