GREAT NEWS! TEAM TRUMP TAKING INTELLIGENCE BRIEFINGS: Unfortunately for the U.S. Intelligence Community, however, the briefings are coming from foreign outfits. YNetNews.com reported recently that the Director of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, “clandestinely visited the United States to meet with President-elect Trump’s staff and brief them on pressing security matters.” The Dead Drop is reliably informed that the Israelis are not the only foreign intelligence service bragging that, like Kanye West, they have made pilgrimages to Trump Tower to share their world views.
BEST PLACES TO WORK: For more than a dozen years, the Partnership for Public Service has conducted surveys to find out how happy Feds are at the various agencies. The latest list just came out. NASA gets sky high rankings – landing at #1 among large agencies. The Intelligence Community comes in at #3 (although, it should be pointed out that the poll was conducted before the president-elect started taking shots at them). Over at the Pentagon (and beyond), the Navy came in #12, OSD/JCS et al #13, Air Force #14, and Army #16. Homeland Security came in dead last. But DHS’s positive rating of 45.8% was way ahead of the loser in the small agency category, where the Federal Election Commission had a favorable rating of only 28.4% .
ARMY STRONG: The Dead Drop’s Army buddies are pretty pumped about President-elect Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Army. Billionaire Vinny Viola has a lot going for him. A West Point grad, son of a military family who made a fortune on Wall Street, Viola owns the Florida Panthers hockey team and donated $2 million to establish the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point. Even Democrats on the Hill are singing his praises, with Senator Chuck Schumer (D, NY) tweeting that Viola’s dedication to the Army is “second to none” and opining that he is “up for the job.” And, according to Breitbart News, he knows Kung Fu.
GENERALLY SPEAKING: With retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn running the NSC, two retired Marines, Generals James Mattis and John Kelley at Defense and Homeland Security, and West Point grads Mike Pompeo for CIA and Vinny Viola for Army, critics like Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (herself an Army veteran) warn that there is a “real danger” of the U.S. traveling down a path toward a “military junta.” The Dead Drop too is worried about the lack of diversity in the President-elect’s picks and believes that something should be done – to address the noticeable lack of Navy admirals and Air Force generals in the mix.
BELAY MY LAST: Back in October, we told you of a controversial decision made by Navy leadership to eliminate enlisted job titles. “No more boatswain’s mates, torpedomen, and yeomen” the Navy Secretary, CNO, and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy decreed. And sailors reacted negatively. “Respectfully, this is the stupidest decision ever,” said one. Well, this week, the sea service’s leadership announced that they were making a “course correction” – which apparently is Navy lingo for retreat. The plan to scrap the job titles has been scrapped. (For those unfamiliar with nautical usage – “belay my last” is Navy for, “never mind.”
THE DREAM WILL NEVER DIE: Some folks spotted The Cipher Brief article this week about General David Petraeus’s comments at Harvard last Friday, in which he heaped praise on Trump nominees/appointees Michael Flynn, James Mattis, Rex Tillerson, Mike Pompeo and others and wondered: is he running for DNI? It would be a strange twist of fate for Petraeus to succeed James Clapper – who asked him to resign as CIA director in November 2012.
CRASH PROGRAM: About a week ago, Donald Trump tweeted that “the F-35 program and cost is out of control.” Unsurprisingly, the guy in charge of the program, Air Force LT Gen Chris Bogdan disagrees. Apparently he needs to attend remedial media training, however, because he committed the sin of repeating the negative allegation, saying: “This program is not out of control.” That’s like saying, “I am not a crook.” Oh, and Bogdan added that he will need another half billion dollars to finish the flight testing program.
POCKET LITTER: Bits and pieces of interesting/weird stuff we stumbled across:
- THANKS FOR THE ADVICE: CIA alumni and convicted felon John Kiriakou has a book coming out in April called, “Doing Time Like a Spy: How the CIA Taught Me to Survive and Thrive In Prison.” Kiriakou, who claims to be a whistleblower, despite protestations otherwise from the judge who sent him to prison for 23 months, is penning this self-help book about “twenty life skills he learned in CIA operational training” that allowed him to “keep himself safe and at the top of the prison social heap.” Maybe it is just us – but we’d rather hear how to stay OUT of prison.
- ACCOUNTANTS AND SPIES: CNBC’s website has a story which purports to be “the secret history of Deloitte’s espionage practice.” It tells of a Deloitte unit made up of former CIA officers and others whose job was “…to spy on Ernst & Young, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, KPMG and some of the consulting competitors.” Oddly, one member of the Deloitte team was John Kiriakou (see above.) Expect this book soon, “Doing Time Like an Accountant: What Deloitte Taught Me to Survive and Thrive in Prison.”
- BLOND BOMBSHELL? The usually reputable website Ozy has an article asking, “Was this blond bombshell the CIA’s secret weapon?” Near as we can tell, the answer is: NO. The very confusing article is about a radio DJ who is convinced his wife was part of CIA mind control experiments many years ago. He says she had been taught to kill with her bare hands and resist pain.
NETWORK NEWS: Not a day goes by when members of The Cipher Brief Network aren’t making news. Here are just a few examples from this week:
- Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security, tells FCW regarding accounts of how the FBI alerted the DNC that they were being hacked by the Russians, “Honestly, when I read that they just left a message, my jaw dropped.”
- The ubiquitous Admiral James Stavridis was on NBC Nightly News, Morning Joe and Andrea Mitchell Reports talking about Russian hacks, German terrorist attacks, and the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey.
WHAT’S ON THEIR NIGHTSTAND? (Our contributors tell us about what they’re currently reading)
Steve Hall, former member of the Senior Intelligence Service at the CIA:
I’m currently reading “Disinformation” by former Romanian intelligence officer Ion Pacepa, which provides his insights into Soviet era propaganda activities. After the multi-faceted influence operation Russia ran against the United States during the presidential election, I wanted to deepen my understanding of this Chekist art form. We’re going to see more of it in the future.
SECURITY QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“Directed energy is an inevitability; the question is not if it will be, but if it will be for us or for our adversaries. We are fighting tomorrow’s wars today, in our labs and on our test sites, and our present-day investment in directed energy will determine our ability to maintain military superiority in the future.”
-Henry “Trey” Obering III, Executive Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton
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