Dead Drop: October 1

WIKI WAR WARNING?  Yahoo News story on Sunday created quite a splash. It alleged that in 2017, the U.S. considered kidnapping Wikileaks leader Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in the U.K. and imagined scenarios that might have included shoot outs in the streets of London or shooting out the tires of an aircraft that might be waiting to whisk Assange away to Moscow, or even assassination. The piece, by veteran correspondents Zach Dorfman, Sean Naylor and Michael Isikoff, tied the Assange angst to anger from then-CIA director Mike Pompeo who was reportedly outraged by the role that Wikileaks played in releasing the so-called “Vault 7” hacking tools used by the Agency. We’ve talked with a lot of experienced CIA alumni (none who were involved in this matter) and the consensus, was that the story overhyped the notion that the Agency might trigger gun battles less than two miles from Kensington Palace or open fire on Putin’s plane tires. “Pompeo might have asked for some creative recommendations,” one vet told us, “but anyone who seriously proposed those kinds of ideas would be better suited working in Hollywood than Langley.” The story is headlined: “Inside the CIA’s secret war plans against WikiLeaks” but about 90 paragraphs into the very lengthy piece, you find that suggestions of assassinating Assange were viewed inside the Agency as “unhinged and ridiculous.” The consensus from our sources is that one thing the Yahoo piece is likely to accomplish is increase the likelihood that Assange’s lawyers will be able to successfully fight his extradition to the U.S. The lack of official denials and condemnations of the story suggest that there must be a little “there, there” in the story – but maybe not as much as some would like to believe. On Wednesday, Pompeo also suggested that the authors should “…write such a novel” but undercut the cut – but adding “Whoever those 30 people who allegedly spoke with one of these reporters, they should all be prosecuted for speaking about classified activity inside the Central Intelligence Agency.”

MORE THAN A HALF CENTURY WITHOUT A PROMOTION:    Actor Daniel Craig has been made an honorary commander in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy – a rank equivalent to that held by James Bond in countless books and movies going back to the 1960s. In a press release, the Royal Navy quoted him thusly: Commander Craig said: “I am truly privileged and honoured to be appointed the rank of Honorary Commander in the senior service.”  It is perhaps not a coincidence that the appointment comes just ahead of the premiere of the latest Bond flick, “No Time to Die.” HMS Dragon, an air defense destroyer, appears in the movie.

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