By Avery Anapol The Hill December 6, 2017
The Trump White House is reportedly considering a proposal for a global, private spy network to counter “’deep state’ enemies” who want to undermine Trump’s presidency, according to a report in The Intercept.
The proposals for the network were reportedly developed by Blackwater founder Erik Prince – who is also the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos – as well as retired CIA officer John Maguire and Oliver North, who was heavily involved in the Iran-Contra scandal and was reportedly brought on board to “sell the effort” to the administration.
The spies would be “off the books,” sidestepping official U.S. intelligence agencies and would report directly to CIA Director Mike Pompeo, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, the Intercept reported.
A former senior U.S. intelligence official with knowledge of the proposals told the Intercept that Pompeo doesn’t trust the “CIA bureaucracy,” so a global spy network is necessary to collect intelligence that is not shared with the intelligence community.
“Pompeo can’t trust the CIA bureaucracy, so we need to create this thing that reports just directly to him,” the source told the news outlet. “It is a direct-action arm, totally off the books.”
Trump has brought up the “deep state” repeatedly during his presidency, alleging that there are officials in politics and government departments and agencies who seek to undermine his administration.
The network would reportedly consist of an “army of spies” in countries worldwide, including in North Korea and Iran, both of which are currently “denied areas” for U.S. intelligence.
While sources told The Intercept that Vice President Pence was among those who had been briefed on the plan, a spokesperson for Pence said there was “no record of [Prince] ever having met with or briefed the VP.”
Two former senior intelligence officials told the news outlet that Pompeo has “embraced” the plan and is pressuring the White House to adopt the proposal.
The Intercept also reported that individuals involved with the plans have held secret meetings with potential donors in the Trump Hotel.
A spokesman for the National Security Council told the Intercept that the White House “does not and would not support such a proposal,” and that he could find “no evidence” that the proposals were ever brought to the attention of the White House or the National Security Council, and a CIA spokesperson told the Intercept, “You have been provided wildly inaccurate information by people peddling an agenda.”
Prince and Maguire have denied that they are working together, and Prince has denied involvement in the project at all, but a source told the Intercept, “there is no doubt that Prince and Maguire were working together.”
Another source said that Maguire was concerned about “deep state” operatives within the CIA who joined under Obama and were withholding information from Trump.
“[Maguire] said there were people inside the CIA who joined in the previous eight years, and inside the government, and they were failing to give the president the intelligence he needed,” the source said.