Speed Reads

Private Eyes

Erik Prince and Oliver North are trying to sell Trump on a secret spy force

Blackwater founder Erik Prince, ex-CIA officer John R. Maguire, and Iran-Contra linchpin Oliver North have been shopping a proposal to President Trump's White House and CIA Director Mike Pompeo to create a private global network of expendable spies that would report directly to Trump and Pompeo, and Pompeo wants Trump to approve the contract, The Intercept reports, citing "several current and former U.S. intelligence officials and others familiar with the proposals." The Intercept confirms and expands on BuzzFeed's report that intelligence contractor Amyntor Group, Maguire's employer, is a potential organizer of the new private spy network.

"Pompeo can't trust the CIA bureaucracy, so we need to create this thing that reports just directly to him," a former senior U.S. intelligence official tells The Intercept, paraphrasing White House discussions. "The whole point is this is supposed to report to the president and Pompeo directly." Maguire was on Trump's transition team and used to work for Prince, and North, a Fox News regular, was reportedly brought in to help enlist Trump's support. The apparent pitch to Trump was creating an intelligence apparatus that will counter the "deep state" trying to undermine his presidency.

"John [Maguire] was certain that the deep state was going to kick the president out of office within a year," a person who discussed it with Maguire told The Intercept. Maguire also told at least two people that H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security adviser, had approved surveillance on Stephen Bannon, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump, The Intercept reports, and "used a burner phone to send information gathered through the surveillance to a facility in Cyprus owned by George Soros." The National Security Council, CIA, and Prince all denied the global spy network; NSC spokesman Michael Anton said "the White House does not and would not support such a proposal." Current and former intelligence officials say that's not true. You can read more at The Intercept.