The Dead Drop: July 26

IT’S OFFICIAL, THERE WILL BE A NEW DNI:  President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday that he is “pleased to announce that highly respected Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas will be nominated by me to be the Director of National Intelligence. A former U.S. Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves. Dan Coats, the current Director, will….”  “….be leaving office on August 15th. I would like to thank Dan for his great service to our Country. The Acting Director will be named shortly.”  A lot of people are left scratching their heads after the President’s last comment regarding the acting, mostly because apparently there is a law designating that the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence – in this case career Intelligence Officer Susan Gordon – be named as Acting Director if there is a vacancy. Others say that the appointment just has to be someone who is Senate-confirmed.  There are rumors that Peter Hoekstra, who is currently serving as Ambassador to the Netherlands, and is former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, may be asked to take on the acting role, but those rumors come with no explanation of why that would even be considered with Gordon there.  There are more questions circulating among the Intel Community on this announcement, including those from Cipher Brief Expert and former member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service, Steve Hall, who took a move from the President and posted this thoughts on Twitter:“I wonder what Ratcliffe will do the first time he sees intel (say, for example, on Russia or North Korea) that he knows Trump will hate.  Will he squash it?  Take it to Trump and say its BS?  His comments during the Mueller hearing do not give me the sense he’ll do the right thing”  Stay tuned to The Dead Drop for the latest gossip as this develops.  (updated 7-29)

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO US:  July 31st marks the fourth anniversary of The Dead Drop. Amazingly enough, this is the 209th edition of The Cipher Brief’s weekly roundup of national security and intelligence gossip, fun facts, news nuggets and predictions (one or two of which have come true.) Time flies. Among other things,  the first edition of The Dead Drop told you about the incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Joe Dunford. He is now the outgoing CJCS. With this milestone edition of The Dead Drop, you are probably saying to yourself:  What can I get them for their anniversary? Emily Post says that for the 25th anniversaries the appropriate gift is silver…and for the 50th gold.  But for the fourth? Fruit and flowers.  No thanks – they’d just spoil. But what you can do to help us celebrate #4 is send us a few news tips.  We promise to keep your identity to ourselves.

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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