Dead Drop: October 11

THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN: Here at The Dead Drop we are old enough to remember when Republicans were the most outspoken supporters of the Intelligence Community and the Democrats – not so much.  Now the roles are very much reversed.  For example, Senator Ron Johnson (R, WI)  was on Meet the Press recently. When asked by moderator Chuck Todd “So, do you not trust the FBI? Do you not trust the CIA?” Johnson shouted: “No, no, I don’t. Absolutely not. After Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, after James Comey?!”  Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has become a big champion of the IC. (At least the whistleblowing parts of it.) But, back in 2009 she got into a big dust up with the CIA claiming the Agency had never told her about waterboarding while the CIA insisted that she had been fully briefed. Speaking of the CIA then she said: “They mislead us all the time.”

STATE OF DISARRAY: It is not just the intelligence community that is under fire from some sectors of the chattering and governing classes.  The State Department has been taking a lot of heat. The Washington Post describes Foggy Bottom as “deeply shaken” by the current state of affairs with morale plummeting. The recalling of career ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, from her post in Ukraine (reportedly at the direction of President Trump) was one blow.  And as many as 130 department officials were recently told they are under scrutiny for their handling of emails sent to Hillary Clinton years ago – another morale buster. Inevitably, the leadership and management style of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is getting some attention. Last week, NBC News correspondent Richard Engel launched a couple tweets saying former intelligence officials told him when Pompeo was CIA Director he was “a bully to subordinates, driving some to quit or seek new assignments.” Engel quotes one anonymous Agency veteran as saying: “throwing binders was a popular sport.”  In another tweet Engel said ex-officials told him Pompeo had fits of anger while at CIA, often when “analysis didn’t match the political theme of the day.”  As a result, there were “Lots of slammed phones + demands for polygraphs.” (Remember that polygraph threat – it will come up again in this edition of The Dead Drop.)

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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