Dead Drop: July 7

GET OUT OF JAIL FREE TEXT: Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor who landed in a heap of trouble after shooting two Pakistani robbers in Lahore in January 2011, is out with a book explaining his side of the story. In The Contractor: How I landed in a Pakistani Prison and Ignited a Diplomatic Crisis, Davis claims that the then-head of Pakistani intelligence, General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, sat in the courtroom during his trial and was live-texting his U.S. counterpart, Leon Panetta. The Dead Drop is very reliably informed that this is untrue. But it is perhaps no surprise since Davis’s co-author is a guy named “Storms Reback” whose previous literary achievements include authoring a book titled: All In: The (Almost) Entirely True Story of the World Series of Poker. While Pasha and Panetta may not have been texting buddies – it has been reported that the U.S. paid approximately $2.3 million to the families of the dead robbers to get Davis out of Pakistan. And we note that Panetta provided a favorable blurb for the book.  The memoir is not going down so well in Pakistan, however.  AP reports that Pakistani intelligence officials told them that while they helped CIA get Davis out of Pakistan, “no such help would be given the CIA in the future.”

SNOWJOB: FX is coming out with a TV series called “Snowfall,” which asserts that the crack epidemic in South Central LA was the work of the CIA.  The film is said to fictionalize the work of the book Dark Alliance by journalist Gary Webb – which in turn was based on Webb’s 1996 reporting in the San Jose Mercury News.  Reports by the CIA and DOJ Inspector Generals at the time, as well as investigative reports in the New York Times, Washington Post, and elsewhere would suggest that Webb’s reporting was full of fiction too. 

SPY VS SPY VS COUNTERSPY:, continuing to mine the CIA’s CREST database, has uncovered a memo from former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft to General Alexander Haig that seems to suggest that former newspaper columnist Jack Anderson told U.S. government officials what journalist Bob Woodward was up to.  For our younger readers, Jack Anderson was a very influential syndicated columnist who broke many big national security stories in his day.  He was Bob Woodward before Bob Woodward.  For our MUCH younger readers – Bob Woodward was one of the journalists who led the coverage of the Watergate scandal for the Washington Post – and later broke many other major national security stories.  He now appears as a talking head on TV and often compares the “scandal of the day” to Watergate.

POCKET LITTER: Bits and pieces of interesting /weird stuff we discovered:

  • Mars Slave Colony:  You read that right.  According to Media Matters, Robert David Steele, who claims to be a former CIA clandestine service officer, appeared on Alex Jones’ Infowars program last week and said he believes “there is a colony on Mars that is populated by children who were kidnapped and sent into space on a 20-year ride. So that once they get to Mars they have no alternative but to be slaves on the Mars colony.”  The Dead Drop is somewhat skeptical of the claim – and not just because NASA has denied it.  We looked it up and apparently it would take only 150-300 days to fly to Mars, so why would NASA make this a “20-year ride?” Of course, traffic may be bad this time of year.
  • “Crackas with Servitude”: Andrew Otto Boggs, a 23-year-old North Carolina man, was sentenced to two years in prison last Friday for his role in hacking the personal computers of former CIA Director John Brennan and other government officials.  Boggs was part of a group that called itself “Crackas with Attitude.” One other member is awaiting sentencing in the U.S. and the group’s leader is facing prosecution in the UK.

NETWORK NEWS: Not a day goes by when members of The Cipher Brief Network aren’t making news.  This week was heavy on North Korea, here are a few examples:

  • Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell told CBS News that “there are no good options” either diplomatic or military to end North Korea’s military program.  Morell recommended additional sanctions and focus on missile defense programs.
  • Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Admiral James Stavridis, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday discussing when the “streams will cross” between North Korea’s ICBM and nuclear weapon programs – and what the U.S. can do about it.
  • And former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin was on MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” on Wednesday stressing the importance of taking into consideration the concerns of South Korea when the U.S. designs a policy to deal with the North.

WHAT’S ON THEIR NIGHTSTAND? (Our contributors tell us about what they’re currently reading)

Michael Morell, former Acting and Deputy Director of the CIA:

“I just finished reading The Red Bandanna by Tom Rinaldi.  It is the remarkable story of a volunteer New York firefighter who perished on 9/11, how his parents come to understand the last minutes of their son’s life, and how meaningful it was to them that Osama bin Laden was brought to justice.  When I read it, I was reminded of the exceptional work of those men and women at CIA, NSA, NGA, DoD, and the White House who made that latter moment possible.”


 “There are more challenges and more terrorism problems coming at us from more locations.  It feels like if the blanket is covering the bed, it’s not covering all four corners very well, so you end up tugging on the blanket to cover one part of the bed, and then you worry about leaving something else exposed. What are we not paying attention to? What are we not worried about?”

-Nick Rasmussen, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC)

DON’T BE SHY:  If you know any tidbits, just pass them along to us at: [email protected].  And don’t worry, who you are will remain a tightly held secret.