I don’t have a legal mind, no legal training, and I may be a mile off on this, but I can’t be the only one that hears “private spy network” and starts thinking about all the ways something like this violates every legal and constitutional standard our nation is built upon.
This new report cites the psychotic ramblings of Trump loyalists and the “Deep State” mantra as the reasoning behind going around U.S. intelligence and creating a private spy network, accountable only to Trump and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
Pompeo, a Trump loyalist from early on, has already indicated that allegiance to the man is more important than duty, so the idea that he’d be on board with something that smells so bad is not a stretch.
According to The Intercept, the program has been developed by Erik Prince, the Blackwater founder and retired CIA officer, with an assist from Oliver North, who was brought in to sell the idea to Trump.
North, a frequent flier on the state-run media apparatus, Fox News, was brought in to give the plan some “oomph” and sell it, understanding that Trump takes anything seen on Fox as gospel.
The purpose of the plan is to circumvent U.S. Intelligence. Period.
“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.”
Trump donors have reportedly been contacted, in an effort to get funding for the project.
As proposed, this Trump-controlled secret spy network would work with no official cover in areas deemed “denied areas” for U.S. intelligence, such as Iran and North Korea. A global rendition unit has been considered for the purpose of capturing terrorist suspects around the world and running propaganda campaigns in the Middle East and Europe, as a means of combatting Islamic extremism and whatever Iran has going on.
To be honest, it sounds like a Brad Thor novel. It sounds completely cool… but is it ethical or legal?
According to two former senior intelligence officials, Pompeo has embraced the plan and has 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.”
Maybe, but the goal, if this information is accurate, is to not keep the CIA or any other U.S. intelligence agency in the loop, so how would a CIA spokesperson know?
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.
And while Prince and Maguire deny they’re working together, current and former U.S. officials, as well as Trump donors insist they are.
Clandestine. Keep things secret and on the down low, remember? This is spy stuff.
Speaking of Maguire, he’s also been key in trying to sink H.R. McMaster.
“[Maguire] said there were people inside the CIA who joined in the previous eight years [under Obama] and inside the government and they were failing to give the president the intelligence he needed,” said a person who was pitched by Maguire and other Amyntor personnel. To support his claim, Maguire told at least two people that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, in coordination with a top official at the National Security Agency, authorized surveillance of Steven Bannon and Trump family members, including Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump. Adding to these unsubstantiated claims, Maguire told the potential donors he also had evidence H.R. McMaster used a burner phone to send information gathered through the surveillance to a facility in Cyprus owned by George Soros.
Amyntor employees took potential donors to a suite in the Trump Hotel in Washington, which they claimed was set up to conduct “secure communications.” Some White House staff and Trump campaign supporters came to refer to the suite as “the tinfoil room,” according to one person who visited the suite. This account was confirmed by another source to whom the room was described. “John [Maguire] was certain that the deep state was going to kick the president out of office within a year,” said a person who discussed it with Maguire. “These guys said they were protecting the president.”
Maguire and others at Amyntor have boasted that they have already sent intelligence reports to Pompeo.
And we’ve heard this same shtick over and over again on social media. Somebody is pressing this idea.
My thoughts: If this group is created and is accountable to no one but Trump and Pompeo (a loyalist), how long before the focus is off of foreign governments and potential terrorists, and is turned on American citizens?