Dead Drop: August 19

PDB DROP: There was a time when the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) was considered the most secret of all secret documents never to see the light of day.  That changed last September when roughly 2500 PDBs from the Kennedy and Johnson administrations were declassified and publicly released. The openness trend continues next week when PDBs from the Nixon and Ford administrations are made available to the public.

The documents will be released at an event at the Nixon Library in California, which will include remarks from DNI Jim Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, and others. According to the Nixon Library, the documents “offer insight into intelligence that informed presidential decision-making during critical historical events, including: the Vietnam War, President Nixon’s Trip to China, the OPEC embargo, and the Arab-Israeli war.”

If you are planning on being in Yorba Linda next Wednesday, the event is open to the public, but you must register in advance. The documents will be posted on the CIA website the day of the symposium at this link.  

STARS IN THEIR EYES: A couple weeks ago Dead Drop mentioned the ongoing controversy about whether it is appropriate for former military officers and intelligence officials to endorse candidates and engage in political activity.  That debate still rages – joining former JCS Chairman Martin Dempsey condemning the practice  this week is his predecessor, Admiral Mike Mullen, who said former military leaders taking significant roles in campaigns “is a violation of the ethos and professionalism of apolitical military service.”  And yet others have noted that in previous election cycles,  past CJCS’s like Colin Powell and Bill Crowe enthusiastically endorsed political candidates without much blowback. But wait, there’s more.  The Dead Drop has learned that Senator John McCain’s campaign staff is circulating a letter among senior national security alumni seeking their endorsement in McCain’s tight Arizona senate race. Our sources tell us that General Jim Jones (former SACEUR and Obama National Security Advisor) and General Jack Keane (former Army Vice Chief and current Fox News analyst) are among those poised to sign the pro-McCain letter.

SHADOW BROKEN SILENCE: We will leave to others to dig into the substance of the story that broke earlier this week about the apparent hack of NSA by a group calling itself the “Shadow Brokers,” but we did notice that the event caused NSA bad boy Ed Snowden to stir. Snowden posted more than a dozen Tweets on August 16th alone – some suggesting that “circumstantial” evidence points to the Russians as the source of the alleged NSA hack. As Snowden himself noted, and as The Dead Drop mentioned  (and mocked) last week, reports saying  that Snowden may have been executed by his Russian hosts seem to be premature, at best.

 MUST SEA TV:  NBC News has named retired Admiral (and Cipher Brief Network member) James Stavridis as their “chief international security and diplomacy analyst.”  TVNewser quoted an internal NBC memo as their source.  Stavridis will still keep his day job, as Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts.  Dead Drop readers will recall that Stavridis was also among the handful of people vetted as possible VP candidates under Hillary Clinton. We understand that NBC had approached Stavridis about the talking head gig long before the Clinton campaign checked him out.

HOMELAND UPATE: The showbiz publication Variety reported last week on ten things it learned about the upcoming season of “Homeland” on Showtime. We won’t repeat all ten – but here are a few of note:  Quinn is alive – but hurting, having suffered a major stroke. Carrie is now working as an advocate for Muslims mistreated by U.S. law enforcement. And Saul Berenson and Dar Adal are in charge of briefing the new president-elect, Elizabeth Keane, the junior senator from NY.  But despite what you might think – show producers say Keane is not a Hillary knock-off. “She’s a little bit Hillary, a little bit Donald Trump, a little bit Bernie Sanders,” they say.

YOU DO KNOW JACK:  Speaking of Variety, the same publication informed us on Tuesday that Amazon has sprung for at least ten episodes of the new “Jack Ryan” series – based on Tom Clancy’s iconic CIA analyst who spends more time getting into and out of scrapes in the field than any clandestine service officer ever.  As the Dead Drop reported back in May, Ryan will be played by John Krasinski, who, you may recall, first rose to fame in the TV series, The Office. The program will run on Amazon Prime Video – but no word as to when it will premiere.