Everything About This Russian Spy Extraction Story Is Unsettling As F*ck

Here's a story that will make you feel all kinds of things! Some of the things you feel will be like "Oh wow, 'Homeland' is REAL, you guys!" Other things you feel will be the pain in your head as you bang it against the wall repeatedly, as you absorb the fact that Donald Trump, yet again, is compromising our national security in a way heretofore unthinkable for an American president.

Oh yeah, and you are probably going to leave this post feeling really unsettled about the whole thing, so last chance to get off this particular train!

The story is this: CNN reports that in 2017, the CIA extracted a high-level source we had cultivated at the center of the Kremlin -- indeed, our most valuable Russian asset -- and the agency did it at least partially because they were worried Donald Trump was going to burn the source's identity to his BFFs the Russians, who are (factcheck) America's sworn adversaries. This would be a reasonable fear!

But let's go through this a bit more thoroughly, because there's fuckery afoot, we guarantee it.

First, CNN's original reporting:

A person directly involved in the discussions said that the removal of the Russian was driven, in part, by concerns that President Donald Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.

The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been provided by Israel.

The disclosure to the Russians by the President, though not about the Russian spy specifically, prompted intelligence officials to renew earlier discussions about the potential risk of exposure, according to the source directly involved in the matter.

All of that is entirely plausible. Donald Trump did in May 2017 stand in the Oval Office, the day after he fired James Comey as the FBI director in order to criminally obstruct the Russia investigation, and hoot and holler with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister about how he had just gotten rid of Crazy Comey, taking pressure off his special relationship with Russia, and he did then proceed to leak code-word level classified information to them, which we got from the Israelis. All of that happened! We can understand why the intel community might think, "Oh shit, America's most valuable asset is at risk here, because the Russians' most valuable asset is currently stinking up the Oval."

But wait, CNN's sources on this story were "Trump administration officials"? Which ones? Huh. Oh well, let's come back to it.

Here's a curious fact CNN notes: not long after the extraction was the famous G20 Trump/Putin sextravaganza meeting, where Trump stole the interpreter's notesfor some reason. Did they talk about the extraction? Dunno, Trump took the interpreter's notes! Did they talk about it at their secret dinner meeting where Trump crawled under the table and prairie-dogged his head up in Putin's lap like HEY THERE! 'SUP?

Anyway, apparently, at the time of the extraction, Mike Pompeo, who was the CIA director, and who was presumably working on cementing his status as a "heat-seeking missile for Trump's ass," was just very concerned that people were learning too much about this spy, and we'd better protect them. From Trump. Whose ass Pompeo's missile seeks the warmth of. Sure. You feeling unsettled by this story yet? If not, it's coming!

CNN reports that America had been cultivating this Russian man or lady for more than 10 years, following them from middle-management all the way up to a corner office in the Kremlin, but that US officials had been worried about this person getting exposed for a while. The New York Timesaugmented CNN's reporting last night, and it turns out this was the human intelligence source who gave us information like "Vladimir Putin personally ordered the entire US ratfucking operation to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton." The general feeling we're getting is that, though the media obviously wasn't naming sources, the kind of information that was getting out there as the Obama administration revealed what it knew about the Russian ratfucking operation and publicly accusing Russia of trying to tip the scales for Trump raised concerns that sooner or later, Moscow would figure out where the hell the intel was coming from.

The Times reports on how valuable this source was to the Obama administration, from when John Brennan was CIA director:

The informant's information was so delicate, and the need to protect the source's identity so important, that the C.I.A. director at the time, John O. Brennan, kept information from the operative out of President Barack Obama's daily brief in 2016. Instead, Mr. Brennan sent separate intelligence reports, many based on the source's information, in special sealed envelopes to the Oval Office.

Yeah. This is that source.

Anyway, according to the Times, some officials were worried back in 2016 that this person might have been doubled back by the Kremlin, because the CIA offered extraction then, and the source said fuck off. But reportedly those worries were alleviated when the CIA offered extraction in 2017, and the source said fuck ON!

The Times and CNN are basically in agreement, though the Times sort of tries to contradict CNN without actually contradicting CNN:

The decision to extract the informant was driven "in part" because of concerns that Mr. Trump and his administration had mishandled delicate intelligence, CNN reported. But former intelligence officials said there was no public evidence that Mr. Trump directly endangered the source, and other current American officials insisted that media scrutiny of the agency's sources alone was the impetus for the extraction.

OK. Whatever.

Both the Times and CNN are withholding details about who this person is or where they are, and the Times specifically says it's because the "person's life remains in danger," citing "current and former officials." You know, because of how Putin has people who run afoul of him murdered in falling-out-of-windows accidents. ALLEGEDLY.

But don't worry, NBC's Ken Dilanian -- an often obnoxiously incompetent reporter who seems hellbent at times on doing the Trump administration's bidding HASHTAG MUELLER REPORT EXONERATES TRUMP! -- went to the exfiltrated spy's house! Or, at least, the house of somebody whose description closely matches that of the person we extracted! He knocked on the door! Some men drove up like UHHHH WHAT IS U DOIN'? Ken Dilanian was like "JOURNALISM!"

Dilanian was all over MSNBC last night saying that NBC News is not sure if it has the right person, and of course, it is not going to say the name, but there's just so much information out there about this person that somebody is probably going to figure out their identity anyway. Oh yeah, and this person has been living in the DC suburbs under their own real name! Did Ken Dilanian mention that? Dilanian seemed super excited about this. And he said on TV that yes, officials acknowledge that the person is in much more danger now than they were last week, and that the US will likely have to move the person whose house he went to, but Dilanian also baselessly poo-pooed the idea of Vladimir Putin doing assassinations on American soil because PSHAW that has never happened before.

Ken Dilanian is fucking horrible at his job.

As we said at the outset, this story is unsettling. We understand that some combination of Donald Trump's loose orange lips and media attention on the Russian ratfucking operation may have made extraction for this asset necessary in 2017, but why are WE finding out about it RIGHT NOW?

In May, the New York Timesreported that Donald Trump had given his henchman Bill Barr the authority to declassify anything and everything he could related to the origins of the Russia investigation, in order to find out who did the WITCH HUNT that so unfairly put Trump's presidency under a cloud of NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION! In the first hundred words of the Times piece, we got this:

Mr. Trump said on Friday that he wanted Mr. Barr to "get to the bottom" of what the intelligence agencies knew about the investigation into his campaign. He promised, "We're exposing everything."

The president raised questions about C.I.A. involvement in the origins of the Russia investigation, and other officials said Mr. Barr wanted to learn more about sources in Russia, including a key informant who helped the C.I.A. conclude that President Vladimir V. Putin ordered the intrusion on the 2016 election.


And now, LEAKY LEAKY!, as if by magic, we have CNN and the New York Times reporting that oh by the way, we extracted that spy in 2017, and Ken Dilanian reporting that oh by the way, LOOKIT, VLADIMIR PUTIN, HE'S PROBABLY RIGHT HERE, NOT THAT YOU'D MURDER HIM OR ANYTHING! And they're getting all this info from ... Trump officials?

And of course Fox News is pissing all over the story, calling CNN bad at journalism, "debunking" (not debunking) the thing about concerns about Trump leaking to the Russians being part of the reason for the extraction, taking CIA denials of the story at face value, and citing the journalism expertise of ... [doublechecks Fox story] ... Aaron fucking Maté. So whatever their role is, they're playin' it, comrade!

What the fuck, please?

The Mueller, She Wrote podcast folks have an idea:

We're not saying they're right, but we're not saying they're wrong either.

Jesus Christ.

[CNN / New York Times / NBC News]

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Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the managing editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

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