Welcome to the first anniversary edition of The Dead Drop. And they said it would never last. Or maybe that was “it should never last.” In any case – here we are with the latest edition of The Dead Drop.
DEADLY LEAKS? At the end of a fairly routine story on Monday morning about the number of leak referrals the Intelligence Community sends to the Justice Department each year, Secrecy News mentioned a little-noticed passage in former CIA General Counsel John Rizzo’s book, “Company Man,” which asserts that a 1995 New York Times story about CIA “dirty assets” contained information which, Rizzo said, led to the death of a foreign U.S. intelligence agent. But within an hour or two of their initial item, Secrecy News posted an “addendum” in which they apologized and said they shouldn’t have repeated Rizzo’s “outrageous” allegation because “The (NY Times) story, which dealt with an issue of current public debate, was carefully reported by the Times to exclude identifying details that might have placed individuals in danger.” And they added that then-CIA General Counsel Jeff Smith was quoted in the story so clearly it must have been OK, right? Maybe not. Secrecy News posted a “Second Update” on July 26 which quoted ex-CIA officials Smith and Rizzo saying they were dismayed at Secrecy News’s backtracking and the blog apologizing for relaying Rizzo’s anecdote. They chastised Secrecy News: “Had you spoken to us, who actually know what happened, we would have told you that we stand by the passage in John’s book.” The Dead Drop has checked with several other former intelligence officials who tell us Rizzo was dead right when he said that 1996 New York Times story unintentionally, but in fact did, result in the death of a CIA asset.
POKÉMON GO ON! Yes, it is true, social media conspiracy theorists are convinced that the wildly (and inexplicably) popular online game “Pokémon GO” is all a CIA plot. The game reportedly was created by Niantic Labs (later absorbed by Google), and they are led by a guy named John Hanke. Hanke, who previously ran the mapping company Keyhole, which received some of its initial funding from CIA’s venture capital arm In-Q-Tel. So as you can plainly see – this whole thing is a CIA plot to get millions of people around the world to wander around aimlessly bumping into things while trying to earn virtual reality eggs and Poké balls. Why would the CIA be doing this? Anyone’s guess. Vladimir Putin’s Sputnik News Service recently reported that Pokémon Go players have recently wandered into deadly minefields in Bosnia – so maybe it is a cynical mine clearing project. Meanwhile, other Russian leaders seem to blame the CIA. Breitbart News reported that some are “suggesting it is an American intelligence-gathering project and other(s) attributing it to Satan himself.”
BRIEF INTERRUPTION: The Russians may have a point…about Satan. Witness a regular press briefing at the State Department last week when spokesman John Kirby was reading a statement about U.S. efforts against ISIS. He stopped in mid-sentence to accuse a reporter present of playing Pokémon Go during the briefing. The reporter admitted it but said he didn’t capture his target due to poor WIFI in the room. You have to watch the video to believe this.
GAME OF DRONES: RT (the Putin controlled television network previously known as “Russia Today”) debuted a new documentary this week called, “Game of Drones: CIA license to kill?” The Dead Drop has not had a chance to review the whole film yet – but the promo (seen here) makes clear the spin RT is putting on it saying, “The attacks are far from precise and it’s claimed they have often killed or maimed civilians, including children. Campaigners say that the constant presence of such an imminent yet clandestine threat from the sky causes deep psychological harm to the region’s population.”
LIFE’S A GAME: We recently stumbled across a story on Star2.com about a board game called “Labyrinth: The War on Terror 2001-?” that was designed by veteran CIA analyst Volko Ruhnke, Turns out the game has been out for a couple of years – and Ruhnke has also created several others. According to the Amazon.com description, “Labyrinth takes 1 or 2 players inside the Islamist jihad and the global war on terror. With broad scope ease of play and a never-ending variety of event combinations… Labyrinth portrays not only the US efforts to counter extremists use of terrorist tactics but the wider ideological struggle guerrilla warfare regime change democratization and much more.” Amazon also says the sale price for the game is $119.99, so The Dead Drop will stick to just watching the real thing play out on TV.
CBS GOING TO TOWNSEND: CBS News announced on Tuesday that former senior government official Fran Townsend has joined the network as “Senior National Security Analyst.” Townsend spent 13 years working in DOJ and was Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism from May 2004 to January 2008 during the Bush ’43 administration. After leaving government she served as a national security analyst for CNN.
SHOCK AND AWE UPDATE: Last week, The Dead Drop told you about some of the actors being signed up for the upcoming movie “Shock and Awe,” about a group of reporters who cast doubt on the intelligence leading up to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. But we said we didn’t know who would play whom. Well, one of our well-connected readers knows – and here is what we were told: Woody Harrelson is set to play reporter Jonathan Landay. James Marsden is in negotiations to play journalist Warren Strobel. Tommy Lee Jones will play columnist Joe Galloway and Alec Baldwin will play editor John Walcott. Milla Jovovic is set to portray Landay’s then-wife Vlatka and Jessica Biel will play Strobel’s wife Lisa.
SERVICE THE DEAD DROP: If you’re secretly enjoying some of the nuggets stashed in The Dead Drop, how about contributing? Isn’t it time that you share one of those juicy little tidbits – or ironic observations you’ve been hoarding? Send your tips to TheDeadDrop@TheCipherBrief.com