The Trump administration may be considering fighting back against enemies in the “deep state” with its own spy network that would operate independently from U.S. intelligence agencies.
The proposal for a private network would include spies recommended by former Blackwater founder Erik Prince, a former CIA officer, and former United States Marine Corps Lt. Col. Oliver North.
The operatives would gather intelligence for CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the White House while keeping the rest of the U.S. intelligence community out of the loop, according to a report by The Intercept on Monday.
Such a program would allow the president to fight the CIA and FBI, both organizations that are entrenched with supporters of former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who are working against Trump and his policies.
The proposal would use a network of spies with no official cover in several countries that deny current American intelligence personnel, including North Korea and Iran.
The White House was also reportedly considered establishing a new “global rendition unit” to capture terrorist suspects around the world, and a “propaganda campaign” in the Middle East and Europe to battle Islamic extremism.
Those close to the White House denied any knowledge of an independent spy network.
National Security Council spokesman Michael N. Anton said in an email to The Intercept that he did not know about any such proposal.
“I can find no evidence that this ever came to the attention of anyone at the NSC or (White House) at all,” Anton said. “The White House does not and would not support such a proposal.”
A CIA spokesperson also told The Intercept that the website had been provided with “wildly inaccurate information by people peddling an agenda.”
Furthermore, The Intercept reported that it reached out to officials that sources said had been briefed on the proposal by Prince, including Vice President Mike Pence. His officer responded that there was “no record of (Prince) ever having met with or briefed the VP.”
However, two former senior intelligence officials told The Intercept that Pompeo pressured the White House to move forward with the idea.
“Pompeo can’t trust the CIA bureaucracy, so we need to create this thing that reports just directly to him,” a former senior U.S. intelligence official with firsthand knowledge of the information said.
“It is a direct-action arm, totally off the books,” the official said. “The whole point is this is supposed to report to the president and Pompeo directly.”
It does not take much imagination to understand why the president would want to create such a network. Almost everyone in Washington is out to get him, and Obama holdovers have already done enough damage.
Creating a separate spy organization could certainly give Trump more independent knowledge and allow him to do what America elected him to do, but there is also potential for abuse with such an arrangement.
Keep in mind that this information was based on one report that’s long on anonymous sources and filled with on-the-record denials from just about every party involved.
Even The Intercept acknowledged that this network is not a done deal.
But even the idea is a symptom of how deep the swamp is that Trump’s trying to drain.
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