Dead Drop: May 15

THE BOYS ARE BACK: Long-time readers of The Dead Drop will remember that we had several items in recent years about Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a 30-something, staffer on the NSC early in the Trump administration. Cohen-Watnick was one of the “Flynn-stones” – someone brought in by the first Trump National Security Advisor, Mike Flynn. He was accused of (and later denied) inappropriately funneling information to House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes. Cohen-Watnick reportedly got cross-threaded with National Security Advisor #2, H.R. McMaster, and eventually left the NSC.  Now, 34, he is back in a new role as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for counter narcotics and global defense. Another new arrival at the Pentagon is Michael Cutrone, formerly a career CIA analyst, who has spent the past three years working on the Vice President’s staff. Cutrone has taken a new political job in DOD “aimed at consolidating control over policy and messaging.” Some officials told Foreign Policy that they fear his role is to weed out civilians not sufficiently loyal to the president.

VOICING DISPLEASURE: Acting DNI Ric Grenell announced some changes to the structure of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence this week. The changes included creating a new DNI advisor for military affairs, combining several existing cyber organizations into one, and “sunsetting” some national security partnerships. Voice of America intelligence correspondent Jeff Seldin reported that Senate Intelligence Committee officials were displeased because the changes were not coordinated with them. Grenell quickly responded via Twitter chastising Seldin saying “@VOA should call US government agencies first before pushing erroneous information,” adding: “The ODNI team called and notified the Senate teams.” Just spitballing here – but could it be that the disconnect is the difference between “notifying” the Senate overseers and “coordinating” with them before a decision was made.

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