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The Wilderness of Mirrors

[ by Charles Cameron — unequal sides of a coin spinning, methinks ]
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Aw, c’mon, Friedman, c’mon now:

**

Sources:

  • Business Insider, Former DNI James Clapper: Putin is handling Trump like a Russian ‘asset’
  • New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman, Is Putin a C.I.A. Agent?
  • **

    Supporting James Clapper, we have this from Barry McCaffrey:

    And this, by way of explanation, from Megyn Kelly:

    The host of “Megyn Kelly Today” recently sat down for an interview with Putin, and told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that she thinks the Russian president “knows some things” that Trump would not want out in public. In the interview, she confronted Putin about why Trump speaks so highly of him, and said she does not think the Russian president likes Trump. “I would not say that Putin likes Trump,” she said. “I did not glean that at all from him. I did glean that perhaps he has something on Donald Trump.”

    “I think there’s a very good chance Putin knows some things about Donald Trump that Mr. Trump does not want repeated publicly,” she added. Kelly said that she doesn’t think Putin’s information has to do with the infamous dossier linking Trump to Russian nationals. “My money’s not on the dossier,” she said. “I think it has to do with money and Trump’s early years dealing with the Russians back in the ’90s, his facilities here in the United States.”

    And from Brennan:

    John O. Brennan, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said Wednesday that he thought Russia may have some kind of compromising information on President Trump, setting off furious speculation about whether the former spy chief was basing that assertion on inside information.

    **

    Supporting Friedman?

    Bupkis.

    But anyway.The two quotes in the DoubleQuote — they make a nice tai-chich symbol — ☯ — an ouroboros of sorts: Trump is Putin’s asset; Putin is Trump’s asset; Trump is Putin’s asset; ad infinitum or nauseam, whichever comes first.

    Hence The Wilderness of Mirrors, via XX Committee. Tbis bears repeating:

    Greg Treverton, a brainy wonk who has worked on the high margins of the U.S. Intelligence Community, famously explained that puzzles and mysteries are fundamentally different: the former, with their pieces, can be solved, while the latter, with inexact pieces and no firm map, defy easy solution. And some mysteries will defy solution indefinitely.

    One of the best things about working in counterintelligence, if you’re comfy with imprecision, is that it’s all about mysteries (one of the worst things is that it can make you crazy), some so vexing and intellectually challenging that they elude agreed-upon solutions for decades, in some cases in perpetuity. James Angleton, the poet-turned-counterspy who became CIA’s genius/flake chief of CI for much of the Cold War, referred to this experience as “the wilderness of mirrors,” which captures the enduring mystery of never quite grasping up from down in a case, or knowing who’s really running the show, no matter how closely you look at it (the memorable phrase also happens to be the title of the best book about the CIA’s Angleton experience).

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