Our spy in Putin’s office

I feel like current events are getting away from me at the moment. There’s just too much happening for me to keep up. As Donald Trump attempts to secure the enthusiasm of his base in the run-up to the 2020 election, we’re seeing all kind of next-level craziness… from hastily issued invitations being sent out to members of the Taliban to visit Camp David in hopes of negotiating a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan just before the 18th anniversary of 9/11 to the redirection of millions of dollars away from U.S. military families to help build a costly and ineffective wall along the southern border. And then there’s all the stuff about how Trump has been funneling federal dollars to his failing properties oversees, and how Giuliani has been looking for fake dirt on Biden in the Ukraine. And, on top of it all, this morning there was the abrupt firing of comically mustachioed National Security Advisor John Bolton. [Apparently he refused to say publicly that he liked the idea of celebrating the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks with a Taliban slumber party on U.S. soil.] There’s just so much that I feel like I should be researching and writing about, but, as I know I’ll start nodding off soon, I just need to make up my mind and settle one thing…

Well, after a great deal of thought, I’ve decided to spend my evening reading up on yesterday’s revelation that the CIA, until 2017, had a high-level source within the office of Vladimir Putin, but that this incredibly valuable asset had to be exfiltrated by his American handlers when it was determined that Donald Trump may, either wittingly or unwittingly, identify him to his coworkers in the Kremlin. The following is from the initial CNN report.

…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…

Apparently, the cultivation of this asset took decades, and it was through him, among other things, that we knew that it was Putin himself who had ordered the Russian intelligence agency to interfere in our 2016 election with the intention of delivering Donald Trump to the White House. This was the best source we could ever hope to have, as he knew everything that Putin was doing, but, because of Donald Trump, we had to exfiltrate him from Moscow. And, with that, American intelligence agencies have been, in the words of the New York times, “effectively blinded” as to what Putin has been doing.

So, not only did Donald Trump deny that our country was attacked by Russia. [Remember, he said in Helsinki that he believes Putin, and not our own intelligence agencies on the subject.] But the CIA was forced to pull our most valuable asset out of Russia, for fear that Donald Trump would expose him…. I know we’ve said it before, and often, but can you even begin to imagine how this would have played out if it had been Barack Obama who had done this?

We were attacked by Russia. Our President denied it. Our President attempted to obstruct our investigation into it. And our President forced us to pull out our most valuable intelligence asset out of the Kremlin. Just think about that.

This story continues to take strange turns, and I’m not quite sure what exactly is going on, but, as far as I can tell, it sounds as though the Russians may have given members of the U.S. press the identity of this American asset who had been working in the Kremlin, and, last night, journalists were on his doorstep in Virginia… Why a spy who had crossed Putin would be living under his own name in Virginia – especially after seeing what Putin had done to double agent Sergei Skripal in the UK – is absolutely beyond me, but maybe some people just don’t process fear the same way the rest of us do.

The whole story is really odd, and I just wanted to note it here, before it got lost in the thrashing gyre of insanity that is the Trumpian news cycle.

One last thing. Now that we know the identity and location of this former Russian diplomat (Oleg Smolenkov), couldn’t Democrats call him before Congress and compel him to testify about Putin’s role in the 2016 election? I mean, it’s clear to me why we were protecting him before, but, now that his identity is known, what’s stopping us from asking him in front of the American people about Putin’s desire to see Donald Trump in the White House? I suspect that would make for some compelling television prior to the 2020 election.

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  1. John Brown
    Posted September 11, 2019 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    Agent Orange is pootins bitch at every turn. He is a domestic enemy of the Constitution of the USA, as are the zombies who continue to support him.

  2. Frosted Flakes
    Posted September 11, 2019 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    “This whole story seems odd…”–Mark

    No! This whole story sounds totally awesome! Plus the timing is perfect as I was beginning to feel sorry for Mark and his sidekick Rachel Maddow!

  3. CNN
    Posted September 11, 2019 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    President Donald Trump has privately and repeatedly expressed opposition to the use of foreign intelligence from covert sources, including overseas spies who provide the US government with crucial information about hostile countries, according to multiple senior officials who served under Trump.

    Trump has privately said that foreign spies can damage relations with their host countries and undermine his personal relationships with their leaders, the sources said. The President “believes we shouldn’t be doing that to each other,” one former Trump administration official told CNN.


  4. Meta
    Posted September 11, 2019 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Washington Post: “Ex-Russian official thought to have spied for the U.S. was hiding in plain sight”

    The Russian Kommersant newspaper reported Tuesday that Oleg Smolenkov, whom it described as a “missing” employee of the Russian presidential administration, was spotted in the United States.

    The paper reported that Smolenkov disappeared in 2017 during a family vacation to Montenegro and suggested he may have been an American agent who was spirited out of Russia after providing information linking Russian President Vladi­mir Putin to his country’s campaign to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

    …..He worked for Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Yuri Ushakov, who served as Russia’s envoy to the United States from 1999 to 2008. Back in Moscow, Smolenkov was an aide to Ushakov, who has been at Putin’s side for years. The former ambassador served as Putin’s foreign policy adviser and when Putin became prime minister in 2008 and stayed with him when Putin became president in 2012, according to published reports.

    Read more:

  5. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted September 11, 2019 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I don’t know if I will ever be able to fully accept that there are citizens who think the CIA is a good and proper part of the US government.

  6. John Brown
    Posted September 11, 2019 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I DO know that I will never be able to accept one bit that there are treasonous citizens who think a ruskie stooge is a good and proper part of the US Government.

  7. Jean Henry
    Posted September 11, 2019 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    This is for HW:

  8. Jean Henry
    Posted September 11, 2019 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    This is an interesting take from a long time CIA analyst. Please note that he doesn’t suggest an end to intelligence services just a total restructuring. If we had a more competent government and especially executive leader perhaps we could fix US Intelligence agencies rather than dangerously undermining them in favor of our enemy interests.

  9. Jean Henry
    Posted September 11, 2019 at 12:09 pm | Permalink


    The above op ed author’s latest book assault Trump for politicizing US intelligence as well as just about every other independent government agency.

  10. Jean Henry
    Posted September 11, 2019 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    ”American Carnage: The Wars of Donald Trump provides the first assessment of the Trump administration’s damage to American governance. The book is not concerned with the investigations of Robert Mueller; the illegal payoffs to the president’s paramours; or the corruption of the Trump family. Instead, it identifies efforts to politicize the military and intelligence communities; the efforts to undermine and degrade essential departments and agencies; and the attacks on science and regulation”

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