A Man Obsessed

And an agency desperate.

This likely flew under the radar for many. It happened right after the Trump upset in November 2016. The establishment still hadn't regrouped, upper management at Google were still literally shaking. Julian Assange's theory seems the most plausible. Hillary could have indeed won, but every poll put her so far in front that there was no point in wasting further campaign millions.

And so the unthinkable happened, and Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States. The once-venerable Washington Post announced not twenty minutes after the inauguration that the impeachment process had begun. Trump's family back then were still living not in the White House but in New York City. And Donald himself paid a visit to Langley already the following day.

And amidst this tumult on 7 March WikiLeaks began publishing one of the biggest dumps ever.

Vault 7.

Vault 7 was about secret CIA hacking. The scope of Vault 7 was staggering. The dumps didn't have any of the source code to these hacks of Windows, of Android, of iOS, and of Linux, but they showed the extent of the enterprise that had been undertaken. Culling research from everyone imaginable, Vault 7 had 'zero day' exploits to enable hijacking of just about every computing device that existed. Suddenly everyone could see what the love child of Allen Dulles was really up to. The CIA, once a morph of the Office of Strategic Services from World War II, had turned over ordinary intelligence operations to the National Endowment for Democracy and USAID, to instead concentrate on the real digital 'cloak and dagger' stuff.

That WikiLeaks would expose this made some people in Washington very pissed. Just how pissed wasn't fully known until Zach Dorfman, Sean Naylor, and Pulitzer Prize-winning Michael Isikoff published their bombshell piece on Sunday 26 September 2021.

It's truly a long piece. The estimate is it'll take you '39 min' to wade through it all. Kevin Gosztola's done a summary that helps ease you into it.

'The CIA knew it was facing a catastrophe', reads the article. Gosztola adds:

'Even though the CIA had increased spying operations against WikiLeaks, they still were surprised the media organisation obtained a trove of the agency's extremely sensitive files.'

Mike Pompeo, appointed to head the Langley agency, was hesitant to inform the Commander-in-Chief about vault 7.

'Pompeo, apparently fearful of the president's wrath...'

The CIA was already on high alert because of Snowden. They were still fuming at how Assange outwitted their colleagues at the NSA so that Snowden could promenade his way into Russia.

Pompeo's people lobbied Obama to redefine WikiLeaks - and others like Glenn Greenwald - as 'information brokers'. At the backs of their minds might have been the idea that one could then blame it all, once again, on Russia. Counter-plans emerged, along with the paranoia that Russia might actually try to rescue Assange from the Ecuadorean embassy after all - in a clothes hamper no less, or by just driving up to the front door and letting Assange hop in, ideas Assange had also heard but summarily dismissed.

(Assange doesn't smoke, so exploding cigars weren't discussed.)

'They'd treat WikiLeaks as a spy service and anything conducted would be offensive counterintelligence activity', as Goszola described it.

Obsessive Offensive

The launch of this obsessive offensive by Mike Pompeo began with his speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in April, a month after Vault 7.

As Assange and WikiLeaks were hardly going to sit in the same canoe as Russia or any other state actor, Pompeo had to reframe WikiLeaks as, simply, a 'hostile entity'.

Paralysing WikiLeaks digital infrastructure, disrupting WikiLeaks communications, provoking WikiLeaks internal disputes by planting damaging information, stealing the communications devices of WikiLeaks staff: these were amongst the proposals entertained by Mike Pompeo.

'We can now say Mike Pompeo wanted to kidnap WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange', writes Gosztola. 'Pompeo wanted to put him on a rendition flight to the United States.'

Pompeo and others at the CIA proposed abducting Assange from the embassy and sneaking him into the United States via a third country. 'Break into the embassy, drag him out, and bring him where we want.' Yet this one wasn't Pompeo's but a Langley classic hatched long before his arrival. (The CIA never talked cigars with Mike.)

'Agency executives requested and received sketches of plans for killing Assange and other Europe-based WikiLeaks members with access to Vault 7 materials.'

Sweden came back into focus, if only briefly, when the investigation of Assange, initially closed within twelve hours in August 2010, was finally closed for good in May 2017. This left the US in a precarious position. 'Were we going back to black sites?' asked one NSC official sarcastically, as abducting someone not charged with a crime is a no-no. But Britain stepped up, agreeing not to drop the bail-jump ruse.

John Kiriakou says that even he is having trouble wrapping his mind around it all.

What's essential in this hour-long clip with John is that people were desperate at the CIA to get at Assange, and Pompeo himself was more than desperate - he was obsessed.

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