|Tuesday 10th of September 2019
@CIA Informant Extracted From Russia Had Sent Secrets to U.S. for Decades @nytimes
Law & Politics
WASHINGTON — Decades ago, the C.I.A. recruited and carefully
cultivated a midlevel Russian official who began rapidly advancing
through the governmental ranks. Eventually, American spies struck
gold: The longtime source landed an influential position that came
with access to the highest level of the Kremlin.
As American officials began to realize that Russia was trying to
sabotage the 2016 presidential election, the informant became one of
the C.I.A.’s most important — and highly protected — assets.
But when intelligence officials revealed the severity of Russia’s
election interference with unusual detail later that year, the news
media picked up on details about the C.I.A.’s Kremlin sources.
C.I.A. officials worried about safety made the arduous decision in
late 2016 to offer to extract the source from Russia. The situation
grew more tense when the informant at first refused, citing family
concerns — prompting consternation at C.I.A. headquarters and sowing
doubts among some American counterintelligence officials about the
But the C.I.A. pressed again months later after more media inquiries.
This time, the informant agreed.
The move brought to an end the career of one of the C.I.A.’s most
important sources. It also effectively blinded American intelligence
officials to the view from inside Russia as they sought clues about
Kremlin interference in the 2018 midterm elections and next year’s
CNN first reported the 2017 extraction on Monday. Other details —
including the source’s history with the agency, the initial 2016
exfiltration offer and the cascade of doubts set off by the
informant’s subsequent refusal — have not been previously reported.
This article is based on interviews in recent months with current and
former officials who spoke on the condition that their names not be
used discussing classified information.
Officials did not disclose the informant’s identity or new location,
both closely held secrets. The person’s life remains in danger,
current and former officials said, pointing to Moscow’s attempts last
year to assassinate Sergei V. Skripal, a former Russian intelligence
official who moved to Britain as part of a high-profile spy exchange
The Moscow informant was instrumental to the C.I.A.’s most explosive
conclusion about Russia’s interference campaign: that President
Vladimir V. Putin ordered and orchestrated it himself.
As the American government’s best insight into the thinking of and
orders from Mr. Putin, the source was also key to the C.I.A.’s
assessment that he affirmatively favored Donald J. Trump’s election
and personally ordered the hacking of the Democratic National
The informant, according to people familiar with the matter, was
outside of Mr. Putin’s inner circle, but saw him regularly and had
access to high-level Kremlin decision-making — easily making the
source one of the agency’s most valuable assets.
Handling and running a Moscow-based informant is extremely difficult
because of Mr. Putin’s counterintelligence defenses. The Russians are
known to make life miserable for foreign spies, following them
constantly and at times roughing them up. Former C.I.A. employees
describe the entanglements as “Moscow rules.”
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
The information itself was so important and potentially contentious in
2016 that top C.I.A. officials ordered a full review of the
informant’s record, according to people briefed on the matter.
Officials reviewed information the source had provided years earlier
to ensure that it had proved accurate.
Even though the review passed muster, the source’s rejection of the
C.I.A.’s initial offer of exfiltration prompted doubts among some
counterintelligence officials. They wondered whether the informant had
been turned and had become a double agent, secretly betraying his
That would almost certainly mean that some of the information the
informant provided about the Russian interference campaign or Mr.
Putin’s intentions would have been inaccurate.
Some operatives had other reasons to suspect the source could be a
double agent, according to two former officials, but they declined to
Other current and former officials who acknowledged the doubts said
they were put to rest when the source agreed to be extracted after the
C.I.A. asked a second time.
Leaving behind one’s native country is a weighty decision, said Joseph
Augustyn, a former senior C.I.A. officer who once ran the agency’s
defector resettlement center. Often, informants have kept their spy
work secret from their families.
“It’s a very difficult decision to make, but it is their decision to
make,” Mr. Augustyn said. “There have been times when people have not
come out when we strongly suggested that they should.”
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.
Mr. Trump was first briefed on the intelligence about Russian
interference, including material from the prized informant, two weeks
before his inauguration.
A C.I.A. spokeswoman responding to the CNN report called the assertion
that Mr. Trump’s handling of intelligence drove the reported
extraction “misguided speculation.”
Some former intelligence officials said the president’s closed-door
meetings with Mr. Putin and other Russian officials, along with
Twitter posts about delicate intelligence matters, have sown concern
among overseas sources.
“We have a president who, unlike any other president in modern
history, is willing to use sensitive, classified intelligence however
he sees fit,” said Steven L. Hall, a former C.I.A. official who led
the agency’s Russia operations. “He does it in front of our
adversaries. He does it by tweet. We are in uncharted waters.”
But the government had indicated that the source existed long before
Mr. Trump took office, first in formally accusing Russia of
interference in October 2016 and then when intelligence officials
declassified parts of their assessment about the interference campaign
for public release in January 2017.
News agencies, including NBC, began reporting around that time about
Mr. Putin’s involvement in the election sabotage and on the C.I.A.’s
possible sources for the assessment.
The following month, The Washington Post reported that the C.I.A.’s
conclusions relied on “sourcing deep inside the Russian government.”
And The New York Times later published articles disclosing details
about the source.
The news reporting in the spring and summer of 2017 convinced United
States government officials that they had to update and revive their
extraction plan, according to people familiar the matter.
The extraction ensured the informant was in a safer position and
rewarded for a long career in service to the United States. But it
came at a great cost: It left the C.I.A. struggling to understand what
was going on inside the highest ranks of the Kremlin.
The agency has long struggled to recruit sources close to Mr. Putin, a
former intelligence officer himself wary of C.I.A. operations. He
confides in only a small group of people and has rigorous operational
security, eschewing electronic communications.
James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence who
left office at the end of the Obama administration, said he had no
knowledge of the decision to conduct an extraction.
But, he said, there was little doubt that revelations about the
extraction were “going to make recruiting assets in Russia even more
difficult than it already is.”
05-DEC-2016:: "We have a deviate, Tomahawk." "We copy. There's a voice." "We have gross oscillation here."
Law & Politics
I have no doubt that Putin ran a seriously 21st predominantly digital
programme of interference which amplified the Trump candidacy. POTUS
Trump was an ideal candidate for this kind of support.
The first thing is plausible deniability (and some folks here at home
need to remember those words).
The second thing is non-linearity, you have to learn how to navigate a
linear system (the new 21st digital ecosystem) in a non-linear way.
From feeding the hot-house conspiracy frenzy on line (‘’a constant
state of destabilised perception’’), timely and judicious doses of
Wikileaks leaks which drained Hillary’s bona fides and her turn-out
and motivated Trump’s, what we have witnessed is something remarkable
Putin has proven himself an information master, and his adversaries
are his information victims.
Life after power - Burkina Faso: Blaise Compaore, homesick blues @TheAfricaReport
Exiled in Côte d'Ivoire since 2014, the former head of state lives
comfortably, but dreams of the day when he can finally return to his
home in Burkina Faso.
Finally, a bit of fun. On 31 December 2018, Blaise Compaoré was
invited to visit his close friend, Adama Toungara. A crowd awaits him
in Alassane Ouattara’s adviser’s wealthy house in Cocody. Politicians,
entrepreneurs, friends… it’s one of the most popular places in the
area to celebrate the New Year.
The champagne flows, and there are plenty of petits fours: they eat,
laugh, and some even sketch a few dance steps. The former Burkinabe
president loves dancing, especially rumba and rock ‘n roll.
He’s having fun, alongside his wife, Chantal. Born Terrasson de
Fougères, his Franco-Ivorian wife is at home in Abidjan, near her
sisters, whom she often sees. But Blaise, on the other hand, has
trouble getting used to it.
“When he arrived in Côte d’Ivoire, it was clear that the president was
depressed, that he was not well. We were talking to him but he was not
there,” said one of his advisors. Leaving power was tough. From time
to time, he even had blackouts.
Blaise Compaoré lacks nothing, of course, in this modern villa next to
those of the Director of Customs and former President Henri Konan
Bédié – the residence of France is not far either, just at the end of
the street. The residence has a nice swimming pool, a workout area
(the former military paratrooper maintains his health by riding his
exercise bike), and a small lounge to welcome guests.
“Did he ever understand what happened? At first, he was stunned,
almost disoriented. Yet many of us warned him that this constitutional
amendment was too risky,” he continues. It must be said that the fall
By October 2014, the strategist seemed to have lost his flair. He did
not hear the anger of the hundreds of thousands of Burkinabè, from the
opposition and civil society, in the streets. Four terms are not
enough for him, “the strong man of Ouaga” wants five more years at the
head of the State.
In a few hours, things got out of hand. The National Assembly was
devoured by the flames, which quickly spread to all the other symbols
of the faltering regime.
After twenty-seven years in power, this man who has made and defeated
regimes and rebellions in West Africa had no choice but to flee in
haste in a car with tinted windows.
He followed GPS coordinates to the south of the country, where a
French special forces helicopter was waiting to exfiltrate him to Côte
In Côte d’Ivoire, Blaise Compaoré is a friend of the government. He
knows everyone – before supporting Alassane Ouattara and becoming the
godfather of Guillaume Soro and his rebels, the former mediator of the
Ivorian crisis was close to Laurent Gbagbo.
But, he needs to be discreet. Even today, the soldiers of the
Presidential Security Group dressed in civilian clothes, are
positioned behind the gate, and the President’s trips outside are
From time to time, he dines in the city’s upscale restaurants, such as
Le Montparnasse and Le Grand Large. He is sometimes seen on the beach
of Assinie. He also visited Abengourou recently, but that’s about it.
Since the first jihadist attack on the Burkinabe capital in January
2016, accusations have been levelled against Compaoré. According to
the head of state’s staff, the former leader and his networks in the
Sahel are no strangers.
10 NOV 14 : Therefore, the preeminent point to note is that protests in Burkina Faso achieved escape velocity
The tipping point for this accelerated sequence of events was
President Compaoré stacking parliament in order to extend the
presidential term limit. There are plenty of African presidents who
are seeking to pull off the same magic trick and events in Ouagadougou
have surely put them on notice.
Martin Aglo, a law student from Benin, told Reuters: “After the Arab
Spring, this is the Black Spring”.
During the Arab Spring [now in the bleak mid-Winter], nearly all
commentators spoke of how this North African wildfire could not leap
the Sahara and head to sub-Saharan Africa. The reasons were that the
State [incumbents] had a monopoly on the tools of violence and would
bring overwhelming force and violence to bear.
We need to ask ourselves; how many people can incumbent shoot stone
cold dead in such a situation – 100, 1,000, 10,000? This is another
point: there is a threshold beyond which the incumbent can’t go. Where
that threshold lies will be discovered in the throes of the event.
Therefore, the preeminent point to note is that protests in Burkina
Faso achieved escape velocity. Overthrowing incumbents is all about
acceleration, momentum and speed best characterised by the German word
Letter from Africa: 'I gave up on catching the train in Ethiopia' @BBCWorld
In our series of letters from African journalists, Ismail Einashe
writes about his failed attempt to catch a train in Ethiopia despite
the hype around a new Chinese-built railway.
In Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, it is hard to miss the large
advertising boards along the traffic-clogged streets that promise "new
railway, new life".
The signs are for the $4.5bn (£3.6bn) Chinese-built Addis-Djibouti
standard gauge railway (SGR) connecting landlocked Ethiopia's 100
million people with tiny Djibouti on the Red Sea.
The 750km (465 mile) railway line began operations in January 2018 and
is Africa's first electrified cross-border railway.
For Ethiopia this is more than just a railway project, it is the crown
jewel in the development ambitions of Africa's fastest-growing
economy, which aspires to reach middle-income status by the mid-2020s.
But since the SGR opened it has experienced financial and operational
In January train services were halted for a while over security
concerns in the Afar region, following protests against the government
and ethnic clashes between Somalis and Afars.
And last year a stoppage was caused by trains colliding with camels,
leading to pastoralists demanding the government compensate them for
the loss of their precious livestock.
Yet ever since I heard the SGR had opened in Ethiopia I was desperate
to take the train, which departs every other day at 0800 local time.
I had planned to travel from Addis Ababa to Dire Dawa, a city in
Ethiopia I had not seen in over 25 years.
But my excitement soon turned to frustration when I realised how
difficult it would be to buy a ticket - in neighbouring Kenya you go
on the SGR website, buy your ticket and pay via the money mobile
service, M-Pesa, but in Ethiopia things were a little more difficult.
I went on its SGR website and only found a number for a ticket office
at the old French-built Addis Terminus in the heart of the city.
I kept calling, but no-one picked up. In the end, I braved the
torrential rain to go to the grand old station.
Once there, however, trying to find the ticket office also proved
difficult. The guards looked bemused by my inquiry.
When I did find it on the first floor, the woman behind the wooden
desk seemed equally bemused by my request for a return ticket.
She told me to wait for her manager. He in turn said they did not sell
the train tickets - but if I wanted bus tickets, I could buy those.
If it was the train I really wanted, he said I should go to the new
Chinese-built station outside Addis Ababa and buy my ticket there.
The manager assured me the SGR was working, but advised I arrive early
- by 06:30.
I felt reassured, until the next problem - finding the location of
this new station.
At last a hotel receptionist found me a taxi driver in the know, who
said it was a 90-minute drive away - and would cost $18, almost as
expensive as the train ticket.
So we set off on a cold, wet, dark Tuesday at 05:00.
We drove past the changing landscape of Bole district in Addis Ababa,
where I used to live - but it's now very different: full of huge,
newly built hotels and malls.
We drove along a newly built road for several kilometres before the
large Furi-Labu railway station appeared from nowhere.
The new station is supposed to be a source of pride for Ethiopians
The building, which looked like it had been parachuted directly from
China to Ethiopia, was completely deserted - only a soldier stood
guard, with a few Chinese workers roaming around.
It felt eerie, as if abandoned. I walked up the huge concrete steps
and spoke to the soldier who told me the station had been closed for
at least "two weeks" as there were technical issues with track near
There would be no trains that morning.
I returned to the hotel - again covered in mud after torrential rain -
left with no choice but to fly.
But the internet was down - not an unusual situation in Ethiopia these
days - so I had to book my flight by phone.
And by the time I should have been arriving at Dire Dawa's new station
at 15.50 that day, I was instead in the departure lounge at Addis
Ababa airport waiting for my gate to be announced.
Mugabe started well but had a bad finish @TheStarKenya
Robert Gabriel Mugabe who had previously opined thus on the occasion
of his 88th birthday
''I have died many times — that’s where I have beaten Christ. Christ
died once and resurrected once.”
died in a Singapore Hospital. Peter Bouckaert of HRW said of him
“He was the liberation hero of an era—a poster child for African
liberation. Bob Marley played at his inauguration in 1980”
Mugabe was without doubt erudite and an intellectual
''Mugabe’s secret was that he was always the cleverest person in the
room'' [Simon Allison Mail and Guardian]
One of his Biographers Blair argued that Mugabe shared many character
traits with Ian Smith, stating that they were both "proud, brave,
stubborn, charismatic, deluded fantasists"
According to The Black Scholar journal, "depending on who you listen
to ... Mugabe is either one of the world's great tyrants or a fearless
nationalist who has incurred the wrath of the West."
Morgan Tsvangirai said “He is, on one hand, the man who liberated our
country from the white colonialists, and he is also this man who has
murdered and repressed in a dictatorial manner, I say: he is the
founding father of Zimbabwe, and the problem we have is to save the
positive side of his contribution to this country, and to let history
judge his negative contributions.” He added, “For me, I find it quite
profound that he is quite an old man who has mismanaged his own
Mario Vargas Llosa in his book The Neighborhood which was a book about
Peru in the time of Fujimori and the The Doctor Vladimiro Montesinos
''Something bigger than You and me Power. You don’t fool around with
Power my Friend'' which I would argue was a common and overarching
thread of his 37 years of leadership.
After assuming power, he moved fast to create a de facto one-party
state. In the early 1980s, he suppressed the Ndebele rebellion in
Matabeleland with great brutality. He unleashed the War veterans on
the White Farmers when Tony Blair's Labour Government reneged on
promises to provide Funds to buy out the White Farmers. Of course,
neither the White Farmers nor Tony Blair nor the MDC overthrew him but
in a Shakespeare level outcome it was his trusted lieutenant Emmerson
Mnangagwa who ''removed the plug from the socket of political power''
[ Alex T. Magaisa]. I have not got the space to dive further into the
Psychology of the Man or the influence of his second Wife ''Gucci''
Grace who actually should have been called ''Ferragamo'' Grace because
she said that her narrow feet meant she could only wear Ferragamo
Jonathan Moyo said. “And, meanwhile, the people forgot the vision of
the liberation struggle. The people were saying, ‘What good is
liberation without food?’
And this is the Point.
Mugabe started well but then presided over the immiseration of his
country. GDP per capita has shrunk by a third since the 1980s [IMF].
Today, Zimbabwe is the region’s basket case and this is a country with
a Literacy rate of 85%, in the top quintile of SSA countries. More
than 3m Zimbabweans have fled and that's about 1 in 5 Zimbabweans.
Zimbabwe is ranked 45th among 47 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa
region. The Economy has crashed and burned not once but repeatedly.
Inflation whilst not hitting the levels we saw in 2008 is flying off
the charts again. This is an Economy which was the ''breadbasket'' of
the region. Most of Zimbabwe's Citizens are ''born free'' the fight
for independence was real but is no longer relevant is it?
We are grateful to all those iconic leaders who liberated our
Continent of which Mugabe is one but at what price? Fighting for
independence is not the same as building an Economy which provides
opportunity for all its citizens.
As some African leaders laud Mugabe today, @PastorEvanLive argues:
"There can be no mixed feelings, misconceptions or complications
about Robert Mugabe’s legacy. He presided over the destruction of
millions of people’s lives over a span of 37 years."
Emmerson Mnanagwa who was eulogising Mugabe as a Revolutionary Icon
has failed and is frankly as untenable as his erstwhile Mentor.
This is an enormously rich Country. My Wife who comes from Blantrye
described to me how when she was young driving to Harare was like
visiting the 1st World. The Human Capital is seriously talented. Its
time to boom the Economy. Its not rocket science.
Kenya's @KeEquityBank announces deal to buy Congo's second-largest bank @fastFT @thomas_m_wilson
Kenya’s Equity Bank said it plans to acquire the second-largest lender
in the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of the east African
group’s strategy to expand across Africa.
The bank’s parent company, Equity Group Holdings, has entered into a
non-binding agreement to acquire a controlling stake in Banque
Commerciale du Congo, the company said in an emailed statement on
“The proposed transaction is an opportunity for EGH to deliver the
vision of building sub-Saharan Africa’s premier financial institution
through delivering innovative products and services to customers,
including, in particular, the effective use of technology,” the
Founded as a provider of mortgage financing in the 1980s, Equity bank
has expanded rapidly in the last 15 years by targeting previously
unbanked, low-income depositors and is now Kenya’s biggest lender by
market value and Africa’s largest bank by customer numbers.
Equity acquired Congo’s seventh-biggest bank, ProCredit Bank Congo, in
2015 and in April agreed to buy Atlas Mara’s banking operations in
Rwanda, Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania, in a deal worth about $106m.
Equity now has operations in eight African countries. It did not
disclose how much it will pay for the stake in BCDC, which was founded
in 1909. BCDC had total assets of $706m at the end of 2017. The
Congolese government owns a 25 per cent stake in the lender.