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Is the Filer Really CIA?

Michael Kaarhus
02:01 Saturday, Oct. 5, AD 2019 GMT

On September 26, the NYT reported, from sources that they did not identify, that the so-called whistleblower complaint filer is CIA. But the same NYT article says that Acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, does not know the whistlebungler’s identity:

“We must protect those who demonstrate the courage to report alleged wrongdoing, whether on the battlefield or in the workplace,” Mr. Maguire said at a hearing on Thursday, adding that he did not know the whistle-blower’s identity. (NYT article)

The NYT article also says that the C.I.A.’s general counsel, Courtney Simmons Elwood does not know the whistlebungler’s identity:

Ms. Elwood did not pass on the name of the C.I.A. officer, which she did not know because his concerns were submitted anonymously. (NYT article)

The person to whom the complaint was submitted, Michael Atkinson, Inspector General for the intelligence agencies, also does not know who the whistlebungler is. Again, that’s because the whistlebungler submitted the complaint anonymously. We have no reason to believe that the whistlebungler is CIA, other than the anonymous sources of the same NYT article. Which means that we have no solid reason to believe that the whistlebungler is CIA.

The NYT article names only one source that might know the identity of the whistlebungler: Andrew Bakaj, the whistlebungler’s “lead counsel”:

“Any decision to report any perceived identifying information of the whistle-blower is deeply concerning and reckless, as it can place the individual in harm’s way,” said Andrew Bakaj, his lead counsel. “The whistle-blower has a right to anonymity.” (NYT article)

Obviously, Bakaj is protecting his client’s identity. And We the People are in the same boat as the CIA, the DNI and the IG: we don’t know whether or not the whistlebungler is CIA.

The NYT article cited unnamed sources at least eleven times. The emphases below are mine:

“... a C.I.A. officer had lodged allegations against President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine ... people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.” (¶ 1)

“The officer first shared information about potential abuse of power and a White House cover-up with the C.I.A.’s top lawyer through an anonymous process, some of the people said.” (¶ 2)

“The whistle-blower was detailed to work at the White House at one point, according to three people familiar with his identity, and has since returned to the C.I.A.” (¶ 12)

“The week after the call, the officer delivered a somewhat broad accusation anonymously to the C.I.A.’s general counsel, Courtney Simmons Elwood, according to multiple people familiar with the events.” (¶ 15)

“Ms. Elwood also called John A. Eisenberg, a deputy White House counsel and her counterpart at the National Security Council, according to three people familiar with the matter.” (¶ 17)

“Mr. Eisenberg and Ms. Elwood both spoke on Aug. 14 to John Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s national security division, according to three people familiar with the discussion.” (¶ 19)

“The deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, and Brian A. Benczkowski, the head of the department’s criminal division, were soon looped in, according to two administration officials.” (¶ 20)

“Department officials began to discuss the accusations and whether and how to follow up, and Attorney General William P. Barr learned of the allegations around that time, according to a person familiar with the matter. Although Mr. Barr was briefed, he did not oversee the discussions about how to proceed, the person said.” (¶ 21)

“But as White House, C.I.A. and Justice Department officials were examining the accusations, the C.I.A. officer who had lodged them anonymously grew concerned after learning that Ms. Elwood had contacted the White House, according to two people familiar with the matter.” (¶ 22)

“The C.I.A. officer did not work on the communications team that handles calls with foreign leaders, according to the people familiar with his identity.” (¶ 32)

“After the call, multiple officials told the whistle-blower that future talks between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky would depend on whether the Ukrainians would ‘play ball’ on the investigations.” (¶ 34)

The above, anonymous sources are not a solid basis from which to conclude that the whistlebungler is CIA. We do not even know that the whistlebungler is in the IC. Just because the NYT believes these anonymous sources, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t feed the NYT false information. Either the NYT is exceedingly careless to report second hand information as the truth, or they are in on the whole sham, or both.

From the content of the complaint, it is apparent that the whistlebungler had at least one source in the White House that is familiar with the phone call. But that does not mean that the whistlebungler him- or herself is in the IC.

A false narrative against the Trump Administration is being spun, and part of it could be the claim that the whistlebungler is in the CIA. That part would be to protect the real identity of the whistlebungler.

I do not know anything about the filing process. So I cannot say for sure whether or not one has to be in the IC to file an IC whistleblower complaint. It looks like all that one needs is the form; the filing process itself—according to the same NYT article—is anonymous. Maybe someone that is not in the IC filed the whistleblower complaint. Or maybe some very insignificant person in the IC filed it, at the behest of someone that is more significant, that is not in the IC. Some people think that Rep. Schiff (D-CA-28) filed it. See, for instance, this article.

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