CIA, Ukraine Exchange Pre-Divorce Propaganda

Over the weekend the New York Times published an epic exposé. “The Spy War: How the C.I.A. Secretly Helps Ukraine Fight Putin,” by Adam Entous and Mitchell Schwirtz, described a decade of CIA-Ukrainian cooperation, featuring details that would never reach public ears under normal circumstances. The opening is worth quoting at length:

Nestled in a dense forest, the Ukrainian military base appears abandoned and destroyed…But that is above ground. Not far away, a discreet passageway descends to a subterranean bunker where teams of Ukrainian soldiers track Russian spy satellites and eavesdrop on conversations between Russian commanders…

The listening post in the Ukrainian forest is part of a C.I.A.-supported network of spy bases constructed in the past eight years that includes 12 secret locations along the Russian border.

Yowza! Officials have long scolded the public that even minor disclosures of “sources and methods” could “risk lives” and must be prevented at all costs. Yet here comes the Times, helping “current and former officials in Ukraine, the United States and Europe” blab a long list of extraordinary details, down to the number of CIA-supported secret bases along the Russian border. An abridged list of revelations:

CIA director William Burns made a “secret” visit to Ukraine last Thursday, his tenth since Russia’s invasion;
On the night of February 14, 2014, in the middle of the Maidan coup, Ukrainian spy chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko called the heads of the CIA and Britain’s MI6 and asked for help in rebuilding his agency “from the ground up”;
Ukrainian intelligence officials, seeking to prove their value to American counterparts, handed the CIA proof that Russian separatists downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 “within hours of the crash” in July of 2014;
Then-head of Ukrainian military intelligence Valeriy Kondratiuk handed the CIA “detailed information about the latest Russian nuclear submarine designs” in 2015;
“Around” 2016, the CIA “began training an elite Ukrainian commando force” called “Unit 2245” which “captured Russian drones and communications gear so that CIA technicians could reverse-engineer them and crack Moscow’s encryption systems”;
The CIA’s chief of station in Kyiv was nicknamed “Santa Claus”;
A Ukrainian agent “duped an officer from Russia’s military intelligence service” into providing intelligence that “allowed the C.I.A. to connect Russia’s government to the so-called Fancy Bear hacking group, which had been linked to election interference.”

Former CIA head John Brennan sitting for a month of interviews with Kitty Kelley wouldn’t produce this many juicy reveals. They even recounted the CIA hauling Kondratiuk to a Washington Capitals game to boo Alex Ovechkin, for God’s sake. Are these spy agencies or people pitching a Netflix series?

When intelligence sources line up by the hundred to fill newspapers with “secret” details, they’re almost always doing one of two things: spreading disinformation, or “pre-bunking” embarrassing future revelations. The lavishly overwritten “secret untold story” that puts advance spin on ugly leaks has become a popular genre across this century’s many giant intelligence screwups.

For example, “Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault,” a 2017 Washington Post piece co-authored by the same reporter bylined in this Times piece, Adam Entous, told the cinematic tale of how Brennan hand-delivered to Barack Obama an “intelligence bombshell” from a prized source “deep inside the Russian government.” The heart-racing narrative revealed how the CIA not only learned of Vladimir Putin’s direct involvement in a campaign to “damage” Hillary Clinton and “help elect her opponent, Donald Trump,” but safely delivered the hush-hush news for the President’s eyes only (before telling the entire world about it of course).

In the wake of multiple disclosures since then suggesting Brennan’s conclusion was “cooked intelligence” and his supposed “longtime source” with access to the “highest level of the Kremlin” was anything but, the Post story in retrospect reads like a grand piece of inspired bullshit, designed to “pre-bunk” inevitable leaks about Brennan’s sourcing. Same with the absurdly vivid accounts in The Guardian and The New Yorker of the alleged British capture of suspicious “interactions” and “illicit communications” between Trump and Russia in 2015 that supposedly triggered the American collusion investigation. Those stories too now read like elaborate spin jobs, put out to defuse future questions about the origins of that investigation.

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