Dead Drop: September 20

FOR WHOM THE WHISTLE BLOWS: DC insiders have been scratching their heads this week trying to figure out what is behind reports that the Acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, has refused to allow the House Intelligence Committee to be briefed about an “urgent” whistleblower complaint filed with the IC Inspector General on August 12th. There doesn’t appear to be any provision in the law to allow the DNI to block his IG from communicating with Congress but that seems to be what is happening.  HPSCI Chairman Adam Schiff told CBS News that Maguire was not complying because he was “instructed not to, that this involved a higher authority, someone above (him).” Hmm.  Wonder who that could be?

O’BRIEN WINS THE ROSE: Perhaps unsurprisingly, filling vacant senior administration positions recently has started to resemble TV reality shows. President Trump told a media pool on Air Force One Tuesday that he had narrowed the candidates to become National Security Advisor down to just five finalists. He identified them as:  Ricky Waddell, Robert O’Brien, Keith Kellogg, Fred Fleitz, and “Sue Gordon Hagerty.” White House aides later said Trump meant “Lisa Gordon-Hagerty” the Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security rather than Sue Gordon who recently stepped down as PDDNI.    Fleitz seemed like an odd choice for inclusion since he is a long-time acolyte of John Bolton who Trump just fired (or depending to whom you listen: forced to quit.) Picking Fleitz would be like marrying your ex-wife’s twin sister.  An hour or so after Trump’s announcing the last group of survivors on NSC Island, White House Press Secretary (and member of the witness protection program) Stephanie Grisham corrected the President to say there were actually MORE than five candidates left. But the next morning the President tweeted that he had picked O’Brien, Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department to become his 4th national security advisor. O’Brien’s claim to fame before this appointment was having been dispatched to Stockholm to try to spring rapper A$AP Rocky from the clutches of the Swedish authorities.

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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