Daily Debriefing: Community reacts to Morell talk

by Kelsey Flower | 9/30/14 6:36pm

To former deputy Central Intelligence Agency director Michael Morell, self-assessment is a key to success.

“Every night I ask myself, ‘How did you do today at everything you did, and how could you have done better?’ and then apply what I learned in that self-critical conversation,” he said in a public discussion on Tuesday.

This advice came alongside a question-and-answer session on foreign policy with John Sloan Dickey Center director Daniel Benjamin. Morell, who served as deputy CIA director from 2010 to 2013, is visiting Dartmouth for one week, during which he is meeting with several classes, professors and groups.

In an interview, Morell said that a goal of his visit is to show that CIA agents are human beings who are willing to engage in discussion.

“I hope students walk away with an understanding of how significant intelligence is to keeping the country safe, with a sense that the CIA plays a very important role in the provision of this intelligence,” he said.

Morell said he believes he has been successful in conveying these messages to students thus far.

After Tuesday’s talk, community members who attended expressed satisfaction with Morell’s points.

Office of gift recording secretary Kathleen Martin said that she thought Morell’s answers were very comprehensive.

Anthropology professor Dale Eickelman said he was pleased with Morell’s frank and open responses.

Eickelman asked Morell about his positions on conflict in Russia, North Korea and Israel and Palestine.

“He did what deputy director has to be able to do — to remind people in a rapid checklist of what’s going on globally, what’s going to be around in five to 10 years,” Eickelman said.

Claire Feuille ’18, who attended the talk because of her interest in international relations, appreciated how the question-and-answer structure enabled direct interaction with Morell.

“It was interesting to get foreign policy opinions from someone who’s so influential,” she said. “I was really glad we got to ask him questions about major issues and that he could respond with what he actually thought.”

In an interview, Morell said he came to the College largely because of his close friendship with Benjamin within the Obama administration. Benjamin served in the U.S. State Department as an Ambassador-at-Large and a Coordinator for Counterterrorism before he came to the Dickey Center in 2012.

At the talk, Morell encouraged students to focus on more than moving vertically up a ladder.

“Be willing to move around in an organization and get experiences because they are going to develop you,” he said.

The event brought about 200 people to Cook Auditorium.

Benjamin was unable to comment by press time.