PDDNI 2B? The Dead Drop is hearing that Sue Gordon, currently the Deputy Director at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is the leading candidate to become the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence under DNI Dan Coats. Gordon spent more than 25 years at the CIA and led the Agency’s Information Operations Center while simultaneously being the CIA Director’s senior advisor on cyber. She is well-known and liked in Silicon Valley, which would be an asset in her new position. The PDDNI position is currently vacant and requires Senate confirmation. Just last month, the number three position at DNI – the Deputy Director of National Intelligence (without the “Principal” in the title) job was filed by Dawn Eilenberger – who, most recently was the Assistant Director of National Intelligence for Policy & Strategy at the ODNI. Eilenberger also served as IG at NGA and started her intelligence career at the CIA.
COMMISSAR, WE HARDLY KNEW YE: Way back on February 3rd, The Dead Drop told you about plans to install “liaison officers” from the NSC in the front offices at the various intelligence community components to keep an eye on political purity. Some observers likened the jobs to the zampolits or political commissars of the old Soviet Union. The idea soon spread to the entire cabinet, where minders were assigned to make sure Departments were towing the political line. Now Politico reports that the thought police – who they dubbed “chaperones” – are being phased out after it became apparent what a bad idea the positions were.
KGB LEFT NO STONE UN-SPUN: Interesting story in The Daily Beast last week says that the widespread belief that the CIA was behind JFK’s assassination was the direct result of a KGB influence operation – one that ended up inspiring years of bogus conspiracy theories – including those promoted in Oliver Stone’s movie, “JFK.”
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE GOES OUT ON A LIMB FOR OSS VETS: Prince William Forest Park and the OSS Society are hosting an event on June 24th to reflect on the historical legacy of the OSS. Eastern National Bookstore, a cooperating partner with the National Park Service, is providing a free dinner to all OSS veterans and their spouses. Since 2017 is the 75th anniversary year of the OSS, we suspect they won’t go broke with that free offer. The rest of us can attend too for just $12 per person to enjoy the meal and remarks by historian and author Patrick O’Donnell. The event starts at 5PM (1700 for your OSS vets) at the OSS Theater at Prince William Forest Park in Dumfries, VA. To attend contact Chris Alford at [email protected] or call 703-221-7183.
HULU HULLABALOO: The streaming TV service Hulu announced this week they are starting work on a 10-part adaptation of Lawrence Wright’s critically acclaimed 2006 book, The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. The book provided a detailed look at the growth of Islamic fundamentalism and events leading up to 9/11. What garnered media attention this week, however, was the news that Alec Baldwin has signed on to play CIA Director George Tenet. Insiders tell us that when Wright was working on his book in the aftermath of 9/11, the FBI was exceedingly cooperative – but that the CIA, then under the leadership of Porter Goss, elected not to be. As a result, The Looming Tower leans heavily on the FBI’s version of events.
POCKET LITTER: Bits and pieces of interesting /weird stuff we discovered:
- Fruit of the Loon: Former CIA analyst John Nixon was on NPR’s program “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” last week talking about his book Debriefing the President – which describes his experiences interrogating Saddam Hussein. Part of the price of promotion on NPR was that Nixon had to endure a three-question quiz on a different kind of briefs – men’s underwear. He got two of the three wrong – but we don’t want to hear about intelligence failures. They were tough questions.
- Thrown onto the bus – not under it. On Tuesday, members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, including Chairman Senator Richard Burr, were spotted boarding a chartered bus on Capitol Hill believed to be bound for CIA headquarters in Virginia where they were expected to be briefed on the ongoing investigation into possible Russian meddling in the U.S. election. When asked where they were heading, CNN says Burr replied, “Slow news day?”
- State of the World Explained: With Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meeting with President Trump this week – we thought we would share with you this nugget (via The Jerusalem Post) which says that, according to a Palestinian Authority TV host, Israel is waging war against the Muslim world via “sex mania.” In addition, the commentator claims the CIA has created a branch called the “Unit for Creating the Global Mood,” which distributes “pain killers, mood enhancers and hallucinatory substances” to “destroy what remains of our children’s values.”
- Sighted Sheep Sank (by) Same: Late last week came news that a Russian naval intelligence ship collided with a merchant freighter carrying 8,800 sheep in the Black Sea. The Russian vessel, the Liman, came out decidedly worst in the encounter. It sank. Fortunately, all 78 sailors onboard survived – which allows us to enjoy the observation that Putin’s Navy must be embarrassed by losing a modern ship to a “ewe boat.”
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:
- Guess who’s coming to dinner! John McLaughlin, former acting CIA Director – speaking with NBC News on President Trump inviting Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House noting that the president “seems to admire strength and power in other leaders inordinately. Without looking at the downsides of how they exercise that power.”
- Generally speaking: NPR last week looked at what many consider the “moderating” effect of the generals appointed to prime positions in the Trump administration. General Jack Keane told NPR that Secretary of Defense (and fellow retired general) Jim Mattis has been effective in reaching out and reassuring allies in the Middle East.
- Seeing Red: Former DNI James Clapper speaking at the Harvard Kennedy School on Tuesday said he had no doubt that Russia successfully interfered with the presidential election and “clearly favored” Trump over Hillary Clinton. Michael Morell, former acting CIA director and another TCB network member was also at the event, according to the Harvard Gazette, and participated in the discussion.
- With all due respect: Ambassador Joe DeTrani spoke with NPR this week following reports that North Korea has detained a third American citizen. What does Kim Jong un expect to get from actions like this? DeTrani says “they make it very clear that they will not tolerate anyone who treats them with nothing but total respect.”
WHAT’S ON THEIR NIGHTSTAND? (Our contributors tell us about what they’re currently reading)
Dan Markey, adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and Senior Research Professor and Academic Director of the Global Policy Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies:
“I’m reading The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, by Peter Frankopan, a sweeping history that will likely be by my bedside for a long time. Frankopan re-frames our perspective not just from west to east, but inside out, by situating Central Asia at the heart of the story. “
SECURITY QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“But never underestimate the chances of a miscalculation. What about a situation where Kim believes we are beginning a military operation to overthrow him, even though we are not doing that? Miscalculations have occurred many times in history. This time it could end with a nuclear detonation over the United States. This is why we have to be extraordinarily careful with what we say and do vis-à-vis the North today.”
-Michael Morell, former Acting Director and Deputy Director of the CIA
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