Dec 07

Spy vs Spy May Become Reality

It’s been fairly evident that Donald Trump loves conspiracy theories. His claims about the existence of a “deep state” of longtime government officials to undermine him and his administration has come up frequently in his statements. Of course, there is no evidence that this “deep state” even exists except in Trump’s paranoid mind. Unfortunately, he has surrounded himself with people who cater to his delusions. Two such people are CIA Director Mike Pompeo and former Blackwater founder Erik Prince, a former CIA officer and famous Iran-Contra scandal figure Oliver North. As was reported in The Intercept by Jeremy Scahill and Matthew Cole.

The Trump administration is considering a set of proposals developed by Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a retired CIA officer — with assistance from Oliver North, a key figure in the Iran-Contra scandal — to provide CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the White House with a global, private spy network that would circumvent official U.S. intelligence agencies, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials and others familiar with the proposals. The sources say the plans have been pitched to the White House as a means of countering “deep state” enemies in the intelligence community seeking to undermine Donald Trump’s presidency.

The creation of such a program raises the possibility that the effort would be used to create an intelligence apparatus to justify the Trump administration’s political agenda.

“Pompeo can’t trust the CIA bureaucracy, so we need to create this thing that reports just directly to him,” said a former senior U.S. intelligence official with firsthand knowledge of the proposals, in describing White House discussions. “It is a direct-action arm, totally off the books,” this person said, meaning the intelligence collected would not be shared with the rest of the CIA or the larger intelligence community. “The whole point is this is supposed to report to the president and Pompeo directly.”

North, who appears frequently on Trump’s favorite TV network, Fox News, was enlisted to help sell the effort to the administration. He was the “ideological leader” brought in to lend credibility, said the former senior intelligence official.

Some of the individuals involved with the proposals secretly met with major Trump donors asking them to help finance operations before any official contracts were signed.

The proposals would utilize an army of spies with no official cover in several countries deemed “denied areas” for current American intelligence personnel, including North Korea and Iran. The White House has also considered creating a new global rendition unit meant to capture terrorist suspects around the world, as well as a propaganda campaign in the Middle East and Europe to combat Islamic extremism and Iran. [..]

According to two former senior intelligence officials, Pompeo has embraced the plan and lobbied the White House to approve the contract. Asked for comment, a CIA spokesperson said, “You have been provided wildly inaccurate information by people peddling an agenda.”

At the heart of the scheme being considered by the White House are Blackwater founder Erik Prince and his longtime associate, CIA veteran John R. Maguire, who currently works for the intelligence contractor Amyntor Group. Maguire also served on Trump’s transition team. Amyntor’s role was first reported by BuzzFeed News.

Michael Barry, who was recently named NSC senior director for intelligence programs, worked closely with Prince on a CIA assassination program during the Bush administration.

Prince and Maguire deny they are working together. Those assertions, however, are challenged by current and former U.S. officials and Trump donors who say the two men were collaborating. [..]

Among the capabilities Prince offers is a network of deniable assets — spies, fixers, foreign intelligence agents — spread across the globe that could be used by the White House. “You pick any country in the world Erik’s been in, and it’s there,” said a longtime Prince associate. “They’re a network of very dark individuals.” The associate, who has worked extensively with Prince, then began rattling off places where the private spies and paramilitaries already operate — Saudi Arabia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, “all across North Africa.”

Opaque contracting arrangements are typical for Prince, who became a lightning rod in his Blackwater days and now prefers to minimize controversy by operating in the shadows, disguising his involvement in sensitive operations with layers of subcontractors and elaborately crafted legal structures. “That’s his exact MO,” said the longtime Prince associate, adding that Prince consistently attempts to ensure plausible deniability of his role in U.S. and foreign government contracts.

The whole article is an eye popping read into what would constitute a private Black Ops ring of spies and paramilitaries solely under the control of Trump and Pompeo, funded by private donors an accountable to no one.

Investigative reporter Matthew Cole and former CIA analyst Ned Price join MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell to discuss the plan to create a “spy vs spy” network of unaccountable actors.

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