What to do with the intelligence flaw on the Steele Dossier?

On January 11, 2017 (one day after it was posted by BuzzFeed), wrote that the Steele Dossier was fake, fake and a scam. On is and subsequent articles, I explained how and why I came to this conclusion, even with the limited information available at the time. Four years later, we have definitive proof of a general Inspector and a special counsel that the Steele Dossier was in fact a hoax, paralyzing American politics for an entire presidential term.

At the time, I expected the intelligence community to come to the same conclusion as me. All that was required was for them to observe the general intelligence gathering rules. Then I was wrong. To my alarm, the FBI was taking the bogus file seriously. We are still waiting for some kind of disavowal of the file by our intelligence teachers.

We must not allow the Steele Dossier frenzy by the media and anti-Trump politicians to divert attention from the behavior of the intelligence community. Yes, the media and politicians march to the beat of different drummers. The media sell clicks and newspapers. Expect the media to fail, but rarely of this magnitude. Yes, politicians engage in dirty tricks that threaten to cross the line of legality, but it is hard to find another dirty trick of this magnitude. Those who dreamed of “Trump as a Russian agent” probably did not expect him to profoundly affect American political life as he did.

Professionals gathering intelligence are supposed to be truth seekers. Let the media and politicians roll by the wayside, but not us, they would say under normal conditions.

However, our intelligence community, primarily the FBI, allowed an intelligence dossier compiled by a private opposition firm using anonymous private contractors to interview anonymous Russian sources bringing charges once in a century against a presidential candidate and later president. to shape the nation’s most sensitive. intelligence operations against a fictitious plot concocted by opposition politicians. That’s a long sentence but it sums up what happened.

I just need an excerpt from the Steele Dossier to illustrate why I came to the conclusion that it was a scam in early 2017, and why the intelligence community should have come to the same conclusion in no time.

Here is the excerpt from the first page Of the report:

“Speaking to a trusted compatriot in June 2016, Sources A and B, a high-ranking figure from the Russian Foreign Ministry and a former high-level Russian intelligence officer who is still active within the Kremlin respectively, the Russian authorities had been cultivating and supporting the US Republican presidential candidate Donald TRUMP for at least 5 years. Source B claimed that the TRUMP operation was supported and led by Russian President Vladimir PUTIN. “

Let’s clear this up: The record claims that two high-level Kremlin officials let a “secondary source” from Steele learn one of Russia’s deepest secrets: that then-presidential candidate Trump was a Russian asset and what! it had been for five years! These two Kremlin sources had revealed the intelligence plot of the century, and no one was saying, “Wait a minute, this can’t be real! We have to check this with a fine tooth comb. “

In fact, the FBI “verified” the record by constructing a spreadsheet of the few verifiable data in the record, such as times, dates, and locations. His exercise did not confirm any substantive points in the record. But the FBI did not run the most basic checks by asking, “Who are these sources? If they really are Kremlin insiders, why are they talking? What is the message being imparted and for whose benefit? “

A common refrain during this early RussiaGate period was that the author of the record, Christopher Steele, was the guarantor of its authenticity. After all, Steele was a former MI6 agent who served undercover in Moscow in the early 1990s and held the Russian MI6 office in London from 2003 to 2006. He had not visited Russia for 13 years. Since 2006 he owned a private intelligence firm, and it was, in this capacity, that he was hired by a DC opposition investigative firm to dig into Trump.

Steele was hired not to find the truth, but to unearth the opposition’s investigation into lewd, bizarre and incredible rumors and gossip about Trump and his campaign. He was not a “James Bond MI6”, but rather a con artist trying to please his anti-Trump clients with conversations about “golden showers” at a Moscow luxury hotel, swashbuckling meetings in Prague and fantastic bribes for the Trump campaign. advisor Carter Page. Furthermore, Steele did not “write” the record. He compiled reports from secondary sources and inflated the credentials of the alleged informants. Steele’s own rolodex of Russian state officials would likely have been empty after not visiting Russia for more than a decade. The sub-sources were alone. Their checks would stop if they didn’t deliver juicy stuff.

Collecting and evaluating raw intelligence from sources is the bread and butter of intelligence. In such work, they need to know if the sources are who they say they are. Is the interrogator well trained and without personal prejudice? Does what informants say make sense and is it contrasted with related facts? In the case of private intelligence gathering, they need to know who the interrogators are, how they found the informant, and whether the informant required payment or other incentives to speak.

Where does this lead us? We have “sub-sources” whose identities we do not know who claim to speak to two high-level officials identified by generic job titles revealing the intelligence secret of the century. Any intelligence expert would see all kinds of red flags here. The first question to ask yourself would be: “Is this all made up by any chance?” (In fact, Steele’s primary secondary source confessed this is the case in the testimony before the FBI. Why wasn’t this the end of the spooky Steele Dossier deal?)

We know from the work of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and Special Counsel John durhamJohn Durham Unquestionable Press Promotes Rep. Adam Schiff’s Book Based on Russian Fiction Analyst Pleads Not Guilty to Durham Charges of Lying to Latest FBI Indictment in Durham: More Lines Drawn on Clinton Campaign MORE that Steele’s sub-sources (two) were marginal figures. They were by no means “trusted colleagues” of the two so-called Kremlin officials. Why would a high-level security agent active in the Kremlin want to speak to Steele’s sub-sources? The sources were also unable to buy testimonials. Steele’s budget was only $ 168,000.

As explained by a respected Russian liberal commentator: “After all, ‘fountains’ of this type in Russia… they have their own palaces, yachts, private jets. It is not entirely clear why these corrupt billionaires … should reveal their secrets to a consultant who had not visited Russia for 13 years. “

With all these red flags, the FBI, at the very least, should have treated the file as radioactive and started an investigation into whether it was Russian disinformation cleverly infused into American politics.

Surprisingly, the FBI not only relied on him to obtain warrants from the FISA courts, but after the election, the FBI agreed to pay Steele to continue gathering “intelligence” on Trump and Russia. The office withdrew from that deal after Steele was publicly identified in news reports.

We must ask ourselves why such garbage and forgery was allowed to affect public policy – that is, to influence FISA surveillance orders of American citizens, the appointment of a special counsel, and the use of Steele to build an impeachment case.

Why was the file not quietly investigated by FBI or CIA professionals, who should have quickly dismissed it and drawn attention to possible Russian disinformation? I suspect this did not happen because our intelligence experts tried to make it true.

Paul Roderick Gregory is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Houston, a researcher in the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and research fellow in German Institute of Economic Research. Follow him on Twitter @PaulR_Gregory.


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