Last year, intelligence officials learned something alarming, and alerted their stations globally: Assets, or in this case, foreign nationals recruited globablly to collect intel for the United States, were being pulled off the chess board by being captured or killed at unusual rates.
As it turns out, and as one might expect, the C.I.A runs a tight ship when it comes to protecting its assets.
A breach of the classified communications system, or “covcom,” used by the C.I.A. helped to expose the agency’s networks in China and in Iran, according to former officials. In both cases informants were executed. Others had to be extracted and resettled by the agency.
Top American counterintelligence officials warned every C.I.A. station and base around the world last week about troubling numbers of informants recruited from other countries to spy for the United States being captured or killed, people familiar with the matter said.
The message, in an unusual top secret cable, said that the C.I.A.’s counterintelligence mission center had looked at dozens of cases in the last several years involving foreign informants who had been killed, arrested or most likely compromised. Although brief, the cable laid out the specific number of agents executed by rival intelligence agencies — a closely held detail that counterintelligence officials typically do not share in such cables.
That article is from October 7th, 2021 and outlines a disturbing trend that began only after one Donald Trump became President. In fact, it had been known for some time that there was a problem. It also was not unknown across the pond. There, a reporter is a bit more direct in their angle, questioning is a “super-mole” was betraying our spies.
But let us first consider the loaded term that is the C.I.A. It has been fodder for conspiracy kooks since the darkest day in Dallas, and has been so trivialized as to become sort of a cliche. Nevertheless, clandestine and shadowy though it may be, it serves a real purpose. So what exactly does the agency do? Speaking only broadly, of course?
Calling themselves the first line of defense, this is from the agency site:
We give U.S. leaders the intelligence they need to keep our country safe.
As the world’s premier foreign intelligence agency, the work we do at CIA is vital to U.S. national security. We collect and analyze foreign intelligence and conduct covert action. U.S. policymakers, including the President of the United States, make policy decisions informed by the information we provide.
So we will go with, really, really important stuff.
Fast forward to Friday, and a redacted affidavit becoming public relations lava flowing too fast for an older man’s feet.
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s search of former President Donald J. Trump’s Florida home was spurred by the discovery that he had retained a trove of highly classified material that included documents related to the use of “clandestine human sources” in intelligence gathering, according to a redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant. In those boxes, they found a total of 184 documents with classification markings, including 25 labeled “top secret.” Others were marked in a way suggesting they were related to foreign intercepts collected under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
What stands out there obviously is “clandestine human sources.” There is a reason you keep reading about that angle. I am not going to dance around this, and here is where the NYT detonates on Trump:
C.I.A. espionage operations inside numerous hostile countries have been compromised in recent years when the governments of those countries have arrested, jailed and even killed the agency’s sources.
Last year, a top-secret memo sent to every C.I.A. station around the world warned about troubling numbers of informants being captured or killed, a stark reminder of how important human source networks are to the basic functions of the spy agency.
There is growing speculation that Trump will soon be charged for crimes involving taking the documents, and espionage. I can not independently verfiy that, and can myself make no formal accusation based on information I would not be privy to. However many inside the beltway feel these actions would not have been taken unless something nefarious had been done with the documents, and that the D.O.J. has proof of that. Perhaps on the video. This is from the first NYT link above:
Some of the documents, the affidavit said, were from the Sensitive Compartmented Information programs, a designation that is one of the most tightly restricted categories of secrecy. Still others had been labeled “originator controlled,” meaning they could not be held without the approval of the intelligence community. Several of the documents, the affidavit said, contained what appeared to be Mr. Trump’s handwritten notes.
But agents were most alarmed to discover that many of the materials included the highest national security restrictions, requiring they be held in controlled government storage facilities, and barring them from ever being shared with foreign governments, to protect “clandestine human sources,” or informants employed by the intelligence community to collect information around the world.
But we are not in darkness, and we are not obtuse. We can figure out two plus two. We can also go back in history to see what we know for a fact happened. In 2019, CNN reported about a secret mission carried out by the U.S. to extract a covert source that was operating inside of the Russian government.
In a previously undisclosed secret mission in 2017, the United States successfully extracted from Russia one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government, multiple Trump administration officials with direct knowledge told CNN.
A person directly involved in the discussions said that the removal of the Russian was driven, in part, by concerns that President Donald Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.
The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been provided by Israel.
So I have a question for all of us.
How much is known about this problem globally? According to The Guardian, it is not a secret.
Donald Trump was cultivated as a Russian asset over 40 years and proved so willing to parrot anti-western propaganda that there were celebrations in Moscow, a former KGB spy has told the Guardian.
Yuri Shvets, posted to Washington by the Soviet Union in the 1980s, compares the former US president to “the Cambridge five”, the British spy ring that passed secrets to Moscow during the second world war and early cold war.
In 1986, I was not yet ten years-old, my grandfather was still alive, and I was trying to figure out long division. While all of this was going on, a megalomaniac was on the rise in American politics, and decided there was only one place for his “prodigious” talents: Russia.
“He already had Russia mania in 1986, 31 years ago,” asserts Bernard Lown, a Boston-area cardiologist known for inventing the defibrillator and sharing the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize with a top Soviet physician in recognition of their efforts to promote denuclearization. Lown, now 95 and retired in Newton, Massachusetts, tells The Hollywood Reporter that Trump sought and secured a meeting with him in 1986 to solicit information about Mikhail Gorbachev. (Gorbachev had become the USSR’s head of state — and met with Lown — the year before.) During this meeting, Lown says, the fast-rising businessman disclosed that he would be reaching out to then-President Ronald Reagan to try to secure an official post to the USSR in order to negotiate a nuclear disarmament deal on behalf of the United States, a job for which Trump felt he was the only one fit.
“He said to me, ‘I hear you met with Gorbachev, and you had a long interview with him, and you’re a doctor, so you have a good assessment of who he is,'” Lown recalls. “So I asked, ‘Why would you want to know?’ And he responded, ‘I intend to call my good friend Ronnie,’ meaning Reagan, ‘to make me a plenipotentiary ambassador for the United States with Gorbachev.’ Those are the words he used. And he said he would go to Moscow and he’d sit down with Gorbachev, and then he took his thumb and he hit the desk and he said, ‘And within one hour the Cold War would be over!’ I sat there dumbfounded. ‘Who is this self-inflated individual? Is he sane or what?'”
Just what is on that video of Mar-A-Lago? Who entered the storage areas? What are the hand-written notes on that document, that led to immediate instances of redactions on the affidavit?
This is not “just” about documents. And when the truth comes to light, America may never be the same.
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