SCOOP: Former CIA Officer Has Not Had Upcoming Book Cleared By CIA, Sources Say

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SCOOP: Former CIA Officer Has Not Had Upcoming Book Cleared By CIA, Sources Say

Former CIA Case Officer Amaryllis Fox has a book about her time in the intelligence agency coming out this October, but according to two sources, it has not officially been cleared for publication yet by the CIA. 

Even though she hasn’t received clearance yet, according to the sources, review copies of the book “Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA,” from the august publishing house Knopf, have gone out to at least one news publication and myself, which could mean that Fox violated federal law. 

And an excerpt from Fox’s book, which contains information related to the CIA and intelligence activities (though it’s unclear if any of it is classified), was published in Vogue last month.

According to two sources, Fox did submit her manuscript to the CIA for clearance but it has not yet been cleared for publication.

When an individual joins the CIA, they sign a lifetime agreement that confirms they need to have any materials about the agency and intelligence matters cleared first by the CIA's Publications Review Board before sharing that information with the public. The board reviews the written materials and redacts any information that is classified or may cause harm to U.S. national security. Even if a former CIA official believes what they have written does not contain classified information, they still must submit it to the review board for clearance. Former CIA officials will often go back and forth with the review board, negotiating redactions, before they gain final clearance for publication. 

In a statement, a spokesperson for Knopf said, “Our understanding is that Amaryllis has coordinated with the PRB throughout the process of writing her book, from the proposal through the final manuscript.” 

I have reached out to the CIA for comment but have not heard back yet. 

With respect to the excerpt of Fox’s book published in Vogue, a source familiar with the matter says a Vogue fact-checker was in touch with the review board, but the source did not know if the board had cleared the excerpt for publication. It’s unusual for anyone but a former CIA official (or their attorney) to be in contact with the board. In fact, a well-placed source says the board will often decline to interact with outsiders.  I’ve reached out to a spokesperson for Vogue’s parent company, Condé Nast for comment.

The review board process is notoriously difficult, and former CIA officials like Nada Bakos, who served as an analyst and targeting officer for a decade, have had to sue the agency to get their books cleared for publication. But the law is clear: Until a former CIA official has clearance, which comes in the form of an official letter, they may not share any information with outsiders.  

In fact, the CIA says a former official shouldn’t even share a manuscript with ghostwriters or a publisher before they get clearance from the review board: 

“Publishing is more than having a printing house bind copies of a book. It means communicating by any means (including orally or electronically), information regardless of form to any person or entity other than the CIA’s PRB or a US Government official authorized by the CIA to receive such information for prepublication review. This encompasses materials including but not limited to: book reviews, Op-ed pieces, scholarly papers, scripts, screenplays, blogs, speeches, and other materials. Thus, material covered by a CIA Secrecy Agreement requiring prepublication review must be submitted and approved prior to discussing the material with or showing it to individuals such as a publisher, co-author, agent, editor, ghost-writer, personal representative, family member, or assistant.”

Further complicating matters, Fox sold the rights to her book and her life to Media Res, the production company run by producer Michael Ellenberg. Media Res sold the project as a drama series to Apple after a bidding war, and actress Brie Larson is set to star in and produce the series. 

It’s unclear if Media Res, Apple or Larson have actually received a copy of the book, although given that review copies have gone out to reporters, it’s likely they have. I have contacted representatives for Media Res, Apple and Larson and will update this story if they offer comment. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Fox will produce and provide additional background information for the series.” If Fox’s background information is related to national security matters, she would also need to have that cleared with the CIA review board before sharing it with producers, according to a source familiar with review board procedures. It’s unclear if Fox has submitted or shared any background information to producers.

The penalties for failing to gain clearance of a book pre-publication are quite severe. In 2016, former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, who was a part of the raid that led to Osama bin Laden’s death, forfeited more than $6 million in income from his book “No Easy Day” and related speeches. Unlike Fox, Bissonnette never even submitted his book for review to the US Department of Defense.

Bissonnette’s forfeiture ended years of federal criminal and civil investigations. 

NEWS: Trump/Elephants

I’m sending two newsletters back-to-back today as I’m covering radically different topics! Please forgive me!

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NEWS: US to Oppose Proposal by African Nations to Sell Ivory Stockpiles 

Elephants in Africa are in crisis because of poaching, climate change and a host of other issues.

But I just learned that they’re getting a bit of a reprieve from the Trump administration.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just confirmed to me that the United States is officially opposing a proposal that would allow four nations in southern Africa—Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe—to sell their ivory stockpiles. These stockpiles mainly come from the ivory of dead elephants and those seized from traffickers. 

The proposal to sell ivory stockpiles was presented by three of the nations, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe, at the CITES meeting in Geneva. CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an agreement among 183 countries on the regulation of wildlife trade and any wildlife products, including ivory sales. 

The reason this opposition is such a victory for elephants is that the last time Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe were allowed to sell their ivory stockpiles, in 2008, it led to a catastrophic rise in illegal poaching. At the time, the sale, which was made to Japan and China, was intended to flood the market and reduce prices, but it had the opposite impact; after the sale, elephant poaching increased by 66 percent and has only recently started to slow. In the past 10 years, hundreds of thousands of elephants have been slaughtered for their ivory. 

The countries seeking to get permission from CITES to sell their ivory stockpiles have been frustrated that they can’t decide what to do with the ivory from their elephants. They’ve implied directly, and indirectly, that the restrictions imposed on them by countries that don’t have elephants smack of neo-colonialism. 

Zimbabwe, which is facing a horrific economic crisis (inflation soared to 175 percent in June), is among the most strident voices on the subject of selling ivory stockpiles.

“Our ivory stockpile is worth over $300 million, which we can’t sell because countries without elephants are telling those with them what to do with their animals,” Nick Mangwana, a Zimbabwe government official, tweeted in May

Here’s a partial statement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on its decision to oppose a limited sale of ivory from the four nations in southern Africa: 

“Given the continuous high levels of elephant poaching and illegal ivory trade, the United States believes it is premature to agree to a resumption of trade in ivory at this time. The United States believes that re-opening international trade in ivory, at this time, will further endanger elephant populations across Africa.

It is extremely difficult to differentiate legally acquired ivory from ivory derived from elephant poaching. USFWS criminal investigations and anti-smuggling efforts have clearly shown that the legal ivory trade can serve as a cover for illegal trade to launder illegally obtained ivory. Therefore, allowing legal ivory to enter the marketplace could mask trade in illegal ivory and contribute to increased elephant poaching, undermining the efforts to date that may have resulted in the slight reduction in poaching observed in some range countries or areas.” 

Scoop: Bank of America/Pakistan

I’m sending two newsletters back-to-back today as I’m covering radically different topics! Please forgive me!

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SCOOP: Bank of America CEO to Have ‘Dinner and Conversation’ with Pakistan’s Prime Minister 

Bank of America’s CEO and Chairman Brian Moynihan is planning to sit down with Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan, in September for what’s being billed as a “Dinner and Conversation,” according to an invitation that a source shared with me. 

The Sept. 23 event is being hosted at the St. Regis New York hotel by Tina Brown, the former editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker and founder of Tina Brown Live Media. 

That the chairman and CEO of one of the world’s largest banks is willing to sit down with the prime minister of Pakistan in what is likely to be a friendly conversation during heightened tensions caused by the crisis in Kashmir is surprising to say the least.  

This move is sure to anger some of Bank of America’s Indian clients. (The same would be true of some of its Pakistani clients if Moynihan was set to have a similar dinner and conversation with Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India.)

A former top Bank America executive that I sent the invite to replied with a short text in reaction, “Why is he [Moynihan] doing this now? He doesn’t have a shortage of people to speak to!”

I’ve reached out to a Bank of America spokesperson for comment. 

If you’re not aware of what’s happening in Kashmir, I can’t do it justice in a short newsletter post, so I suggest you read this story:

Exclusive: Julián Castro/Animal Welfare

Exclusive: Julián Castro To Announce Ambitious Animal Welfare Plan

Julián Castro is announcing an ambitious animal welfare plan Monday as part of his presidential campaign. The plan calls for ending the euthanization of domestic dogs and cats in shelters and seeks to improve federal housing policy for those with pets. It also says Castro would sign into law legislation that would make animal cruelty a federal crime, establish federal minimums for space for farm animals, prohibit the testing of cosmetic products on animals, and ban the unlicensed ownership of large cats like lions and tigers.

Link To My Story:

Breaking: Scientology Sued By Four Women

Four women who have accused Danny Masterson of raping them filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court against the actor, the Church of Scientology, to which he belongs, and the church’s controversial leader, David Miscavige. 

The suit accuses Scientology, which has long been accused of illegal and unethical conduct, and Masterson of engaging in stalking, physical invasion of privacy and a conspiracy to obstruct justice, among other allegations detailed in the complaint that HuffPost obtained from a source who provided a copy on the condition that they not be identified. 

Read My Story Here (going to update it throughout the night):

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