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10 May 2020

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English Outsider

Colonel - is it possible to guess at the motivation of people like Steele or Dearlove?

You yourself ask a lot of Intelligence Officers. "The truth is that intelligence is an art best practiced by gifted eccentrics, people widely and deeply educated, favored by nature and training with intuition beyond the average and who care more for the truth than anything else."

https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2019/10/artists-versus-bureaucrats.html

If people like that are around in British Intelligence I wouldn't know. I hope so. But Steele and Dearlove are not such. They are bullshit artists first and foremost, possibly highly intelligent in the latter case and all the more difficult to read for that. Integrity Initiative level, if that, not the breed that "care more for the truth than anything else."

I don't trust a word they say, about their motives for going for Trump, about themselves, about such as Halpern or about anything else.

But your article above may also show that American Intelligence is still given to outsourcing- "The same kind of “thinking” has caused the clandestine services to rely far too much on “liaison” relationships with foreign intelligence services as a substitute for conducting American run espionage against difficult targets. The reason? Disclosure of foreign operations does not entail the career risk for the “managers” that the failure of an American operation would bring."

Such "liason" would also offer a cut-out, safe from the queries of inquisitive Congressmen, if one wished to co-ordinate an attack on a President.

Schumer saw the folly of going up against the Intelligence Community -

"New Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that President-elect Donald Trump is “being really dumb” by taking on the intelligence community and its assessments on Russia’s cyber activities.

“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.

“So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”

It did seem back then that Russophobia was dear to the Intelligence Community's heart -

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2017/06/09/u-k-labor-leader-corbyn-and-trump-have-something-in-common-russia/#6e8f956056f9

Six ways from Sunday at getting back at Trump? With Steele and Dearlove they found a seventh.

But it still leaves the question of why HMG went along with it and, certainly after the election, tacitly supported it.

David Habakkuk

EO,

I have a quite simple problem.

It is quite clear that the ‘blame game’ going on involves people attempting to escape accusations of complicity in deception by claiming that they were credulous victims of the deceptions of others.

Unfortunately, both interpretations have an unavoidable implication: the degree of dishonesty and/or credulity required to explain the behaviour of any of the key participants should have disqualified them from employment in either law enforcement or intelligence work.

As to the ‘FBI Special Agent’, as I have yet to read the transcript of his interview, having been tied up with making sense of the issues raised by the transcript of the cross-examination of Steele by Hugh Tomlinson, it would obviously be premature for me to hazard a view as to whether, or how far, he was credulous or is being dishonest.

My central point, for the moment, however, is that one cannot make a proper assessment of claims about Steele without a proper critical analysis of claims by him.

This requires, as a matter of urgency, that at the very least the four witness statements that formed the very effective ‘demolition job’ that Tomlinson performed on him, and hopefully a great deal of other material from the case brought by the Alfa group owners in London, be put in the public domain.

Also we really do need to see the ‘missing memoranda’, 2016/087 and 2016/088, which Steele says he provided to Michael Gaeta on 5 July 2016.

Equally important, moreover, are the materials from the case Aleksej Gubarev has brought. In sharp contrast to what happens in the U.S., it is commonly the case that only very limited material is made public until a case is heard, and often not much even then.

I would tend to think it likely that the hearing of that case can only start when Mr Justice Warby has delivered his judgement. I can see no indications of how soon this will be.

From what has already emerged from the current proceedings, I think it unlikely that Steele will be able to fight off the claims made by the Alfa Group owners in London, as he successfully did in the United States. And I think he is likely to know that his prospects in the case brought by Gubarev are as bad, if not worse.

Whether all this will increase what seems to me a clearly emerging reluctance on his part to continue to allow others to make him a ‘patsy’, by claiming they were simply credulous, is I think an interesting question.

English Outsider

TTG - " - patient zero for TDS" made me laugh. Is Mr Steele the first recorded case of the TDS pandemic that still rages on the continent and here in the UK? Since your President has a wicked habit of baiting his opposition with the most outrageous tweets he can think of I don't suppose there's much chance of that pandemic subsiding.

Interesting that this transcript was made public. There are Russian mobsters around who know now if they didn't before who put the FBI on to them. Mr Steele. Presumably Mr Steele is getting round the clock protection.

There are one or two points I don't get. The first is that I gather Intelligence Officers who've retired aren't allowed to use the networks they set up or developed when they were in service. They can't use resources belonging to HMG for their private business when they've retired.

But would you say that this exchange shows that Mr Steele did just that? -

MR. QUIGLEY: "Did he talk about how he developed his sources? How long he had known them, for example?"

(Answer) "Just generally, that when he was there developing his
network, and he had remained - they had remained in touch and a part of that
"

If Mr Steele did use contacts remaining from his official duties then MI6 must have known about that and approved it. The line between active and retired seems to be very blurred here.

The second point is that I thought there was a convention that, within five eyes, Intelligence services didn't covertly recruit retired members from other Intelligence Services.

Does the FBI count as an Intelligence Service for the purposes of this convention? Would "Agent Doe" or his superiors have therefore had to get permission from MI6 before they recruited Mr Steele?

Reading the transcript it seemed there was a deliberate avoidance of such questions relating to Mr Steele's position as a former Intelligence Officer and relating to his continuing contacts with MI6. I wondered whether that was a result of a pre-hearing agreement or understanding on the part of all there that that topic was off-limits. Or did they all take it as a matter of course that an experienced senior MI6 operative, complete with skills and a range of contacts past and present, merely dropped into the FBI's lap and that was that? No understanding at a higher level that it was OK for one of ours to moonlight for the FBI?

If AG Barr is intent on nailing the American end of this affair without imperiling the US/UK relationship, then the fact that such questions are there waiting to be asked by any half-awake journalist must make his task considerably harder.


I noticed on the Colonel's site that you were out and about limbing. Felled or standing? Axe or chainsaw? There's a reference in an old book I've got to workmen lopping off 6" branches from a felled elm with a single stroke. Very handy if one could do it. Saves all the bother of getting the saw pinched if one is careless.

That would have been with the heavy English axe, I suppose, of which I still have an example. The Australian fallers in the pre-chainsaw days, who had really tall trees to tackle, used a much lighter American made axe for their work. You still use those? Or is it chainsaw all the time.

The Twisted Genius

English Outsider,

Glad you enjoyed my patient zero comment. I do remember Steele’s own account of how frantic he was to stop Trump in 2016. It went far beyond just viewing Trump as a despicable toad or a conman and bullshit artist. Funny that when I first heard the term TDS, I thought it referred to those who saw him as a savior sent from heaven to be our infallible, all knowing god-emperor. Took me a few days to realize my initial understanding was 180 degrees off. As you know, I have a touch of the bug myself. At least I don’t think he’s the devil.

Concerning an intelligence officer’s use of his contacts after retirement, I can only speak of US policy. To contact and use a recruited source for one’s own purposes after retirement would probably initiate an investigation. On a more personal note, I would never do such a thing, even for the simple reason of renewing an old acquaintance. To do so would be putting that formal source at great risk, even if we were both out of the business.

Recontacting or maintaining contact with those who one meets while in the business, but as part of that business may be another story. I still wouldn’t do it. For Steele to do so is a terrible choice in my opinion, especially since he was booted out of Russia as a British intelligence officer. He is endangering innocent people for personal gain.

There are indeed serious restrictions on recruiting former intelligence officers of many friendly countries. There are also restrictions on the use of citizens of several friendly countries. I was expressly forbidden from recruiting British citizens. We were restricted from recruiting German subjects by the mid-90s. Before that, it was anything goes in Germany. However, these restrictions were on unilateral use of these foreign nationals. There were times when bilateral use of such foreign nationals was permitted.

Steele never considered himself to be an FBI source. He thought of himself as a freely cooperating fellow professional. The FBI coded him as a source. It’s just the bureaucratic way. When I was a SMU operative/case officer, I was also coded as a USI source. I also has a coded source who never considered himself to be working for USI or the US Government. He thought of himself as working for me personally. I guess it allowed him to sleep better at night.

Steele had a long history of contact with USI both before and after his retirement. While still in MI6 he liaised with our CIA and FBI as a normal part of his duties. After retirement, his work investigating FIFA once again brought him in contact with the FBI and DOJ. He used contacts developed during that work to get in touch with the FBI once he started his dossier work and crusade against Trump.

Concerning my limbing activities. I was trimming dead branches from my trees using a pole saw and hatchets. I used a small electric chainsaw to cut up the branches on the ground. I particularly enjoyed the hatchet work. It’s both aesthetically and spiritually pleasing. I used a very light weight Buck hatchet and a larger carpenter’s hatchet which I modified into a semi-bearded hatchet. I do my final sharpening now with various grades of emery paper taped to a flat surface. It works for knives as well. You still using that magnificent Gransfors Bruk axe of yours?

turcopolier

TTG

"a despicable toad or a conman and bullshit artist." Ah, you mean he was a politician. There are a few exceptions. I would place Rand Paul among them. Yes. "Recruited source" is a term that can mean anything or nearly nothing
if it is used by the uninformed. As you say, anyone who provides information and whose product must be identifiable for analytic sorting purposes is given a registration number so as to not use the name in non collection activities. OTOH some non staff human assets are virtually employees of the collection activity and are concealed and protected. They are the true "recruited sources.

David Habakkuk

EO,

These crooks are congenitally incapable of organising a coherent story among themselves, and sooner or later blurt things out.

The ‘FBI Special Agent’ could have been identified at any time as Michael Gaeta by simple searches. See, for example

https://www.eventa.it/eventi/rome/the-challenges-of-transnational-organized-crime-today .

In the transcript, we find a vivid account of how Bruce Ohr – supposedly – introduced Gaeta to Steele in the spring – probably April – of 2010.

Unfortunately, he failed to coordinate this with Simpson and Peter Fritsch, who in their ‘Crime in Progress’ book provide a rather different account:

‘In 2011, he contacted Michael Gaeta, an FBI agent he met at a conference in Oxford in 2009, who headed the Bureau's Joint Organized Crime Squad. Later, he would work with Gaeta on one of the FBI's longest-running and highest-priority cases: the hunt for the fugitive Russian Mafia don Semion Mogilevich, whom Orbis eventually established was hiding out in a small village north of Moscow under Russian government protection.’

Notice how coy Gaeta is about Mogilevich in the interview?

And then, we have the fascinating Q& A you quote, in which Gaeta really drops Steele in it:

‘MR. QUIGLEY: “Did he talk about how he developed his sources? How long he had known them, for example?”

(Answer) “Just generally, that when he was there developing his network, and he had remained - they had remained in touch and a part of that”

One fact that appears reasonably well established about Steele is that the only time he served in Moscow was in 1990-93. Cross-examined by Hugh Tomlinson, QC, Steele claimed that his sources ‘don’t come from my time as a Crown servant.’ He also stated that he has ‘No, but I have worked as a contractor for the FBI and parts of the British government during that period.'

Later, he describes himself as ‘a private investigator who has government clients’, and in response to a request for clarification, explains that: 'The government clients task us on national security issues, my Lordship.'

So, rather clearly, the notion that Orbis is simply a commercial operation is BS. Among other things, it is deploying the network of sources available to MI6 on purposes approved by that organisation.

An obvious question then becomes who would have been the sources that Steele and others were developing in Moscow in 1990-93?

Here, indiscreet articles by another of his ‘stenographers’, Catherine Belton, which, unlike her recent book, can be read in a few moments, are to the point.

In May 2005, shortly before Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s conviction and sentencing, two pivotal figures in the creation of the ‘semibankirschina’ of the ‘Nineties, Christopher Samuelson and Christian Michel, who had run a company called ‘Valmet’, gave Belton, then with the ‘Moscow Times’, the benefit of remarkably candid interviews.

(See https://mikhail_khodorkovsky_society_two.blogspot.com .)

Some of the sourcing is highly dubious. So, for example, for a key part of the history, she relies on, as many Western journalists did, on a former GRU person called Anton Surikov.

Whether Belton was simply too incompetent to discover that this interesting figure had a ‘second identity’ as ‘Mansour Nathoev’, a Cherkess nationalist, or knew and did not see fit to inform her readers, I do not know.

(For his history, see http://www.justicefornorthcaucasus.com/jfnc_message_boards/circassia_adiga.php?entry_id=1279585225 .)

That said, Belton’s articles provide valuable insights into the early stages of the ‘devil’s pact’ which people in key areas of Western intelligence, and law enforcement, made with the ‘semibankirshchina.’, and in particular with Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky.

There is, moreover, every reason to believe that the FBI were involved in this from very early on.

A combination of the heritages of Soviet, and Russian, history, and the utopian enthusiasms of Western ‘liberals’ and the kind of Western ‘Fachidioten’ to whom they looked for advice, meant that the attempt to turn a command economy into a market economy overnight lead to massive criminalisation.

Ironically, another disinformation-laden recent volume, that by Heidi Blake, formerly of the ‘Sunday Times’ and now of ‘BuzzFeed’, has moments of candour about this.

In a world where everyone needed ‘krysha’ simply to engage in business, Boris Berezovsky found his in the Chechen mafias.

Particularly given their links to the Chechen insurgency, people in the Russian security services sided with their Slav rivals, notably, in Moscow, the ‘Solntsevskaya Bratva’, to which Mogilevich was linked, and in St Petersburg the ‘Tambov Gang.’

So the FBI ‘investigation’ into Mogilevich, in which another FBI Special Agent, Robert Levinson was a central figure, was never a simple matter of law enforcement. It was also taking sides in internal Russian power struggles.

And here, another involvement of Michael Gaeta, discussed extensively in the interviews, is of particular interest: the investigation into the activities of Alimzhan Tokhtakhunov, aka ‘Taiwanchik’, and the operations he conducted out of an apartment in ‘Trump Tower.’

This, however, has to be set in context. In an earlier phase of his career, this figure was at the centre of allegations, disseminated by the FSB to intelligence agencies in the West – including the CIA – and also Israel, about links between Berezovsky and Chechen guerillas.

Mention of this surfaced in an affidavit given by the late Alexander Litvinenko to Berezovsky’s Israeli lawyer, Michael Cotlick, in Tel Aviv in April 2006 - in which ‘Taiwanchik’ was said to be his collaborator in ‘illegally providing Chechen guerillas with arms.’

Links to this an subsequent documents can be found, if one goes to the ‘Evidence’ page on the archived site of the Sir Robert Owen’s inquiry into the death of Litvinenko, and looks up the Lextranet references given.

(See https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160613090333/https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/evidence">https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/evidence">https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160613090333/https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/evidence .)

The link to the Litvinenko affidavit is at INQ015669. As often, it was selectively quoted by a judge who wanted to obscure the truth.

So also was a letter from previous December - link at INQ018922 - in which the same merry bunch of disinformation peddlers produced ‘evidence’ purporting to show that Mogilevich, while acting as an agent of the FSB and under Putin’s personal ‘krysha’, had attempted to supply a ‘mini nuclear bomb’ to Al Qaeda.

In the fabrication of this ‘evidence’, a crucial role was played by the former KGB Major – and rabid Ukrainian nationalist – Yuri Shvets.

Interesting light on his career was produced in an affidavit he produced in May last year – see https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.nysd.500468/gov.uscourts.nysd.500468.65.0.pdf .

In this, among other things, he explains that:

‘By arrangement with the U.S. Government, in 2004, I consulted the Canadian and British governments on security issues in Russia ...

‘From 2007 to 2014 by arrangement the U.S. Government I consulted anti-terrorist squad of Scotland Yard on assassination in London of Aleksandr Litvinenko, a Russian exile and former officer of the Russian security agency (FSB).

‘In February 2015, I testified as a key expert witness in Royal Court of London in inquest in Aleksandr Litvinenko assassination.’

Actually, the first occasion when Christopher Steele drafted in Yuri Shvets to spread disinformation about the life and death of Alexander Litvinenko was in a BBC Radio 4 programme on 16 December 2006, entitled ‘The Litvinenko Mystery’ - link at HMG000513 .

In this, the ‘top supporting actor’ was Robert Levinson, who, a few weeks later, on 9 March 2007, would disappear in mysterious circumstances on the Iranian island of Kish.

The collaboration of the FBI with Oleg Deripaska in attempts to recover him is a sub-plot of some importance in the ‘Russiagate’ saga.

I am afraid the whole notion of Steele having distinctive ‘sources’ is likely to be BS. What we are dealing with is a pool of sources, common to figures ‘in the know’ in MI6, the FBI, and the CIA, which had its origins in the ‘devil’s pact’ with the ‘semibankirschina.’

Unfortunately, many figures who were brought into this ‘network’ were always playing double games. And over time, the balance of advantage in this complex game has shifted further and further towards the Russian security services – as the history of ‘Taiwanchik’ may illustrate.

Teakwoodkite

Good read Larry

While this unraveling evolves it is worth noting that there evidence to implicate the unmasking never occurred and that the Flynn conversation of 12-29-2017 was the product of a foreign intel tap.
Flynn made that call while out of the country and the unmasking was not needed since Clapper and McCabe testified that the transcript “showed up” unmasked. There was no unmasking request for 12-29. McCabe also testified that “the Agency had the pen”

Worth a watch as Dan lays out the timing that Pat was musing about

https://youtu.be/HCo5JEQc7qc

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