Dead Drop: April 23

ONE OF THESE THINGS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER:  Late last week, the United States announced that it would expel ten Russian “diplomats” as a result of the SolarWinds hack.  As completely expected, Moscow responded by announcing they would match the ten diplomat expulsion and raise the US by banning eight prominent Americans from Russia.  The gang of eight included some folks you might have guessed: Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray, etc.  But it also included some unexpected picks – like Susan Rice who used to have a foreign policy portfolio but is now White House domestic policy czar and R. James Woolsey who was Bill Clinton’s CIA Director in the early 1990s. The latter two are kind of head scratchers. Rice quickly tweeted that the ban meant she would be unable to take her family on Spring Break to their favorite AirBnB in Siberia.  When he was at the Agency, Woolsey famously could not get an appointment to see Bill Clinton. Now, apparently, he won’t be able to get in to see Vladimir Putin either. Woolsey’s recent book claimed that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev personally ordered JFK’s murder – so maybe his addition to the Moscow persona non grata list is payback of sorts.

KASH AND CARRIED AWAY:  Veteran Washington Post journalist David Ignatius had a very long story last weekend about “How Kash Patel rose from obscure Hill staffer to key operative in Trump’s battle with the intelligence community.” While Patel may be unknown to most Americans, he was a frequent subject of items in The Dead Drop, including when he left Congressman Devin Nunes’ staff to go to the NSC, and nearly was made acting number two at the CIA until Director Gina Haspel put the kibosh on the Patel putsch. Subsequent stories suggested that if Patel had become CIA Deputy, he would have quickly been elevated to Acting Director following a planned ousting of Haspel herself. The latest Ignatius opinion piece pulls the whole story together. But don’t tackle it until you have some time to spare – as we mentioned, it is a LONG story. Ignatius ends the cautionary tale by saying “As bad as this story was, in other words, it could have been much worse.”

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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