Trump’s canary trap

Let me give you two different takes on the rise and fall of General Mike Flynn as National Security Advisor. He was nominated and then had his nomination withdrawn because of a phone call to the Russian ambassador. This is Andrew McCarthy discussing Why Was the FBI Investigating General Flynn? He goes through the issue point by point to demonstrate that it had been absolutely illegal for the investigation into Flynn to have taken place, and then that it was equally illegal for any of the news media to have published the details of this conversation when it was leaked to them. Here’s how it ends:

There appears to have been no foreign-intelligence or criminal-investigative purpose served by the FBI’s interrogation of General Flynn. It is easy to see why Democrats would want to portray Flynn’s contact with the Russian ambassador as worthy of an FBI investigation. But why did the FBI and the Justice Department investigate Flynn — and why did “officials” make sure the press found out about it?

And why were the media allowed to print what they were given? To answer that, there is this second article that is worth thinking about. This is an article with the title, Leakers Beware. Read it all if you are interested in spycraft – as I have been for the whole of my life – but also read it as a plausible possibility from a very sophisticated White House that knows what it’s doing. Here’s the start”

President Trump has defeated Democrats in the intelligence community (IC) who were leaking classified information to the press. Such leaks have been a problem for many presidents, but Trump is the first who took a proactive approach and set up a sting operation that identified the leakers. It’s highly illegal to leak classified information. It’s also illegal to PUBLISH this information, but Trump is too smart to try and prosecute reporters.

I thought that Trump would fire members of the IC until the leaks stopped, but the president solved the problem with a much more imaginative and deadly approach: He fed the IC false information. When this information was published, Trump was able to identify individual leakers.


Each group or individual who leaked was given a different version of events. This is CLASSIC spycraft. If nine individuals are told nine different stories, and then each of those stories is published, you know the identity of each person who talked to the press.

It’s called a “barium meal,” after the medical test used to detect problems in the gastrointestinal tract. Soft tissues don’t show up on X-rays. Barium salts are “radio-opaque,” meaning that they show up in a radiograph or X-ray.

Author Tom Clancy called it a “canary trap.” You give multiple sources multiple versions of events. When the sources repeat their version word for word, you can identify each leaker individually.

All is explained in detail in the story. Essentially, though, you give out stories A, B, C, D and E, to individuals V, W, X, Y and Z and when you find A, C and E in the papers the next day, you have identified V, X and Z as those you cannot trust. Who knows? The story has been difficult to follow from the start since nothing particularly heinous seems to have happened. Here’s the conclusion which seems to fit the facts as well as anything else:

Flynn was not fired against his will. For some reason people don’t understand that. I’m very surprised. Do you not grasp that Flynn CREATED this operation? The position of National Security Adviser is almost ceremonial. When the leaks began in September of 2016, it was FLYNN who crafted this sting. He hasn’t been sacrificed. Instead, he’s working behind the scenes to root out corruption in the IC.

Today at his press conference, Donald Trump said he thinks the leaks will stop. This is because the leakers are looking at very long prison sentences. Like Tom Cruise in The Firm, Donald Trump now knows everything.

It’s up to the IC whether or not Trump unloads his cargo of information or keeps it at sea forever.

Is Trump that smart? We shall certainly know something if the leaks now really do come to a stop.

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