Ex-CIA chief: Fear for environment stays US hand on ISIS oil wells

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A former CIA director says concerns about environmental impact have prevented the White House from bombing oil wells that finance the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“We didn’t go after oil wells, actually hitting oil wells that ISIS controls, because we didn’t want to do environmental damage, and we didn’t want to destroy that infrastructure,” Michael Morell said Tuesday on PBS’s “Charlie Rose.”

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Morell cautioned that he does not “sit in the room anymore” where strategic decisions are made, but said prior to the Paris terrorist attack earlier this month, “There seemed to have been a judgment that, look, we don’t want to destroy these oil tankers because that’s infrastructure that’s going to be necessary to support the people when ISIS isn’t there anymore, and it’s going to create environmental damage.”

Since the attack on Paris, the U.S. has tried to cut off the terrorist organization’s revenue stream by bombing oil trucks.

“So now we’re hitting oil trucks,” Morell said. “And maybe you get to the point where you say, we also have to hit oil wells.

“So those are the kind of tough decisions you have to make,” he added.

ISIS has accumulated millions of dollars to fund its military operations by producing and exporting oil in the parts of Iraq and Syria under its control.

Donald Trump and other Republican primary candidates have forcefully advocated striking the group’s oil reserves and other financial resources.

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