Monday, June 26, 2017

Leaky, Leaky

Half a dozen former intelligence officers at the spook-heavy Cipher Brief conference in Georgia spoke to The Daily Beast, as did other former CIA officers, describing their Russian interactions during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama years.


[A] 17th-century mansion served as the backdrop of a 2007 summit of CIA officers, FBI agents, and their Russian counterparts, as the Bush administration tried to build a cooperative relationship with Moscow on counterterrorism.

Over glasses of cognac and the occasional shot of chilled vodka, the Russian and American officers sat across from each other at a long conference table, in what turned into an interrogation instead of the hoped-for bridge-building exercise. The Russians probed the Americans to find out where their sources were, how big their networks were and any potential weaknesses to exploit later.

They described a consistent pattern: the U.S. engages with Moscow on a tough problem like terrorism, and Russia comes through at first. After a matter of months, the U.S. finds the cooperation is short-lived or has plenty of strings attached. The moment a disagreement over something like Ukraine or Syria intrudes, everything the Americans have shared with the Russians gets turned into a weapon against them.


The Americans ended the meetings in frustration, and went back home.

A few months later, a Russian delegation came to Washington, D.C., and they gave it one more try.

The Russians insisted on only meeting at their embassy, which is legally Russian sovereign territory.


The former U.S. intelligence official said the same pattern of aggressive questioning they’d experience in Moscow resumed. “It was all about influence, manipulation, intimidation."


Once again, the Americans called it off.


The Obama administration went through that learning curve a few times over. Agreements that looked successful at the outset turned out to be more complicated or incomplete.


“I never met with the Russians. Not worth it,” said Michael Morell, former acting CIA Director in the Obama administration. He said Russia wants to be seen as equal to the United States, a goal most nations would seek to reach by growing their influence through their economy.

“They’ve got nothing to work with,” Morell said in an interview. “Their economy is a disaster. Their demographics are a disaster. Their politics are a disaster. So they go with the second step, which is to undermine us, everywhere they can.”


“We, the United States, are the ‘main enemy’ to them,” said former CIA officer John Sipher. “In their mind, they are at war with us. Anything that’s hurtful to the United States is positive for Russia.” That goes doubly for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who once led Russia’s FSB, the successor to the infamous Soviet-era KGB.

  Daily Beast
Too bad we can't believe everything the CIA says. And THAT is another reason why the CIA is perhaps the most destabilizing force on the planet.
“Every time there’s a new president, a new director of the CIA, there’s always this thought: ‘We can make it right with Russia,’” said Hall. “But it rarely ends up working. The Russians see us coming and take us to the bank every time.”
Probably true.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

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