FIGHTING FOR PEACE: Fighting has broken out over the Syrian cease fire agreement. Not in Aleppo, in Washington. The Dead Drop hears that there is serious disagreement among warring factions in DC. One side is represented by Secretary John Kerry’s State Department, who view the agreement they negotiated with the Russians as the last best chance for peace – and for earning Kerry that Peace Prize every SECSTATE covets. Another faction is hunkered down in the Pentagon, where Defense Secretary Ash Carter thinks the Russians are completely untrustworthy and any agreement with them runs the risk of a deal with the devil. CENTCOM Commander General Joe Votel says: “There is a trust deficit with the Russians; it is not clear to us what their objectives are.” To illustrate the distance between two visions – consider a recent principals meeting called by National Security Advisor Susan Rice to talk about the cease fire implementation. The Dead Drop hears Carter demonstrated his unhappiness by informing the NSC that there was simply no way he could participate – even by video conference – despite the 24/7 communications capabilities of the Defense Department. Carter sent his deputy, Bob Work. This got Rice worked up. Eventually, Carter managed to call in but did not soften his views on the Kerry-negotiated deal.
The Military Times this week quoted Josh Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma saying, “The military is pissed off because they’re being asked to do two jobs now. They were asked to do one job, which is kill ISIS. Now John Kerry is asking them to do another job, which is cooperate with Russia and kill al Nusra.”
COLLATERAL DAMAGE: The Pentagon is not the only faction in Washington uncomfortable with the Syria agreement. The Dead Drop hears that senior officials in the Intelligence Community are concerned about requirements to share targeting information with the Russians. They’ve put their foot down about possibly sharing surveillance drone feeds and will only give the Russians still imagery. But even that has some folks concerned. What happens, they ask, if the Russians use U.S. intelligence to target ISIS and then, using their typical sledgehammer, inaccurate dumb bomb tactics, create horrendous collateral damage? Who will get the blame? Some in the IC fear that they will be left holding the bag.
POWELL PROBLEM: Lots of folks were amused to read Colin Powell’s unvarnished views of major players – ranging from Donald Trump to Bill and Hillary Clinton. Someone hacked Powell’s Gmail account and has been making the General’s broadsides widely available to the media. According to media accounts, in one email Powell called Trump a “national disgrace and an international pariah.” In another, he opined that Hillary is a “70-year-old person with a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational, with a husband still d**king bimbos at home (according to the NYP).” Suppose you were a fellow Washington power player – you might wonder if Colin crapped on you in his emails too. But here’s the rub. The misappropriated missives appear on a website called DCLeaks.com. The site claims to be run by American hacktivists, but there are published reports that speculate that it is really run by Russian intelligence. To access the email, you have to have a password – which DCLeaks has provided to multiple news organizations. Even if your friends in the media would share the password with you – or look on your behalf – you run the risk of alerting Russian intelligence of your concern by simply searching – and if someone finds a juicy item about you, you increase on the chances of it becoming public. Some news organizations have reportedly downloaded the entire universe of stolen email. Hopefully, they have done so in a way that protects themselves from also downloading Russian malware in the process.
STONE COLD TRUTH: Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has again sailed into uncharted waters. This time, he announced names for Navy supply ships which won’t start construction until 2021 or 2022. Until the Mabus era, ships named after people generally honored folks with some significant connection to the sea service. The latest three names vary from that tradition. The ships will be: “Lucy Stone,” named after the 19th century suffragist; “Sojourner Truth,” after the abolitionist who also pressed for the rights of black women; and “Robert F. Kennedy.” Previously, Mabus named ships after Gabby Giffords, the Congresswoman badly injured in a mass shooting, and another for slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk.
OSS GOING FOR THE GOLD: Last year, a bill was introduced in Congress to collectively award the members of the OSS the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their superior service and critical contribution during WWII. The Senate passed it with 73 co-sponsors. In the House there are currently 318 co-sponsors – far out distancing the number of people required to vote the bill into law. But for some reason, the House has not scheduled a floor vote. The number of living OSS vets is rapidly dwindling – so it would be great if the House could get its act together…soon. Members of the OSS Society are encouraging their supporters to get in touch with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to urge him to get a vote scheduled – now.
POCKET LITTER: We are introducing a new, periodic feature in The Dead Drop that we are calling, “pocket litter.” From time-to-time we’ll bring you very short notes and observations – even shorter than our regular items. Hopefully some of these quickies will tickle your interest – and even better – inspire you to submit others that you come across to be shared with Dead Drop readers.
- MUDD IN YOUR EYE. Former CIA and FBI official Phil Mudd was on CNN Tuesday saying that Senator Rand Paul (who had just been on the network criticizing the FBI over the NYC bombing) was “spouting complete nonsense.” When a former official is THAT blunt about a sitting senator, it probably means that he does not anticipate being up for Senate confirmation any time soon.
- CRYSTAL BALL: The NY Post had a story Wednesday about a woman who was a CIA analyst, but left to become a “psychic medium” and standup comic. Seems to us being a psychic and comedian are perfect skills to be an Agency analyst.
- NYC – WMD: Didja notice that New York bombing suspect Ahmad Rahami has been charged with using a “weapon of mass destruction?” A pressure cooker device is a WMD? This could be good news for the Intelligence Community. It might mean that Saddam DID have WMD after all.
- BUSCH LEAGUE: NASCAR driver Kurt Busch has a colorful ex-girlfriend. Busch was suspended for a while back in 2015 when girlfriend Patricia Driscoll accused him of abusing her. Busch denied it at the time, but he did add that she had convinced him that she was a part-time CIA assassin. Now Driscoll has been indicted on charges of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Armed Forces Foundation, a military assistance charity she ran.
- ASHGELINA?: Journalist Helene Cooper wryly tweeted on Tuesday: “A week after meeting with Defense Secretary Ash Carter in London, Angelina Jolie files for divorce.”
Got some pocket litter of your own you’d like to share? Send it to us at [email protected]