Dead Drop: March 6

DOC IN A BOX: Doctor Shakeel Afridi is the Pakistani MD who allegedly helped the CIA track down Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. He has been languishing behind bars in Pakistan since 2011 and now, according to AFP, has launched a hunger strike from his prison cell to protest his treatment.  Afridi was sentenced to 33 years in prison in May 2012. His sentence was later reduced to ten years. The doctor has reportedly had no access to his lawyer for years. During the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump said he would “order” Pakistan to free the doctor if he were elected.  Since then, AFP says there has been no comment from the White House.  The Cipher Brief covered the story last September 11, explaining how a valuable US asset became a liability.

PRESIDENTIAL CHEERING SECTION: Some military veterans we talked with were surprised to see an official DOD tweet the other day lauding the recently agreed to “Joint Declaration” aimed at ending a couple decades worth of hostilities in Afghanistan. Praising government negotiated deals (good and bad) is not unusual – but this tweet started with “Thanks to @POTUS Trump’s leadership, we are finally making substantial progress toward ending our nation’s longest war.”  It is unusual to see the Pentagon single out Presidential leadership. “If some civilian ordered that tweet,” one military veteran told us, “it may be a Hatch Act violation.” Needless to say, with the deal already falling apart, from a pure marketing perspective, we’re not so sure this one is a winner.  Just sayin’.

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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