Dead Drop: October 7

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE:  The last time we checked, The Philippines was a U.S. ally.  You might not know that based on recent statements from its President Rodrigo Duterte.  According to the Manila Star newspaper, Duterte was giving a speech last week to the Filipino ex-pat community in Hanoi when he told the audience that the CIA is planning on killing him. Over the weekend, another Filipino news organization reported that the U.S. embassy in Manila “refused to comment” on the allegation.  Duterte is also said to have promised recently that while the existing military treaty with the United States would stand, he would no longer hold war games that “China does not want.”  AFP reported on Sunday that Duterte apologized for some other recent comments when he compared himself to Hitler “but said he did nothing wrong and reiterated his desire to kill millions of drug addicts.”  The good news is that the United States does not have the market cornered of politicians saying crazy things.

FORMER CIA DIRECTOR CAUGHT JASON BOURNE: The CIA Officers Memorial Foundation  (CIAOMF) hosted its first-ever West Coast fundraising dinner in Los Angeles last week. The dinner featured a stirring keynote speech by former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta and honored Legendary Pictures Founder and CEO, Thomas Tull, for his support of the community.  The CIAOMF provides educational assistance and other emergency financial assistance to the children and spouses of CIA officers who die in the line of duty.  (As it turns out that CIA families don’t get the same benefits as families of military members).   Leave it to the CIA vets to have a trick up their sleeve for the dinner.  Actors Matt Damon and Bryan Cranston surprised the crowd by showing up to present the Patriot Award to Tull. Massachusetts-native Damon joked that Tull was now an official “Patriot,” something that we doubt went over well with the honoree who is a part owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Damon also joked that a lot of people might be shocked to see Jason Bourne standing in front of a room full of CIA people, but he shared that very few people knew that Jason Bourne had already been captured by the CIA, referring to the time that former Agency Director Michael Hayden stopped by the White House while Damon was filming a Bourne movie.  Damon joked that Jason Bourne being captured by the CIA shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, “After all,” he said, “the CIA always gets its man.”

SPOTTED WITH JASON BOURNE: The dinner was chock full of patriots and ex-spooks as it turns out, including John McLaughlin, Rodney Faraon, Michael Sulick, John Pereira, Fran Moore, and others.

PAUL SHAFFER EMCEES SPOOKSTOCK: Speaking of insider events supporting the intelligence community, the Dead Drop hears that an invitation-only music festival is slated for sometime at the end of October in the Northern Virginia area.  The ‘Spookstock’ event is billed as a “Battle of the Bands” benefit for the aforementioned charity as well as the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and CareSOC.  Spookstock was co-founded by Skunk Baxter (of the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan fame) and we hear that Paul Shaffer (long-time musical director of Late Night with David Letterman)  will emcee.  The Steve Miller Band will close out the show.  It’s a tough ticket to get, as the event is only open to SIS/SES and C-suite levels, who should secretly contact “Pack” at the Spookstock Foundation at [email protected] OR (202) 997-6169.  Tell him you got his contact info from The Dead Drop.  He’ll love that.

COLLATERAL DAMAGE: Speaking of Hollywood, as we so often do, Deadline Hollywood reports that two Tinseltown producers have acquired the rights to “Collateral Damage: Petraeus, Power, Politics and the Abuse of Privacy,” a memoir written by Jill Kelley. They plan to create “a limited TV series” that will rehash the Petraeus, Broadwell, Kelley brouhaha that made such big news about four years ago. One of the producers is quoted as saying, “Nothing is missing from this true story…It has it all: a scorned ex-mistress entrapping the sitting director of the CIA, the FBI secretly reading CIA private communications for over six months, and holding back evidence during an historic presidential election… Add in sexual intrigue, exposed cover-ups, and the fact that even today, new information is being revealed, and we have a story for a very wide audience.”

THE IT FACTOR: The Hollywood Reporter tells us that Mel Gibson is in talks to star in a “multi-generational” action-adventure film called, Every Other Weekend, about a man who convinces his son he is a CIA spy – but actually only works in the IT department. While on a father-son trip to Paris, “the two find themselves in a life-threatening adventure in which secrets are spilled… Gibson will play the grandfather, who actually is a spy.”

SON OF MAN OVERBOARD: Back in January, The Dead Drop told you that the paragons of political correctness at the Navy Department were studying how to wash that man right out of their titles.  Published accounts said they wanted to quit calling certain sailors “Seamen” or “Airmen” or “Yeomen” or “Midshipmen.” Well, apparently they haven’t quite finished that project yet – but last week, Secretary Ray Mabus and other senior officials announced a related dismantling of naval history. According to Navy Times, the sea service deep-sixed over 200 years of tradition by getting rid of all of their rating titles.  In the past, a sailor might be called “Petty Officer Second Class Smith” – and if so qualified, “Gunner’s Mate Second Class Smith.”  Now the Gunner’s Mates are gone, the Boatswain’s Mates are bye-bye. Navy Times says the decision sparked widespread outrage in the fleet.  One commenter took to the Chief of Naval Operations’ Facebook page to write, “Respectfully, this is the stupidest decision ever.”  Well, on the bright side – they did say, “respectfully.”

POCKET LITTER: (Little stray items you might have missed – or wished you had)

  • DEBATE FIXED: Conspiracy theorist extraordinaire Alex Jones says the next presidential debate is “fixed” against his favored candidate, Donald Trump, because moderator Anderson Cooper of CNN is “admittedly CIA.” Cooper WAS an intern at CIA while in college nearly 30 years ago and says the work was “bureaucratic and mundane.” How dare the CIA not send the interns out on exciting missions!
  • OPERATION AVALANCHE: There is a “mockumentary” movie out about how two young CIA officers supposedly faked the 1969 moon landing.  The filmmakers fooled NASA into letting them film in the space agency’s real world command center and even convinced interviewees to wear 1960s era eyeglasses while being interviewed. It could have been worse – at least they weren’t able to con their way into the CIA’s op center.
  • PAPER CHASE: The CIA is being sued because when they satisfy Freedom of Information Act requests, they allegedly opt to send the requester mountains of actual paper printouts rather than providing a more user friendly digital version.

WHAT’S ON THEIR NIGHTSTAND?   (Each week, one of our contributors divulges what s/he is currently reading.)

John McLaughlin, former Acting Director and Deputy Director of the CIA:

I’m re-reading The Best and Brightest by David Halberstam, one I first read years ago. Although theme of the book is how we escalated our way into the Vietnam War, it speaks more generally to politics and power in Washington in ways that resonate powerfully with today.  Anyone in the national security field should read it – or re-read it – especially right now. 


“I would just say to any of those out there considering whether or not to try to harm the United States through cyber means, we have a message, which is: we can figure out who did it, and when we do, we’re not afraid to impose consequences, and we will.”

-Assistant U.S. Attorney General John Carlin speaking to NPR.