Dead Drop: September 3

I LOVE THE SMELL OF NAPALM IN THE MORNING: Like just about everything else these days, the withdrawal from Afghanistan has resulted in deep division, anger, and rancor.  Look no further that Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller who posted a video last week saying that he was willing to sacrifice his military career in order to speak out and “demand accountability” of his uniformed bosses. In Scheller’s mind, someone much senior to him should have thrown their stars on the table and told the civilian leadership that they were going about the Afghanistan drawdown badly. Hours later the Marine Corps senior leadership acted – and relieved Scheller from his command.  Then the Marine posted another video – this time announcing that he was resigning his commission, essentially throwing away his 17-year investment toward a 20-year retirement.  He said he did not want anyone’s charity – and then gave out his wife’s Venmo account number.  Most memorably, perhaps, he talked about his time in Iraq which resulted in the smell of burning human excrement evoking in his mind the odor of bacon and eggs.

WITH ALL DUE RESPECT: Scheller was not alone in complaining about how things have been handled – so much so that the chief of staff in the Office of Naval Intelligence felt the need to send out a memo warning active duty and retired service members not to “disrespect” the president or other senior government leadership. While reminding uniformed personnel to steer clear of politics is not unusual – warning retired personnel not to speak badly about elected leaders is a new one on us.  We are confident that we could find numerous examples of retired folks having violated that guidance in each of the past several administrations.  As for active duty – fair enough – the uniformed services are not the State Department and don’t have a “dissent channel” – but good luck in telling retirees that they need to keep their lips zipped.

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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