JRL NEWSWATCH: “… Apart from … whether … U.S. intelligence … has such a cohort of well-placed spooks that it can be cavalier about their security, the willingness today especially of the NYT and WaPo to run stories based pretty much entirely on ‘some spook we can’t name us told us this’ is quite alarming. …” – Mark Galeotti

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Mark Galeotti – Facebook – August 28, 2018)

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Fred Weir is spot on here. Apart from the wider issue of whether the US intelligence community has such a cohort of well-placed spooks that it can be cavalier about their security, the willingness today especially of the NYT and WaPo to run stories based pretty much entirely on “some spook we can’t name us told us this” is quite alarming.
[DJ: But it is how Pulitzer prizes can be won in the era of Trump.] …”
 
Facebook
August 25, 2018
Fred Weir
 
This is amazing, astounding, really. All these stories, including this one, splashed over front pages, are purporting to tell us something about the most sensitive and hidden of secret agents, and what they are getting up to on any given day? For the CIA to have even one reliable source “close to Putin” would be a massive coup, the crown jewel of sources, whose existence — you might think — would be a closely-kept secret, never mentioned in public. Whenever intelligence officials are hauled before Senate hearings and such, they will dodge even the simplest questions by saying they fear compromising “sources and methods.” And probably that’s right; there are trade-craft reasons why they keep even the tiniest and seemingly superficial aspects of some things secret for 30 years, then vigorously redact whatever they finally release.
 
Yet for the past two years we’ve been inundated with these stories, about almost real-time intercepts of secret Russian communications, supposed revelations of the inner workings of the GRU, even what kinds of orders Putin issues inside his Kremlin office. People take seriously the Christopher Steele dossier, that supposedly reveals kompromat held in the deep vaults of the FSB, among other extraordinary things, knowledge of which would be limited to a tiny circle of Russian top officials. Are the journalists writing this stuff not aware that this kind of information — if it were genuine — has had to have been painstakingly gathered by some highly-placed Russians, who are committing treason, and have Russian counter-intelligence breathing down their necks every day? Even the slightest [accurate, or even inaccurate] hint about them, their activities, what order they may have overheard, even the claim here that they are going to ground, could be tantamount to betraying them. Ditto for some really cool form of techno-surveillance that enables the CIA or NSA to find out all this stuff. We definitely don’t want the Russians to hear the slightest breath about such capabilities, ever, do we? But the NYT and WaPo treat us to this stuff routinely, as if Russian counter-intelligence isn’t in the room with us and reading it all too. I’m sure these papers are getting it from real sources inside the “intelligence community” but I also doubt there is a word of truth in any of it. We are living amid a shitstorm of disinformation, would be my conclusion.
 
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New York Times
August 25, 2018
Kremlin Sources Go Quiet, Leaving C.I.A. in the Dark About Putin’s Plans for Midterms
By Julian E. Barnes and Matthew Rosenberg
 
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/24/us/politics/cia-russia-midterm-elections.html