‘What’s my job, right?’ On the CIA, False Intelligence, and Other Obligations

What was your job? 

MATTHEWS: You’re the briefer for the president on intelligence, you’re the top person to go in and tell him what’s going on. You see Cheney make this charge he’s got a nuclear bomb and then they make subsequent charges he knew how to deliver it…and nobody raised their hand and said, “No that’s not what we told him.”

MORELL: Chris, Chris Chris, what’s my job, right? My job—

MATTHEWS: To tell the truth.

MORELL: My job—no, as the briefer? As the briefer?

MATTHEWS: Okay, go ahead.

MORELL: As the briefer, my job is to carry CIA’s best information and best analysis to the president of the United States and make sure he understands it. My job is to not watch what they’re saying on TV.

I’ll tell you what your job was. Your job was the same as anybody else’s in the entire fucking White House, the entire government of the United Goddamn States, is today: To keep as many Americans alive as humanly possible for as long as you could. That is the job of the president, his entire staff, every agency established by the government in the history of this country. That is the job. Keep as damn near close to everybody alive as you can. Keep them from dying. That is your  basic obligation. That’s it.

Everything else is just smoke-filled coffeehouse crap. The government runs to make sure that people can live. That’s the point. So if you think your job is to push paper or print agendas or make things efficient or do what the president wants, I have news for you: It’s not more important than that basic obligation. That basic obligation is why you are there. Your paychecks may be signed by your boss or your agency director or whoever, but your purpose is something else.

And in this particular case, Mr. Morell, you watched on TV as the president and vice president said shit you knew wasn’t true, and at the time you said nothing.

And thousands of Americans died in the sand.

As they were dying, you still said nothing.

Year after year after year.

So now you come to us with this revelation and expect, what? To be treated gently? To be patted on the head and comforted, as if you were the victim of a terrible crime?

Have you lost your fucking mind? I don’t love Chris Matthews, okay, and he was as guilty as anyone of weaseling around taking a stand on the war one way or the other, but in this case? He’s righter as a human being than you ever were. You were still a human being with an immortal soul, by the way, while you were a CIA briefer, and taking care for that soul’s disposition was your job as well.

You said nothing. Back when you could have stopped it, you said nothing. People were putting their bodies in the streets and getting fired left and right for saying based on their best guess what you could have said with certainty, with force, with full faith and credit. You could have called someone, anyone, even some filthy hippie blogger, and said this isn’t right. They’re lying. And you could have stopped it, or at least done what you could under your obligation as a human being.

What was your job? What was your JOB? What was your life? Two third of all the evil in the world comes from convincing ourselves we are powerless. Nobody could have stopped it, you’d say. Maybe so. But your job was to keep everyone alive. Your job was to try.