Dead Drop: February 26

A COMPLIMENT FOR THE CIA: Eliot Higgins, the founder of the online investigation outfit “Bellingcat” has had a ton of successes – like uncovering the identities of Russian assassins who tried to poison Sergei Skripal or digging up details on Putin’s nearly successful attempt to kill opposition leader Alexei Navalny.  Higgins has a book publishing soon called, We are Bellingcat: Global Crime, Online Sleuths and the Bold Future of News.   The Cipher Brief hopes to get our hands on the book and review in the coming weeks. In an interview in The Guardian, Higgins reflected on one undesired result of his outfit’s big scoops: “People constantly accused me of being a liar or working for the CIA. It winds you up.”

NOW, HE TELLS US:  Former CIA Director Ambassador R. James Woolsey hooked up with the former acting chief of Romania’s espionage service, Lt. Gen Ion Mihai Pacepa, to produce a book called Operation Dragon: Inside the Kremlin’s Secret War on America. Their blockbuster conclusion is that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev personally instructed Lee Harvey Oswald to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. The book says the Soviets changed their minds, but Oswald ignored them, put his KGB training to use and went ahead anyway. The authors claim that all the information needed to prove their assertion is contained in the Warren Commission report. We wonder if all this evidence is out there – why it took a half century until someone dug up the answer to one of the biggest conspiracy theories of all time. If only Bellingcat was around in the 1960s. The New York Post says that Pacepa was the highest-ranking foreign intelligence officer ever to defect to the U.S. and that he died earlier this month. The cause was COVID.  Or was it?

“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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