The following script is from "The Deputy Director" which aired on Oct. 27, 2013. The correspondent is John Miller. Ira Rosen and Gabrielle Schonder, producers.
There may be no period that so dramatically redefined the world of U.S. intelligence than the decade following the September 11th attacks. Through those tumultuous years, there was one man who was in the room for almost every important decision.
Mike Morell was deputy director of the CIA and gave us the only television interview he's ever done. He spoke to us, largely because he believes the very nature of the spy business keeps successes in the shadows, but often pushes failure into the bright lights. Morell operated in those shadows, but his insights have helped shape the key foreign policy decisions of the last three presidents.
The first thing we asked Morell about was the last thing he did at the CIA: taking part in the damage assessment on Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who leaked classified documents about America's secret electronic surveillance programs.
Mike Morell: I do not believe he was a whistleblower. I do not believe he is a hero. I think he has betrayed his country.
John Miller: How serious a hit is that to national security?
Mike Morell: I think this is the most serious leak-- the most serious compromise of classified information in the history of the U.S. intelligence community.
John Miller: Because of the amount of it? Or the type?
Mike Morell: The amount and the type.
But of the hundreds of pages of NSA documents that Snowden has leaked, Morell pointed to one in particular that has caused a great deal of damage to U.S. intelligence. It's a copy of the top secret document the CIA calls its "Black Budget."
John Miller: What value would that have to an adversary?
Mike Morell: The real damage-- of leaking that document was that certainly they could focus their counterintelligence efforts on those places where we're being successful. And not have to worry as much about those places where we're not being successful.
John Miller: Kind of like handing over the playbook to the other team?
Mike Morell: Uh-huh. (affirm)
John Miller: He went first to Hong Kong and then to Russia. Do you think that China and Russia now have access to all or much off that material?
Mike Morell: I think we have to assume that any material that Mr. Snowden had with him has been compromised.
Protecting secrets is so engrained in the CIA culture that cell phones aren't even allowed in the building. Meetings are held in lead-lined rooms called Secure Compartmented Intelligence Facilities, or SCIFS, and if there is one room where they discuss the most closely guarded secrets of all it is the CIA director's conference room.
Mike Morell: On an average day, you know, we're making hundreds of decisions-- a good number of them in this room. And they range across the entirety of the national security issues that this country faces.
Mike Morell joined the CIA in 1980 as an energy policy analyst. A self-described nerd, he wanted adventure, and he would soon find plenty of it, as he rose through the ranks and became the key intelligence briefer for President George W. Bush. Morell traveled with the president wherever he went and was with him at a Florida elementary school on September 11th, 2001.
Mike Morell: And what I'm actually standing there thinking is, "I wonder how long we're gonna be here," because everybody knows the president was going to be at this school on this date. And, "Is somebody going to fly a plane into this place?"
Morell would travel back to Washington with the president. He was busy reviewing early intelligence the CIA had collected, when he was told to look out the window of Air Force One.
Mike Morell: And what you could see was an F-15 on the wing tip. You could see the pilot's face. And in the background, you could see the still burning Pentagon. And that is a memory I'll never forget.
The CIA launched a plan to dismantle al Qaeda and even today, the single most controversial piece of that strategy was the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques."
John Miller: Let me read you a list of some of the techniques that were used by the CIA to get information: waterboarding, hitting, bouncing suspects off walls, confining them in small spaces, loud music, sleep deprivation, nudity, keeping suspects in physical stress positions. If these were Americans being held overseas by a foreign power, would we have called that torture?
Mike Morell: I actually, John, want to challenge you on the word torture. My officers carried out the guidance that was provided to them-- in both administrations, and obviously that was differing guidance. What's my view? My view was that those coercive techniques were the wrong thing to do. My view was that those techniques were inconsistent with American values. And-- for that reason-- I don't think they should have been done.
No top CIA official has ever said that before.