Dead Drop: June 14

GENTLEMEN DON’T SPY WITH AUTOCRAT’S BROTHERS: That seems to be the message from President Trump that has a lot of intelligence community alumni scratching their heads.  Earlier this week The Wall Street Journal carried reports that Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, may have been working on behalf of the CIA (and possibly other intelligence services) when the North Korean dictator ordered him executed via the VX nerve agent. When asked about the reports on Tuesday, President Trump told gathered reporters that he had just seen the story and his message to Kim Jung Un “that would not happen under my auspices.  That’s for sure. I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices.” Former Obama NSC official Samantha Vinograd’s reaction to the remarks on CNN:  “Who’s side is he on?” The president responded to a question on Wednesday about whether he was committing to not spying on North Korea. “No, it’s not what I meant, it’s what I said and it’s different than maybe, your interpretation,” he said.  Well, that clears that up.

NOT SURE THAT’S GONNA FLY: Secrecy News says that the Intelligence Community Inspector General is considering requesting authority from Congress to be able to issue subpoenas compelling reporters and others to testify in leak investigations. The Justice Department’s track record of compelling journalists to testify in criminal investigations is spotty at best – so the notion that Congress would grant such subpoena authority to a branch of the ODNI seems to us, highly improbable.

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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