Dead Drop: February 10

BAER TRUTH? We’ve gotten a lot of responses to the opinion piece published in The Cipher Brief by three former CIA Counterintelligence Chiefs who weighed in with their expert perspective on author Robert Baer’s claim in his book, The Fourth Man, that former CIA officer Paul Redmond was a probable KGB spy. Our Dead Drop spies tell us that Redmond has written his own review of the book, set to be published in the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, in March. However, we hear that the Journal is giving readers an early sneak peek. Titled, The Ghost of Angleton, the review/rebuttal points out substantive issues with Baer’s reporting.  We hope Baer does a better job researching the claims he makes as a contributor for CNN – which used to call itself ‘the most trusted name in news’.  Since Baer is on the CNN payroll, we don’t anticipate that the network will put a whole lot of effort into exploring the accuracy of his reporting.

WHO’S A GOOD BOY?  Everybody loves a shaggy dog story – and there is one in former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller’s just released memoir, Soldier Secretary: Warnings from the Battlefield & the Pentagon about America’s Most Dangerous Enemies. According to early accounts, Miller describes the scene in Washington when Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi met his maker. The ISIS leader was killed in a raid in Syria, as officials monitored the operation in real time from the White House Situation Room.  Miller writes that then-President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, former National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley were among those present. Miller says that First Lady Melania Trump dropped in unexpectedly too, so like a gentleman, Miller (who was Director of the National Counterterrorism Center at the time) gave her his seat as a U.S. assault force cornered Baghdadi and unleashed their combat dog. Miller says that faced with the fierce fido, al-Baghdadi “detonated a suicide vest, killing himself, his two children and two of his wives.”  After the action ended, Miller says that then-President Trump asked those present what he should say to the American people about it and, that Mrs. Trump “took over” the conversation, telling the president: “You should talk about the dog,” adding “Everyone loves dogs.” Trump followed that advice and had the dog (named “Conan”) eventually brought to the White House where he was given an award and lauded for doing “such a great job in capturing and killing the leader of ISIS.”  Maybe just further evidence that Trump-era press messaging really went to the dogs.

“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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