August 27


There have been so many recent letters, both for and against the Iran deal, that it’s starting to feel more like spin more than anything else and the retired military community is getting right into it.  Back in early August, the Washington Post printed an open letter signed by 36 retired Generals and Admirals supporting the Iran nuclear deal.  News organizations around the world picked up the story – often with headlines conveying the impression that the letter represented overwhelming support from the folks who know best.

But…it wasn’t exactly a roster of household names – even if you live in a military household.  True, four of the 36 who signed were retired four-stars…but not a single former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Chief of Staff of the Army, Commandant of the Marine Corps or Chief of Naval Operations, who would be well placed to opine on the issue.  Former Defense Intelligence Agency Directors? Zip.  NSA Directors?  Nada.

There was only one former Vice Chairman of the JCS on that list – and one former U.S. Central Command Commander who retired more than two decades ago. 

No former U.S. European Command leader added their John Hancock.  EUCOM has responsibility for working with Israel – the country most unhappy with the Iran deal.

Pro-Iran deal supporters scored a big win on August 23rd, however, when widely admired former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft – a retired 3-star Air Force General, endorsed the deal.  Meanwhile, on August 26, General David Petraeus declared himself firmly undecided.

As if that wasn’t enough, a day later, another letter was sent out, this one signed by close to 200 retired Generals and Admirals, opposing the deal.  Perhaps it would just be easier for average Americans to read the deal themselves?


The Dead Drop has learned that former CIA and NSA Director, General Michael Hayden, is working on a new book titled, “Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror. Hayden is known for saying U.S. intelligence should not cross the line, but should play so close to the edge that they get “chalk on their cleats.”  The book is due out in February.  We’re told that Hayden doesn’t pull any punches when writing about the necessity and the challenges of congressional oversight. Looks like he (or his staff) took good notes in some meetings.  Ditto for the blessing and challenges of a free press.  The Intelligence Community comes in for some criticism too – he reportedly has some tough words for the IC when it comes to identifying things that are really secret…and those that are not.



A new James Bond novel is due for release September 8.  Trigger Mortis is said to include original material by Ian Fleming and is set in 1957, with the story picking up just a couple of weeks after Goldfinger.  If you don’t have time to read Goldfinger before the new book comes out, there’s always our favorite Sean Connery on-screen version.  The Dead Drop loves the original trailer for the movie, released back in 1964.


In the non-fiction world, there were a lot of CIA retirees in McLean this week getting briefed on current issues the Agency is facing.  The buzz among the crowd was there there are a lot of folks who are still ‘in’ who are lining up to get ‘out’.  The Dead Drop did a little digging and found that retirements are up, but only by about one per week over last year’s numbers.  Not exactly a mass rush to hang up the trench coat.


Gen. Stanley McChrystal may be retired and no longer leading the war in Afghanistan, but he’s certainly still paying close attention to what happens there:

While the General has been busy touting his new book, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, (, we wanted to know what he’s reading.

The General told The Dead Drop that he’s still constantly in motion, so he listens to audiobooks as much as he reads.  Right now he’s listening to Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder, and when he’s sitting still long enough to pick up a book, he’s pulling out The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East by Eugene Rogan.


Rumor has it that The Cipher Brief will be announcing a spy novel writing contest in September with a cast of all-star judges.  Why?  Because The Dead Drop has been told by lots of former spies that they have some pretty interesting stories to tell, but it seems none of them want to go to jail for leaking classified information.  The workaround: fiction… Dead Drop readers will be the first to hear details about this, so keep us on your reading list!


After last year’s CIA-dominated set of television series and pilots (STATE OF AFFAIRS, ALLEGIANCE, INTELLIGENCE, HOMELAND, COVERT AFFAIRS, BURN NOTICE, LEGENDS, 24), it’s looking like 2015 is the Year of the Bureau. Looking at the announcements for ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC, seven concepts have gone to pilot, with six on series order already.

ABC’s QUANTICO follows a group of new FBI trainees, FOX has the return of the X-FILES, NBC has greenlit BLINDSPOT, a psychological mystery thriller and the Jennifer Lopez star vehicle, SHADES OF BLUE. 

CBS is banking on the FBI’s appeal, green lighting three shows to pilot: the CRIMINAL MINDS spinoff BEYOND BORDERS, which takes the profilers overseas to help Americans; FOR JUSTICE, a story about an agent assigned to the criminal division of the Civil Rights unit; and LIMITLESS, based on the film of the same name, in which the FBI works with a drug-induced super genius to solve crimes. All except FOR JUSTICE have series orders.

It looks like there is even a soft spot for contractors in the line up: NBC has greenlit THE PLAYER, starring Wesley Snipes as a former military sniper turned Las Vegas security consultant.

As for the CIA, the CW ordered a pilot called CHEERLEADER DEATH SQUAD about a former CIA officer turned Washington DC prep-school teacher, who co-opts his international students as spies in hopes of collecting valuable intelligence to win back his job at the Agency. 

The CW declined to order this to series.

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