Just as it was reported that the summit between the United States and North Korea was back on and that Kim Young Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea was on his way to New York to meet with officials in preparation for the June 12 summit, the CIA leaked an intelligence assessment concluding that “North Korea does not intend to give up its nuclear weapons any time soon.” The timing of this leak is striking, as it seems to be an effort to undermine negotiations between the two nations and comes just days after ranking members of the Democratic Party and Republican hardliners attacked President Donald Trump over his efforts to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The identity of the reporter who helped break the story also raises serious questions about whether or not a faction within the CIA deliberately attempted to undermine diplomatic efforts to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. According to NBC News, the report was leaked to none other than NBC national security reporter Ken Dilanian, known as “The CIA’s Mop-Up Man.”
In 2014, The Intercept reported on Ken Dilanian’s correspondence and relationship with the CIA while Dilanian was a reporter for the Los Angeles Times.
According to The Intercept, “Email exchanges between CIA public affairs officers and Ken Dilanian, now an Associated Press intelligence reporter who previously covered the CIA for the Times, show that Dilanian enjoyed a close collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication. In at least one instance, the CIA’s reaction appears to have led to significant changes in the story that was eventually published in the Times.”
According to the Huffington Post, while writing for the Los Angeles Times, Dilanian also reported a CIA claim as fact by stating that “there was no collateral murder in a 2012 drone strike on Al Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi.” Dilanian’s article was directly disputed in an Amnesty International report.
In the aftermath of the revelations about Dilanian’s ties to the CIA, he was disavowed by the Los Angeles Times. The disclosure of Dilanian’s collaboration with the CIA also led his former employer, David Lauter of the Tribune Washington to believe Dilanian could have violated Tribune news policy. Lauter acknowledged that Tribune policy dictates that reporters “not share copies of stories outside the newsroom.” Lauter further stated that he was “disappointed that the emails indicate that Ken may have violated that rule.”
Dilanian has not shied away from pushing articles written by former CIA officials who continue to perpetuate the “Trump-Russia” collusion narrative without any regard to facts, such as Steven Hall’s Washington Post article titled: “I was in the CIA. We wouldn’t trust a country whose leader did what Trump did.”
Wikileaks has also pointed out Dilanian’s agency connection and his pushing of the “Trump-Russia” collusion narrative, tweeting: “CIA’s ‘mop up man’ Ken Dilanian is the NBC ‘reporter’ used to channel claim about president Putin + US election.”
In the aftermath of recent revelations concerning the CIA’s collaboration with foreign intelligence agencies to spy on Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 US Presidential Election the fresh leaks continue to show a pattern of rebellion that has long run rampant in the US intelligence community. While the CIA’s apparent violations of ethical considerations concerning surveillance of candidates running for public office was serious enough, their interference drags the reputation of the agency to a new (and in the case of Korean peace negotiations, more dangerous) low amid their conflict with the sitting President of the United States.
However, despite these attacks, preparations between the two countries have continued for the upcoming June 12 summit. President Trump announced earlier today via Twitter that: “We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea. Meetings are currently taking place concerning Summit, and more. Kim Young Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to New York. Solid response to my letter, thank you!”