Dead Drop: December 24

UMM…BECAUSE THEY DO BAD THINGS?  Joe Weisberg, creator of the excellent TV series “The Americans” had a provocative opinion piece in The Washington Post recently titled: “The Cold War is over. Why do we still treat Russia like the Evil Empire?” The sound you may have heard thereafter was the heads of national security professionals exploding – or at least those people spitting out their holiday eggnog. Weisberg was very briefly a CIA officer decades ago, and if he learned one thing – it was that he was best suited for some other career. Among the gems in his piece – which argues that the U.S. should be nicer to Moscow – is the line: “We could extend an olive branch by releasing Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, traitors who were directly responsible for the deaths of numerous Soviets spying for the United States and who have each spent more than two decades in American prisons.” The central thought in the piece (if there is one) is that the United States should sit back if Russia does things like invade Ukraine and reflect on how the U.S. has been mean to Moscow – and caused them to behave in such a fashion. We could go on and on about how boneheaded Weisberg’s piece is – but we could not improve on the 20-plus tweets that Cipher Brief expert John Sipher devoted to the mission.  Now this is a drama worth following.

CASE IN POINT: If you were looking for evidence that Russian officials are not all Mother Teresa’s – or evidence that the U.S. does not have the market cornered on legislators who say dumb things – we give you the example of Russian State Duma member Aleksei Zhuravlyov who recently advocated the abduction and imprisonment of U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) over comments Gallego made about Ukraine. During a trip to Ukraine, the congressman had urged the administration to provide lethal defensive arms to the country to help deter a Russian invasion. Zhuravlyov’s suggestion that Russia kidnap and imprison him did not go down well with Gallego who tweeted out in response: “[email protected]@@ around and find out.”  The phrase is a common meme. Being a former Marine, Gallego didn’t use the @@@ however. Zhuravlyov then returned to Russian TV to suggest that Russia could sentence the congressman to death and send someone to kill him, like Leon Trotsky who was murdered with an ice-axe in Mexico in 1940. Wonder what Weisberg would say about that.

The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

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