October 30

AND THE WINNER IS:  The Dead Drop hears that the National Defense University Foundation is giving its annual American Patriot Award this year to “the men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency.”

(Editorial Note: It’s about time they started getting applauded once in a while instead of smacked down for everything…)  The nonpartisan philanthropic NDUF was created to promote excellence in education at NDU, but don’t expect the entire CIA workforce to crowd the stage in order to accept the award.  Accepting on their behalf:  a black-tie clad John Brennan. The $1000-a plate event is a major fundraiser for NDUF.  In past years the award has gone to organizations like the National Guard and Special Operations Command and sometimes its gone to individuals including: Hillary Clinton, Bob Gates, George H. W. Bush and Colin Powell.

YOU’VE GOT (OLD) MAIL.  Much attention has been paid to stories about the CIA Director’s personal AOL account being hacked.  In case you didn’t get the brief: Wikileaks has been posting information stolen by a hacker calling himself “Cracka.” Press accounts imply that “Cracka” has emptied John Brennan’s AOL holdings.  But notice – as of this writing at least – NO emails have been released — only purported attachments – and the documents that have been posted all date back to 2007 and 2008 when Brennan was out of government.  Wikileaks also dumped out what they claim was Brennan’s contact list.  That too seems somewhat out of date.  Not saying they don’t have more recent stuff – but odd that they have failed to show it so far.  For all those saying Brennan should not have used a private account for official business – so far it seems it was NOT official business.  How about the sensitive data Wikileaks exposed from his draft SF-86 security clearance form?  That certainly seems a gross violation of the privacy of Brennan’s friends and family.  Note that the completed form was probably sent to OPM and (along with millions of other forms) probably didn’t stay secure there either. At least the Chinese didn’t post all the details on the Internet.

MOVING DAY. The Washington Post put out some neat video over the weekend of Pulitzer Prize winning, 82-year-old national security correspondent Walter Pincus going through his files that were stashed in the Post basement prior to the newspaper’s move to newer digs.  There is stuff from the Kennedy assassination investigation, the Aldrich Ames spy trial, 70 boxes in all.  Got the Dead Drop wondering, what else is in those boxes?

IN SEARCH OF A PLAN.  The Dead Drop told you last week that the Senate Armed Services Committee is looking to populate an aggressive hearing agenda for the rest of this year to draw attention to national security issues.  It looks like the House Armed Services Committee will be doing the same, scheduling some provocative hearings in the next couple of weeks emphasizing the absence of a coherent U.S. policy regarding Syria, ISIS, and the Middle East in general.

HOMELAND – EPISODE 4. Exit Wounds. OK, some of you got a little testy with us last week after we failed to put up a SPOILER ALERT, so if you’re like our ‘two-week behind the curve on TV shows’ CEO and the readers who wrote in, here’s your SPOILER ALERT.  Don’t read any further if you haven’t already seen the very latest episode of Homeland.  If you do, this will most definitely SPOIL it for you.  Alright, we did our job.  On with the program:

Remember that Carrie was rendered unconscious at the end of the last episode?  In this one she wakes up to find that she is tied up by Quinn whose job it is to kill her.  (Quinn is played by Rupert Friend. With a name like that, he is obviously a Brit in real life.)  Quinn has always had a soft spot in his heart for our gal – so he forgoes killing her for the moment and fakes a photo to convince his masters that he has carried out his mission.  Quinn says the kill order came from Saul…but Carrie doesn’t believe it…so he and Carrie (in disguise) go to the post office to see who empties the dead drop.  Surprise – it isn’t Saul but some Russian guy who shoots Quinn.  Carrie and Quinn kill the Ruskie and steal his phone.

Meanwhile – the colleage of the German hacker who stole files from CIA’s Berlin station gets the bright idea to sell the documents to the Russians.  The Russians express their thanks by killing said entrepreneur and his girlfriend. 

Meanwhile, the CIA assures its Israeli friends that it has gotten out of the business of regime change in the Middle East.  Ha! Just kidding.  A Syrian general’s daughter needs a kidney transplant – so the Agency creates a bogus private hospital in Germany to perform the surgery…where Saul can get General Youssef aside and tell him he has been selected by CIA to replace Bashar al-Assad.  Saul says he will be sending the General, his wife, the mended daughter, and ten million dollars in cash back to Syria to create a better world.  

Carrie & Quinn use a cell phone retrieved from the Russian assassin they killed earlier and call the only stored number – and its the CIA Berlin Station Chief (and Saul’s current lover) on the other end. She is at the airport bidding the General “auf wiedersehen.”  The Chief of Station answers the phone in Russian:  “Da.” Looks like she may be in bed with more than just Saul.  The General’s plane lifts off on its way back to Syria moments later, and shortly thereafter explodes. So much for that peace plan in Syria.

Nailed it.  It seems that the U.S. and CIA have no workable plan to unscrew the mess in Syria.  Yeah.  That sounds about right.

Failed it. If the U.S. did have a plan for regime change – it would not be solely the work of Saul and his boss – but would be a covert action plan signed off on by the President, briefed to the Congressional Oversight committees etc.  Also – if the hacker is smart enough to drain the files of the CIA Berlin Station – how come he and his co-conspirator are so dumb they have to pass documents to reporters and Russians by handing them thumb drives?  Can’t they figure out how to make electronic transfers and receive Bitcoin payments remotely to cut down on the likelihood of getting whacked right after delivery?

What hits or misses did you pick up?  You can slip them to The Dead Drop anonymously – no thumb drives required.  Send your thoughts to [email protected]