Dead Drop: April 17

WONDER WHAT THEY THINK ABOUT THE TOILET PAPER SHORTAGE: The Department of Homeland Security has issued an advisory telling folks that Russian intelligence services are likely closely watching the U.S. response to COVID-19 and that “Intelligence collection on medical supply chain vulnerabilities could inform future operations aimed at weakening key logistical elements in preparation for a wartime attack, or opportunistically during an emergency,” as reported by Yahoo News. In addition, the Russians have tried to score propaganda points by sending a plane load of medical supplies to the U.S. (for a price.) According to Daniel Hoffman, a retired senior CIA officer and Cipher Brief Expert, “the Russians are well aware that we know what our vulnerabilities are,” he said. “Implicitly threatening us, the Kremlin wants us to know they also know our vulnerabilities.”

ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS, WE PRINT: The Washington Post (WaPo) reported on Tuesday that an internal CIA website advised agency employees not to self-prescribe the drug hydroxychloroquine in an effort to treat COVID-19.  WaPo says that the site tells CIA officers: “At this point, the drug is not recommended to be used by patients except by medical professionals prescribing it as part of ongoing investigational studies. There are potentially significant side effects, including sudden cardiac death, associated with hydroxychloroquine and its individual use in patients need to be carefully selected and monitored by a health care professional.”  The Agency added in bold type: “Please do not obtain this medication on your own.” A gutsy move in light of the fact that the president has been touting the anecdotal benefits of the drug and suggesting that he might take it himself.  Not so gutsy was the fact that CIA spokespeople declined to comment to WaPo about internal communication.  Our spies also tell us that the Agency’s internal news clipping service titled “Media Highlights” failed to include The Washington Post story on Tuesday morning despite the fact that the story appeared on page three of the newspaper.  Media Highlights is said to be available to Agency employees around the world.  Guess they don’t want Agency employees getting their news from open sources.

“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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