In the world of clandestine intelligence operations, discovery is an ever-present danger. Operations are by definition risky. Operators, assets and projects are regularly compromised. You plan in advance for such eventualities, and you structure your networks so that they can survive adversity.
The loss of a source or even of several sources does not mean that the entire clandestine organization of which they are part simply ceases to exist. Assets that are “blown” are cut away. Remaining assets “go to ground” or are put on ice. Patience is key. The network waits out the scrutiny and resumes work when things have cooled off and attention has been drawn elsewhere.
Such, in all likelihood, is exactly what is happening right now with those individuals who were part of what increasingly seems to have been a deliberate, carefully planned effort to destabilize a sitting President, overturn the results of a free and fair election and, in effect, to stage the first coup in American history.
A long list of individuals has been implicated in participation in this effort, including the heads of the FBI, James Comey, and the CIA, John Brennan. Particularly within the FBI, numerous lower-ranking individuals have been identified and shown to be culpable as well. Yet, they all share one characteristic. They are all former government employees. They are all individuals no longer in federal service.
Is it possible that every single individual involved in this plot has now been fired or resigned? Perhaps. It is highly unlikely. This was a plot that appears to have spanned several continents and involved what appear to have been numerous sources and contacts with multiple foreign intelligence services. An operation on such a scale would likely have involved dozens of officers from multiple agencies, even if closely held.
Where are they all now?
Perhaps we could begin to answer that question by addressing some other questions first. Throughout the investigation into the origins of what is now being called “Spygate” there have been continuing references to the role of British intelligence in providing derogatory information concerning the President of the United States. Press reports suggest, in fact, that the British were heavily involved in this entire charade from the outset. That interaction was likely not handled exclusively and directly by the Director of Central Intelligence. Other senior officials must have been part of this including the Chief of Station in London. Who were they?
Within the last week the Italians have effectively gutted the senior ranks of their intelligence services, firing at least six senior officials. Press reports indicate that this is in response to information concerning the cooperation of Italian intelligence agencies with U.S. intelligence agencies in spying on the Trump campaign in 2016. If the Italians are in possession of information so explosive as to warrant the wholesale sacking of their senior intelligence agency leaders it must be pretty powerful. What is it? And who were these Italian agencies working with?
John Brennan, disgraced former Director of Central Intelligence has by this point been shown to have been one of the key individuals in the plot against the President. Brennan is out of government, but he was a senior official for decades at CIA, time during which he formed close relationships with any number of subordinates and, in keeping with the increasingly political nature of Washington bureaucracy, promoted and cultivated particular, loyalists on whom he could count. Who were those individuals and how many of them were part of this effort to overthrow a President?
The identification of those individuals involved in all aspects of this plot does not, of course, necessarily mean that they are culpable or that they understood what they were part of. A great many of them no doubt believed they were acting in the best interests of the nation and were simply doing their jobs. For them the reality of what was afoot is no doubt as shocking and nauseating as it is for most Americans. It is unlikely, however, that this is true of everyone concerned.
Some of the individuals involved with this attempted coup without question understood fully that they were involved in an effort to subvert the Constitution and steal an election. Some of them ceased to be “public servants” and became political partisans for whom all that mattered was personal advancement and political victory. Some of them abused their authority and broke every oath they had ever taken to protect this great nation. Some of them deserve to be prosecuted and sent to jail.
And some of them may very well still be sitting behind desks in Washington, DC, waiting, biding their time. They are not gone. They are not neutralized. They have not been brought to justice. They have simply done what operatives plan to do from the beginning of any operation should it prove necessary. They have done what they were trained to do. They have gone to ground, and they will act again as soon as they judge the moment right.
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