Dead Drop: October 14

DUTERTE DOUBLES DOWN: Last week, we mentioned some of the crazy things Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has been saying – including floating the notion that the CIA might assassinate him. In recent days, Duterte challenged the CIA to overthrow him.  According to the Manila Times, he said, “You want to oust me? You want to use the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency)? Go ahead. I said, I will put at stake my honor, my life and the presidency. What happens to me is really a part of my destiny. If I am ousted, then that is part of my presidency…” Sounds like he is using some of Donald Trump’s speechwriters.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS:  As Yogi Berra once said, “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”  But CIA Deputy Director for Digital Innovation, Andrew Hallman, is trying to do something about that.  Hallman recently said that, as a result of improvements in handling big data, “We have, in some instances, been able to improve our forecast to the point of being able to anticipate the development of social unrest and societal instability, some I think as near as three to five days out.”

BERLIN STATION: The premium cable channel known as “EPIX” is launching a new TV series on Sunday called “Berlin Station.”  Reuters describes “Berlin Station” as “a modern spy drama centered on a CIA ‘agent’ who is brought to Berlin to uncover a leak in CIA operations from the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.” The Dead Drop was definitely planning on tuning in (if we could figure out what EPIX is) when we heard the star of the show is “Richard Armitage.”  Alas, it turns out there is an actor by that name – and the series does not feature the former Deputy Secretary of State.

Attention Intelligence Community counterterrorism analysts!  Looking for a career outside of government but using your current skillset?  Have we got a tip for    you!  ExecutiveGov tells us that Facebook is looking to hire a “counterterrorism research analyst” to work with their team in DC.  According to the Facebook announcement, in the new post you would “be responsible for helping drive our efforts around identifying the latest tools, tactics, and infrastructure used by terrorist actors as they affect Facebook and its ecosystems to better defend against and disrupt these threats.” No word on whether you would get all of the famous Facebook employment perks which (at least at their CA HQ) include free food, free dry cleaning, and a $4000 bonus if you make a baby.  

POCKET LITTER: Stray threads and stray thoughts.

  • SO THAT’S WHAT HE IS DOING THESE DAYS – You know those spam emails promising a windfall of cash that has been mysteriously left to you?  We got one this week promising $9.5 million from a banker calling himself “Bowe Bergdahl.”
  • BURR SPUR: The Charlotte Observer says that Senator Richard Burr of NC is relying on his leadership of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence as one of the prime arguments for his reelection in a tight race.
  • OH THAT KIM:  Headline in NY Post’s Page Six scared us – saying “Kim’s new security to include ex-CIA, ex-Secret Service.”  The Dead Drop was relieved to read that security alumni are NOT protecting Kim Jung-un – but rather Kim Kardashian.
  • DOPEY THEORY: British tabloid The Daily Star reports “exclusively” that the CIA got rock start Kurt Cobain hooked on heroin and then killed him in 1994. The paper cites a new book which also claims that: “John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix and Tupac – (were also) targeted by the CIA to stop a leftist ideology spreading through the US using music and entertainment.”
  • BUILD A WALL? Among the revelations of the WikiLeaks dump of thousands of John Podesta’s emails: evidence that the Hillary Clinton campaign chairman is very interested in UFOs. Question for the next debate: How would a Hillary administration protect us from space aliens?

WHAT’S ON THEIR NIGHTSTAND?   (A new Dead Drop feature where each week, we’ll ask our contributors to tell us about what they’re currently reading)

Daniel Markey, Senior Research Professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies:

Not War, Not Peace? by George Perkovich and Toby Dalton. It’s especially timely because we’re seeing a new round of escalating tension between Pakistan and India. But the book goes well beyond the headlines in discussing the various ways India might get Pakistan to end cross-border terrorism. Even for readers who aren’t very interested in South Asia, the book provides a sober assessment of the options – and limits—states face when they try to compel other states into changing their strategies.


Mike Hayden, former CIA and NSA Director:  

I was absolutely stunned that Mr. Trump said, if elected President, he would jail his political opponent.  That smacks at what happens in very, very immature, or faux democracies.”