Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intelligence

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Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intelligence

Postby admin » Fri Jan 20, 2017 5:44 am

Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intelligence Dossier’ Directed against Donald Trump
by Prof Michael Keefer
Global Research
January 15, 2017

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During the past weeks and months, the US media have been agog over one revelation after another of supposed Kremlin skullduggery in tipping the US presidency—the rightful inheritance, needless to say, of Hillary Clinton—into the unsavoury lap of Donald Trump.

Some critics have been ungrateful enough to suggest that claims published without the least scintilla of supporting evidence by intelligence agencies which have a rich history of lying to the American people as well as everyone else, and which are in addition led by James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, may not be above suspicion.[1]

But the latest revelation, a 35-page sequence of linked texts published on January 10 by BuzzFeedNews, gives what simpletons are expected to interpret as unimpeachable evidence of soundness and credibility. The document is authored “by a person who has claimed to be a former British intelligence official,” and its sources, identified by letters of the alphabet, include a “senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure,” “a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin,” as well as another “senior Kremlin official.”[2] (How could one fail to doff one’s cap in acknowledgment of the spy-craft of those Brits, who are able so deftly to penetrate the inner counsels of the wicked Mr. Putin and induce his close associates to sing like canaries?)

The texts which make up this document propose that Mr. Trump and his entourage had routine treasonous contacts with Russian state authorities over a long period leading up to the election, and that Mr. Putin was interfering in that election in every way possible—including by exploiting “TRUMP’s personal obsessions and sexual perversion in order to obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ (compromising material) on him.”[3]

The document’s most lurid claim—certified by Sources B, D, E and F—is made on its second page. It’s not clear what form of perverse pleasure Mr. Trump was supposed to have obtained by having “a number of prostitutes” urinate on his bed in the Moscow Ritz Carlton’s presidential suite. The explanation given for the motivation behind this command performance—that the same bed had previously been slept in, on one of their official visits to Russia, by Barack and Michelle Obama (“whom he hated”)[4]—seems bizarre.

After all, on the night in question, whose soggy bed was it now?


By way of comparison: What harm would I be doing to a champion heavyweight boxer, however much I loathed him, if I were to lace on one of his boxing gloves and punch myself in the face with it?

Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance

So far TRUMP has declined various sweetener real estate business deals offered him in Russia in order to further the Kremlin's cultivation of him. However he and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals

Former top Russian intelligence officer claims FSB has compromised TRUMP through his activities in Moscow sufficiently to be able to blackmail him. According to several knowledgeable sources, his conduct in Moscow has included perverted sexual acts which have been arranged/monitored by the FSB


The most immediate concern raised by this literally filthy story may be humanitarian. It seems well attested that Mr. Trump is not merely fastidious, but germaphobic:[5] where is he supposed to have slept out the rest of the night? On the perhaps undefiled sofa, or on the carpet? And what are we to make of the claim by trolling posters at 4Chan that this “golden showers” story was a hoax they had foisted onto a Republican operative known to despise Trump, who then shopped it around to news media, other politicians, and intelligence agencies?[6]

If this story is a fiction, then are the document’s Sources B, D, E and F, who confirmed it, also fictional? And if some of the document’s sources are made up, what kind of fool would want to believe that any of the rest are authentic?

Other aspects of the document have also run into trouble. Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s special counsel, whom the document says was a key figure in “the ongoing secret liaison relationship between the New York tycoon’s campaign and the Russian leadership,” and who is supposed to have met secretly with Kremlin officials in Prague in August 2016, has declared that he has never visited the Czech Republic or Russia and was in New York and Los Angeles during the time in question.[7] (It does not seem to have occurred to mainstream media journalists who have described the document’s claims as generally unverifiable that a private, first-hand inspection of Mr. Cohen’s passport would provide one important test of this narrative’s truth or falsity.)[8]

As Russian journalist Andrei Soldatov observes, writing at The Guardian, the document implausibly makes Igor Diveikin responsible for dealings with the US election: in fact, he was in charge of Russian elections, and in October 2016 “was moved to the apparatus of the state Duma.” And it confuses Department K of the FSB, which was not gathering material on Hillary Clinton because it “has nothing to do with eavesdropping or cyber investigations,” with Department K of the Interior Ministry, which is indeed “in charge of cyber investigations.”[9]

In addition to problematic features such as these, the document also contains lesser errors of fact, such as the misspelling of the name of a Russian banking corporation, and the incorrect claim that Moscow’s Barvikha suburb is “reserved for the residences of the top leadership and their close associates”[10]—not to mention swathes of inside dope about the machinations and anxieties of Putin and his closest advisors that have a distinct feel of having been woven out of thin air.

Within a day of BuzzFeed‘s publication of the document, the author’s identity was revealed by the Wall Street Journal.[11] He is one Christopher Steele, a former MI6 agent who is now co-principal of a consulting firm, Orbis Business Intelligence—and who has gone into hiding, leaving his neighbour in Surrey to feed the family cats and his partner in Orbis to make unrevealing statements to the press.[12]

According to Julian Borger of The Guardian, Steele’s writings about Trump “were initially commissioned as opposition research”—a polite term for scandal-mongering—“during the presidential campaign, but its author was sufficiently alarmed by what he discovered to send a copy to the FBI.”[13]

It seems more likely that his employers invited him to pass it on. The Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign inherited work by Steele that was initially paid for by Jeb Bush, who was steamrollered by Trump in the Republican primaries. They were desperate to divert attention away from the scandalous substance of the emails of the Democratic National Committee and of John Podesta, the chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, that Wikileaks was releasing to the public—the DNC emails in two batches on July 22 and November 6, and the Podesta emails on a daily basis beginning on October 7. They had fixed on a McCarthyite smearing of ‘Trump-the-Kremlin-puppet’ as the most efficacious way of doing so;[14] and they must have been sufficiently impressed by Steele’s work to hope that it might induce the FBI to give further momentum to their own previous claims.[15]

That may be speculation, but Steele’s documents, which achieved no more in the public sphere before the election than an article by David Corn in Mother Jones,[16] were certainly given an emphatic push after the election by Republican Senator John McCain. Julian Borger writes that McCain, “who was informed about the existence of the documents separately by an intermediary from a western allied state”—this seems a coy reference to Her Majesty’s Government—“dispatched an emissary overseas to meet the source and then decided to present the material to [FBI Director] Comey in a one-on-one meeting on 9 December….”[17]

In his best deferential Rosencrantz-and-Guildenstern style, Borger informs us that “McCain is not thought to have made a judgment on the reliability of the documents but was sufficiently impressed by the source’s credentials to feel obliged to pass them to the FBI.”[18] He then reveals that McCain thought highly enough of their reliability that, having been denied a special Senate committee to investigate connections between Trump’s campaign and Moscow, he told NBC that three other committees—Armed Services (which he chairs), Foreign Relations, and Intelligence—would examine the matter, and if they produced “enough information,” a special committee would be struck after all “to attack the issue.”[19] This sounds less like a withholding of judgment than a full-court press.

Other news outlets—notably CNN—and intelligence operatives have sought to put some distance between themselves and the dossier. James Clapper, for instance, issued a statement on January 11 denying that the US “intelligence community” had produced the document published by BuzzFeed.[20] But the English newspaper The Guardian has worked stubbornly to sustain the validity of Steele’s document.

This attempt might be said to epitomize The Guardian‘s decline from its former eminence. Writing in its columns on January 12, Andrei Soldatov, whose exposure of some of Steele’s factual errors I have quoted above, maintains that despite “factual confusion”; despite problems with the conspiratorial bias of the document’s analysis; despite “unverifiable sensational details”; despite “questionable evidence”; and finally, despite “big questions” about the “high-placed Kremlin officials [who] seem a little too keen to talk to a former British spy, and feed him damaging information about the most sensitive Kremlin operation in the 21st century—right in the middle of the operation”;—despite all these failings, Steele’s representation of Kremlin procedures and motivations “sounds about right,” and “looks entirely plausible.” “And that,” Soldatov concludes, “whatever the truth of Putin’s connections with Trump, makes it all pretty scary.”[21]


The leaked Trump-Russia dossier rings frighteningly true: There is factual confusion in this document but its depiction of the Kremlin’s tactics is sound
by Andrei Soldatov
12 January 2017

The Kremlin has dismissed the stories about Donald Trump’s alleged dealings with Russia as “pulp fiction”. Even a superficial glance at the dossier on his relationship with Moscow supposedly compiled by a former M16 counter-intelligence officer and published by BuzzFeed reveals a confusion that raises questions about its credibility at the very least.

For example, the FSB unit named as responsible for gathering material on Hillary Clinton – Department K – has nothing to do with eavesdropping or cyber investigations. It was, however, much in the Russian news recently because it was tasked with “supervising” the banking and financing system and its officers were involved in a major scandal that ended with an Interior Ministry official jumping out of a window during interrogation. There is another Department K in the Interior Ministry and it is this that is in charge of cyber investigations. The dossier names Igor Diveikin, a senior official in the political department of Putin’s office, as tasked to deal with the US election. He was indeed in charge of elections, but in Russia, not the US. Last October, a month before the US elections, he was moved to the apparatus of the state Duma.

Beyond the factual detail, there are problems too with the document’s analysis: as in a classic conspiracy, Putin’s decisions in 2016 to fire prominent officials, including the all-powerful Sergei Ivanov, a head of the presidential administration, are explained via the ups and downs of Russia’s interference in the American election.

But Putin had plenty of other reasons to start selective repressive acts against his elites – 2016 was also a year of the Duma elections and there is palpable anxiety in Moscow about the presidential elections in 2018. There are big questions too about the sources: high-placed Kremlin officials seem a little too keen to talk to a former British spy, and feed him damaging information about the most sensitive Kremlin operation in the 21st century – right in the middle of the operation.

Though many of the report’s elements appear hastily compiled, overall it reflects accurately the way decision-making in the Kremlin looks to close observers. There’s been much focus on the shakier elements but what is plausible about this episode? The leaked document paints a picture of groups of hackers all over the world hired to attack western targets. And that sounds about right. I have been covering the Russian secret services since 1999 and have spent the last five years researching Russian cyber activities. Outsourcing sensitive offensive operations is the Kremlin’s way to lower risk and create deniable responsibility. It was used in Crimea, Ukraine and Syria with Russian “volunteers” and private military companies, while in cyberspace it has been the Kremlin tactic since the mid-2000s.

The dossier suggests that Putin personally supervised the operation, with the Foreign Ministry playing only a minor role. This is exactly what has been observed since the annexation of Crimea – that the Foreign Ministry is no longer in charge of defining policy for Ukraine or Syria, so decision-making is likely to be more capricious. It also fits with the assessment of many experts that the hack of the US Democrats was prompted by the Panama Papers exposé, which was seen in the Kremlin as a personal attack on Putin.

Finally, the dossier states that the Kremlin extensively borrowed its methods for dealing with Trump from the KGB playbook. For instance, it claims the Russian secret services were eager to collect dirt on Trump during his trips to Russia to explore whether a recruitment was feasible. The evidence is questionable, but the idea looks entirely plausible – after all, the KGB even had a special terminology for this kind of operation: it was called razvedka s territorii or “gathering intelligence from the territory”, meaning recruiting foreigners once they come to Russia. For that purpose every regional department of the KGB had a “first section” tasked to deal with foreigners once they get to the “territory” of the region, and Putin himself spent a few years in this section in St Petersburg.

The goal, the dossier states, was to create kompromat on Trump. And kompromat, meaning compromising material, as a tactic to smear one’s opponents in the media, came into use in Russia in the late 1990s. It was a mix of intercepted phone calls and analytical profiles prepared by the oligarchs’ shadowy security agencies and government security services. In the 2000s and 2010s, kompromat was redirected against Russian opposition leaders, as well as western diplomats. Videos with kompromat were aired on state television and posted on the websites of pro-Kremlin media outlets.

Unverifiable sensational details aside, the Trump dossier is a good reflection of how things are run in the Kremlin – the mess at the level of decision-making and increasingly the outsourcing of operations, combined with methods borrowed from the KGB and the secret services of the lawless 1990s. That is not the picture projected by the Kremlin externally – namely, that the Russian government is an effective bureaucracy, strategic in foreign policy planning and ruthless in execution. And that, whatever the truth of Putin’s connections with Trump, makes it all pretty scary.


I would describe this reasoning—according to which a document whose analytical method is problematic and whose evidential basis is variously confused, unverifiable, highly questionable, or wholly absent, can nonetheless be accepted as plausible—as mental debris. If any categorical distinction can be made between thinking of this order and the kind of arguments that sent accused witches to the stake in the 16th and 17th centuries, I should like to know what it might be.

WHAT DO YOU KNOW AND HOW DO YOU KNOW IT?

Many readers are by now spluttering with indignation. We can hear them expostulating: “The official version of 9/11 is a myth and a lie!” – followed by a string of obscenities worthy of Dick Cheney. But think for a minute: if you think you know all about 9/11, how do you know what you think you know?

The first identification of Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda as the perpetrators came during the day on September 11, as various commentators and announcers for cable, broadcast, and public television began floating the charge that Bin Laden and al Qaeda were behind the attacks. Apparently CNN was the first to mention Bin Laden, and the other myth-mongers immediately followed its lead. In retrospect, we know that many of these leaks came from two important functionaries in the Washington bureaucracy. These were George Tenet, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, who should have been fired that same day, but who was allowed to resign in disgrace in June 2004, on the eve of the publication of a Senate Intelligence Committee report which pilloried him and his agency for gross incompetence. This was the same Tenet who later assured Bush that the case for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as a pretext for a US invasion was a “slam dunk.” The other prime myth-monger was Richard A. Clarke, the former terror czar of the Clinton administration who had been kept on by Bush. Clarke had a long history, of which many of his gulled victims at those hearings were unaware. He had been dropped from the State Department by James Baker III because he was accused of concealing Israeli exports of US military technology to the People’s Republic of China which were banned under US law, and which the Israelis had agreed in advance not to carry out. In some quarters, Richard Clarke’s name was mentioned at the time of the hunt for MEGA, the Israeli mole thought to be operating in the White House. Clarke is a close friend of Israeli defense officials, among them David Ivry of the Israeli Defense Ministry.

As Clarke recounts in his recently published memoir: “At the outset of the first Gulf War, Ivry and I conspired to get our governments to agree to deploy a US Army Patriot unit in Israel. No foreign troops had ever been stationed before in Israel. We also worked together to sell Patriots to Israel, and to tie in the Kiriat [the Israeli Pentagon] with American satellites that detected Iraqi Scud missile launches towards Israel. After the war, the CIA circulated unfounded rumors that Israel had sold some of the Patriots to China. Many in the State Department who thought I was ‘too close to Israel’ sought to blame me.” (Clarke 46) Clarke was a protégé of Arnold L. Raphael (killed in the same plane crash with Gen. Zia of Pakistan), and worked closely with Morton Abramowitz.

On the morning of Sept. 11, as the White House was being evacuated for fear that it could be hit after the strikes against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the first top official to say “This is Al Qaeda!” had been Richard Clarke. (New York Times, December 30, 2001). When Clarke arrived at the White House a little after 9 AM on 9/11, he found Cheney and Condoleezza Rice alone in Cheney’s office. “What do you think,” asked the horrified Cheney. Clarke’s immediate reply: “It’s an al Qaeda attack and they like simultaneous attacks. This may not be over.” (Clarke 2) This is the moment of conception of the 9/11 myth. At this moment Clarke, as a New Yorker would say, didn’t know from nothing. Had he ever heard of strategic deception? Had he ever heard of diversionary tactics? Had he ever heard of feints?

Clarke tells us in his memoir that he attempted to collect his thoughts about the events going on around him as he walked from the White House Secure Videoconferencing Center just off the Situation Room across the White House to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, which was Cheney’s underground bunker:

In the quiet of the walk, I caught my breath for the first time that day: This was the “Big al Qaeda Attack” we had warned was coming and it was bigger than almost anything we had imagined, short of a nuclear weapon. (Clarke 17)


This is already one of the most fateful snap judgments in world history. Had Clarke utterly forgotten the lessons of Oklahoma City, when leakers had inspired the report that the explosion was the work of Moslems? Clarke had no proof then, and has come forward with none since.

-- 9/11 Synthetic Terror Made in USA, by Webster Griffin Tarpley


In another article published on the same day, January 12, Nick Hopkins and Luke Harding of The Guardian doubled down on their newspaper’s support for Christopher Steele. They pose the question of why, if the claims made in the 35-page dossier prepared by Steele were as mendacious as President-Elect Trump claimed during his January 11 news briefing, “had America’s intelligence agencies felt it necessary to provide a compendium of the claims to Barack Obama and Trump himself?”[22]

Their answer is that Steele’s former colleagues described him as “’very credible’—a sober, cautious and meticulous professional with a formidable record”; and as

“an experienced and highly regarded professional [...]. If he puts something in a report, he believes there is sufficient credibility in it for it to be worth considering. Chris is a very straight guy. He could not have survived in the job he was in if he had been prone to flights of fancy or doing things in an ill-considered way.”


“That,” Hopkins and Harding declare, “is the way the CIA and FBI, not to mention the British government, regarded him too.”[23]

In their praise of “the credibility” of Christopher Steele, “the quality of the sources he has, and the quality of the people who were prepared to vouch for him,” Hopkins and Harding exceed even their colleague Julian Borger in obsequiousness. They describe Steele as a friend and contemporary of Alex Younger, the current head of MI6, and speculate (apparently on their own bat) that he might perhaps have had the top job himself were it not that his area of specialization, Russian espionage, “was taking a back seat to Islamic terrorism and non-state threats.”[24]

But anyone with experience of composing and interpreting letters of reference and recommendation within a large organization will understand nuances in what Steele’s former colleagues said about him that seem to have escaped these journalists. With the exception of “formidable record,” the terms applied to Steele suggest an all-round good egg, experienced, hard-working and conscientious in a straightforward way—but they abstain from any hint that he was either exceptional or brilliant, or some kind of T. E. Lawrence of the Russia desk.

It’s not evident, for that matter, that the former colleagues consulted by Hopkins and Harding were themselves among the sharper knives in the drawer, since they seem not to reflected on reasons for incredulity about Steele’s work that should have occurred to insiders like themselves. Steele’s document claims that he became aware that for years (first five, then eight) Vladimir Putin had schemed to run Trump, with the latter’s knowledge and connivance, as a ‘Manchurian Candidate.’

It would follow, as former UK ambassador Craig Murray has lucidly observed, that

A private company [Orbis Business Intelligence] had minute by minute intelligence on the Manchurian Candidate scheme and all the indictable illegal activity that was going on, which the CIA/NSA/GCHQ/MI6 did not have, despite their specific tasking and enormous technical, staff and financial resources amounting between them to over 150,000 staff and the availability of hundreds of billions of dollars to do nothing but this.


It would follow as well that

A private western company is able to run a state level intelligence operation in Russia for years, continually interviewing senior security sources and people personally close to Putin, without being caught by the Russian security services—despite the fact that the latter are brilliant enough to install a Manchurian Candidate as President of the USA. This private western company can for example secretly interview staff in top Moscow hotels—which they themselves say are Russian security service controlled—without the staff being too scared to speak to them or ending up dead. They can continually pump Putin’s friends for information and get it. [25]


* * * * *

Despite all these criticisms listed here, does there remain a sense in which Christopher Steele’s document can be understood as participating in well-established traditions of British intelligence?

I am thinking, in particular, of striking parallels between Steele’s work and that of two celebrated British secret agents, one of them deservedly illustrious, and the other even better known to a wide public: Juan Pujol García, M.B.E., and James Wormold, O.B.E.

Pujol, a Spanish citizen, decided after the fall of France in 1940 to contribute to “the good of humanity” by helping Britain resist Nazi Germany.[26] Adopting the identity of a fiercely pro-Nazi Spanish government official, he was taken on by the Abwehr as an agent, given instruction in spy-craft, and ordered to move to Britain and recruit a network there. But like Steele, who as Hopkins and Harding inform us is unable to travel to Russia and has not set foot in that country for twenty years, Pujol preferred to act at a distance. He moved to Lisbon, where he invented a network of fictitious agents living in different parts of Britain, and began to provide the Abwehr with a stream of misinformation, the plausible coloration for which he derived from newsreels, a tourist guide, and magazines and reference books in the public library. The Germans accepted the story that his dispatches were being sent from the UK to Lisbon by a courier, a KLM pilot.

In the spring of 1942 Pujol succeeded in being taken up by the British secret service and moved by them to the UK; his ensuing mystifications of German intelligence were carried out by radio. He was able to contribute to the work of the Bletchley Park code-breakers in penetrating successive versions of the German Enigma codes, and in June 1944 played an important role in helping to persuade the German High Command that the D-Day landings in Normandy were merely a feint, and that the principal landings would be carried out in the Pas de Calais by a army of 150,000 men under the command of General George Patton. To resist this nonexistent force, the Germans held back twenty-one divisions that might otherwise have intervened in the Normandy fighting. It appeared from postwar analysis that during the period of this deception, from June to August 1944, no less than 62 of Pujol’s radio reports—based on information gathered by his very substantial network of some two dozen purely imaginary sub-agent sources—had been quoted in the German High Command’s intelligence summaries.[27]

On July 29, 1944, in recognition of his services to the German war effort, Pujol was by Hitler’s personal authorization awarded the Iron Cross, Second Class—by radio, of course. King George VI presented him in person with an M.B.E. on November 25th of the same year.

James Wormold’s deceptions were of a more reflexive nature, since they were directed solely at his own employers. Recruited in 1957 by MI6 in Havana, where he ran a business selling vacuum cleaners, Wormold was initially stumped as to how he could satisfy the demands of his handler and the authorities in London for intelligence, let alone manage, as a single parent, the out-of-control extravagances of his teenage daughter Milly.

He resolved the two problems together by inventing, as Pujol had done before him, an expanding network of fictional sources—who of course ran up expenses and needed payments of various kinds.
MI6 headquarters was impressed by the volume and the breadth of Wormold’s dispatches (which like Pujol’s were derived from publicly available sources and his own fertile imagination)—and went into a particular tizzy over his major intelligence coup, the ‘discovery’ in Cuba’s Oriente province of strange and frightening installations that appeared to represent some hitherto undreamt-of form of military technology. The fears of Wormold’s MI6 handler that the sketches one of his sources produced looked rather like enlarged images of the latest model Atomic Pile Suction Cleaner were dissipated when agents of a foreign power, who had taken note of Wormold’s activities, launched aggressive action against him and his supposed network. How could Wormold be a fake when foreign intelligence agencies were going to the trouble of bumping off people they thought were his agents?

But the supposed Oriente installations were indeed made up of vacuum-cleaner parts.

When MI6 folded up Wormold’s operation and recalled him to London, however, it was recognized that a man who had never had any secrets but had simply made them up wholesale couldn’t be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act, and that MI6′s loss of prestige if Naval Intelligence or the War Office, let along the press, ever got wind of what had transpired would be intolerable.


In the concluding chapter of Graham Greene’s novel—for of course this spy, “our man in Havana,” is himself no less a fiction than all of the intelligence sources he invented and the reports that flowed from his burgeoning imagination—the head of MI6 himself informs James Wormold of the outcome:

‘We thought the best thing for you under the circumstances would be to stay at home—on our training staff. Lecturing. How to run a station abroad. That kind of thing.’ He seemed to be swallowing something very disagreeable. He added, ‘Of course, as we always do when a man retires from a post abroad, we’ll recommend you for a decoration. I think in your case—you were not there very long—we can hardly suggest anything higher than an O.B.E.’[28]


* * * * *

The sequence here may be instructive. Juan Pujol was unambiguously a heroic figure, a man of stunning initiative, boldness, and imagination who took decisive and inventive action at a time when the likelihood that any one person could contribute meaningfully to averting geopolitical catastrophe must have seemed vanishingly small. Over a period of five years he successfully deceived—and with significant consequences—the military intelligence service of what when he began had been the dominant military power in Europe.

Graham Greene’s satirical novel—the product of a man with some experience of intelligence work—flowed from a mood of cynicism generated by Cold-War preparations for global war and the pervasive McCarthyism of the 1950s. When Beatrice Severn, the secretary provided to Wormold by MI6, defiantly tells an interrogation committee that she’d happily have been his accomplice if she had known what he was up to, she responds to an interruption by adding,

’Oh, I forgot. There’s something greater than one’s country, isn’t there. You taught us that with your League of Nations and your Atlantic Pact, NATO and UNO and SEATO. But they don’t mean any more to most of us than all the other letters, U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. And we don’t believe you any more when you say you want peace and justice and freedom. What kind of freedom? You want your careers.’


She adds, to Wormold:

They haven’t left us much to believe, have they?—even disbelief. I can’t believe in anything bigger than a home, or anything vaguer than a human being.[29]


A kind of motto for this novel, with its merciless mockery of the world of ‘intelligence,’ is provided by the Noel Coward-ish song of a dinner-jacketed performer in the Havana nightclub where Wormold and Beatrice first meet: “Sane men surround / You, old family friends. / They say the earth is round— / My madness offends. / An orange has pips, they say, / And an apple has rind. / I say that night is day / And I’ve no axe to grind. / Please don’t believe….”[30] Wormold’s operation does result in the violent deaths of several people, one of whom he shoots. But there’s no doubt, in this world, that the nincompoops of MI6 richly deserve the deceptions he practises on them.

What, finally, of Christopher Steele? It doesn’t seem very risky, at this point, to propose that his modus operandi in compiling his Trump ‘dossier’ followed the examples of Pujol and Wormold. As in their cases, it can be said that the people most thoroughly deceived by his labours—a large gaggle of Clintonite Democrats, noisy cheerleaders for World War Three like John McCain, and journalistic incompetents like The Guardian‘s team—richly deserved to be fooled.

But Pujol displayed nobility of character—and courage, for had his operation been exposed by the Abwehr while he was still working out of Lisbon, he would certainly have been killed. Greene imparted to his James Wormold a kind of unassuming stubborn integrity appropriate to the age of existentialist philosophy. It’s hard, by comparison, to find anything praiseworthy in Steele’s work as a merchant of sleaze—dangerous sleaze too, since its obvious purpose was to contribute to the heightening of New-Cold-War tensions between the USA and Russia.

_______________

Notes:

[1] See for example “The Hacking Evidence Against Russia Is Extremely Weak,” WashingtonsBlog (18 December 2016), http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/12/ ... weak.html; “’US intel community lost professional discipline’: Ex-NSA tech director on ‘Russia hacking’ report,” RT (7 January 2017), https://www.rt.com/op-edge/372874-us-in ... scipline/; John Wight, “On Washington’s hacking hysteria—what would Freud say?” RT (7 January 2017), https://www.rt.com/op-edge/372915-hacki ... emocracy/; Mike Whitney, “US Intel Agencies Try to Strong-Arm Trump into War with Russia,” Information Clearing House (10 January 2017), http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46193.htm; and Glenn Greenwald, “The Deep State Goes to War With President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer,” The Intercept (11 January 2017), https://theintercept.com/2017/01/11/the ... ems-cheer/. On Clapper’s perjury, see Paul Campos, “How James Clapper will get away with perjury,” Salon.com (12 June 2013), http://www.salon.com/2013/06/12/how_jam ... h_perjury/.

[2] “These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties to Russia,” BuzzFeedNews (10 January 2017), https://www.buzzfeed.com/kenbensinger/t ... .ygWnrNKQL. The defamatory documents have also been published by Slate Magazine—see Joshua Keating, “These Salacious Memos Allege Russian Efforts to Compromise Trump,” Slate.com (10 January 2017), http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/ ... trump.html—and by Wikipedia: see “File: 2017 Trump dossier by Christopher Steele, Ex-MI6 Russia Desk Intelligence Agent.pdf,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2017 ... _Agent.pdf.

[3] “These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties to Russia.”

[4] Ibid.

[5] Kevin Drum, “Donald Trump Is a Germaphobe,” Mother Jones, (23 December 2015), http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2 ... ermaphobe; Carolyn Gregoire, “Trump Is Right About One Thing: Shaking Hands is Kinda Gross,” Huffington Post (7 April 2016), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/han ... 53af06a8f; Matt Frei, “Proof That Donald Trump Is Indeed a Germaphobe,” LBC (12 January 2017), http://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/presenters/m ... ermaphobe/.

[6] The Republican in question is Rick Wilson, whose description of Trump supporters as “single white males who masturbate to anime” apparently prompted a 4Chan user to troll him. See The_Real_Fly, “How 4Chan Fooled McCain, Buzzfeed, and the CIA Into Believing Trump’s Golden Showers,” Zero Hedge (11 January 2017), http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-01-1 ... en-showers. For a dissenting view, see Gideon Resnick and Ben Collins, “Despite Weak Stream of Proof, 4chan Claims It Invented the Trump Golden Showers Story,” The Daily Beast (10 January 2017), http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2 ... story.html.

[7] Rosie Gray, “’It is Fake News Meant to Malign Mr. Trump,’” The Atlantic (10 January 2017), https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/ar ... ource=feed. Wikileaks has declared that “35 page PDF published by Buzzfeed on Trump is not an intelligence report. Style, facts & dates show no credibility,” https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/818992803829137408.

[8] Cohen has intimated as much by posting an image of the passport’s front cover online; for obvious reasons, he has refused to circulate online images of its inner contents.

[9] Andrei Soldatov, “The leaked Trump-Russia dossier rings frighteningly true,” The Guardian (12 January 2017), https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... ingly-true.

[10] Julian Borger, “John McCain passes dossier alleging secret Trump-Russia contacts to FBI,” The Guardian (11 January 2017), https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/201 ... a-contacts.

[11] See ZeroPointNow, “Dead Giveaway The 35 Page Dossier Was A Hoax?” Zero Hedge (11 January 2017), http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-01-1 ... use-offici.

[12] Gordon Rayner, Patrick Sawyer, and Ruth Sherlock, “Former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, who produced Donald Trump Russian dossier, ‘terrified for his safety’ and went to ground before name released,” The Telegraph (11 January 2017), http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01 ... terrified/.

[13] Borger, “John McCain passes dossier….” Steele also told David Corn in October 2016 that “near the start of July [2016] on his own initiative—without the permission of the US company that hired him—he sent a report he had written for that firm to a contact at the FBI”; see Corn, “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump: Has the bureau investigated this material? Mother Jones (31 October 2016), http://www.motherjones.com/politics/201 ... nald-trump.

[14] For examples of this smear-tactic, see Glenn Greenwald, “Democrats’ Tactic of Accusing Critics of Kremlin Allegiance Has Long, Ugly History in U.S.,” The Intercept (8 August 2016), https://theintercept.com/2016/08/08/dem ... ory-in-us/. As Greenwald observes, this smear was used against Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders in 2015, and subsequently against Green Party candidate Jill Stein, before being turned against Donald Trump in the summer of 2016. He notes as well that there are powerful ironies to the use of this smear by Hillary Clinton and her supporters: in April 2015 she was revealed to have approved, as Secretary of State, a 2013 deal that “gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States.” The Clinton Foundation received donations totalling $2.35 million from a Russian foundation linked to the deal, and Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 by a Russian bank involved in promoting the deal for a speech he gave in Moscow. See Jo Becker and Mike McIntire, “Cash flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal,” The New York Times (23 April 2015), https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/us/c ... mpany.html.

[15] Evidence is emerging that the British government gave Steele approval for his contacts with the FBI: see Gordon Rayner, Claire Newell, and Ruth Sherlock, “Britain dragged into Donald Trump ‘dirty dossier’ row amid claims Whitehall knew of the file,” The Telegraph (13 January 2017), http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01 ... whitehall/.

[16] David Corn, “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information….”

[17] Borger, “John McCain passes dossier….”

[18] Ibid. For McCain’s explanation, see Kyle Feldscher, “McCain confirms he sent Trump allegations to FBI,” Washington Examiner (11 January 2017), http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/mccai ... le/2611498.

[19] Borger, “John McCain passes dossier….”

[20] Anna Giaritelli, “Clapper: 35-page dossier didn’t come from intelligence community,” Washington Examiner (11 January 2017), http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/clapp ... le/2611620.

[21] Soldatov, “The leaked Trump-Russia dossier rings frighteningly true.”

[22] Nick Hopkins and Luke Harding, “Donald Trump dossier: intelligence sources vouch for author’s credibility,” The Guardian (12 January 2017), https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/201 ... ier-author.

[23] Ibid. A more plausible answer to the question posed by Hopkins and Harding might be that powerful members of the Senate, among them John McCain and Harry Reid, were chomping at the bit to get Steele’s claims into public circulation, and the US intelligence services were actively complicit in the program to defame and discredit the incoming Trump administration.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Craig Murray, “The Steele Dossier or the Hitler Diaries Mark II,” Craig Murray (11 January 2017), https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives ... -mattress/.

[26] The following account of Pujol is based on “Juan Pujol García,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Pujol_Garc%C3%ADa. That article’s principal sources are Juan Pujol and Nigel West, Operation GARBO: The Personal Story of the Most Successful Double Agent of World War II (New York: Random House, 1985); Tomás Harris and Mark Seaman, Garbo: The Spy Who Saved D-Day (Toronto: Dundurn, 2004); Hervie Haufler, The Spies Who Never Were: The True Story of the Nazi Spies Who Were Actually Allied Double Agents (New York: Open Road Integrated Media, 2006); and Thaddeus Holt, The Deceivers: Allied Military Deception in the Second World War (New York: Skyhorse, 2010).

[27] Pujol and West, Operation GARBO, p. 196; cited in “Juan Pujol García.”

[28] Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana (1958; rpt. London: Vintage, 2004), p. 177.

[29] Ibid., p. 179.

[30] Ibid., p. 80.

The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Prof Michael Keefer, Global Research, 2017
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

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Part 1 of 2

US Presidential Election: Republican Candidate Donald Trump's Activities in Russia and Compromising Relationship With the Kremlin
by Christopher Steele
2016

CONFIDENTIAL/SENSITIVE SOURCE

COMPANY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 2016/080

US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE DONALD TRUMP'S ACTIVITIES IN RUSSIA AND COMPROMISING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE KREMLIN

Summary

Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance
So far TRUMP has declined various sweetener real estate business deals offered him in Russia in order to further the Kremlin's cultivation of him. However he and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals
• Former top Russian intelligence officer claims FSB has compromised TRUMP through his activities in Moscow sufficiently to be able to blackmail him. According to several knowledgeable sources, his conduct in Moscow has included perverted sexual acts which have been arranged/monitored by the FSB
• A dossier of compromising material on Hillary CLINTON has been collated by the Russian Intelligence Services over many years and mainly comprises bugged conversations she had on various visits to Russia and intercepted phone calls rather than any embarrassing conduct. The dossier is controlled by Kremlin spokesman, PESKOV, directly on PUTIN's orders. However it has not as yet been distributed abroad, including to TRUMP. Russian intentions for its deployment still unclear

Detail

1. Speaking to a trusted compatriot in June 2016 sources A and B, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure and a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin respectively, the Russian authorities had been cultivating and supporting US Republican presidential candidate, Donald TRUMP for at least 5 years. Source B asserted that the TRUMP operation was both supported and directed by Russian President Vladimir PUTIN. Its aim was to sow discord and disunity both within the US Itself, but more especially within the Transatlantic alliance which was viewed as inimical to Russia's interests. Source C, a senior Russian financial official said the TRUMP operation should be seen in terms of PUTIN's desire to return to Nineteenth Century 'Great Power' politics anchored upon countries' interests rather than the ideals-based international order established after World War Two. S/he had overheard PUTIN talking in this way to close associates on several occasions.

2. In terms of specifics, Source A confided that the Kremlin had been feeding TRUMP and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary CLINTON, for several years (see more below). This was confirmed by Source D, a close associate of TRUMP who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow, and who reported, also in June 2016, that this Russian intelligence had been "very helpful". The Kremlin's cultivation operation on TRUMP also had comprised offering him various lucrative real estate development business deals in Russia, especially in relation to the ongoing 2018 World Cup soccer tournament. However, so far, for reasons unknown, TRUMP had not taken up any of these.

3. However, there were other aspects to TRUMP's engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit TRUMP's personal obsessions and sexual perversion in order to obtain suitable 'kompromat' (compromising material) on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP's (perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a 'golden showers' (urination) show in front of him. The hotel was known to be under FSB control with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

4. The Moscow Ritz Carlton episode involving TRUMP reported above was confirmed by Source E, [DELETE] who said that s/he and several of the staff were aware of it at the time and subsequently. S/he believed it had happened and in 2013. Source E provided an introduction for a company ethnic Russian operative to Source F, a female staffer at the hotel when TRUMP had stayed there, who also confirmed the story. Speaking separately in June 2016, Source B (the former top level Russian intelligence officer) asserted that TRUMP's unorthodox behavior in Russia over the years had provided the authorities there with enough embarrassing material on the now Republican presidential candidate to be able to blackmail him If they so wished.

5. Asked about the Kremlin's reported intelligence feed to TRUMP over recent years and rumours about a Russian dossier of 'kompromat' on Hillary CLINTON (being circulated), Source B confirmed the file's existence. S/he confided in a trusted compatriot that it had been collated by Department K of the FSB for many years, dating back to her husband Bill's presidency, and comprised mainly eavesdropped conversations of various sorts rather than details/evidence of unorthodox or embarrassing behavior. Some of the conversations were from bugged comments CLINTON had made on her various trips to Russia and focused on things she had said which contradicted her current position on various issues. Others were most probably from phone intercepts.

6. Continuing on this theme, Source G, a senior Kremlin official, confided that the CLINTON dossier was controlled exclusively by chief Kremlin spokesman, Dmitriy PESKOV, who was responsible for compiling/handling it on the explicit instructions of PUTIN himself. The dossier however had not as yet been made available abroad, including to TRUMP or his campaign team. At present it was unclear what PUTIN's intentions were in this regard.

20 June 2016

COMPANY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 2016/086

RUSSIA/CYBER CRIME: A SYNOPSIS OF RUSSIAN STATE SPONSORED AND OTHER CYBER OFFENSIVE (CRIMINAL) OPERATIONS

Summary

• Russia has extensive programme of state-sponsored offensive cyber operations. External targets include foreign governments and big corporations, especially banks. FSB leads on cyber within Russian apparatus. Limited success in attacking top foreign targets like G7 governments, security services and IFIs but much more on second tier ones through IT back doors, using corporate and other visitors to Russia
FSB often uses coercion and blackmail to recruit most capable cyber operatives in Russia into its state-sponsored programmes. Heavy use also, both wittingly and unwittingly, of CIS emigres working in western corporations and ethnic Russians employed by neighbouring governments e.g. Latvia
• Example cited of successful Russian cyber operation targeting senior Western business visitor. Provided back door into important Western institutions.
• Example given of US citizen of Russian origin approached by FSB and offered incentive of "investment" in his business when visiting Moscow.
• Problems however for Russian authorities themselves in countering local hackers and cyber criminals, operating outside state control. Central Bank claims there were over 20 serious attacks on correspondent accounts held by CBR in 2015, comprising Roubles several billion in fraud
• Some details given of leading non-state Russian cyber criminal groups

Details

1. Speaking in June 2016, a number of Russian figures with a detailed knowledge of national cyber crime, both state-sponsored and otherwise, outlined the current situation in this area. A former senior intelligence officer divided Russian state-sponsored offensive cyber operations into four categories (in order of priority):- targeting foreign, especially western governments; penetrating leading foreign business corporations, especially banks; domestic monitoring of the elite; and attacking political opponents both at home and abroad. The former intelligence officer reported that the Federal Security Service (FSB) was the lead organization within the Russian state apparatus for cyber operations.

2. In terms of the success of Russian offensive cyber operations to date, a senior government figure reported that there had been only limited success in penetrating the "first tier" foreign targets. These comprised western (especially G7 and NATO) governments, security and intelligence services and central banks, and the IFIs. To compensate for this shortfall, massive effort had been invested, with much greater success, in attacking the "secondary targets", particularly western private banks and the governments of smaller states allied to the West. S/he mentioned Latvia in this regard. Hundreds of agents, either consciously cooperating with the FSB or whose personal and professional IT systems had been unwittingly compromised, were recruited. Many were people who had ethnic and family ties to Russia and/or had been incentivized financially to cooperate. Such people often would receive monetary inducements or contractual favours from the Russian state or its agents in return. This had created difficulties for parts of the Russian state apparatus in obliging/indulging them e.g. the Central Bank of Russia knowingly having to cover up for such agents' money laundering operations through the Russian financial system.

3. In terms of the FSB's recruitment of capable cyber operatives to carry out its, ideally deniable, offensive cyber operations, a Russian IT specialist with direct knowledge reported in June 2016 that this was often done using coercion and blackmail. In terms of 'foreign' agents, the FSB was approaching US citizens of Russian (Jewish) origin on business trips to Russia. In one case a US citizen of Russian ethnicity had been visiting Moscow to attract investors in his new information technology program. The FSB clearly knew this and had offered to provide seed capital to this person in return for them being able to access and modify his IP, with a view to targeting priority foreign targets by planting a Trojan virus in the software. The US visitor was told this was common practice. The FSB also had implied significant operational success as a result of installing cheap Russian IT games containing their own malware unwittingly by targets on their PCs and other platforms.

4. In a more advanced and successful FSB operation, an IT operator inside a leading Russian SOE, who previously had been employed on conventional (defensive) IT work there, had been under instruction for the last year to conduct an offensive cyber operation against a foreign director of the company. Although the latter was apparently an infrequent visitor to Russia, the FSB now successfully had penetrated his personal IT and through this had managed to access various important institutions in the West through the back door.

5. In terms of other technical IT platforms, an FSB cyber operative flagged up the 'Telegram' enciphered commercial system as having been of especial concern and therefore heavily targeted by the FSB, not least because it was used frequently by Russian internal political activists and oppositionists. His/her understanding was that the FSB now successfully had cracked this communications software and therefore it was no longer secure to use.

6. The senior Russian government figure cited above also reported that non-state sponsored cyber crime was becoming an increasing problem inside Russia for the government and authorities there. The Central Bank of Russia claimed that in 2015 alone there had been more than 20 attempts at serious cyber embezzlement of money from corresponding accounts held there, comprising several billions Roubles. More generally, s/he understood there were circa 15 major organised crime groups in the country involved in cyber crime, all of which continued to operate largely outside state and FSB control. These included the so-called 'Anunak', 'Buktrap' and 'Metel' organisations.

26 July 2015

RUSSIA/US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: FURTHER INDICATIONS OF EXTENSIVE CONSPIRACY BETWEEN TRUMP'S CAMPAIGN TEAM AND THE KREMLIN

Summary

• Further evidence of extensive conspiracy between TRUMP's campaign team and Kremlin, sanctioned at highest levels and involving Russian diplomatic staff based in the US
• TRUMP associate admits Kremlin behind recent appearance of DNC emails on WikiLeaks, as means of maintaining plausible deniability
• Agreed exchange of information established in both directions. TRUMP's team using moles within DNC and hackers in the US as well as outside in Russia. PUTIN motivated by fear and hatred of Hillary CLINTON. Russians receiving intel from TRUMP's team on Russian oligarchs and their families in US
• Mechanism for transmitting this intelligence involves "pension" disbursements to Russian emigres living in US as cover, using consular officials in New York, DC and Miami
• Suggestion from source close to TRUMP and MANAFORT that Republican campaign team happy to have Russia as media bogeyman to mask more extensive corrupt business ties to China and other emerging countries

Detail

1. Speaking in confidence to a compatriot in late July 2016, Source E, an ethnic Russian close associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald TRUMP, admitted that there was a well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between them and the Russian leadership. This was managed on the TRUMP side by the Republican candidate's campaign manager, Paul MANAFORT, who was using foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE, and others as intermediaries. The two sides had a mutual interest in defeating Democratic presidential candidate Hillary CLINTON, whom President PUTIN apparently both hated and feared.

2. Inter alia, Source E, acknowledged that the Russian regime had been behind the recent leak of embarrassing e-mail messages, emanating from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), to the WikiLeaks platform. The reason for using WikiLeaks was "plausible deniability" and the operation had been conducted with the full knowledge and support of TRUMP and senior members of his campaign team. In return the TRUMP team had agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue and to raise US/NATO defence commitments in the Baltics and Eastern Europe to deflect attention away from Ukraine, a priority for PUTIN who needed to cauterise the subject.

3. In the wider context of TRUMP campaign/Kremlin co-operation, Source E claimed that the intelligence network being used against CLINTON comprised three elements. Firstly there were agents/facilitators within the Democratic Party structure itself; secondly Russian emigre and associated offensive cyber operators based in the US; and thirdly, state-sponsored cyber operatives working in Russia. All three elements had played an important role to date. On the mechanism for rewarding relevant assets based in the US, and effecting a two-way flow of intelligence and other useful information, Source E claimed that Russian diplomatic staff in key cities such as New York, Washington DC and Miami were using the emigre 'pension' distribution system as cover. The operation therefore depended on key people in the US Russian emigre community for its success. Tens of thousands of dollars were involved.

4. In terms of the intelligence flow from the TRUMP team to Russia, Source E reported that much of this concerned the activities of business oligarchs and their families' activities and assets in the US, with which PUTIN and the Kremlin seemed preoccupied.

5. Commenting on the negative media publicity surrounding alleged Russian interference in the US election campaign in support of TRUMP, Source E said he understood that the Republican candidate and his team were relatively relaxed about this because it deflected media and the Democrats' attention away from TRUMP's business dealings in China and other emerging markets. Unlike in Russia, these were substantial and involved the payment of large bribes and kickbacks which, were they to become public, would be potentially very damaging to their campaign.

6. Finally, regarding TRUMP's claimed minimal investment profile in Russia, a separate source with direct knowledge said this had not been for want of trying. TRUMP's previous efforts had included exploring the real estate sector in St Petersburg as well as Moscow but in the end TRUMP had had to settle for the use of extensive sexual services there from local prostitutes rather than business success.

[AFSHIN RATTANSI] Any Russian connections between Hillary Clinton and Russia? Any Russia connections there?

[JULIAN ASSANGE] Hillary Clinton has done quite well strategically to try and draw a connection between Trump and Russia, because she has so many connections of her own. Now, my analysis of Trump and Russia is that there is no substantial connection. Why do I say that? Because Trump was trying to invest in Russia before Putin in the 1990s. And after Putin. In fact, nearly all the way up to the present moment. And he’s had no success! He did not manage to build hotels and so on in Russia. So that shows how insubstantial his contacts are.

There’s an extremely well-documented pattern of when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, those people – companies, governments – who wanted a decision by the Secretary of State in their favor, making large donations to the Clinton Foundation, or in some other cases, business deals with the people around Hillary Clinton.

Now, one particular instance is the approval by Secretary Clinton of selling 20% of the U.S. uranium reprocessing rights to a Russian company to be exported to Russia. So at that time, a large donation was made by those Russian interests to the Clinton Foundation. In addition, Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, was on the board of a company named Joule Unlimited, and Joule Unlimited held some of these rights, and received a $ 35 million investment from Russia!

[AFSHIN RATTANSI] That’s a Russian government company?

[JULIAN ASANGE] And also, Russians were on the board also with Podesta.

[AFSHIN RATTANSI] So the kind of email revelations from Wikileaks reveal that Hillary Clinton is a Kremlin stooge?

[JULIAN ASANGE] I wouldn’t say “Kremlin Stooge,” but there is a much deeper connection on record with Hillary Clinton and Russia than we have with, that we are presently aware of with, Donald Trump.

-- Interview with Julian Assange, by Afshin Rattansi


COMPANY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 2016/94

RUSSIA: SECRET KREMLIN MEETINGS ATTENDED BY TRUMP ADVISOR, CARTER PAGE IN MOSCOW (JULY 2016)

Summary

• TRUMP advisor Carter PAGE holds secret meetings in Moscow with SECHIN and senior Kremlin Internal Affairs official, DIVYEKIN
• SECHIN raises issues of future bilateral US-Russia energy co-operation and associated lifting of western sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. PAGE non-committal in response
• DIVEYKIN discusses release of Russian dossier of 'kompromat' on TRUMP's opponent, Hillary CLINTON, but also hints at Kremlin possession of such material on TRUMP

1. Speaking in July 2016, a Russian source close to Rosneft President, PUTIN close associate and US-sanctioned individual, Igor SECHIN, confided the details of a recent secret meeting between him and visiting Foreign Affairs Advisor to Republican presidential candidate Donald TRUMP, Carter PAGE.

2. According to SECHIN's associate, the Rosneft President (CEO) had raised with PAGE the issues of future bilateral energy cooperation and prospects for an associated move to lift Ukraine-related western sanctions against Russia. PAGE had reacted positively to this demarche by SECHIN but had been generally non-committal in response.

3. Speaking separately, also in July 2016, an official close to Presidential Administration Head, S. IVANOV, confided in a compatriot that a senior colleague in the Internal Political Department of the PA, DIVYEKIN (nfd) also had met secretly with PAGE on his recent visit. Their agenda had included DIVEYKIN raising a dossier of 'kompromat' the Kremlin possessed on TRUMP's Democratic presidential rival, Hillary CLINTON, and its possible release to the Republican's campaign team.

4. However, the Kremlin official close to S. IVANOV added that s/he believed DIVEYKIN also had hinted (or indicated more strongly) that the Russian leadership also had 'kompromat' on TRUMP which the latter should bear in mind in his dealings with them.


19 July 2016

COMPANY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 2016/097

RUSSIA-US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: KREMLIN CONCERN THAT POLITICAL FALLOUT FROM DNC E-MAIL HACKING AFFAIR SPIRALLING OUT OF CONTROL

Summary

Kremlin concerned that political fallout from DNC e-mail hacking operation is spiralling out of control. Extreme nervousness among TRUMP's associates as result of negative media attention/accusations
• Russians meanwhile keen to cool situation and maintain 'plausible deniability' of existing/ongoing pro-TRUMP and anti-CLINTON operations. Therefore unlikely to be any ratcheting up offensive plays in immediate future

Source close to TRUMP campaign however confirms regular exchange with Kremlin has existed for at least 8 years, including intelligence fed back to Russia on oligarchs' activities in US
• Russians apparently have promised not to use 'kompromat' they hold on TRUMP as leverage, given high levels of voluntary co-operation forthcoming from his team

Detail

1. Speaking in confidence to a trusted associate in late July 2016, a Russian emigre figure close to the Republican US presidential candidate Donald TRUMP's campaign team commented on the fallout from publicity surrounding the Democratic National Committee (DNC) e-mail hacking scandal. The emigre said there was a high level of anxiety with in the TRUMP team as a result of various accusations levelled against them and indications from the Kremlin that President PUTIN and others in the leadership thought things had gone too far now and risked spiralling out of control.

2. Continuing on this theme, the emigre associate of TRUMP opined that the Kremlin wanted the situation to calm but for 'plausible deniability' to be maintained concerning its (extensive) pro-TRUMP and anti-CLINTON operations. S/he therefore judged that it was unlikely these would be ratcheted up, at least for the time being.

3. However, in terms of established operational liaison between the TRUMP team and the Kremlin, the emigre confirmed that an intelligence exchange had been running between them for at least 8 years. Within this context PUTIN's priority requirement had been for intelligence on the activities, business and otherwise, in the US of leading Russian oligarchs and their families. TRUMP and his associates duly had obtained and supplied the Kremlin with this information.

4. Finally, the emigre said s/he understood the Kremlin had more intelligence on CLINTON and her campaign but he did not know the details or when or if it would be released. As far as 'kompromat' (compromising information) on TRUMP were concerned, although there was plenty of this, he understood the Kremlin had given its word that it would not be deployed against the Republican presidential candidate given how helpful and co-operative his team had been over several years, and particularly of late.


30 July 2016

COMPANY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 2016/100

RUSSIA/USA: GROWING BACKLASH IN KREMLIN TO DNC HACKING AND TRUMP SUPPORT OPERATIONS

Summary

Head of PA IVANOV laments Russian intervention in US presidential election and black PR against CLINTON and the DNC. Vows not to supply intelligence to Kremlin PR operatives again. Advocates now sitting tight and denying everything
• Presidential spokesman PESKOV the main protagonist in Kremlin campaign to aid TRUMP and damage CLINTON. He is now scared and fears being made scapegoat by leadership for backlash in US. Problem compounded by his botched intervention in recent Turkish crisis
• Premier MEDVEDEV's office furious over DNC hacking and associated anti-Russian publicity. Want good relations with US and ability to travel there. Refusing to support or help cover up after PESKOV
• Talk now in Kremlin of TRUMP withdrawing from presidential race altogether, but this still largely wishful thinking by more liberal elements in Moscow


Detail

1. Speaking in early August 2016, two well-placed and established Kremlin sources outlined the divisions and backlash in Moscow arising from the leaking of Democratic National Committee (DNC) e-mails and the wider pro-TRUMP operation being conducted in the US. Head of Presidential Administration, Sergei IVANOV, was angry at the recent turn of events. He believed the Kremlin "team" involved, led by presidential spokesman Dmitriy PESKOV, had gone too far in interfering in foreign affairs with their "elephant in a china shop black PR". IVANOV claimed always to have opposed the handling and exploitation of intelligence by this PR "team". Following the backlash against such foreign interference in US politics, IVANOV was advocating that the only sensible course of action now for the Russian leadership was to "sit tight and deny everything".

2. Continuing on this theme the source close to IVANOV reported that PESKOV now was "scared shitless" that he would be scapegoated by PUTIN and the Kremlin and held responsible for the backlash against Russian political interference in the US election. IVANOV was determined to stop PESKOV playing an independent role in relation to the US going forward and the source fully expected the presidential spokesman now to lay low. PESKOV's position was not helped by a botched attempt by him also to interfere in the recent failed coup in Turkey from a government relations (GR) perspective (no further details).

3. The extent of disquiet and division within Moscow caused by the backlash against Russian interference in the US election was underlined by a second source, close to premier Dmitriy MEDVEDEV (DAM). S/he said the Russian prime minister and his colleagues wanted to have good relations with the US, regardless of who was in power there, and not least so as to be able to travel there in future, either officially or privately. They were openly refusing to cover up for PESKOV and others involved in the DNC/TRUMP operations or to support his counter-attack of allegations against the USG for its alleged hacking of the Russian government and state agencies.

4. According to the first source, close to IVANOV, there had been talk in the Kremlin of TRUMP being forced to withdraw from the presidential race altogether as a result of recent events, ostensibly on grounds of his psychological state and unsuitability for high office. This might not be so bad for Russia in the circumstances but in the view of the source, it remained largely wishful thinking on the part of those in the regime opposed to PESKOV and his "botched" operations, at least for the time being.

5 August 2016

COMPANY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 2016/101

RUSSIA/US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: SENIOR KREMLIN FIGURE OUTLINES EVOLVING RUSSIAN TACTICS IN PRO-TRUMP, ANTI-CLINTON OPERATION

Summary

• Head of PA, IVANOV assesses Kremlin intervention in US presidential election and outlines leadership thinking on operational way forward
No new leaks envisaged, as too politically risky, but rather further exploitation of (Wiki Leaks) material already disseminated to exacerbate divisions
• Educated US youth to be targeted as protest (against CLINTON) and swing vote in attempt to turn them over to TRUMP
• Russian leadership, including PUTIN, celebrating perceived success to date in splitting US hawks and elite
Kremlin engaging with several high profile US players, including STEIN, PAGE and (former DIA Director Michael Flynn), and funding their recent visits to Moscow

Details

1. Speaking in confidence to a close colleague in early August 2016, Head of the Russian Presidential Administration (PA), Sergei IVANOV, assessed the impact and results of Kremlin intervention in the US presidential election to date. Although most commentators believed that the Kremlin was behind the leaked DNC/CLINTON e-mails, this remained technically deniable. Therefore the Russians would not risk their position for the time being with new leaked material, even to a third party like WikiLeaks. Rather the tactics would be to spread rumours and misinformation about the content of what already had been leaked and make up new content.

2. Continuing on this theme, IVANOV said that the audience to be targeted by such operations was the educated youth in America as the PA assessed that there was still a chance they could be persuaded to vote for Republican candidate Donald TRUMP as a protest against the Washington establishment (in the form of Democratic candidate Hillary CLINTON). The hope was that even if she won, as a result of this CLINTON in power would be bogged down in working for internal reconciliation in the US, rather than being able to focus on foreign policy which would damage Russia's interests. This also should give President PUTIN more room for manoeuvre in the run-up to Russia's own presidential election in 2018.

3. IVANOV reported that although the Kremlin had underestimated the strength of US media and liberal reaction to the DNC hack and TRUMP's links to Russia, PUTIN was generally satisfied with the progress of the anti-CLINTON operation to date. He recently had had a drink with PUTIN to mark this. In IVANOV's view, the US had tried to divide the Russian elite with sanctions but failed, whilst they, by contrast, had succeeded in splitting the US hawks inimical to Russia and the Washington elite more generally, half of whom had refused to endorse any presidential candidate as a result of Russian intervention.

4. Speaking separately, also in early August 2016, a Kremlin official involved in US relations commented on aspects of the Russian operation to date. Its goals had been threefold -- asking sympathetic US actors how Moscow could help them; gathering relevant intelligence; and creating and disseminating compromising information ('kompromat'). This had involved the Kremlin supporting various US political figures, including funding indirectly their recent visits to Moscow. S/he named a delegation from Lyndon LAROUCHE; presidential candidate Jill STEIN of the Green Party; TRUMP foreign policy adviser Carter PAGE; and former DIA Director Michael Flynn, in this regard and as successful in terms of perceived outcomes.

10 August 2016

COMPANY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 2016/102

RUSSIA/US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: REACTION IN TRUMP CAMP TO RECENT NEGATIVE PUBLICITY ABOUT RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE AND LIKELY RESULTING TACTICS GOING FORWARD

Summary

• TRUMP campaign insider reports recent DNC e-mail leaks were aimed at switching SANDERS (protest) voters away from CLINTON and over to TRUMP
• Admits Republican campaign underestimated resulting negative reaction from US liberals, elite and media and forced to change course as result
• Need now to turn tables on CLINTON's use of PUTIN as bogeyman in election, although some resentment at Russian president's perceived attempt to undermine USG and system over and above swinging presidential election

Detail

1. Speaking in confidence on 9 August 2016, an ethnic Russian associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald TRUMP discussed the reaction inside his camp, and revised tactics therein resulting from recent negative publicity concerning Moscow's clandestine involvement in the campaign. TRUMP's associate reported that the aim of leaking the DNC e-mails to Wiki Leaks during the Democratic Convention had been to swing supporters of Bernie SANDERS away from Hillary CLINTON and across to TRUMP. These voters were perceived as activist and anti-status quo and anti-establishment and in that regard sharing many features with the TRUMP campaign, including a visceral dislike of Hillary CLINTON. This objective had been conceived and promoted, inter alia, by TRUMP's foreign policy adviser Carter PAGE who had discussed it directly with the ethnic Russian associate.

2. Continuing on this theme, the ethnic Russian associate of TRUMP assessed that the problem was that the TRUMP campaign had underestimated the strength of the negative reaction from liberals and especially the conservative elite to Russian interference. This was forcing a rethink and a likely change of tactics. The main objective in the short-term was to check Democratic candidate Hillary CLINTON's successful exploitation of the PUTIN as bogeyman/Russian interference story to tarnish TRUMP and bolster her own (patriotic) credentials. The TRUMP campaign was focusing on tapping into support in the American television media to achieve this, as they reckoned this resource had been underused by them to date.

3. However, TRUMP's associate also admitted that there was a fair amount of anger and resentment within the Republican candidate's team at what was perceived by PUTIN as going beyond the objective of weakening CLINTON and bolstering TRUMP, by attempting to exploit the situation to undermine the US government and democratic system more generally. It was unclear at present how this aspect of the situation would play out in the weeks to come.

10 August 2016
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Fri Jan 20, 2017 8:11 am

Part 2 of 2

COMPANY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 2016/136 RUSSIA/US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: FURTHER DETAILS OF TRUMP LAWYER COHEN'S SECRET LIAISON WITH THE KREMLIN

Summary

• Kremlin insider reports TRUMP lawyer COHEN's secret meeting/s with Kremlin officials in August 2016 was/were held in Prague
• Russian parastatal organisation Rossotrudnichestvo used as cover for this liaison and premises in Czech capital may have been used for the meeting/s
• Pro-PUTIN leading Duma figure, KOSACHEV, reportedly involved as "plausibly deniable" facilitator and may have participated in the August meeting/s with COHEN

Detail

1. Speaking to a compatriot and friend on 19 October 2016, a Kremlin insider provided further details of reported clandestine meeting/s between Republican presidential candidate, Donald TRUMP's lawyer Michael COHEN and Kremlin representatives in August 2016. Although the communication between them had to be cryptic for security reasons, the Kremlin insider clearly indicated to his/her friend that the reported contact/s took place in Prague, Czech Republic.

2. Continuing on this theme, the Kremlin insider highlighted the importance of the Russian parastatal organisation, Rossotrudnichestvo, in this contact between TRUMP campaign representative/s and Kremlin officials. Rossotrudnichestvo was being used as cover for this relationship and its office in Prague may well have been used to host the COHEN/Russian Presidential Administration (PA) meeting/s. It was considered a "plausibly deniable" vehicle for this, whilst remaining entirely under Kremlin control.

3. The Kremlin insider went on to identify leading pro-PUTIN Duma figure, Konstantin KOSACHEV (Head of the Foreign Relations Committee) as an important figure in the TRUMP campaign-Kremlin liaison operation. KOSACHEV, also "plausibly deniable" being part of the Russian legislature rather than executive, had facilitated the contact in Prague and by implication, may have attended the meeting/s with COHEN there in August.

Company Comment

We reported previously, in our Company Intelligence Report 2016/135 of 19 October 2016 from the same source, that COHEN met officials from the PA Legal Department clandestinely in an EU country in August 2016. This was in order to clean up the mess left behind by western media revelations of TRUMP ex-campaign manager MANAFORT's corrupt relationship with the former pro-Russian YANUKOVYCH regime in Ukraine and TRUMP foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE's secret meetings in Moscow with senior regime figures in July 2016. According to the Kremlin advisor, these meeting/s were originally scheduled for COHEN in Moscow but shifted to what was considered an operationally "soft" EU country when it was judged too compromising for him to travel to the Russian capital.

20 October 2016

COMPANY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 2016/105 RUSSIA/UKRAINE: THE DEMISE OF TRUMP'S CAMPAIGN MANAGER PAUL MANAFORT

Summary

Ex-Ukrainian President YANUKOVYCH confides directly to PUTIN that he authorised kick-back payments to MANAFORT, as alleged in western media. Assures Russian President however there is no documentary evidence/trail
• PUTIN and Russian leadership remain worried however and sceptical that YANUKOVYCH has fully covered the traces of these payments to TRUMP's former campaign manager
• Close associate of TRUMP explains reasoning behind MANAFORT's recent resignation. Ukraine revelations played part but others wanted MANAFORT out for various reasons, especially LEWANDOWSKI who remains influential

Detail

1. Speaking in late August 2016, in the immediate aftermath of Paul MANAFORT's resignation as campaign manager for US Republican presidential candidate Donald TRUMP, a well-placed Russian figure reported on a recent meeting between President PUTIN and ex-President YANUKOVYCH of Ukraine. This had been held in secret on 15 August near Volgograd, Russia and the western media revelations about MANAFORT and Ukraine had featured prominently on the agenda. YANUKOVYCH had confided in PUTIN that he did authorise and order substantial kick-back payments to MANAFORT as alleged but sought to reassure him that there was no documentary trail left behind which could provide clear evidence of this.

2. Given YANUKOVYCH's (unimpressive) record in covering up his own corrupt tracks in the past, PUTIN and others in the Russian leadership were sceptical about the ex-Ukrainian president's reassurances on this as relating to MANAFORT. They therefore still feared the scandal had legs, especially as MANAFORT had been commercially active in Ukraine right up to the time (in March 2016) when he joined TRUMP's campaign team. For them it therefore remained a point of potential political vulnerability and embarrassment.

3. Speaking separately, also in late August 2016, an American political figure associated with Donald TRUMP and his campaign outlined the reasons behind MANAFORT's recent demise. S/he said it was true that the Ukraine corruption revelations had played a part in this but also, several senior players close to TRUMP had wanted MANAFORT out, primarily to loosen his control on strategy and policy formulation. Of particular importance in this regard was MANAFORT's predecessor as campaign manager, Corey LEWANDOWSKI, who hated MANAFORT personally and remained close to TRUMP with whom he discussed the presidential campaign on a regular basis.

22 August 2016

COMPANY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 2016/111

RUSSIA/US: KREMLIN FALLOUT FROM MEDIA EXPOSURE OF MOSCOW'S INTERFERENCE IN THE US PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN

Summary

Kremlin orders senior staff to remain silent in media and private on allegations of Russian interference in US presidential campaign
• Senior figure however confirms gist of allegations and reports IVANOV sacked as Head of Administration on account of giving PUTIN poor advice on issue. VAINO selected as his replacement partly because he was not involved in pro-TRUMP, anti-CLINTON operation/s
• Russians do have further 'kompromat' on CLINTON (e-mails) and considering disseminating it after Duma (legislative elections) in late September. Presidential spokesman PESKOV continues to lead on this
• However, equally important is Kremlin objective to shift policy consensus favourably to Russia in US post-OBAMA whoever wins. Both presidential candidates' opposition to TPP and TTIP viewed as a result in this respect
• Senior Russian diplomat withdrawn from Washington embassy on account of potential exposure in US presidential election operation/s

Detail

1. Speaking in confidence to a trusted compatriot in mid-September 2016, a senior member of the Russian Presidential Administration (PA) commented on the political fallout from recent western media revelations about Moscow's intervention, in favour of Donald TRUMP and against Hillary CLINTON, in the US presidential election. The PA official reported that the issue had become incredibly sensitive and that President PUTIN had issued direct orders that Kremlin and government insiders should not discuss it in public or even in private.

2. Despite this, the PA official confirmed, from direct knowledge, that the gist of the allegations was true. PUTIN had been receiving conflicting advice on interfering from three separate and expert groups. On one side had been the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergei KISLYAK, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with an independent and informal network run by presidential foreign policy advisor, Yuri USHAKOV (KISLYAK's predecessor in Washington) who had urged caution and the potential negative impact on Russia from the operation/s. On the other side was former PA Head, Sergei IVANOV, backed by Russian Foreign Intelligence (SVR), who had advised PUTIN that the pro-TRUMP, anti-CLINTON operation/s would be both effective and plausibly deniable with little blowback. The first group/s had been proven right and this had been the catalyst in PUTIN's decision to sack IVANOV (unexpectedly) as PA Head in August. His successor, Anton VAINO, had been selected for the job partly because he had not been involved in the US presidential election operation/s.

3. Continuing on this theme, the senior PA official said the situation now was that the Kremlin had further 'kompromat' on candidate CLINTON and had been considering releasing this via "plausibly deniable" channels after the Duma (legislative) elections were out of the way in mid-September. There was however a growing train of thought and associated lobby, arguing that the Russians could still make candidate CLINTON look "weak and stupid" by provoking her into railing against PUTIN and Russia without the need to release more of her e-mails. Presidential Spokesman, Dmitriy PESKOV remained a key figure in the operation, although any final decision on dissemination of further material would be taken by PUTIN himself.

4. The senior PA official also reported that a growing element in Moscow's intervention in the US presidential election campaign was the objective of shifting the US political consensus in Russia's perceived interests regardless of who won. It basically comprised of pushing candidate CLINTON away from President OBAMA's policies. The best example of this was that both candidates now openly opposed the draft trade agreements, TPP and TTIP, which were assessed by Moscow as detrimental to Russian interests. Other issues where the Kremlin was looking to shift the US policy consensus were Ukraine and Syria. Overall however, the presidential election was considered still to be too close to call.

5. Finally, speaking separately to the same compatriot, a senior Russian MFA official reported that as a prophylactic measure, a leading Russian diplomat, Mikhail KULAGIN, had been withdrawn from Washington at short notice because Moscow feared his heavy involvement in the US presidential election operation, including the so-called veterans' pensions ruse (reported previously), would be exposed in the media there. His replacement, Andrei BONDAREV however was clean in this regard.

Company Comment

The substance of what was reported by the senior Russian PA official in paras 1 and 2 above, including the reasons for Sergei IVANOV's dismissal, was corroborated independently by a former top level Russian intelligence officer and Kremlin insider, also in mid-September.

14 September 2016

COMPANY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 2016/112

RUSSIA/US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: KREMLIN-ALPHA GROUP COOPERATION

Summary

• Top level Russian official confirms current closeness of Alpha Group-PUTIN relationship. Significant favours continue to be done in both directions and FRIDMAN and AVEN still giving informal advice to PUTIN, especially on the US
• Key intermediary in PUTIN-Alpha relationship identified as Oleg GOVORUN, currently Head of a Presidential Administration department but throughout the 1990s, the Alpha executive who delivered illicit cash directly to PUTIN
• PUTIN personally unbothered about Alpha's current lack of investment in Russia but under pressure from colleagues over this and able to exploit it as lever over Alpha interlocutors

Detail

1. Speaking to a trusted compatriot in mid-September 2016, a top level Russian government official commented on the history and current state of relations between President PUTIN and the Alpha Group of businesses led by oligarchs Mikhail FRIDMAN, Petr AVEN and German KHAN. The Russian government figure reported that although they had had their ups and downs, the leading figures in Alpha currently were on very good terms with PUTIN. Significant favours continued to be done in both directions, primarily political ones for PUTIN and business/legal ones for Alpha. Also, FRIDMAN and AVEN continued to give informal advice to PUTIN on foreign policy, and especially about the US where he distrusted advice being given to him by officials.

2. Although FRIDMAN recently had met directly with PUTIN in Russia, much of the dialogue and business between them was mediated through a senior Presidential Administration official, Oleg GOVORUN, who currently headed the department therein responsible for Social Co-operation with the CIS. GOVORUN was trusted by PUTIN and recently had accompanied him to Uzbekistan to pay respects at the tomb of former president KARIMOV. However according to the top level Russian government official, during the 1990s GOVORUN had been Head of Government Relations at Alpha Group and in reality, the "driver" and "bag carrier" used by FRIDMAN and AVEN to deliver large amounts of illicit cash to the Russian president, at that time deputy Mayor of St Petersburg. Given that and the continuing sensitivity of the PUTIN-Alpha relationship, and need for plausible deniability, much of the contact between them was now indirect and entrusted to the relatively low profile GOVORUN.

3. The top level Russian government official described the PUTIN-Alpha relationship as both carrot and stick. Alpha held 'kompromat' on PUTIN and his corrupt business activities from the 1990s whilst although not personally overly bothered by Alpha's failure to reinvest the proceeds of its TNK oil company sale into the Russian economy since, the Russian president was able to use pressure on this count from senior Kremlin colleagues as a lever on FRIDMAN and AVEN to make them do his political bidding.

14 September 2016

COMPANY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 2016/113

RUSSIA/US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION-REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE TRUMP'S PRIOR ACTIVITIES IN ST PETERSBURG

Summary

Two knowledgeable St Petersburg sources claim Republican candidate TRUMP has paid bribes and engaged in sexual activities there but key witnesses silenced and evidence hard to obtain
• Both believe Azeri business associate of TRUMP, Araz AGALAROV will know the details

Detail

1. Speaking to a trusted compatriot in September 2016, two well-placed sources based in St Petersburg, one in the political/business elite and the other involved in the local services and tourist industry, commented on Republican US presidential candidate Donald TRUMP's prior activities in the city.

2. Both knew TRUMP had visited St Petersburg on several occasions in the past and had been interested in doing business deals there involving real estate. The local business/political elite figure reported that TRUMP had paid bribes there to further his interests but very discreetly and only through affiliated companies, making it very hard to prove. The local services industry source reported that TRUMP had participated in sex parties in the city too, but that all direct witnesses to this recently had been "silenced" i.e. bribed or coerced to disappear.

3. The two St Petersburg figures cited believed an Azeri business figure, Araz AGALAROV (with offices in Baku and London) had been closely involved with TRUMP in Russia and would know most of the details of what the Republican presidential candidate had got up to there.

14 September 2016

COMPANY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 2016/130

RUSSIA: KREMLIN ASSESSMENT OF TRUMP AND RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE IN US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Summary

Buyer's remorse sets in with Kremlin over TRUMP support operation in US presidential election. Russian leadership disappointed that leaked e-malls on CLINTON have not had greater impact in campaign
• Russians have injected further anti-CLINTON material into the 'plausibly deniable' leaks pipeline which will continue to surface, but best material already in public domain
PUTIN angry with senior officials who "overpromised" on TRUMP and further heads likely to roll as a result. Foreign Minister LAVROV may be next.
• TRUMP supported by Kremlin because seen as divisive, anti-establishment candidate who would shake up current international status quo in Russia's favor. Lead on TRUMP operation moved from Foreign Ministry to FSB and then to presidential administration where It now sits

Detail

1. Speaking separately in confidence to a trusted compatriot in early October 2016, a senior Russian leadership figure and a Foreign Ministry official reported on recent developments concerning the Kremlin's operation to support Republican candidate Donald TRUMP in the US presidential election. The senior leadership figure said that a degree of buyer's remorse was settling in among Russian leaders concerning TRUMP. PUTIN and his colleagues were surprised and disappointed that leaks of Democratic candidate, Hillary CLINTON's hacked e-mails had not had greater impact on the campaign.

2. Continuing on this theme, the senior leadership figure commented that a stream of further hacked CLINTON material already had been injected by the Kremlin into compliant western media outlets like Wikileaks, which remained at least "plausibly deniable," so the stream of these would continue through October and up to the election. However, s/he understood that the best material the Russians had already was out and there were no real game-changers to come.

3. The Russian Foreign Ministry official, who had direct access to the TRUMP support operation, reported that PUTIN was angry at his subordinate's "over-promising" on the Republican presidential candidate, both in terms of his chances and reliability and being able to cover and/or contain the US backlash over Kremlin interference. More heads therefore were likely to roll, with the MFA the easiest target. Ironically, despite his consistent urging of caution on the issue, Foreign Minister LAVROV could be the next one to go.

4. Asked to explain why PUTlN and the Kremlin had launched such an aggressive TRUMP support operation in the first place, the MFA official said that Russia needed to upset the liberal International status quo, including on Ukraine-related sanctions, which was seriously disadvantaging the country. TRUMP was viewed as divisive in disrupting the whole US political system; anti-Establishment: and a pragmatist with whom they could do business. As the TRUMP support operation had gained momentum, control of it had passed from the MFA to the FSB and then into the presidential administration where it remained, a reflection of its growing significance over time. There was still a view in the Kremlin that TRUMP would continue as a (divisive) political force even if he lost the presidency and may run for and be elected to another public office.

12 October 2016

COMPANY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 2016/134

RUSSIA/US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: FURTHER DETAILS Of KREMLIN LIAISON WITH TRUMP CAMPAIGN

Summary

• Close associate of SECHIN confirms his secret meeting in Moscow with Carter PAGE in July
• Substance included offer of large stake in Rosneft in return for lifting sanctions on Russia. PAGE confirms this is TRUMP's intention
• SECHIN continued to think TRUMP could win presidency up to 17 October. Now looking to reorientate his engagement with the US
Kremlin insider highlights importance of TRUMP's lawyer, Michael COHEN in covert relationship with Russia. COHEN's wife is of Russian descent and her father a leading property developer in Moscow

Detail

1. Speaking to a trusted compatriot in mid October 2016, a close associate of Rosneft President and PUTIN ally Igor' SECHIN elaborated on the reported secret meeting between the latter and Carter PAGE, of US Republican presidential candidate's foreign policy team, in Moscow in July 2016. The secret meeting had been confirmed to him/her by a senior member of SECHIN's staff, in addition to by the Rosneft President himself. It took place on either 7 or 8 July, the same day or the one after Carter PAGE made a public speech to the Higher Economic School in Moscow.

2. In terms of the substance of their discussion, SECHIN's associate said that the Rosneft President was so keen to lift personal and corporate western sanctions imposed on the company, that he offered PAGE/TRUMP's associates the brokerage of up to a 19 per cent (privatised) stake in Rosneft in return. PAGE had expressed interest and confirmed that were TRUMP elected US president, then sanctions on Russia would be lifted.

3. According to SECHIN's close associate, the Rosneft President had continued to believe that TRUMP could win the US presidency right up to 17 October, when he assessed this was no longer possible. SECHIN was keen to re-adapt accordingly and put feelers out to other business and political contacts in the US instead.

4. Speaking separately to the same compatriot in mid-October 2016, a Kremlin insider with direct access to the leadership confirmed that a key role in the secret TRUMP campaign/Kremlin relationship was being played by the Republican candidate's personal lawyer Michael COHEN. [DELETE]

5. SECHIN's associate opined that although PAGE had not stated it explicitly to SECHIN, he had clearly implied that in terms of his comment on TRUMP's intention to lift Russian sanctions if elected president, he was speaking with the Republican candidate's authority.

Company Comment

6. [DELETE]

18 October 2016

COMPANY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 2016/135

RUSSIA/US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF TRUMP LAWYER, COHEN IN CAMPAIGN'S SECRET LIAISON WITH THE KREMLIN

Summary

• Kremlin insider outlines important role played by TRUMP's lawyer COHEN in secret liaison with Russian leadership
• COHEN engaged with Russians in trying to cover up scandal of MANAFORT and exposure of PAGE and meets Kremlin officials secretly in the EU in August in pursuit of this goal
These secret contacts continue but are now farmed out to trusted agents in Kremlin-linked institutes so as to remain "plausibly deniable" for Russian regime
• Further confirmation that sacking of IVANOV and appointments of VAINO and KIRIYENKO linked to need to cover up Kremlin's TRUMP support operation

Detail

1. Speaking in confidence to a longstanding compatriot friend in mid-October 2016, a Kremlin insider highlighted the importance of Republican presidential candidate Donald TRUMP's lawyer, Michael COHEN, in the ongoing secret liaison relationship between the New York tycoon's campaign and the Russian leadership. COHEN's role had grown following the departure of Paul MANNAFORT as TRUMP's campaign manager in August 2016. Prior to that MANNAFORT had led for the TRUMP side.
2. According to the Kremlin insider, COHEN now was heavily engaged in a cover up and damage limitation operation in the attempt to prevent the full details of TRUMP's relationship with Russia being exposed. In pursuit of this aim, COHEN had met secretly with several Russian Presidential Administration (PA) Legal Department officials in an EU country in August 2016. The immediate issues had been to contain further scandals involving MANNAFORT's commercial and political role in Russia/Ukraine and to limit the damage arising from exposure of former TRUMP foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE's secret meetings with Russian leadership figures in Moscow the previous month. The overall objective had been to "to sweep it all under the carpet and make sure no connections could be fully established or proven"

3. Things had become even "hotter" since August on the TRUMP-Russia track. According to the Kremlin insider, this had meant that direct contact between the TRUMP team and Russia had been farmed out by the Kremlin to trusted agents of influence working in pro-government policy institutes like that of Law and Comparative Jurisprudence.
COHEN however continued to lead for the TRUMP team.

4. Referring back to the (surprise) sacking of Sergei IVANOV as Head of PA in August 2016, his replacement by Anton VAINO and the appointment of former Russian premier Sergei KIRIYENKO to another senior position in the PA, the Kremlin insider repeated that this had been directly connected to the TRUMP support operation and the need to cover up now that it was being exposed by the USG and in the western media.

Company Comment

The Kremlin insider was unsure of the identities of the PA officials with whom COHEN met secretly in August, or the exact date/s and locations of the meeting/s. There were significant internal security barriers being erected in the PA as the TRUMP issue became more controversial and damaging. However s/he continued to try to obtain these.

19 October 2016

COMPANY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 2016/166

US/RUSSIA: FURTHER DETAILS OF SECRET DIALOGUE BETWEEN TRUMP CAMPAIGN TEAM, KREMLIN AND ASSOCIATED HACKERS IN PRAGUE

Summary

• TRUMP's representative COHEN accompanied to Prague in August/September 2016 by 3 colleagues for secret discussions with Kremlin representatives and associated operators/hackers
• Agenda included how to process deniable cash payments to operatives; contingency plans for covering up operations; and action in event of a CLINTON election victory
• Some further details of Russian representatives/operatives involved; Romanian hackers employed; and use of Bulgaria as bolt hole to "lie low"
• Anti-CLINTON hackers and other operatives paid by both TRUMP team and Kremlin, but with ultimate loyalty to Head of PA, IVANOV and his successor/s

Detail

1. We reported previously (2016/135 and /136) on secret meeting/s held in Prague, Czech Republic in August 2016 between then Republican presidential candidate Donald TRUMP's representative, Michael COHEN and his interlocutors from the Kremlin working under cover of Russian 'NGO' Rossotrudnichestvo.

2. [DELETE] provided further details of these meeting/s associated anti-CLINTON/Democratic Party operations. COHEN had been accompanied to Prague by 3 colleagues and the timing of the visit was either in the last week of August or the first week of September. One of their main Russian interlocutors was Oleg SOLODUKHIN operating under Rossotrudnichestvo cover. According to [DELETE], the agenda comprised questions on how deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers who had worked in Europe under Kremlin direction against the CLINTON campaign and various contingencies for covering up these operations and Moscow's secret liaison with the TRUMP team more generally.

3. [DELETE] reported that over the period March-September 2016 a company called XBT/Webzilla and its affiliates had been using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct "altering operations" against the Democratic Party leadership. Entities linked to one Aleksei GUBAROV were involved and he and another hacking expert, both recruited under duress by the FSB, Seva KAPSUGOVICH, were significant players in this operation, In Prague, COHEN agreed contingency plans for various scenarios to protect the operation, but in particular what was to be done in the event that Hillary CLINTON won the presidency. It was important in this event that all cash payments owed were made quickly and discreetly and that cyber and other operators were stood down/able to go effectively to ground to cover their traces. (We reported earlier that the involvement of political operatives Paul MANAFORT and Carter PAGE in the secret TRUMP-Kremlin liaison had been exposed in the media in the run-up to Prague and that damage limitation of these also was discussed by COHEN with the Kremlin representatives).

4. In terms of practical measures to be taken, it was agreed by the two sides in Prague to stand down various "Romanian hackers" (presumably based in their homeland or neighbouring eastern Europe) and that other operatives should head for a bolt-hole in Plovdiv, Bulgaria where they should "lay low". On payments, IVANOV's associate said that the operatives involved had been paid by both TRUMP's team and the Kremlin, though their orders and ultimate loyalty lay with IVANOV, as Head of the PA and thus ultimately responsible for the operation, and his designated successor/s after he was dismissed by president PUTIN in connection with the anti-CLINTON operation in mid August.

13 December 2016
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Fri Jan 20, 2017 6:38 pm

The Hacking Evidence Against Russia Is Extremely Weak
by WashingtonsBlog
December 18, 2016

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Last week, German security officials said that Russia hacked secret German communications and provided them to Wikileaks (English translation).

Russia hacked secret Bundestagsakten. According to the security authorities, the documents of the NSA investigation committee published by Wikileaks are probably from the Russian cyber attack on the Bundestag.
by Markus Wehner and Eckart Lohse
Berlin
November 12, 2016

According to the German security circles, Russia is behind the publication of more than 2,400 secret files from the NSA investigation committee of the Bundestag. "There is a high degree of plausibility that the files come from the cyber attack of Russia to the Bundestag in the spring of 2015," said a high security official of the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" (FAS).

The files had been published two weeks ago on the unveiling platform Wikileaks. They are from the period between the spring of 2014 and January 2015. These are files that were stored on a server of the Bundestag administration and were accessible to the deputies of the committee.

The fact that no other files, and in particular none from the period after January 2015, were published, is in the opinion of the security circles that the documents are from the cyber attack on the Bundestag in the spring of 2015, for which Russia is held responsible. Although files from the Chancellor's Office, the Federal Intelligence Agency (BND) and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution continue to be supplied to the committee, no file that has been digitized after January 2015 has been published on Wikileaks.

No "fresh" files at Wikileaks

This also means that the published files were subject to the lowest level of secrecy "closure - for service only". Files classified under the three higher degrees of secrecy were not on the server of the Bundestag, but could only be viewed in the Secretariat of the Parliament (in paper form).

It is unlikely that the files from a parliamentary office in the Bundestag were passed on to Wikileaks. For then it would have been tried to publish as much "fresh" files as possible.

The NSA committee is investigating the massive data surveillance of the American intelligence agency NSA and in this context the role of the BND. The publication of the documents is, in the opinion of the security circles, a parallel case to the hacker attack on the servers of the Democratic Party in the United States. For him, the American, but also the German news services Russia are responsible. At that time, the captured documents had also been published on Wikileaks and had led to the resignation of Democratic party leader Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as she should have penalized Hillary Clinton's competitor Bernie Sanders. In the federal government it is assumed that Russia will also use the material captured in the hacker attack in the Bundestag election campaign to discredit parties or individual deputies.

In Germany, the BND and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution were commissioned in spring to evaluate the threat of Russian cyber attacks and disinformation. The report of the news services is ready, according to information from the FAS beginning of next year partial release. Then the federal government wants to decide how to tackle the threat.


But now, German officials say that the communications were likely leaked from an insider within the German parliament, the Bundestag (English translation).

Source for revelations in the Bundestag suspects. After the publication of thousands of documents from the NSA investigation committee, Russian hackers had recently been suspected. Now the authorities are leaving a leak in the Bundestag itself.
17.12.2016

Because of the Wikileaks documents from the NSA examination committee, the Bundestag police now apparently determined in Parliament.


After the publication of confidential files from the NSA investigation committee the Bundestagspolizei is looking for the perpetrators in parliament, as the news magazine "Spiegel" reports. "A violation of secrecy and a special duty of secrecy" is confirmed, a Bundestag spokesman confirmed to the magazine. Bundestag President Norbert Lammert (CDU) had approved the investigation against unknown. The German Bundestag is a separate police zone.

According to the report, federal security authorities are convinced that not hackers had stolen the 2420 documents published by the Internet platform Wikileaks in early December. There was certainly no evidence that the material had been stolen in the cyber attack on the Bundestag in 2015, it was called into security crises.

The "mirror" pointed out that the Wikileaks material comprised 90 gigabytes, but the infiltrated Bundestagsrechnern only 16 gigabytes of data were stolen. The Cyberattacke apparently also had no members of the Bundestag or employees from the environment of the NSA investigation committee affected.

The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" had cited a high security officer a week ago with the words that there was "high plausibility" for the fact that the secrets published by Wikileaks were captured in the cyber attack on the Bundestag. Russian hackers are responsible for the attack. Also the committee chairman Patrick Sensburg ( CDU ) had not excluded a foreign hacker attack immediately after the publication of the documents.

According to WikiLeaks, the approximately 2400 documents come from various federal agencies such as the Bundesnachrichtendienst and the federal offices for constitutional protection and security in information technology. The documents are intended to provide evidence of cooperation between the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the BND.

Since April 2014, the Committee has dealt with the seemingly all-encompassing data pioneering of the secret services, especially the NSA. Numerous documents are classified as confidential. Often, the Committee meets with the public. It is also about cooperation between the intelligence services in the field of terrorist defense and the underlying, also confidential, agreements between governments. The focus is also on the work of the federal news service.


Similarly, when a treasure trove of secret NSA tools were revealed, Russian hackers were initially blamed.

But it turns out that it was probably a leak by an NSA insider.

So claims that Russia is behind any specific hacking incident need to be taken with a grain of salt …

A group of high-level former American intelligence officials – including the man who designed the NSA’s global surveillance system (Bill Binney), a 27-year CIA official who personally delivered the daily briefing to both Democratic and Republican presidents (Ray McGovern), and others – say that the Democratic Party emails were not hacked, but were actually leaked by insiders.

A former British intelligence analyst and British Ambassador to Uzbekistan (Craig Murray) alleges that he personally met the leaker, and that it was an American working for the NSA.

But whether or not these American and British intelligence officials are right that the Democratic emails were leaked by insiders as opposed to hacked by Ruskies, the fact remains that the evidence for Russian hacking is very weak.

Initially, the main allegation for Russia hacking Democratic emails to throw the election for Trump is that Wikileaks released Democratic – but not Republican – emails.

However, the RNC says that their cybersecurity stopped attempts to hack into their computers. If true, then it may be that the Dems were simply more careless than the GOP. Indeed, John Podesta fell for a basic phishing scam.

Moreover, it’s famously difficult to attribute the source of hacks.

A leading IT think tank – the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology – points out:

Malicious actors can easily position their breach to be attributed to Russia. It’s common knowledge among even script kiddies that all one needs to do is compromise a system geolocated in Russia (ideally in a government office) and use it as a beachhead for attack so that indicators of compromise lead back to Russia. For additional operational security, use publically available whitepapers and reports to determine the tool, techniques, and procedures of a well-known nation-state sponsored advanced persistent threat (APT), access Deep Web forums such as Alphabay to acquire a malware variant or exploit kit utilized in prolific attacks, and then employ the malware in new campaigns that will inevitably be attributed to foreign intelligence operations. Want to add another layer? Compromise a Chinese system, leap-frog onto a hacked Russian machine, and then run the attack from China to Russia to any country on the globe. Want to increase geopolitical tensions, distract the global news cycle, or cause a subtle, but exploitable shift in national positions? Hack a machine in North Korea and use it to hack the aforementioned machine in China, before compromising the Russian system and launching global attacks. This process is so common and simple that’s its virtually “Script Kiddie 101” among malicious cyber upstarts.

***

Incident Response techniques and processes are not comprehensive or holistic enough to definitively attribute an incident to a specific threat actor from the multitude of script kiddies, hacktivists, lone-wolf threat actors, cyber-criminals, cyber-jihadists, hail-mary threats, and nation-state sponsored advanced persistent threats (APTs), who all possess the means, motive, and opportunity, to attack minimally secured, high profile targets.

***

Attribution might be reliable if the target is well-protected, if the target operates in a niche field, or if the malware involved in the incident is unique because one or more of those characteristics can be deterministic of the sophistication and resources of the threat actor. Attribution is less exact in the case of the DNC breach because the mail servers compromised were not well-secured; the organization of a few hundred personnel did not practice proper cyber-hygiene; the DNC has a global reputation and is a valuable target to script kiddies, hacktivists, lone-wolf cyber-threat actors, cyber-criminals, cyber-jihadists, hail-mary threats, and nation-state sponsored advanced persistent threats (APTs); and because the malware discovered on DNC systems were well-known, publicly disclosed, and variants could be purchased on Deep Web markets and forums.

***

Both APT28 and APT29 are well-known sophisticated threat actors that have been extensively profiled by cybersecurity firms such as FireEye. As a result, their profiles, operational behavior, tools, and malware could all be easily emulated by even an unsophisticated adversary in a campaign against an insecure target such as the DNC, that did not prioritize cybersecurity, cyber-hygiene, or system cyber resiliency. For instance, the cyber-criminal group Patchwork Elephant, known for adopting malware from other campaigns, could easily have also conducted the DNC/ RNC attacks by emulating APT28 and APT29.


James Carden – a former Advisor to the US-Russia Presidential Commission at the US State Department – writes:

Evidence of a connection between the Russian government and the hackers that are believed to have stolen the DNC/John Podesta e-mails remains illusory. Cyber-security expert Jeffrey Carr has observed that “there is ZERO technical evidence to connect those Russian-speaking hackers to the GRU, FSB, SVR, or any other Russian government department.” The very real possibility that non-state actors carried out the hack of the DNC has been conspicuously absent from the mainstream narrative of “Russian interference.”


Craig Murray notes:

Despite himself being a former extremely competent KGB chief, Vladimir Putin [is alleged to have] put Inspector Clouseau in charge of Russian security and left him to get on with it. The Russian Bear has been the symbol of the country since the 16th century. So we have to believe that the Russian security services set up top secret hacking groups identifying themselves as “Cozy Bear” and “Fancy Bear”. Whereas no doubt the NSA fronts its hacking operations by a group brilliantly disguised as “The Flaming Bald Eagles”, GCHQ doubtless hides behind “Three Lions on a Keyboard” and the French use “Marianne Snoops”.

What is more, the Russian disguised hackers work Moscow hours and are directly traceable to Moscow IP addresses. This is plain and obvious nonsense. If crowdstrike [the consulting firm hired by the Democratic National Committee] were tracing me just now they would think I am in Denmark. Yesterday it was the Netherlands. I use Tunnel Bear, one of scores of easily available VPN’s and believe me, the Russian FSB have much better resources. We are also supposed to believe that Russia’s hidden hacking operation uses the name of the famous founder of the Communist Cheka, Felix Dzerzhinsky, as a marker and an identify of “Guccifer2” (get the references – Russian oligarchs and their Gucci bling and Lucifer) – to post pointless and vainglorious boasts about its hacking operations, and in doing so accidentally leave bits of Russian language script to be found.

The Keystone Cops portrayal of one of the world’s most clinically efficient intelligence services is of a piece with the anti-Russian racism which has permeated the Democratic Party rhetoric for quite some time.
Frankly nobody in what is vaguely their right mind would believe this narrative.

It is not that “Cozy Bear”, “Fancy Bear” and “Guccifer2” do not exist. It is that they are not agents of the Russian government and not the source of the DNC documents. Guccifer2 is understood in London to be the fairly well known amusing bearded Serbian who turns up at parties around Camden under the (assumed) name of Gavrilo Princip.

Of course there were hacking and phishing attacks on the DNC. Such attacks happen every day to pretty well all of us. There were over 1,050 attacks on my own server two days ago, and many of them often appear to originate in Russia – though more appear to originate in the USA. I attach a cloudfare threat map. It happens to be from a while ago as I don’t have a more up to date one to hand from my technical people. Of course in many cases the computers attacking have been activated as proxies by computers in another country entirely. Crowdstrike apparently expect us to believe that Putin’s security services have not heard of this or of the idea of disguising which time zone you operate from.

Image

One Day’s Attempts to Hack My Own Server – Happens Every Single Day

Pretty well all of us get phishing emails pretty routinely. Last year my bank phoned me up to check if I was really trying to buy a car with my credit card in St Petersburg. I don’t know what the DNC paid “Crowdstrike” for their narrative but they got a very poor return for their effort indeed. That the New York Times promotes it as any kind of evidence is a truly damning indictment of the mainstream media.


Andrew Cockburn asks some hard-hitting questions:

1/ The DNC hackers inserted the name of the founder of Russian intelligence, in Russian, in the metadata of the hacked documents. Why would the G.R.U., Russian military intelligence do that?

2/ If the hackers were indeed part of Russian intelligence, why did they use a free Russian email account, or, in the hack of the state election systems, a Russian-owned server? Does Russian intelligence normally display such poor tradecraft?

3/ Why would Russian intelligence, for the purposes of hacking the election systems of Arizona and Illinois, book space on a Russian-owned server and then use only English, as documents furnished by Vladimir Fomenko, proprietor of Kings Servers, the company that owned the server in question, clearly indicate?

4/ Numerous reports ascribe the hacks to hacking groups known as APT 28 or “Fancy Bear” and APT 29 or “Cozy Bear.” But these groups had already been accused of nefarious actions on behalf of Russian intelligence prior to the hacks under discussion. Why would the Kremlin and its intelligence agencies select well-known groups to conduct a regime-change operation on the most powerful country on earth?


5/ It has been reported in the New York Times, without attribution, that U.S. intelligence has identified specific G.R.U. officials who directed the hacking. Is this true, and if so, please provide details (Witness should be sworn)

6/ The joint statement issued by the DNI and DHS on October 7 2016 confirmed that US intelligence had no evidence of official Russian involvement in the leak of hacked documents to Wikileaks, etc, saying only that the leaks were “consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts.” Has the US acquired any evidence whatsoever since that time regarding Russian involvement in the leaks?


So while Russia may have hacked the Democratic emails and then delivered them to Wikileaks, the evidence is extremely weak.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:19 am

‘US intel community lost professional discipline’: Ex-NSA tech director on ‘Russia hacking’ report
by Jim Urquhart
Reuters
7 Jan, 2017
© Jim Urquhart / Reuters

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The undisguised and clearly politically motivated report on the alleged 2016 US “election hack” displays a severe lack of “professional discipline” in the intelligence community, former NSA technical director and whistleblower William Edward Binney told RT.

While the report is full of allegations, it clearly lacks proof and even the wording used in the report points out that the authors have been playing a guessing game, Binney believes.

“I see a lot of allegations in what I’ve read so far of the report, but certainly it’s kind of light on proof of anything… They should’ve included at least some evidence of what they are asserting. And they haven’t done any of that, ” Binney said.

The motivation behind the report is a desire of some in US political circles to incite a “new cold war,” with Russia, according to Binney. The intelligence agencies are eager to push an anti-Russian agenda simply because a big confrontation promises a funding bonanza, the former NSA Technical Director said.

“My thinking all along is that there has been a move over here by members, some of the members in Congress, and by others, primarily I think the Democratic Party, but the Republicans are a part of this too, trying to start up a new Cold War,” Binney told RT.

“And the reason of course they want to do that is because that will the military, industrial, intelligence complex get more money. That simply means that if you start a new Cold War that means trillions of dollars being taken from taxpayers to pay for advanced weaponry, more spying, more spies, all kinds of activities by these intelligence agencies.”


The report veers off the “hacking” narrative and rather surprisingly, but flatteringly, focuses on RT and its activities in social media especially, which supposedly somehow helped Donald Trump to win the election.

“It’s another attempt to prejudice the issue for the American public. It’s the whole point of it I think. Otherwise they would have presented evidence like if there were things that RT reported that weren’t true, then they should have said that this is not true, and show what is true,” said Binney. “But they’re not even doing that. And in fact the whole idea is not really looking for truth and facts …”

It is a part of the “repetition from multiple directions until it’s believable” tactic used against Russia and Russian media. The repetition usually comes simultaneously from multiple “supposedly authoritative sources,” such as Congressmen, MSM citing anonymous security sources, intelligence agencies, until everyone stops questioning it, Binney believes.


The whole situation is dangerous for the US itself, since it exposes serious immaturity in the intelligence services, which have basically lost the ability to perform their primary duties.

“Basically it means that our intelligence community has lost the professional discipline of an intelligence function. And this is very dangerous. That’s why I’m an advocate for what president-elect Trump is doing by challenging what they are saying, because they need to be challenged,” Binney told RT.

“Because they are not being professional and disciplined in what they’re doing. That’s why they can’t stop any of these terrorist attacks. They are really good, the FBI is anyway, in entrapping people but it’s not in stopping real attacks.”

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:24 am

On Washington's hacking hysteria – what would Freud say?
by John Wight
7 Jan, 2017

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The Democratic Party and its supporters within the Washington political establishment are having serious problems grappling with the concept of democracy.

Since losing the US presidential election, they’ve been floundering around trying to blame Russia, WikiLeaks, Jill Stein, their own Electoral College, indeed everyone and everything except the people who decided to cast their vote in favor of Donald Trump rather than Hillary Clinton on November 11.

In this endeavor, they are enjoying the support of the CIA and, they claim, the sixteen other agencies that make up the country’s bloated intelligence community. Digressing for a moment here, what do those seventeen separate intelligence agencies actually do? Whatever their role is, it hasn’t had much to do with fighting terrorism, what with the rise of ISIS and Al-Qaeda in recent years. Perhaps they’ve been too busy interfering in the internal affairs of other countries to fight terrorism.


If we’re going by the historical record, then interfering in other countries’ internal affairs is precisely what they’ve been up to. Their ignoble history in this respect was documented back in October, in the pages of the Washington Post no less, with reporter Ishaan Tharoor reminding us of Washington’s role when it comes to “interfering [with] and sometimes interrupting the workings of democracies elsewhere.”

As he writes:

“It [the US] has occupied and intervened militarily in a whole swath of countries in the Caribbean and Latin America and fomented coups against democratically elected populists.

The most infamous episodes include the ousting of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 – whose government was replaced by an authoritarian monarchy favourable to Washington – the removal and assassination of Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba in 1961, and the violent toppling of socialist Chilean President Salvador Allende, whose government was swept aside in 1973 by a military coup led by the ruthless Gen. Augusto Pinochet.”


Overlooked in the brief history outlined by Mr Tharoor is the more recent role of US government officials and politicians in the coup that toppled the democratically elected Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovich at the beginning of 2014. Imagine the furore that would have been unleashed if Russian officials and politicians had dared do something similar in Mexico or Canada.

The point is that the US has made a virtue of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries over generations – supporting and/or organizing military coups, election fraud, and covertly funding political campaigns, groups, and parties all over the world in line with its own strategic and geopolitical interests.

US author and historian William Blum puts it’s like this: “The United States is not concerned with this thing called ‘democracy,’ no matter how many times every American president uses the word each time he opens his mouth... Since 1945 the US has attempted to overthrow more than fifty governments, most of which were democratically elected, and grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least thirty countries.”

Turning to the specific allegations and the resulting hysteria whipped up over Russia’s alleged role in hacking the servers of officials within the Democratic Party, no concrete evidence for this has yet been provided. All we’ve had instead is bald assertion. On the other side of the argument, meanwhile, contradicting the hacking allegations, we have former UK Ambassador Craig Murray, founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange, former CIA officer Ray McGovern, along with a group of former US intelligence officers and officials known as Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). All of the aforementioned claim that the emails in question were not hacked by Russia – they were leaked from within Washington.

In a recent interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News, when asked if Russia or anybody associated with Russia provided WikiLeaks with the emails, Julian Assange stated that “Our source is not a state party. So the answer for our interactions is no.”

Later in the same interview, Hannity asked him: “Can you say to the American people unequivocally that you did not get this information about the DNC, John Podesta's emails – can you tell the American people 1,000 percent you did not get it from Russia?” To which Assange replied: “We can say and we have said repeatedly over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party.”


This of course begs the question of who may have leaked the emails and why. Here Hannity put to Assange the claim of his friend, former UK Ambassador Craig Murray, that “somebody that you are friendly with actually was handed the documents at American University in a wooded area by a disgruntled Democrat who felt betrayed because they, the revelations, showed that Bernie Sanders had been betrayed and they didn't like the corruption of the Clinton Foundation.”

Julian Assange neither confirmed nor denied the veracity of this claim.

So this leaves us pondering the motive behind the allegations being leveled at Russia. In so doing, it is hard to escape the Freudian concept of psychological projection; in other words, the “operation of expelling feelings or wishes the individual finds wholly unacceptable – too shameful, too obscene, too dangerous – by attributing them to another.”

Given its long and shameful history of interference in the democracy and internal and sovereign affairs of other countries, are we witnessing a discredited and exposed Washington machine projecting the same shameful activity onto Russia?

It is a question that answers itself.


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:28 am

US Intel Agencies Try to Strong-Arm Trump into War With Russia
by Mike Whitney
January 10, 2017

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Powerful elites are using the credibility of the US Intelligence agencies to demonize Russia and prepare the country for war. This is the real meaning of the “Russia hacking” story which, as yet, has not produced any hard evidence of Russian complicity.

Last week’s 25-page report, that was released by the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, illustrates to what extent intelligence is being “fixed around the policy”. Just as the CIA generated false information related to Weapons of Mass Destruction to soften public resistance to war with Iraq, so too, the spurious allegations in the DNI’s politically-motivated report are designed to depict Russia as a growing threat to US national security. The timing of the report has less to do with the election of Donald Trump as President than it does with critical developments in Syria where the Russian military has defeated US-proxies in Syria’s industrial hub, Aleppo, rolling back Washington’s 15-year War of Terror and derailing the imperialist plan to control vital resources and pipeline corridors across the Middle East and Central Asia. Russia has become the main obstacle to Washington achieving its strategic vision of pivoting to Asia and maintaining its dominant role into the next century. The Intelligence Community has been coerced into compromising its credibility to incite fear of Russia and to advance the geopolitical ambitions of deep state powerbrokers.

The “Russia hacking” flap shows how far the Intel agencies have veered from their original mandate, which is to impartially gather and analyze information that may be vital to US national security. As we have seen in the last two weeks, the leaders of these organizations feel free to offer opinions on issues that clearly conflict with those of the new President-elect. Trump has stated repeatedly that he wants to reduce tensions and reset relations with Russia, but that policy is being sabotaged by members of the intelligence community, particularly CIA Director John Brennan who appeared just last week on PBS Newshour with Judy Woodruff. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

“We see that there are still a lot of actions that Russia is undertaking that undermine the principles of democracy in so many countries. What has happened in our recent election is not new. The Russians have engaged in trying to manipulate elections in Europe for a number of years…

the Russians tried to interfere in our electoral process recently, and were actively involved in that. And that is something that we can’t countenance.” (“Interview with CIA Director John Brennan”, PBS Newshour)


Brennan, of course, provided no evidence for his claims nor did he mention the hundreds of CIA interventions around the world. But Brennan’s accusations are less important than the fact that his appearance on a nationwide broadcast identifies him as a political advocate for policies that conflict with those of the new president. Do we really want unelected intelligence officials — whose job it is to provide the president with sensitive information related to national security – to assume a partisan role in shaping policy? And why would Brennan – whose is supposed to “serve at the pleasure of the president”– accept an invitation to offer his views on Russia when he knew they would be damaging to the new administration?

Powerful people behind the scenes are obviously pushing the heads of these intelligence agencies to stick to their ‘anti-Moscow’ narrative to force Trump to abandon his plan for peaceful relations with Moscow. Brennan isn’t calling the shots and neither are Clapper or Comey. They’re all merely agents serving the interests of establishment plutocrats whose geopolitical agenda doesn’t jibe with that of the incoming administration. If that wasn’t the case, then why would the Intelligence Community stake its reputation on such thin gruel as this Russian hacking gibberish? It doesn’t make any sense. The people who launched this campaign are either supremely arrogant or extremely desperate. Which is it? Here’s an excerpt from an article by veteran journalist Robert Parry sums it up like this in an article at Consortium News:

“The DNI report amounted to a compendium of reasons to suspect that Russia was the source of the information – built largely on the argument that Russia had a motive for doing so because of its disdain for Democratic nominee Clinton and the potential for friendlier relations with Republican nominee Trump.

But the case, as presented, is one-sided and lacks any actual proof. Further, the continued use of the word “assesses” – as in the U.S. intelligence community “assesses” that Russia is guilty – suggests that the underlying classified information also may be less than conclusive because, in intelligence-world-speak, “assesses” often means “guesses.” (“US Report Still Lacks Proof on Russia ‘Hack’”, Robert Parry, Consortium News)


Bottom line: Brennan and his fellow spooks have nothing. The report is little more than a catalogue of unfounded assumptions, baseless speculation and uncorroborated conjecture. In colloquial parlance, it’s bullshit, 100 percent, unalloyed Russophobic horse-manure. In fact, the authors admit as much in the transcript itself when they say:

“Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.”


What kind of kooky admission is that? So the entire report could be BS but we’re supposed to believe that Putin flipped the election? Is that it???

What’s really going on here? Why have the Intelligence agencies savaged their credibility just to convince people that Russia is up to no good?

The Russia hacking story has more to do with recent developments in Syria than it does with delegitimizing Donald Trump. Aleppo was a real wake up call for the US foreign policy establishment which is beginning to realize that their plans for the next century have been gravely undermined by Russia’s military involvement in Syria. Aleppo represents the first time that an armed coalition of allied states (Russia, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah) have actively engaged US jihadist-proxies and soundly beat them to a pulp. The stunning triumph in Aleppo has spurred hope among the vassal states that Washington’s bloody military juggernaut can be repelled, rolled back and defeated. And if Washington’s CIA-armed, trained and funded jihadists can be repelled, then the elitist plan to project US power into Central Asia to dominate the world’s most populous and prosperous region, will probably fail. In other words, the outcome in Aleppo has cast doubts on Uncle Sam’s ability to successfully execute its pivot to Asia.

That’s why the Intel agencies have been employed to shape public perceptions on Russia. Their job is to prepare the American people for an escalation of hostilities between the two nuclear-armed superpowers. US powerbrokers are determined to intensify the conflict and reverse facts on the ground. (Recent articles by elites at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institute reveal that they are as committed to partitioning Syria as ever.) Washington wants to reassert its exceptional role as the uncontested steward of global security and the lone ‘unipolar’ world power.

That’s what this whole “hacking” fiasco is about. The big shots who run the country are trying to strong-arm ‘the Donald’ into carrying their water so the depredations can continue and Central Asia can be transformed into a gigantic Washington-dominated corporate free trade zone where the Big Money calls the shots and Capital reigns supreme. That’s their dreamstate, Capitalist Valhalla.

They just need Trump to get-with-the-program so the bloodletting can continue apace.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Information Clearing House editorial policy.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:42 am

The Deep State Goes to War With President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer
by Glenn Greenwald
January 11 2017

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IN JANUARY 1961, Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address after serving two terms as U.S. president; the five-star general chose to warn Americans of this specific threat to democracy: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” That warning was issued prior to the decade-long escalation of the Vietnam War, three more decades of Cold War mania, and the post-9/11 era, all of which radically expanded that unelected faction’s power even further.

This is the faction that is now engaged in open warfare against the duly elected and already widely disliked president-elect, Donald Trump. They are using classic Cold War dirty tactics and the defining ingredients of what has until recently been denounced as “Fake News.”

Their most valuable instrument is the U.S. media, much of which reflexively reveres, serves, believes, and sides with hidden intelligence officials. And Democrats, still reeling from their unexpected and traumatic election loss, as well as a systemic collapse of their party, seemingly divorced further and further from reason with each passing day, are willing — eager — to embrace any claim, cheer any tactic, align with any villain, regardless of how unsupported, tawdry, and damaging those behaviors might be.

The serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest. There is a wide array of legitimate and effective tactics for combating those threats: from bipartisan congressional coalitions and constitutional legal challenges to citizen uprisings and sustained and aggressive civil disobedience. All of those strategies have periodically proven themselves effective in times of political crisis or authoritarian overreach.

But cheering for the CIA and its shadowy allies to unilaterally subvert the U.S. election and impose its own policy dictates on the elected president is both warped and self-destructive. Empowering the very entities that have produced the most shameful atrocities and systemic deceit over the last six decades is desperation of the worst kind. Demanding that evidence-free, anonymous assertions be instantly venerated as Truth — despite emanating from the very precincts designed to propagandize and lie — is an assault on journalism, democracy, and basic human rationality. And casually branding domestic adversaries who refuse to go along as traitors and disloyal foreign operatives is morally bankrupt and certain to backfire on those doing it.

Beyond all that, there is no bigger favor that Trump opponents can do for him than attacking him with such lowly, shabby, obvious shams, recruiting large media outlets to lead the way. When it comes time to expose actual Trump corruption and criminality, who is going to believe the people and institutions who have demonstrated they are willing to endorse any assertions no matter how factually baseless, who deploy any journalistic tactic no matter how unreliable and removed from basic means of ensuring accuracy?

All of these toxic ingredients were on full display yesterday as the Deep State unleashed its tawdriest and most aggressive assault yet on Trump: vesting credibility in and then causing the public disclosure of a completely unvetted and unverified document, compiled by a paid, anonymous operative while he was working for both GOP and Democratic opponents of Trump, accusing Trump of a wide range of crimes, corrupt acts, and salacious private conduct. The reaction to all of this illustrates that while the Trump presidency poses grave dangers, so, too, do those who are increasingly unhinged in their flailing, slapdash, and destructive attempts to undermine it.

FOR MONTHS, THE CIA, with unprecedented clarity, overtly threw its weight behind Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and sought to defeat Donald Trump. In August, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell announced his endorsement of Clinton in the New York Times and claimed that “Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

I Ran the C.I.A. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton.
by Michael J. Morrell
August 5, 2016

During a 33-year career at the Central Intelligence Agency, I served presidents of both parties — three Republicans and three Democrats. I was at President George W. Bush’s side when we were attacked on Sept. 11; as deputy director of the agency, I was with President Obama when we killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.

I am neither a registered Democrat nor a registered Republican. In my 40 years of voting, I have pulled the lever for candidates of both parties. As a government official, I have always been silent about my preference for president.

No longer. On Nov. 8, I will vote for Hillary Clinton. Between now and then, I will do everything I can to ensure that she is elected as our 45th president.

Two strongly held beliefs have brought me to this decision. First, Mrs. Clinton is highly qualified to be commander in chief. I trust she will deliver on the most important duty of a president — keeping our nation safe. Second, Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security.

I spent four years working with Mrs. Clinton when she was secretary of state, most often in the White House Situation Room. In these critically important meetings, I found her to be prepared, detail-oriented, thoughtful, inquisitive and willing to change her mind if presented with a compelling argument.

I also saw the secretary’s commitment to our nation’s security; her belief that America is an exceptional nation that must lead in the world for the country to remain secure and prosperous; her understanding that diplomacy can be effective only if the country is perceived as willing and able to use force if necessary; and, most important, her capacity to make the most difficult decision of all — whether to put young American women and men in harm’s way.

Mrs. Clinton was an early advocate of the raid that brought Bin Laden to justice, in opposition to some of her most important colleagues on the National Security Council. During the early debates about how we should respond to the Syrian civil war, she was a strong proponent of a more aggressive approach, one that might have prevented the Islamic State from gaining a foothold in Syria.


I never saw her bring politics into the Situation Room. In fact, I saw the opposite. When some wanted to delay the Bin Laden raid by one day because the White House Correspondents Dinner might be disrupted, she said, “Screw the White House Correspondents Dinner.”

In sharp contrast to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump has no experience on national security. Even more important, the character traits he has exhibited during the primary season suggest he would be a poor, even dangerous, commander in chief.

These traits include his obvious need for self-aggrandizement, his overreaction to perceived slights, his tendency to make decisions based on intuition, his refusal to change his views based on new information, his routine carelessness with the facts, his unwillingness to listen to others and his lack of respect for the rule of law.


The dangers that flow from Mr. Trump’s character are not just risks that would emerge if he became president. It is already damaging our national security.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was a career intelligence officer, trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them. That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated.

Mr. Putin is a great leader, Mr. Trump says, ignoring that he has killed and jailed journalists and political opponents, has invaded two of his neighbors and is driving his economy to ruin. Mr. Trump has also taken policy positions consistent with Russian, not American, interests — endorsing Russian espionage against the United States, supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea and giving a green light to a possible Russian invasion of the Baltic States.

In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.


Mr. Trump has also undermined security with his call for barring Muslims from entering the country. This position, which so clearly contradicts the foundational values of our nation, plays into the hands of the jihadist narrative that our fight against terrorism is a war between religions.

In fact, many Muslim Americans play critical roles in protecting our country, including the man, whom I cannot identify, who ran the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center for nearly a decade and who I believe is most responsible for keeping America safe since the Sept. 11 attacks.

My training as an intelligence officer taught me to call it as I see it. This is what I did for the C.I.A. This is what I am doing now. Our nation will be much safer with Hillary Clinton as president.

Michael J. Morell was the acting director and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2010 to 2013.


The CIA and NSA director under George W. Bush, Gen. Michael Hayden, also endorsed Clinton and went to the Washington Post to warn, in the week before the election, that “Donald Trump really does sound a lot like Vladimir Putin,” adding that Trump is “the useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited.”

Former CIA chief: Trump is Russia’s useful fool
by Michael V. Hayden
November 3, 2016

Michael V. Hayden, a principal at the Chertoff Group and visiting professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, was director of the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005 and the Central Intelligence Agency from 2006 to 2009.

I know I’m not the first to notice this, but Donald Trump really does sound a lot like Vladimir Putin.

There has always been a sympathetic authoritarian chord between the Republican presidential nominee and the Russian president. Both are on record as admiring The Strong Leader. They’ve even complimented one another on the trait. Putin could have been humming along when Trump was claiming “I alone can fix it” during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. Maybe he was.

Each seems to have a pretty conspiratorial view of the world, too. Putin comes by his naturally. He’s a product of a KGB Marxist philosophy where “the other” — any other — is reflexively identified as hostile and created by immutable forces of history, something to be feared and ultimately crushed.

At a rally in Springfield, Ohio, Oct. 27, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said he wished the U.S. “actually got along with Russia” so they could defeat the Islamic State together. (The Washington Post)

Trump seems to view business a bit that way. At least I don’t recall a lot of win-win vocabulary when he touts his dealmaking skills.

At the political level, Trump sees quite a few powerful “others” in the American electoral process: a corrupt media, international banks, unrestricted immigrants, a variety of globalists, free-traders and (at least some) Muslims. It’s a list Putin could second or, in some cases, jail or worse.

Sounding simultaneously populist and a little bit the conspiratorial Marxist, Trump has claimed that these unseen forces could rig the U.S. election. It’s a theme that Putin is happy to echo. Indeed, it’s a theme that his intelligence services are happy to actively propagate.

And in that case, the American presidential candidate routinely comes to the defense of his Russian soul mate. In the face of a high-confidence judgment of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and then weaponized embarrassing emails to sow confusion here, the man who would be president has declared: “Our country has no idea,” “I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. . . . It could also be lots of other people” and “They always blame Russia.”

Rejecting a fact-based intelligence assessment — not because of compelling contrarian data, but because it is inconsistent with a preexisting worldview — that’s the stuff of ideological authoritarianism, not pragmatic democracy. And it is frightening.

Trump also echoes Putin when it comes to Syria and the Islamic State, or ISIS. Here he follows the Moscow line that we and the Russians have common purpose and that Russia and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad (and Iran) are “killing ISIS.”

Actually, they are not. They are bucking up the Assad regime that, if anyone is keeping score, has killed more innocents than the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate, have combined.
And the attractiveness of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda to Sunni Muslims is a direct byproduct of the depredations of the Assad regime — the regime that Russia saved from collapse a year ago.

It’s a little complicated, I suppose, but not so hard that it explains or justifies the willful ignorance that Trump seems to display. His second debate formulation — “I don’t like Assad at all, but Assad is killing ISIS” — is precisely the formulation that the Syrian president has been attempting to craft. “It’s me or the terrorists” has been his false dilemma. It’s hard to explain how the candidate of a major American political party could have gotten there, especially after receiving classified intelligence briefings.

Perhaps some of this is explained by the murky ties of some on team Trump to things Russian. There is certainly a history there, and perhaps a comfort level as well.

Former campaign manager Paul Manafort did consulting work for the now-discredited but decidedly pro-Russian regime of Viktor Yanokovych in Ukraine, and recent revelations in Kiev have stoked questions about whether Manafort should have registered here as working on behalf of a foreign power.

Manafort denies any role in July’s successful effort to suppress a Republican platform pledge to provide lethal defensive weapons to the Ukrainians in their continuing battle against separatists and the Russian army. Although it’s clear that the suppression was initiated by Trump staffers, Trump has denied any personal responsibility for it. The whole episode was too quickly forgotten; it begs explanation.

Then there’s Carter Page, an adviser with intermittent contacts with the campaign, but with deep ties to Russian money, oil and gas, who has blamed aggressive Western policies for the mess in the Ukraine and what he describes as the “so-called annexation of Crimea.” So-called?

And what about the money? Although Trump has said, “I have zero investments in Russia,” his son Donald Jr. conceded in 2008 that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets . . . we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” Absent more detailed data (such as tax returns), who knows?

We have really never seen anything like this. Former acting CIA director Michael Morell says that Putin has cleverly recruited Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.

I’d prefer another term drawn from the arcana of the Soviet era: polezni durak. That’s the useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited.

That’s a pretty harsh term, and Trump supporters will no doubt be offended. But, frankly, it’s the most benign interpretation of all this that I can come up with right now.


It is not hard to understand why the CIA preferred Clinton over Trump. Clinton was critical of Obama for restraining the CIA’s proxy war in Syria and was eager to expand that war, while Trump denounced it. Clinton clearly wanted a harder line than Obama took against the CIA’s long-standing foes in Moscow, while Trump wanted improved relations and greater cooperation. In general, Clinton defended and intended to extend the decades-long international military order on which the CIA and Pentagon’s preeminence depends, while Trump — through a still-uncertain mix of instability and extremist conviction — posed a threat to it.

Whatever one’s views are on those debates, it is the democratic framework — the presidential election, the confirmation process, congressional leaders, judicial proceedings, citizen activism and protest, civil disobedience — that should determine how they are resolved. All of those policy disputes were debated out in the open; the public heard them; and Trump won. Nobody should crave the rule of Deep State overlords.

Yet craving Deep State rule is exactly what prominent Democratic operatives and media figures are doing. Any doubt about that is now dispelled. Just last week, Chuck Schumer issued a warning to Trump, telling Rachel Maddow that Trump was being “really dumb” by challenging the unelected intelligence community because of all the ways they possess to destroy those who dare to stand up to them:

Kyle Griffin ✔ @kylegriffin1
Chuck Schumer on Trump's tweet hitting intel community: "He's being really dumb to do this."
8:24 PM - 3 Jan 2017


And last night, many Democrats openly embraced and celebrated what was, so plainly, an attempt by the Deep State to sabotage an elected official who had defied it: ironically, its own form of blackmail.

BACK IN OCTOBER, a political operative and former employee of the British intelligence agency MI6 was being paid by Democrats to dig up dirt on Trump (before that, he was paid by anti-Trump Republicans). He tried to convince countless media outlets to publish a long memo he had written filled with explosive accusations about Trump’s treason, business corruption, and sexual escapades, with the overarching theme that Trump was in servitude to Moscow because they were blackmailing and bribing him.

Despite how many had it, no media outlets published it. That was because these were anonymous claims unaccompanied by any evidence at all, and even in this more permissive new media environment, nobody was willing to be journalistically associated with it. As the New York Times’ Executive Editor Dean Baquet put it last night, he would not publish these “totally unsubstantiated” allegations because “we, like others, investigated the allegations and haven’t corroborated them, and we felt we’re not in the business of publishing things we can’t stand by.”

The closest this operative got to success was convincing Mother Jones’s David Corn to publish an October 31 article reporting that “a former senior intelligence officer for a Western country” claims that “he provided the [FBI] with memos, based on his recent interactions with Russian sources, contending the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump.”

But because this was just an anonymous claim unaccompanied by any evidence or any specifics (which Corn withheld), it made very little impact. All of that changed yesterday. Why?

What changed was the intelligence community’s resolution to cause this all to become public and to be viewed as credible. In December, John McCain provided a copy of this report to the FBI and demanded they take it seriously.

At some point last week, the chiefs of the intelligence agencies decided to declare that this ex-British intelligence operative was “credible” enough that his allegations warranted briefing both Trump and Obama about them, thus stamping some sort of vague, indirect, and deniable official approval on these accusations. Someone — by all appearances, numerous officials — then went to CNN to tell the network they had done this, causing CNN to go on air and, in the gravest of tones, announce the “Breaking News” that “the nation’s top intelligence officials” briefed Obama and Trump that Russia had compiled information that “compromised President-elect Trump.”

CNN refused to specify what these allegations were on the ground that it could not “verify” them. But with this document in the hands of multiple media outlets, it was only a matter of time — a small amount of time — before someone would step up and publish the whole thing. BuzzFeed quickly obliged, airing all of the unvetted, anonymous claims about Trump.

Its editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, published a memo explaining that decision, saying that — although there was “serious reason to doubt the allegations” — BuzzFeed in general “errs on the side of publication” and “Americans can make up their own minds about the allegations.”
Publishing this document predictably produced massive traffic (and thus profit) for the site, with millions of people viewing the article and presumably reading the “dossier.”

BuzzFeedNEWS
TRENDING
2,588,070 VIEWS
These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties to Russia
A dossier, compiled by a person who has claimed to be a former British intelligence official, alleges Russia has compromising information on Trump. The allegations are unverified, and the report contains errors.


One can certainly object to BuzzFeed’s decision and, as the New York Times noted this morning, many journalists are doing so. It’s almost impossible to imagine a scenario where it’s justifiable for a news outlet to publish a totally anonymous, unverified, unvetted document filled with scurrilous and inflammatory allegations about which its own editor-in-chief says there “is serious reason to doubt the allegations,” on the ground that they want to leave it to the public to decide whether to believe it.

But even if one believes there is no such case where that is justified, yesterday’s circumstances presented the most compelling scenario possible for doing this. Once CNN strongly hinted at these allegations, it left it to the public imagination to conjure up the dirt Russia allegedly had to blackmail and control Trump. By publishing these accusations, BuzzFeed ended that speculation. More importantly, it allowed everyone to see how dubious this document is, one the CIA and CNN had elevated into some sort of grave national security threat.

ALMOST IMMEDIATELY AFTER it was published, the farcical nature of the “dossier” manifested. Not only was its author anonymous, but he was paid by Democrats (and, before that, by Trump’s GOP adversaries) to dig up dirt on Trump. Worse, he himself cited no evidence of any kind but instead relied on a string of other anonymous people in Russia he claims told him these things. Worse still, the document was filled with amateur errors.

Heidi N Moore
Listen, it stinks to high heaven. No sourcing, no details, misspellings and geographical mistakes. No one would trust this.


While many of the claims are inherently unverified, some can be confirmed. One such claim — that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen secretly traveled to Prague in August to meet with Russian officials — was strongly denied by Cohen, who insisted he had never been to Prague in his life (Prague is the same place that foreign intelligence officials claimed, in 2001, was the site of a nonexistent meeting between Iraqi officials and 9/11 hijackers, which contributed to 70 percent of Americans believing, as late as the fall of 2003, that Saddam personally planned the 9/11 attack). This morning, the Wall Street Journal reported that “the FBI has found no evidence that [Cohen] traveled to the Czech Republic.”

None of this stopped Democratic operatives and prominent media figures from treating these totally unverified and unvetted allegations as grave revelations. From Vox’s Zack Beauchamp:

Zack Beauchamp ✔ @zackbeauchamp
Good god
3:39 PM - 10 Jan 2017

10 Jan
Zack Beauchamp ✔ @zackbeauchamp
Good god pic.twitter.com/BiGqkiobA1

Zack Beauchamp ✔ @zackbeauchamp
Look, don't take anything in this dossier as gospel. But it's definitely evidence in favor of some pretty extraordinary claims.

3:44 PM - 10 Jan 2017


BuzzFeed’s Borzou Daragahi posted a long series of tweets discussing the profound consequences of these revelations, only occasionally remembering to insert the rather important journalistic caveat “if true” in his meditations:

10 Jan
Borzou Daragahi ✔ @borzou
These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia https://www.buzzfeed.com/kenbensinger/t ... .gpbGWQZlN … via @kenbensinger

Borzou Daragahi ✔ @borzou
Whoa. So guessing the press conference tomorrow is off. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents ... tions.html … pic.twitter.com/VEa44PeICe
4:12 PM - 10 Jan 2017 · İstanbul, Türkiye

10 Jan
Borzou Daragahi ✔ @borzou
Extraordinary alleged details about extent of Trump campaign cooperation with Putin. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents ... tions.html … pic.twitter.com/GNH9hIybYM

Borzou Daragahi ✔ @borzou
Stunning and believable narrative in leaked docs describing alleged rift in Kremlin over meddling in US elections /b]
https://www.documentcloud.org/documents ... tions.html … pic.twitter.com/qY2TuSM5Fc
4:26 PM - 10 Jan 2017 · İstanbul, Türkiye

10 Jan
Borzou Daragahi ✔ @borzou
Stunning and believable narrative in leaked docs describing alleged rift in Kremlin over meddling in US elections https://www.documentcloud.org/documents ... tions.html … pic.twitter.com/qY2TuSM5Fc

Borzou Daragahi ✔ @borzou
According to raw intel file, Kremlin info ops regarded Trump, @DrJillStein, LaRouche and @GenFlynn all potential assets in war vs Clinton pic.twitter.com/3fxTcqUIUL
4:33 PM - 10 Jan 2017 · İstanbul, Türkiye

10 Jan
Borzou Daragahi ✔ @borzou
According to raw intel file, Kremlin info ops regarded Trump, @DrJillStein, LaRouche and @GenFlynn all potential assets in war vs Clinton pic.twitter.com/3fxTcqUIUL

[b]Borzou Daragahi ✔ @borzou
Bombshell if true: Trump lawyer @MichaelCohen212 & Kremlin reps allegedly held clandestine August meeting in Prague
https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3259984-Trump-Intelligence-Allegations.html … pic.twitter.com/7FBZjJyXMq
4:40 PM - 10 Jan 2017 · İstanbul, Türkiye


Meanwhile, liberal commentator Rebecca Solnit declared this to be a “smoking gun” that proves Trump’s “treason,” while Daily Kos’s Markos Moulitsas sounded the same theme:

Rebecca Solnit
11 hrs The New York Times
Jesus fucking Christ. This gun isn't smoking. It's burst into flame. "The memos describe several purported meetings during the 2016 presidential campaign between Trump representatives and Russian officials to discuss matters of mutual interest, including the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Mrs. Clinton's campaign chairman, John D. Podesta." This is the evidence that the election was corrupted by the Trump team's collusion with a foreign power, and it seems very very very likely Trump knew. Treason.


Markos Moulitsas ✔ @markos
With CNN confirming that intelligence chiefs consider this report credible, it's about time to start using the word "treason"

4:25 PM - 10 Jan 2017


While some Democrats sounded notes of caution — party loyalist Josh Marshall commendably urged: “I would say in reviewing raw, extremely raw ‘intel,’ people shld retain their skepticism even if they rightly think Trump is the worst” — the overwhelming reaction was the same as all the other instances where the CIA and its allies released unverified claims about Trump and Russia: instant embrace of the evidence-free assertions as Truth, combined with proclamations that they demonstrated Trump’s status as a traitor (with anyone expressing skepticism designated a Kremlin agent or stooge).

THERE IS A real danger here that this maneuver could harshly backfire, to the great benefit of Trump and to the great detriment of those who want to oppose him. If any of the significant claims in this “dossier” turn out to be provably false — such as Cohen’s trip to Prague — many people will conclude, with Trump’s encouragement, that large media outlets (CNN and BuzzFeed) and anti-Trump factions inside the government (CIA) are deploying “Fake News” to destroy him. In the eyes of many people, that will forever discredit — render impotent — future journalistic exposés that are based on actual, corroborated wrongdoing.

Beyond that, the threat posed by submitting ourselves to the CIA and empowering it to reign supreme outside of the democratic process is — as Eisenhower warned — an even more severe danger. The threat of being ruled by unaccountable and unelected entities is self-evident and grave. That’s especially true when the entity behind which so many are rallying is one with a long and deliberate history of lying, propaganda, war crimes, torture, and the worst atrocities imaginable.

All of the claims about Russia’s interference in U.S. elections and ties to Trump should be fully investigated by a credible body, and the evidence publicly disclosed to the fullest extent possible. As my colleague Sam Biddle argued last week after disclosure of the farcical intelligence community report on Russian hacking — one that even Putin’s foes mocked as a bad joke — the utter lack of evidence for these allegations means “we need an independent, resolute inquiry.” But until then, assertions that are unaccompanied by evidence and disseminated anonymously should be treated with the utmost skepticism — not lavished with convenience-driven gullibility.

Most important of all, the legitimate and effective tactics for opposing Trump are being utterly drowned by these irrational, desperate, ad hoc crusades that have no cogent strategy and make his opponents appear increasingly devoid of reason and gravity. Right now, Trump’s opponents are behaving as media critic Adam Johnson described: as ideological jellyfish, floating around aimlessly and lost, desperately latching on to whatever barge randomly passes by.

There are solutions to Trump. They involve reasoned strategizing and patient focus on issues people actually care about. Whatever those solutions are, venerating the intelligence community, begging for its intervention, and equating its dark and dirty assertions as Truth are most certainly not among them. Doing that cannot possibly achieve any good and is already doing much harm.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Sat Jan 21, 2017 4:09 am

Spy Agencies Investigating Claims Trump Advisers Worked With Russian Agents: The unverified allegations—including a claim Russia has material that could be used to blackmail Mr. Trump—were deemed sufficiently significant to brief the president-elect
by Shane Harris, Devlin Barrett and Alan Cullison
Jan. 10, 2017

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U.S. intelligence agencies and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have spent months trying to substantiate explosive claims, compiled by a former Western intelligence official, that Russian government operatives engaged in an extensive conspiracy with advisers to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and employees of his company, people familiar with the matter said.

The unverified allegations—including a claim Russia has material that could be used to blackmail Mr. Trump—were deemed sufficiently significant by senior intelligence officials to summarize them in a two-page addendum to the classified briefing President-elect Trump received last Friday about Russian efforts to influence the U.S. presidential campaign, the people said.

“FAKE NEWS - A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!” Mr. Trump tweeted after the allegations surfaced publicly Tuesday evening.

U.S. officials confirmed that a summary of the information had been given to Mr. Trump. They said sharing of such unverified information was taken out of an abundance of caution that the incoming president should be aware of allegations being made against him that could become public—a decision intelligence experts backed. President Barack Obama received the same information, officials said. The agencies are continuing to investigate the claims, the people familiar with the matter said.

“I can picture how difficult a decision this must have been,” former CIA Director Michael Hayden said of the decision to inform Mr. Trump. “But if we had this data, others may have had this data too. And regardless of truth or falsity, I can see why they thought the president-elect should know.”

Among the allegations, contained in a set of confidential memos written by the former official, are that Mr. Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, met with Kremlin officials and discussed how to arrange cash payments to hackers working under Moscow’s direction against the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. The FBI has found no evidence that he traveled to the Czech Republic, where the meeting allegedly took place in August of last year, officials said.

Mr. Cohen, in an interview, denied any such meeting. He said in an interview Tuesday evening that he had never been contacted by the FBI or any other U.S. agency on these issues.
He said Mr. Trump has also not contacted him about them. Mr. Cohen said he previously knew about the allegations because he had been contacted about them by journalists.

The former official who compiled the dossier works for a private investigations company and was hired by both Republicans and Democrats​ to investigate Mr. Trump, according to one official close to the matter. His reports have circulated for months among law enforcement and intelligence agencies as well as congressional offices and news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal. While U.S. agencies have been unable to verify the allegations, the former official who produced the report has a long and respected track record among intelligence officials. The Journal hasn’t been able to verify the allegations.

The memos have been the subject of intense interest, despite the difficulty that officials have had corroborating the allegations, which also include claims that Russian officials have evidence of Mr. Trump engaged in sexual acts with prostitutes and have held the information in reserve as potential blackmail.

The memos were published in full online Tuesday evening, amid the latest twist in a months long feud between the intelligence community and Mr. Trump over the question of whether and why Russia interfered with the U.S. election.

Before last week’s briefing, the heads of the intelligence agencies spent hours testifying before the Senate about their evidence, which showed that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an extensive hacking campaign and leaks of private emails, principally directed at Democrats, in a bid to help Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump had expressed skepticism about the claims. After the briefing he received Friday, he toned down his rhetoric and seemed to allow that the Russians had engaged in hacking, though he later added that it was important for the U.S. to maintain good relations with Russia.

Russian officials have repeatedly denied involvement in election-related hacking or trying to influence the U.S. presidential election.

The revelations about the unsubstantiated allegations could complicate a week in which several of Mr. Trump’s highest-level cabinet officials face confirmation hearings before the Senate and when Mr. Trump, on Wednesday morning, is scheduled to give his first press conference since July.

Top lawmakers already have inquired publicly about the kinds of issues described in the memos.

In a hearing Tuesday with four top intelligence officials, Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), asked FBI Director James Comey if the bureau had investigated whether individuals close to the Trump campaign have any links to Russians. Mr. Comey declined to answer, saying he couldn’t confirm or deny if an investigation had begun.

CNN first reported that officials had given the allegations to Mr. Trump.

“The story as presented by CNN lacks any accuracy and is yet another attempt to discredit Mr. Trump’s landslide victory in this election,” said Mr. Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump won the electoral college but lost the popular vote to Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Cohen said that there is “zero truth” to the idea that there has been any relationship between the Trump Organization and the Russian government or any ongoing communications during the campaign between the Trump campaign and Russian affiliates.

A Russian official who was alleged to have met with Mr. Cohen in Prague, Oleg Solodukhin, also denied any such meeting took place, calling the report “some kind of misunderstanding.”


House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) said that he hadn’t seen the memos and that they hadn’t been discussed in a briefing on Tuesday for the heads of the intelligence committees and top lawmakers from the House and Senate, the so-called Gang of Eight.

“It should not be a surprise to anyone that the Russians are always looking for dirt on any politician,” he told reporters.

“That wouldn’t be news.”

Asked how damaging the implications could be to Mr. Trump, Mr. Nunes said. “I would not jump to any conclusions here.

This seems maybe taken a little out of context.”

Mr. Nunes is one of the lawmakers working with Mr. Trump’s transition team.

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and K.T. McFarland, Mr. Trump’s picks for national security adviser and deputy national security adviser respectively, declined to comment on the reports.

The memos appear to have been a subject of interest in Congress since last fall. In an Oct. 30 letter, then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) wrote to Mr. Comey accusing him of “a disturbing double standard for the treatment of sensitive information.’’

Mr. Reid wrote that Mr. Comey had publicized any potentially damaging information about Hillary Clinton, while behaving very differently regarding Mr. Trump.

“You possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government,’’ Mr. Reid wrote. “The public has a right to know this information. I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public.’’


Asked to comment on the revelation of the memos, a representative of Mr. Reid said his “letters and statements speak for themselves.”

On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) suggested in a television appearance that the U.S. government was probing whether or not Russian operatives coordinated with people linked to U.S. political campaigns.

Asked on NBC’s Meet The Press whether there was such an investigation, Mr. Graham replied: "I believe that it’s happening. But you need to talk to them because I don’t want to speak for them.’’
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Sat Jan 21, 2017 4:58 am

The Steele Dossier or the Hitler Diaries Mark II
by Craig Murray
11 Jan, 2017

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The mainstream media’s extreme enthusiasm for the Hitler Diaries shows their rush to embrace any forgery if it is big and astonishing enough. For the Guardian to lead with such an obvious forgery as the Trump “commercial intelligence reports” is the final evidence of the demise of that newspaper’s journalistic values.

We are now told that the reports were written by Mr Christopher Steele, an ex-MI6 man, for Orbis Business Intelligence. Here are a short list of six impossible things we are asked to believe before breakfast:

1) Vladimir Putin had a five year (later stated as eight year) plan to run Donald Trump as a “Manchurian candidate” for President and Trump was an active and knowing partner in Putin’s scheme.

2) Hillary Clinton is so stupid and unaware that she held compromising conversations over telephone lines whilst in Russia itself.

3) Trump’s lawyer/adviser Mr Cohen was so stupid he held meetings in Prague with the hacker/groups themselves in person to arrange payment, along with senior officials of the Russian security services. The NSA, CIA and FBI are so incompetent they did not monitor this meeting, and somehow the NSA failed to pick up on the electronic and telephone communications involved in organising it. Therefore Mr Cohen was never questioned over this alleged and improbable serious criminal activity.

4) A private company had minute by minute intelligence on the Manchurian Candidate scheme and all the indictable illegal activity that was going on, which the CIA/NSA/GCHQ/MI6 did not have, despite their specific tasking and enormous technical, staff and financial resources amounting between them to over 150,000 staff and the availability of hundreds of billons of dollars to do nothing but this.

5) A private western company is able to run a state level intelligence operation in Russia for years, continually interviewing senior security sources and people personally close to Putin, without being caught by the Russian security services – despite the fact the latter are brilliant enough to install a Manchurian candidate as President of the USA. This private western company can for example secretly interview staff in top Moscow hotels – which they themselves say are Russian security service controlled – without the staff being too scared to speak to them or ending up dead. They can continually pump Putin’s friends for information and get it.

6) Donald Trump’s real interest is his vast financial commitment in China, and he has little investment in Russia, according to the reports. Yet he spent the entire election campaign advocating closer ties with Russia and demonising and antagonising China.

Michael Cohen has now stated he has never been to Prague in his life. If that is true the extremely weak credibility of the entire forgery collapses in total. What is more, contrary to the claims of the Guardian and Washington Post that the material is “unverifiable”, the veracity of it could be tested extremely easily by the most basic journalism, ie asking Mr Cohen who has produced his passport. The editors of the Washington Post and the Guardian are guilty of pushing as blazing front page news the most blatant forgery to serve their own political ends, without carrying out the absolutely basic journalistic checks which would easily prove the forgery. Those editors must resign.

The Guardian has published a hagiography in which it clarifies he cannot travel to Russia himself and that he depends on second party contacts to interview third parties. It also confirms that much of the “information” is bought. Contacts who sell you information will of course invent the kind of thing you want to hear to increase their income. That was the fundamental problem with much of the intelligence on Iraqi WMD. Highly paid contacts, through also paid third parties, were inventing intelligence to sell.

There is of course an extra level of venial inaccuracy here because unlike an MI6 officer, Steele himself was then flogging the information for cash. Nobody in the mainstream media has asked the most important question of all. What was the charlatan Christopher Steele paid for this dossier?

As forgeries go, this is really not in the least convincing. It was very obviously not written seriatim on the dates stated but forged as a collection and with hindsight. I might add I do not include the golden showers among the impossible aspects. I have no idea if it is true and neither do I care. Given Trump’s wealth and history, I think we can say with confidence that he has indulged whatever his sexual preferences might be all over the world and not just in Russia. It seems most improbable he would succumb to blackmail over it and not brazen it out. I suppose it could be taken as the sole example of trickledown theory actually working.
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