Trump Mulls Privatizing Intelligence With Erik Prince And Oliver North

Screengrab/CBS News/YouTube; Screengrab/Charlie Rose Show/YouTube

The proposal involves creating a private spy network, unconstrained by conventional intelligence agency norms.

According to The Intercept, President Donald Trump is contemplating the proposal of a private intelligence network crafted by Blackwater founder and former CIA officer Erik Prince and Oliver North, a principal actor in the Reagan-era Iran-Contra Scandal.

[The proposal would] provide CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the White House with a global, private spy network that would circumvent official U.S. intelligence agencies, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials and others familiar with the proposals. The sources say the plans have been pitched to the White House as a means of countering “deep state” enemies in the intelligence community seeking to undermine Donald Trump’s presidency.

Prince's ties to the Trump administration include his sister, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, his campaign donations to both Trump and Pence, and his position as an advisor on defense and intelligence for Trump's transition team.

At the heart of the scheme being considered by the White House are Blackwater founder Erik Prince and his longtime associate, CIA veteran John R. Maguire, who currently works for the intelligence contractor Amyntor Group. Maguire also served on Trump’s transition team. Amyntor’s role was first reported by BuzzFeed News.

The Blackwater founder and Maguire have denied that they are cooperating on this matter, but The Intercept notes this has been disputed by current and former U.S. officials and Trump donors.

Prince told a top fundraiser that Maguire was working on part of his Afghanistan plan, characterizing it as the first part of a multi-pronged program. The fundraiser added that Prince never directly asked him for money.... “They’ve been going around asking for a bridge loan to float their operations until the CIA says yes,” said a person who has been briefed on the fundraising efforts.

For its part, the White House denies that any such plans have been proposed, with Michael Anton, spokesperson for the National Security Council saying,

“I can find no evidence that this ever came to the attention of anyone at the NSC or [White House] at all. The White House does not and would not support such a proposal.”

A CIA spokesperson expressed similar sentiments:

“You have been provided wildly inaccurate information by people peddling an agenda.”