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

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

Postby admin » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:18 am

F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims
by Adam Goldman, Mark Mazzetti and Matthew Rosenberg
New York Times
May 18, 2018

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President Trump accused the F.B.I., without evidence, of planting a mole inside his campaign to undermine his presidential run. But the F.B.I. in fact dispatched a confidential informant to meet with Trump campaign advisers as it began its investigation into possible links between his campaign and Russia.CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump accused the F.B.I. on Friday, without evidence, of sending a spy to secretly infiltrate his 2016 campaign “for political purposes” even before the bureau had any inkling of the “phony Russia hoax.”

In fact, F.B.I. agents sent an informant to talk to two campaign advisers only after they received evidence that the pair had suspicious contacts linked to Russia during the campaign.
The informant, an American academic who teaches in Britain, made contact late that summer with one campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, according to people familiar with the matter. He also met repeatedly in the ensuing months with the other aide, Carter Page, who was also under F.B.I. scrutiny for his ties to Russia.

The role of the informant is at the heart of the newest battle between top law enforcement officials and Mr. Trump’s congressional allies over the F.B.I.’s most politically charged investigations in decades. The lawmakers, who say they are concerned that federal investigators are abusing their authority, have demanded documents from the Justice Department about the informant.

Law enforcement officials have refused, saying that handing over the documents would imperil both the source’s anonymity and safety. The New York Times has learned the source’s identity but typically does not name informants to preserve their safety.

Democrats say the Republicans’ real aim is to undermine the special counsel investigation. Senior law enforcement officials have also privately expressed concern that the Republicans are digging into F.B.I. files for information they can weaponize against the Russia inquiry.

Over the past two days, Mr. Trump has used speculative news reports about the informant, mostly from conservative media, to repeatedly assail the Russia investigation.

“Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president,” he wrote on Twitter on Friday. “It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a ‘hot’ Fake News story. If true — all time biggest political scandal!”

No evidence has emerged that the informant acted improperly when the F.B.I. asked for help in gathering information on the former campaign advisers, or that agents veered from the F.B.I.’s investigative guidelines and began a politically motivated inquiry, which would be illegal.

But agents were leery of disrupting the presidential campaign again after the F.B.I. had announced in a high-profile news conference that it had closed the case involving Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, according to current and former law enforcement officials.

After opening the Russia inquiry about a month later, they took steps, those officials said, to ensure that details of the inquiry were more closely held than even in a typical national security investigation, including the use of the informant to suss out information from the unsuspecting targets. Sending F.B.I. agents to interview them could have created additional risk that the investigation’s existence would seep into view in the final weeks of a heated presidential race.

F.B.I. officials concluded they had the legal authority to open the investigation after receiving information that Mr. Papadopoulos was told that Moscow had compromising information on Mrs. Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” months before WikiLeaks released stolen messages from Democratic officials. As part of the operation, code-named Crossfire Hurricane, the F.B.I. also began investigating Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his future national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.

Details about the informant’s relationship with the F.B.I. remain scant. It is not clear how long the relationship existed and whether the F.B.I. paid the source or assigned the person to other cases.

Informants take great risks when working for intelligence services, Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, testified before Congress on Wednesday. Their identities must not be exposed, he said, hinting at congressional efforts to obtain the name of the source. “The day that we can’t protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe.”

One of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Rudolph W. Giuliani, acknowledged on Friday that neither the president nor his legal team knew with certainty that the F.B.I. had implanted a spy in the Trump campaign, as he and the president had alleged.

“I don’t know for sure, nor does the president, if there really was one,” Mr. Giuliani said on CNN. “For a long time, we’ve been told there was some kind of infiltration.”

The informant is well known in Washington circles, having served in previous Republican administrations and as a source of information for the C.I.A. in past years, according to one person familiar with the source’s work.

F.B.I. agents were seeking more details about what Mr. Papadopoulos knew about the hacked Democratic emails, and one month after their Russia investigation began, Mr. Papadopoulos received a curious message. The academic inquired about his interest in writing a research paper on a disputed gas field in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, a subject of Mr. Papadopoulos’s expertise.

The informant offered a $3,000 honorarium for the paper and a paid trip to London, where the two could meet and discuss the research project.

“I understand that this is rather sudden but thought that given your expertise it might be of interest to you,” the informant wrote in a message to Mr. Papadopoulos, sent on Sept. 2, 2016.

Mr. Papadopoulos accepted the offer and arrived in London two weeks later, where he met for several days with the academic and one of his assistants, a young woman.

Over drinks and dinner one evening at a high-end London hotel, the F.B.I. informant raised the subject of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails that had spilled into public view earlier that summer, according to a person familiar with the conversation. The source noted how helpful they had been to the Trump campaign, and asked Mr. Papadopoulos whether he knew anything about Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Mr. Papadopoulos replied that he had no insight into the Russian campaign — despite being told months earlier that the Russians had dirt on Mrs. Clinton in the form of thousands of her emails. His response clearly annoyed the informant, who tried to press Mr. Papadopoulos about what he might know about the Russian effort, according to the person.

The assistant also raised the subject of Russia and the Clinton emails during a separate conversation over drinks with Mr. Papadopoulos, and again he denied he knew anything about Russian attempts to disrupt the election.

After the trip to London, Mr. Papadopoulos wrote the 1,500-word research paper and was paid for his work. He did not hear again from the informant.


Mr. Page, a Navy veteran, served briefly as an adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign until September 2016. He said that he first encountered the informant during a conference in mid-July of 2016 and that they stayed in touch. The two later met several times in the Washington area. Mr. Page said their interactions were benign.

The two last exchanged emails in September 2017, about a month before a secret warrant to surveil Mr. Page expired after being repeatedly renewed by a federal judge. Mr. Trump’s congressional allies have also assailed the surveillance, accusing law enforcement officials, with little evidence, of abusing their authority and spying on the Trump campaign.

The informant also had contacts with Mr. Flynn, the retired Army general who was Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser. The two met in February 2014, when Mr. Flynn was running the Defense Intelligence Agency and attended the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, an academic forum for former spies and researchers that meets a few times a year.

According to people familiar with Mr. Flynn’s visit to the intelligence seminar, the source was alarmed by the general’s apparent closeness with a Russian woman who was also in attendance. The concern was strong enough that it prompted another person to pass on a warning to the American authorities that Mr. Flynn could be compromised by Russian intelligence, according to two people familiar with the matter.


Two years later, in late 2016, the seminar itself was embroiled in a scandal about Russian spying. A number of its organizers resigned over what they said was a Kremlin-backed attempt to take control of the group.

Reporting was contributed by Nicholas Fandos, Sharon LaFraniere, Katie Benner and Eileen Sullivan.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:00 am

Intelligence experts accuse Cambridge forum of Kremlin links: Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, resigns from Cambridge Intelligence Seminar
by Sam Jones, Defence and Security Editor
Financial Times
December 16, 2016

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

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Sir Richard Dearlove, the ex-chief of MI6, has cut his ties with the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar © FT montage/Photographs: Alamy, Getty

A group of intelligence experts, including a former head of MI6, has cut ties with fellow academics at Cambridge university, in a varsity spy scare harking back to the heyday of Soviet espionage at the heart of the British establishment.

Sir Richard Dearlove, the ex-chief of the Secret Intelligence Service and former master of Pembroke college, Stefan Halper, a senior foreign policy adviser at the White House to presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan, and Peter Martland, a leading espionage historian, have resigned as conveners of the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar — an academic forum for former practitioners and current researchers of western spycraft — because of concerns over what they fear could be a Kremlin-backed operation to compromise the group.

Mr Halper said he had stepped down due to “unacceptable Russian influence on the group”.


The seminar, established by Christopher Andrew, the official historian of MI5 and former chairman of the history faculty at the university, is one of the most respected networks in its field.

Recent attendees at its discussions, held every Friday at Corpus Christi college, have included Mike Flynn, president-elect Donald Trump’s choice as US national security adviser, and Sir Simon Fraser, the recently retired permanent undersecretary at the Foreign Office.

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Peter Martland and Stefan Halper quit the CIS along with Sir Richard Dearlove. Christopher Andrew co-chaired the rival CSI before his resignation in the spring, which was unrelated to Veruscript

Sir Richard and his colleagues suspect that Veruscript — a newly established digital publishing house that has provided funding to set up a new journal of intelligence and to cover some of the seminar’s costs — may be acting as a front for the Russian intelligence services.

They fear that Russia may be seeking to use the seminar as an impeccably-credentialed platform to covertly steer debate and opinion on high-level sensitive defence and security topics, two people familiar with their thinking said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Financial Times has been unable to independently substantiate their claims — and no concrete evidence has been provided to back them.


The three stepped down as conveners before the start of the Michaelmas term. Sir Richard confirmed his resignation as convener but declined to comment further. Mr Martland did not respond to a request for comment.

Their concerns come against a backdrop of growing paranoia about Russian subversion in the west. With relations between London and Moscow at their lowest ebb since the height of the cold war, Britain’s spy agencies are working overtime to try and counter Russian covert action in the UK.

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The seminars are held every Friday at Corpus Christi college © Dreamstime

Spurred by the mounting concern over Russian meddling in the US presidential election, western spooks are rushing to try and get a fuller picture of the Kremlin’s strategy for manipulating information to influence opinion.

A senior Whitehall security official said that while the authorities could not comment on specific investigations into covert Russian meddling, they were nevertheless aware that suspicions such as those flagged at Cambridge were “the kind of thing that we are aware of being of concern”.

Reliable evidence of Russia’s information war to back up such assertions has been in short supply, however. Indeed, the dispute at Cambridge revives uncomfortable memories of cold war fearmongering — and has sharply divided dons at the intelligence seminar.

While the febrile intellectual atmosphere at Cambridge in the 1930s — charged with radical new socialist thinking and invigorated by a fractious international environment — was an ideal recruiting ground for young, charismatic Soviet agents such as Kim Philby and Guy Burgess, whose work was the acme of cold war intelligence gathering, the modern academic milieu is a less obvious target for Russian espionage.

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Cambridge undergraduates vote under the watchful eye of a policeman in 1935 © Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Prof Andrew, whose books on the KGB are among the most exhaustive on the history of Russian information warfare as well as the infamous Cambridge spy ring of the 1930s, said the suggestion of a Russian covert operation to compromise the seminar was “absurd”.

The seminar is “entirely unclassified” Prof Andrew pointed out, adding that the new Journal of Intelligence and Terrorism was not formally affiliated to the gathering.

Some of the academics the FT spoke to suggested that the dispute over the seminar might be tinged by an element of competition: Sir Richard and his colleagues who have departed from the seminar run a separate organisation — the Cambridge Security Initiative — which pursues a similar, though more commercially-oriented, agenda.

The CSI, which also holds regular briefings and discussions, counts Sir Iain Lobban and Sir David Omand, both former heads of the electronic surveillance agency GCHQ, as members of its advisory board.

Prof Andrew was co-chair of CSI alongside Sir Richard but resigned in the spring. He said his resignation was unrelated to any matters regarding Veruscript. All of the individuals the FT spoke to emphasised that they hoped the two organisations would have an amicable future relationship.

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Four members of the 'Cambridge Five', graduates of Trinity College, who passed information from British Intelligence to the Soviet Union in the 1940s and 1950s. Clockwise from top left, Anthony Blunt, Donald Maclean, Kim Philby and Guy Burgess

Neil Kent, the lead convener of the seminar and editor-in-chief of the new journal also stepped back from the CSI. Mr Kent, a linguist and expert in Russian culture, said it was “inconceivable” that the Russian government was in any way involved.

“Cambridge is a wonderful place of conspiracy theories but the idea that there is a Machiavellian plot here is ridiculous,” he said. “The idea any of us would be involved in anything that smacks of Russian influence . . . it’s real Reds under the bed stuff — the whole thing is ludicrous.”


Mr Kent is responsible for building the links between the seminar and the organisation at the centre of the controversy, Veruscript. It was established by a friend of Mr Kent’s from Cambridge, Gleb Cheglakov, a Russian physicist.

According to Mr Kent, the new journal will cost roughly £50,000 a year to run and, although start-up funding is being supplied by Veruscript, ultimately it will draw on other sources of finance, to ensure its independence.

Mr Kent said he did not know where Veruscript’s money came from.

Corporate records show Veruscript is run by a company called AGC Partners, based in London.

Mr Cheglakov told the FT that the company was set up by himself and his wife using their own money. The company, which boasts a slick website and employs about a dozen people, claims it will shake up the academic publishing business by paying for peer reviews of its articles by approved academics.

AGC Partner’s corporate records show it was established in 2012. Mr Cheglakov said he was its cofounder although it is legally fully owned by Nazik Ibraimova, his Kygryz wife. Ms Ibraimova could not be reached for comment. The FT attempted to reach the company a number of times by phone and email.

Corporate records show Ms Ibraimova initially funded the company with a series of £50,000 loans made in six-monthly increments. In the past year, the company has significantly expanded. Its accounts show a loss of £410,000 in 2015, the last year for which figures have been filed.

“As we are in start-up mode, all journals are currently operating at a loss with Veruscript picking up the costs,” Mr Cheglakov said in a statement. The business is looking to significantly expand, he added. “[We] will publish journals from across the research spectrum: sciences, humanities and social sciences . . . We are a truly community-based publisher. [The] Journal of Intelligence and Terrorism Studies is our first journal to launch but we are also in the process of launching journals in areas as diverse as Functional Nanomaterials, Quantum Matter and Energy Storage.”

Mr Cheglakov did not specifically address the question of any connection between the company and the Russian government.


He stressed that all of the journals backed by Veruscript would be completely editorially independent of the organisation. “We aim to be a force of good within the publishing industry,” he said.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.
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