Today the New York Times consciously outs an actual covert CIA operative:
He is known as the Dark Prince or Ayatollah Mike, nicknames he earned as the Central Intelligence Agency officer who oversaw the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the American drone strike campaign that killed thousands of Islamist militants and hundreds of civilians.
Now the official, Michael D’Andrea, has a new job. He is running the C.I.A.’s Iran operations, according to current and former intelligence officials, an appointment that is the first major sign that the Trump administration is invoking the hard line the president took against Iran during his campaign.
Mr. D’Andrea’s new role is one of a number of moves inside the spy agency that signal a more muscular approach to espionage and covert operations under the leadership of Mike Pompeo, the conservative Republican and former congressman, the officials said. The agency also recently named a new chief of counterterrorism, who has begun pushing for greater latitude to strike militants.
The C.I.A. declined to comment on Mr. D’Andrea’s role, saying it does not discuss the identities or work of clandestine officials. The officials spoke only on the condition of anonymity because Mr. D’Andrea remains undercover, as do many senior officials based at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va. Mr. Eatinger did not use his name. The New York Times is naming Mr. D’Andrea because his identity was previously published in news reports, and he is leading an important new administration initiative against Iran.
The man they are featuring in this story is running covert operations against Iran and by announcing his name the New York Times just made his job much harder and much more dangerous. Why would they do this? Because the Trump administration is demolishing yet another Obama legacy: Iran’s favored position in the Middle East.
Mr. Trump called Iran “the number one terror state” and pledged throughout the campaign to dismantle or revise the landmark deal between Iran and six world powers in which Tehran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The president has not gone through with that threat, and his administration has quietly recertified Iran’s compliance with the deal. But he has invoked his hard line on Iran in other ways. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has described the deal as a failure, and Mr. Trump has appointed to the National Security Council hawks eager to contain Iran and push regime change, the groundwork for which would most likely be laid through C.I.A. covert action.
Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, was a brigade commander during the early years of the war in Iraq, and he believes that Iranian agents who were aiding Iraqi insurgents were responsible for the deaths of a number of his soldiers. Derek Harvey, the senior director for the Middle East at the council, is also considered an Iran hawk.
And Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the council’s senior director for intelligence — the main White House liaison to intelligence agencies — has told other administration officials that he wants to use American spies to help oust the Iranian government, according to multiple defense and intelligence officials.
Mr. Pompeo, who represented south-central Kansas in the House, was among the fiercest congressional critics of the Iran deal. Two months before the election, he published an essay in Foreign Policy magazine titled, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Do Business With Iran.”
He pledged during his Senate confirmation hearing in January that should the deal remain in place, he would keep a fierce watch to ensure Tehran was sticking to the terms.
Just last week, we conducted airstrikes on a convoy of Iranian proxy militiamen that encroached upon a secure area around a base that houses US and UK SOF and the US is actively obstructing an Iranian push to establish a land corridor from Tehran to the Mediterranean.
What you are seeing here is Obama holdovers in the CIA leaking Ben Rhodes’s merry band of “resisters” to pass the name of the CIA operative to members of Rhodes’s old “echo chamber” that fluffed the Iran nuclear agreement. The upshot is that when the CIA’s Iran chief goes abroad he will be under close surveillance by the Iranians or by intelligence agencies, like the SVR/FSB, who are friendly with Iran. Anyone he meets will be reported. He will be in increased danger of assassination and kidnapping because the Iranians will use both those tools if given the opportunity.
One of the most ridiculous and shameful episodes of the Bush (43) administation was the whole Valerie Plame affair in which a leak by Colin Powell’s butt-boy Richard Armitage was parlayed into a special counsel investigating the alleged outing of the most non-undercover CIA undercover agent in the history of agency and then Patrick Fitzgerald railroading Scooter Libby into a perjury conviction (and George Bush being too gutless to pardon him) because his memory differed from that of someone else. I say ridiculous because Plame was an ANALYST, she was never in Operations Directorate and there was no set of circumstances where she was ever going to be deployed in a hostile nation using non-official cover. Any “undercover” assignment she was ever going to have was going to have diplomatic immunity attached to it.
Here we have the actual cover of a legitimate covert operative cavalierly disclosed by the New York Times to the world and no one thinks anything bad or wrong happened because Donald Trump may be stymied in some small way by putting this man at risk and hamstringing our operations against Iran.