Cuyahoga Falls: Local man named acting CIA Director

11:54 PM, Nov 13, 2012   |    comments
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CUYAHOGA FALLS -- In the wake of the Petraeus scandal, a new leader at the CIA has emerged. And he grew up in Northeast Ohio.

Michael Morell's family tells WKYC that he was always intelligent, but never imagined a career in our nation's intelligence. But since 1980, he's been working for the CIA, first as an economic analyst.

He's worked his way up the ladder, most recently serving as Deputy Director. He's been an eyewitness to history. He was traveling President George W. Bush on Sept. 11, 2001, as the president's briefer, and was in the Situation Room on May 1, 2011, as deputy CIA Director, when Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden.

He grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, attending St. Joseph's School as a boy. He graduated from Cuyahoga Falls High School in 1976, then attended the University of Akron.

His sister Karen Gaone says that he didn't know what he'd do with his economics degree until a professor recommended he apply for a job at the CIA. The next thing she knew, the family was helping him move to Virginia.

Gaone says while this wasn't in the plan, she isn't surprised by her brother's success. She says his work ethic, character, sense of duty and honor make him great at his job.

"He just works really hard to keep us all safe," said Gaone, who still lives in Cuyahoga Falls. "He views himself as just a public servant. He said, 'I'm not a celebrity. I'm just a public servant. I'm working very hard to keep us all safe, the whole nation.'"

When he's not busy with his all-consuming job, he tries to spend time with his family, a wife and three kids. He's also interested in mentoring the next generation of intelligence leaders.

Dr. Pat Nugent at St. Joseph's School says she's worked to make sure students know about Morell and his role in our country.

"Because in Cuyahoga Falls, it's not that big of a city," said Nugent. "To have such a famous graduate have such an important role, and yet know that we might have played a part in his foundation, that's just something we can be very very proud of."

What's the likelihood that Mike Morrell is named to the Director spot permanently? It's really all up to the President.

Multiple sources say he's on a short list of likely candidates. Some cite Morell's strong relationship with President Obama.

Former Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin told WKYC in an interview that Morell is an extremely qualified and very viable candidate for the position.

His family says Morell is there to do his job, and if that means being the next director of the CIA then he'll accept it.

"He would be okay no matter what happens. He would be okay if they wanted him to do it, he would be okay if they didn't," said Gaone.

"It would be very stressful and I'm concerned for him in that respect. It would be an awesome job for him to acquire, but I just want him to do what is happy for him and what's best for his family," she said.

"I am extremely proud of him, just the type of person he is," said Gaone.


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