POLITICS
06/12/2013 03:54 pm ET | Updated Jun 12, 2013

Michael Morell Retires As CIA Deputy Director

Michael Morell, Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, has retired, the AP reports.

Director John O. Brennan said Morell will be replaced by White House lawyer and agency outsider Avril D. Haines, according to the Washington Post.

President Barack Obama announced Morell's appointment to the President's Intelligence Advisory Board on Wednesday.

In a statement on Morell's retirement, Brennan said "Michael’s devotion to the men and women of the Agency, our intelligence mission, and to a job well done has been exemplary."

"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 called Haines "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."

Below, Morell's statement on his retirement:

As Director Brennan said in his very kind statement, I have decided to retire from the Agency after 33 years of service, including more than three as Deputy Director. I will leave my current position on Friday, 9 August.

I am passionate about two things in this world—the Agency and my family. 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.

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.

From being the PDB briefer at the side of President Bush on that horrific day in September 2001 to being at President Obama’s side as the United States brought Bin Ladin to justice in May 2011—and all the ups and downs in between—few Americans have been as privileged as I have been to work at, and to represent, such an extraordinary organization.

The talents of the women and men at this Agency are second to none. To have worked with these officers in the pursuit of the security of our country is a gift that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Finally, let me be among the first to welcome Avril Haines to the CIA. I have worked very closely with Avril over the past couple of years, and she will be an outstanding Deputy Director. She is extremely bright without being intimidating; she is tough while being compassionate; and she has the deepest of integrity. Like John, she regularly asks, “What is the right thing to do?” And, like John and me, Avril cares deeply about our Agency and our workforce. I have seen that time and time again in my interactions with her. We are very lucky to have Avril join our Agency family.

Read below for more from the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, who defended harsh interrogation techniques and was involved with the fallout after the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, announced his retirement Wednesday.

When President Barack Obama named a successor to former CIA Director David Petraeus last January, Morell was passed over in favor of the White House counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan. Morell had been acting director since Petraeus' resignation.

"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," Morell said in a statement released Wednesday by the agency. He said he will leave his CIA post Aug. 9.

Morell retired after 33 years at the CIA, including two stints as acting director and one as deputy director.

"I was most looking forward to ... the opportunity to work side-by-side once again with Michael Morell," said Brennan, noting that they'd begun their careers at the CIA in 1980. "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."

Brennan said Morell, 54, will be replaced by Avril Haines, 43, the first woman to hold that position. Haines has been a White House deputy assistant and deputy counsel for national security affairs since 2010. Before that, she was assistant legal adviser for treaty affairs at the State Department, according to a White House statement.

Obama has appointed Morell to the President's Intelligence Advisory Board, a group of mostly retired people who help advise the White House on intelligence policy.

Clarification: An earlier AP report suggested that Morell is resigning. This post has been updated to reflect that he is retiring, with the addition of a later AP report.

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