Dead Drop: August 2

IF THE DNI CALLS, GET HIS (OR HER) NAME:  We are old enough to remember when The Dead Drop was commenting on the remarkable game of musical chairs being played among the Defense Department’s top leadership. That was two weeks ago. Then the Intelligence Community said: “Hold my beer.”  Over the weekend, the President tweeted that DNI Dan Coats would be stepping down and that he intended to nominate relatively unknown member of Congress John Ratcliffe to fill his shoes.  Trump added to the mystery by saying he would soon announce who would be acting DNI after Coats departs on August 15. Normally, common sense (and perhaps the law) would have suggested that the Principal Deputy DNI, Sue Gordon, would fill that role while waiting for Senate confirmation of the president’s pick but we do not live in normal times. There are rumors floating around that the president plans to temporarily replace Coats with Peter Hoekstra, who is a former chairman of the House intelligence committee (a committee Ratcliffe has served on for seven months.) Hoekstra is currently U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands which would make his temporary DNI assignment a rough commute.  Then came word that Ratcliffe’s somewhat thin résumé might have been embellished.  And then President Trump told reporters that he liked Dan Coats but his DNI was somewhat confused and that he was nominating Ratcliffe to square away the IC because the intelligence agencies had “run amok”.  No doubt Ratcliffe will call on his experience as mayor of Heath, Texas (pop. 8000) to corral the fractious 100,000+ members of the IC.

NUNES PAL GETS CT JOB AT NSC: The Daily Beast reports that a former staffer for then-House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, Kash Patel, has recently become the Senior Director of the Counterterrorism Directorate at the National Security Council. Patel gained some limited fame in early 2018 when he was dispatched to London to try to meet with dossier author Christopher Steele. He was reportedly the author of a memo accusing law enforcement officials of having bias against Donald Trump. The memo played a role in Nunes’ eventual decision to recuse himself from HPSCI investigations into the Russian election meddling matter. Oddly, according to The Daily Beast, a spokesperson for the NSC (not usually a clandestine organization) declined to comment on Patel’s latest appointment.

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