In 2013, Morgan Muir, then a senior CIA analyst, played a lead role in advocating for the CIA’s inaccurate claims defending its torture program, Buzzfeed News first reported.
The Senate Committee found, based on the CIA’s own reporting, that “enhanced interrogation techniques” against terror suspects were ineffective, but Muir led a series of combative meetings where the CIA attacked those findings.
After Buzzfeed questioned the CIA about their findings of Muir’s role, an agency spokesperson said that Muir would not be directly briefing the president. The New York Times first reported last week that Muir would be directly briefing the president, and the agency did not explain the switch-up.
The committee at the time had pressed the CIA to release its internal report that was damning to the CIA’s interrogation techniques. After the 6,700 page report was released, Daniel Jones, Senate investigator and lead author of the report, said Muir continued to defend the value of the torture program, using information the CIA later admitted was inaccurate.
Jones said that Muir’s history should disqualify him from the new role as he cannot be trusted “to convey accurate information.”
“I would not trust him,” Jones said.
CIA spokesperson Timothy Barrett said Jones’ accusations were “baseless” and described Muir as “an exemplary career intelligence officer whose strength of character is unquestionable.”
Former Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, an outspoken critic of the CIA’s torture practices in light of the 2013 report, urged Biden against being briefed by anyone who defended the practices.
“President Biden has assembled a strong national security team, but he should have serious concerns about entrusting his Presidential Daily Briefing to anyone who may have helped cover up this dark chapter in our nation’s history,” Udall said in a statement to Buzzfeed.
“I can attest that it’s critical that intelligence agencies provide the president and other leaders with unbiased, factual and honest information. As we now know, the CIA and its leadership misled the public, senators, and Senate staff for years about the CIA’s systematic and brutal torture of detainees,” he continued.
Muir also served as a briefer for President George W. Bush for three years.
Office of the Director of National Intelligence spokesperson Amanda Schoch denied that Muir would be working directly with Biden in the Oval Office.
“He is not the President’s briefer as that term is generally understood, and there are no plans for him to be in the oval,” said Schoch.
Schoch said Muir will be in charge of mission integration, or coordinating intelligence across multiple agencies. She said he’ll have a role in overseeing the content of the President’s Daily Brief, but the briefs will probably be delivered by differing “expert briefers.”
Jones said that Muir was involved in a number of “false assertions,” including when the CIA claimed success in extracting information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, an admitted mastermind behind the 9/1l attacks. The agency said Mohammed gave up information about another terror operative after being subject to waterboarding, but documents in the report showed the CIA had obtained that information from Mohammed prior to the use of torture.