Dead Drop: July 31

TIME FLIES: Five years ago this week, the very first Dead Drop appeared in The Cipher Brief. Those were (much) simpler days. At the time, we talked about surprise jockeying for the position of Commandant of the Marine Corps and speculation about why General John Kelly didn’t get the gig. (Just a few years later, Kelly got the consolation prize of being named Secretary of Homeland Security in the Trump Administration – and then White House Chief of Staff – and then he got the heave ho.) We also talked about a forthcoming Showtime documentary about CIA directors called The Spymasters. Now, the TV show has been turned into a book (which seems backwards.) The book version comes out this fall. Look for an Undercover book review in The Cipher Brief in September.  We also reported that the Secretary of the Navy at the time, Ray Mabus, was on a mission to throw out the first pitch at as many baseball parks as possible. Mabus hung up his spikes when President Obama left office. The Trump administration seems more intent on throwing out Navy Secretaries.  There have been five confirmed or acting Navy Secretaries (so far) in this administration. There have been plenty of twists in turns in the past 260 editions of The Dead Drop – and no doubt more to come.

SPEAKING OF OLD NEWS: The story of the mysterious sculpture known as “Kryptos” at CIA headquarters is one that seems to get re-discovered every year or so.  The stories are always the same: There is a secret code embedded in the piece of art at Langley – and it has still not been decoded. CNN reported on the uncracked message yet again last week.  Even Sputnik News picked up on the story (again). We were getting tired of this story and wouldn’t even bring it up – but then former CIA and DIA officer (and Cipher Brief expert) Doug Wise piped up on Twitter to reveal: “A couple of us case officers broke the code about 2 months after Kryptos was erected. However, at the time we didn’t know what the decryption meant: “person, woman, man, camera, TV.”

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