Posts Tagged ‘CIA’

What Are the FBI and CIA Hiding?

August 1, 2018

The agency might have led the bureau down a rabbit hole in the 2016 Trump counterintelligence probe.

George Papadopoulos in London.

Did the Central Intelligence Agency lead the Federal Bureau of Investigation down a rabbit hole in the counterintelligence investigation of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign?

Although the FBI’s case officially began July 31, 2016, there had been investigative activity before that date. John Brennan’s CIA might have directed activity in Britain, which could be a problem because of longstanding agreements that the U.S. will not conduct intelligence operations there. It would explain why the FBI continues to stonewall Congress as to the inquiry’s origin.

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John Brennan. Photo by J. Scott Applewhite, The Associated Press.

Further, what we know about the case’s origin does not meet the threshold required by the attorney general guidelines for opening a counterintelligence case. That standard requires “predicate information,” or “articulable facts.”

From what has been made public, all that passes for predicate information in this matter originated in Britain. Stefan Halper, an American who ran the Centre of International Studies at Cambridge, had been a CIA source in the past. Recent press reports describe him as an FBI informant. Joseph Mifsud, another U.K.-based academic with ties to Western intelligence, met with Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos on April 26, 2016. Mr. Mifsud reportedly mentioned “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Then, on May 10, Mr. Papadopoulos met with Australian Ambassador Alexander Downer in London, to whom he relayed the claim about “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton.

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Peter Strzok

Peter Strzok, the FBI’s deputy assistant director, went to London Aug. 2, 2016, two days after the case was opened, ostensibly to interview Mr. Downer about his conversation with Mr. Papadopoulos. But what about the earlier investigative activity? The FBI would not usually maintain an informant in England. It is far likelier that in the spring of 2016 Mr. Halper was providing information to British intelligence or directly to the CIA, where Mr. Brennan was already pushing the collusion narrative.

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James Clapper

James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, has acknowledged that “intelligence agencies” were looking into the collusion allegations in spring 2016. The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported that British intelligence had been suspicious about contacts between associates of Mr. Trump’s campaign and possible Russian agents. That prompted Robert Hannigan, then head of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, to pass information to Mr. Brennan. With only these suspicions, Mr. Brennan pressured the FBI into launching its counterintelligence probe.

The FBI lacked any real predicate. But in the post-9/11 world, a referral from the CIA would cause some in the FBI to believe they had to act—particularly as the agency’s information originated with America’s closest ally. Shortly after the case opened that summer, Mr. Brennan gave a briefing to then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, telling him that the CIA had referred the matter to the FBI—an obvious effort to pressure the bureau to get moving on the collusion case.

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Harry Reid

As the FBI’s investigation progressed, it would use a surveillance warrant against Carter Page, a former member of Mr. Trump’s campaign, who had been in contact with Mr. Halper. A dossier prepared for the Clinton campaign by Christopher Steele, formerly of Britain’s MI6, was used to obtain the warrant.

The existence of the investigation was withheld from the congressional “gang of eight” because of its “sensitivity,” former FBI Director James Comey later said. The FBI continues to withhold the full details of the origin story from Congress. Their rationale is the “protection of sources,” as the origin lies with our best international partner.

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Although Mr. Brennan has exposed himself as a biased actor, the CIA has escaped criticism for using only thinly sourced information from British intelligence to snooker the FBI. Most damaging is the possibility that the CIA violated agreements with Britain by spying there rather than asking MI5 or MI6 to do so. And that may be what is really being withheld from Congress.

Mr. Baker is a retired FBI special agent and legal attaché.

Appeared in the August 1, 2018, print edition.


Artificial intelligence helping to make China’s foreign policy

July 30, 2018

Diplomacy is similar to a strategic board game. — China has made a program that draws on a huge amount of data, with information ranging from cocktail-party gossip to images taken by spy satellites, to contribute to strategies in Chinese diplomacy. To win the game.

South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 July, 2018, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 July, 2018, 12:37pm

Attention, foreign-policy makers. You will soon be working with, or competing against, a new type of robot with the potential to change the game of international politics forever.

Diplomacy is similar to a strategic board game. A country makes a move, the other(s) respond. All want to win.

Artificial intelligence is good at board games. To get the game started, the system analyses previous play, learns lessons from defeats or even repeatedly plays against itself to devise a strategy that can be never thought of before by humans.

It has defeated world champions in chess and Go. More recently, it has won at no-limit Texas Hold’em poker, an “imperfect information game” in which a player does not have access to all information at all times, a situation familiar in the world of diplomatic affairs.

Several prototypes of a diplomatic system using artificial intelligence are under development in China, according to researchers involved or familiar with the projects. One early-stage machine, built by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is already being used by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The ministry confirmed to the South China Morning Post that there was indeed a plan to use AI in diplomacy.

“Cutting-edge technology, including big data and artificial intelligence, is causing profound changes to the way people work and live. The applications in many industries and sectors are increasing on daily basis,” a ministry spokesman said last month.

Chinese President Xi Jinping with Russian President Vladimir Putin (second from right) and the leader of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon (left), in Qingdao, China, on June 10. Xi has called on Chinese diplomats to ‘formulate principles and policies of China’s external work in a scientific way.’ Photo: Kremlin via Reuters

The ministry “will actively adapt to the trend and explore the use of emerging technology for work enhancement and improvement”.

China’s ambition to become a world leader has significantly increased the burden and challenge to its diplomats. The “Belt and Road Initiative”, for instance, involves nearly 70 countries with 65 per cent of the world’s population.

The unprecedented development strategy requires up to a US$900 billion investment each year for infrastructure construction, some in areas with high political, economic or environmental risks.

The researchers said the AI “policymaker” was a strategic decision support system, with experts stressing that it will be humans who will make any final decision.

The system studies the strategy of international politics by drawing on a large amount of data, which can contain information varying from cocktail-party gossip to images taken by spy satellites.

When a policymaker needs to make a quick, accurate decision to achieve a specific goal in a complex, urgent situation, the system can provide a range of options with recommendations for the best move, sometimes in the blink of an eye.

Dr Feng Shuai, senior fellow with the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, whose research focuses on AI applications, said the technology of the AI policymaking system was already attracting attention despite being in its early stages.

Several research teams were developing these systems, Feng said. A conference discussing the impact of AI on diplomacy was hosted by the University of International Business and Economics last month in Beijing, in which researchers shared some recent progress.

“Artificial intelligence systems can use scientific and technological power to read and analyse data in a way that humans can’t match,” Feng said.

“Human beings can never get rid of the interference of hormones or glucose.”

Members of the United Nations Security Council (shown in February). One Chinese researcher said human diplomats would have difficulty winning a strategic game against artificial intelligence. Photo: Xinhua

The AI policymaker, however, would be immune to passion, honour, fear or other subjective factors. “It would not even consider the moral factors that conflict with strategic goals,” Feng added.

Other nations are believed to be conducting similar research into AI uses in policymaking fields, though details are not available publicly.

But AI does have its own problems, researchers say. It requires a large amount of data, some of which may not be immediately available in certain countries or regions. It requires a clear set of goals, which are sometimes absent at the start of diplomatic interaction. A system operator can also temper the results by altering some parameters.

But the technology will find increasing application and “further widen the gap in strategic game capabilities between countries”, Feng said.

“If one side of the strategic game has artificial intelligence technology, and the other side does not, then this kind of strategic game is almost a one-way, transparent confrontation,” he said. “The actors lacking the assistance of AI will be at an absolute disadvantage in many aspects such as risk judgment, strategy selection, decision making and execution efficiency, and decision-making reliability,” he said.

“The entire strategic game structure will be completely out of balance.”

The machine will never replace human diplomats. It only provides assistance

Liu Yu, an associate researcher at the Institute of Automation at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and who was involved in the development of an award-winning AI war game system for the People’s Liberation Army, said human diplomats would have difficulty winning a strategic game against AI.

“AI can think many steps ahead of a human. It can think deeply in many possible scenarios and come up with the best strategy,” he said.

A US Department of State spokesman said the agency had “many technological tools” to help it make decisions. There was, however, no specific information on AI that could be shared with the public, he said.

According to the department’s Information Technology Strategic Plan for 2017 to 2019, American “diplomats are using powerful new technologies to advocate policy position, promote awareness, and enhance transparency”.

The plan stressed the importance of big data technology as a tool to “offer more meaningful insights required for informed decision, problem solving and risk analysis”. It did not mention artificial intelligence.

Chinese President Xi Jinping greeting Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2016. Xi has called on China to ‘break new ground’ in diplomacy, Photo: Reuters

Big data and artificial intelligence are closely related but different.

Big data technology analyses complex data sets to generate insights, and has been widely used by many governments around the world. The result may contain a list of pro and cons. It does not tell you what to do.

Artificial intelligence takes it a step further. It acts on the results. It can be an automatic stop at a traffic light, a move on a board game, or a verdict of go or no-go for a high-speed railway connecting Moscow and Beijing.

Fu Jingying, an associate researcher with the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, said an early version of the AI system developed by the institute was in use in the foreign ministry.

The system was operated by the department of external security affairs, she said. As well as dealing with security issues, the department makes policy recommendations on the operation of China’s overseas diplomatic missions, according to the ministry’s website.

The system, also known as geopolitical environment simulation and prediction platform, was used to vet “nearly all foreign investment projects” in recent years, Fu said.

The machine has access to numerous Chinese government databases. Fu said it was equipped with artificial intelligence technology, including deep learning and a neural network for risk assessment or prediction of events such as political upheaval or terrorist attacks, with “encouraging results”.

The machine is still unable to make a strategic decision by itself, but the next generation will have the support function to do so.

The new system is “under construction”, Fu said, without giving a date on its completion.

“The machine will never replace human diplomats. It only provides assistance,” she added.

One challenge to the development of AI policymaker is data sharing among Chinese government agencies. The foreign ministry, for instance, had been unable to get some data sets it needed because of administrative barriers, Fu said.

China is aggressively pushing AI into many sectors. The government is building a nationwide surveillance system capable of identifying any citizen by face within seconds. Research is also under way to introduce AI in nuclear submarines to help commanders making faster, more accurate decision in battle.

But in China as well as many other countries, the final decision on significant diplomatic matters is made at the highest levels. To what extent AI may influence decision making depends on the senior politicians’ trust and acceptance of the new technology.

Zhang Lili, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University, said foreign-policy makers should embrace artificial intelligence as a powerful tool that could to take their work to a new level.

“In the past, our job was done entirely by the brain, which has limits,” he said. “AI can help us get more prepared for unexpected events. It can help find a scientific, rigorous solution within a short time.

“But the ultimate decision will have to be made by a human.

“This is a fundamental principle.”

Last month, in a conference on foreign affairs with Chinese diplomats, Chinese President Xi Jinping “called for efforts to break new ground” in diplomacy, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

Xi asked the diplomats to “formulate principles and policies of China’s external work in a scientific way, through cool-headed analysis of international phenomena and China’s relation with the rest of the world”.

The diplomats must not “get lost in a complex and changing international situation”, he warned.


America needs to get smarter if it wants to keep its edge over China


China in race to overtake the US in AI warfare

China in race to overtake the US in AI warfare

I’m ready to put tariffs on every import from China, US President Donald Trump warns

July 21, 2018

US leader says China has been ‘ripping off’ the United States for years and he’s willing to go ahead with extra tariffs on US$500 billion in Chinese goods

South China Morning Post

US President Donald Trump has said he is willing to slap tariffs on all Chinese products imported to the United States, a threat that could propel the world’s two biggest economies into an all-out trade war.

“I’m ready to go to 500 [billion dollars],” Trump told CNBC’s Joe Kernen on Friday, suggesting that every Chinese product would be subject to duties. “We have been ripped off by China for a long time.”

The “tremendous amount” threatened by Trump is roughly equivalent to the US$505.5 billion in Chinese products imported by the US last year. China, on the other hand, buys far less from the US, with last year’s total just US$130 billion.

Washington imposed tariffs on US$34 billion of Chinese products on July 6, prompting similar action from China. Then last week the US threatened to slap 10 per cent duties on another US$200 billion worth of the goods.

On Wednesday, the president’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, blamed Chinese President Xi Jinping for blocking trade talks with the US. China’s foreign ministry fired back a day later, accusing American officials of “making false accusations”.

In the CNBC interview, Trump also took aim at China’s currency.

“Their currency is dropping like a rock, and our currency is going up, and I have to tell you it puts us at a disadvantage,” he said.

The yuan fell 0.5 per cent against the US dollar in offshore markets to 6.8130 per dollar after Trump’s comments. It had already fallen 6.7 per cent against the dollar since April, making it the biggest loser among Asia’s 12 currency pairs during the period.

“I don’t want them to be scared. I want them to do well,” Trump said. “I really like President Xi a lot, but it was very unfair.”

Within hours of the interview going to air, Trump continued his complaints on Twitter, saying China and the European Union deliberately kept their currencies and interest rates low.

Chinese analysts were not surprised by Trump’s threat.

Donald J. Trump


China, the European Union and others have been manipulating their currencies and interest rates lower, while the U.S. is raising rates while the dollars gets stronger and stronger with each passing day – taking away our big competitive edge. As usual, not a level playing field…

“He has threatened it time and again. And you can’t rely on his words,” said Shi Yinhong, director of Renmin University’s Centre on American Studies and an adviser to the State Council.

John Gong, an economics professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, called Trump’s threat a “knee-jerk reaction” that “shouldn’t been taken seriously”.

“It must have been in the heat of the moment. The probability of going so far is almost zero. And if it ever reaches there, it will no longer be a trade problem – the US$300-500 billion operations of American corporates in China will surely be implicated,” Gong said.

Shang-Jin Wei, senior scholar at the Jerome A Chazen Institute for Global Business at the Columbia Business School, said an escalation in the trade dispute would have a minimal impact on the US in the short term.

“The [US] economy was on the trajectory of a strong recovery even before Trump took over, and then the tax reform of the end of last year provided overstimulation to the economy,” Wei said.

But things were looking differently for China, he said.

“China’s economic growth had already been moderating because of a combination of rising wages and a shrinkage of working-age cohorts,” Wei said.

“The Chinese economy is more open in terms of its dependence on trade. Leaving aside technical factors, the same punitive measures on trade have greater potential for damage to the Chinese economy than damage to the US.

“If President Trump needed to pick a time to engage in a bad trade war, the current timing is lucky for him.”

Additional reporting by Robert Delaney

CIA official: China waging ‘quiet’ cold war against US — South China Sea is the “Crimea of the East”

July 21, 2018

China is waging a “quiet kind of cold war” against the United States, using all its resources to try to replace America as the leading power in the world, a top CIA expert on Asia said Friday.

Beijing doesn’t want to go to war, he said, but the current communist government, under President Xi Jingping, is subtly working on multiple fronts to undermine the U.S. in ways that are different than the more well-publicized activities being employed by Russia.

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“I would argue … that what they’re waging against us is fundamentally a cold war — a cold war not like we saw during THE Cold War (between the U.S. and the Soviet Union) but a cold war by definition,” Michael Collins, deputy assistant director of the CIA’s East Asia mission center, said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.

Rising U.S.-China tension goes beyond the trade dispute playing out in a tariff tit-for-tat between the two nations.

There is concern over China’s pervasive efforts to steal business secrets and details about high-tech research being conducted in the U.S. The Chinese military is expanding and being modernized and the U.S., as well as other nations, have complained about China’s construction of military outposts on islands in the South China Sea.

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Donald Trump and Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago

“I would argue that it’s the Crimea of the East,” Collins said, referring to Russia’s brash annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, which was condemned throughout the West.

Collins’ comments track warnings about China’s rising influence issued by others who spoke earlier this week at the security conference. The alarm bells come at a time when Washington needs China’s help in ending its nuclear standoff with North Korea.

On Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said China, from a counterintelligence perspective, represents the broadest and most significant threat America faces. He said the FBI has economic espionage investigations in all 50 states that can be traced back to China.

“The volume of it. The pervasiveness of it. The significance of it is something that I think this country cannot underestimate,” Wray said.

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National Intelligence Director Dan Coats also warned of rising Chinese aggression. In particular, he said, the U.S. must stand strong against China’s effort to steal business secrets and academic research.

Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said increasing the public’s awareness about the activities of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese students or groups at U.S. universities could be one way to help mitigate potential damage.

“China is not just a footnote to what we’re dealing with with Russia,” Thornton said.

Marcel Lettre, former undersecretary of defense for intelligence, said China has the second-largest defense budget in the world, the largest standing army of ground forces, the third-largest air force and a navy of 300 ships and more than 60 submarines.

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China Hypersonic Plane (Artists impression)

“All of this is in the process of being modernized and upgraded,” said Lettre, who sat on a panel with Collins and Thornton.

He said China also is pursuing advances in cyber, artificial intelligence, engineering and technology, counter-space, anti-satellite capabilities and hypersonic glide weapons. Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told a congressional committee earlier this year that China is developing long-range cruise missiles — some capable of reaching supersonic speeds.

“The Pentagon has noted that the Chinese have already pursued a test program that has had 20 times more tests than the U.S. has,” Lettre said.

Franklin Miller, former senior director for defense policy and arms control at the National Security Council, said China’s weapons developments are emphasizing the need to have a dialogue with Beijing.

“We need to try to engage,” Miller said. “My expectations for successful engagement are medium-low, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.”

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The Associated Press

Blue State Blues: Why America Hates CNN

July 20, 2018

Americans dislike the news media, though we depend on them for information. And cable news has been a target for ridicule for at least a decade, ever since Jon Stewart used The Daily Show to lampoon the genre. But CNN is particularly disliked, especially —though not uniquely — by supporters of President Donald Trump.

CNN’s unpopularity is reflected in its shockingly poor ratings, but also in the chants of “CNN sucks!” that erupt at Trump rallies.

What is it about the pioneering cable news network that is so hated?

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CNN might argue that it is the victim of a vicious campaign, led by President Trump himself, to label the network “fake news.”

But Trump would not be the first president to single out a news outlet. Barack Obama did the same to Fox News, telling Rolling Stone in 2010 that the network was “destructive to [America’s] long-term growth.” His staff also called Fox “opinion journalism masquerading as news.” Few journalists, and even fewer Democrats, denounced Obama’s attacks as a threat to democracy.

Democracy survived — and so did Fox, which actually thrived under attack from Obama. CNN’s fortunes, by contrast, have moved in the opposite direction.

One reason is that CNN has competition that Fox does not, in the form of MSNBC, the openly left-wing network that has seen its ratings rise in the Trump era. In an increasingly divided political environment, viewers may have less interest in news produced by a network whose brand — theoretically, at least — is one of non-partisan objectivity and “facts first.”

The question is whether CNN is actually true to that brand. And many viewers feel that it is not. CNN is perceived as being guilty of false advertising — namely, claiming to be in the middle of the political spectrum while actually driving a hard left-wing agenda.

When the Black Lives Matter movement erupted, for example, CNN pushed the false idea that Michael Brown had raised his hands in surrender and told police, “Don’t shoot.” A CNN panel — including conservative Margaret Hoover — offered a protest of its own.

In the run-up to 2016, CNN — perhaps aware of the perception that it was, in fact, left-wing — added new conservative panelists, including pro-Trump pundits like Jeffrey Lord. It fired him on the flimsiest of pretexts after the election, leaving behind nominal Republicans who usually endorse their liberal opponents’ hatred of Trump.

After Trump won, CNN became hostile to Trump — perhaps, rumor had it, to deflect liberal criticism that it had “enabled” him by giving him too much airtime during the race.

CNN soon moved beyond covering the news into creating it. It was one of the first to report the unverified Russia “dossier” on Trump, which had served as the basis for the Obama administration’s surveillance of Trump associates during the campaign. In doing so, CNN allegedly worked with former Obama intelligence chief John Brennan, one of the more unhinged Trump-haters on Twitter.

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Since then, CNN’s coverage has been guided by the idea that Trump ought to, or is about to, be removed from office. To that end, for example, it covered porn star Stormy Daniels as if her lawsuit against Trump were more important than nuclear talks with North Korea.

This week, CNN’s Brian Stelter, host of Reliable Sourcesdefended U.S. journalists in Helsinki who asked Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin about the 2016 election while ignoring foreign policy. Stelter’s predecessor, Howard Kurtz (now at Fox News), used the show to critique the press. Today, it is merely a megaphone for CNN’s anti-Trump hysteria.

That hysteria has a damaging effect on American politics, and on America’s image abroad. In many countries, CNN is a major source of international news, and news about the United States. It presents an image of politics in the U.S. that is badly skewed against the Trump administration.

CNN could have chosen a different path. Faced with accusations of bias and “fake news,” it could have proven the president wrong by delivering more accurate news coverage and more balanced opinion.

Instead, it chose to become a player in the partisan fight, while still pretending it stood for objective truth. That ambivalent — and, ultimately, fraudulent — posture epitomizes the problem with the news media in general.

CNN confuses attacking Trump with defending journalism. That is why Americans change the channel.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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James Comey told Stephen Colbert what it had felt like to be fired as F.B.I. director. Credit CBS


Food Network Beats CNN In ratings

CNN continues to struggle with its ratings, failing to crack the top five in both total day and primetime cable ratings last week.

According to Nielsen Media Research for the week of June 18 to June 24, Fox News continued to dominate the other cable news networks by ranking number one in both total day and primetime ratings. MSNBC fell slightly behind at number two in both categories.

Fox News earned its 24th consecutive week on top of basic cable with 1,465,000 average daily viewers. They also earned 2,513,000 average primetime viewers for the week.

CNN, meanwhile, trailed far behind both of its news competitors, ranking 13th in primetime and 7th in total day. In primetime, CNN lost to HGTV, Investigation Discovery, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and the Food Network.

The Anderson Cooper and Chris Cuomo-led lineup earned them just 914,000 average primetime viewers.

Brennan and the 2016 Spy Scandal — Brennan-Clinton collusion?

July 20, 2018

Obama’s CIA director acknowledges egging on the FBI’s probe of Trump and Russia.

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The Trump-Russia sleuthers have been back in the news, again giving Americans cause to doubt their claims of nonpartisanship. Last week it was Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Peter Strzok testifying to Congress that he harbored no bias against a president he still describes as “horrible” and “disgusting.” This week it was former FBI Director Jim Comey tweet-lecturing Americans on their duty to vote Democratic in November.

But the man who deserves a belated bit of scrutiny is former Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan. He’s accused President Trump of “venality, moral turpitude and political corruption,” and berated GOP investigations of the FBI. This week he claimed on Twitter that Mr. Trump’s press conference in Helsinki was “nothing short of treasonous.” This is rough stuff, even for an Obama partisan.

That’s what Mr. Brennan is—a partisan—and it is why his role in the 2016 scandal is in some ways more concerning than the FBI’s. Mr. Comey stands accused of flouting the rules, breaking the chain of command, abusing investigatory powers. Yet it seems far likelier that the FBI’s Trump investigation was a function of arrogance and overconfidence than some partisan plot. No such case can be made for Mr. Brennan. Before his nomination as CIA director, he served as a close Obama adviser. And the record shows he went on to use his position—as head of the most powerful spy agency in the world—to assist Hillary Clinton’s campaign (and keep his job).

Mr. Brennan has taken credit for launching the Trump investigation. At a House Intelligence Committee hearing in May 2017, he explained that he became “aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons.” The CIA can’t investigate U.S. citizens, but he made sure that “every information and bit of intelligence” was “shared with the bureau,” meaning the FBI. This information, he said, “served as the basis for the FBI investigation.” My sources suggest Mr. Brennan was overstating his initial role, but either way, by his own testimony, he as an Obama-Clinton partisan was pushing information to the FBI and pressuring it to act.

More notable, Mr. Brennan then took the lead on shaping the narrative that Russia was interfering in the election specifically to help Mr. Trump—which quickly evolved into the Trump-collusion narrative. Team Clinton was eager to make the claim, especially in light of the Democratic National Committee server hack. Numerous reports show Mr. Brennan aggressively pushing the same line internally. Their problem was that as of July 2016 even then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper didn’t buy it. He publicly refused to say who was responsible for the hack, or ascribe motivation. Mr. Brennan also couldn’t get the FBI to sign on to the view; the bureau continued to believe Russian cyberattacks were aimed at disrupting the U.S. political system generally, not aiding Mr. Trump.

The CIA director couldn’t himself go public with his Clinton spin—he lacked the support of the intelligence community and had to be careful not to be seen interfering in U.S. politics. So what to do? He called Harry Reid. In a late August briefing, he told the Senate minority leader that Russia was trying to help Mr. Trump win the election, and that Trump advisers might be colluding with Russia. (Two years later, no public evidence has emerged to support such a claim.)

But the truth was irrelevant. On cue, within a few days of the briefing, Mr. Reid wrote a letter to Mr. Comey, which of course immediately became public. “The evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign continues to mount,” wrote Mr. Reid, going on to float Team Clinton’s Russians-are-helping-Trump theory. Mr. Reid publicly divulged at least one of the allegations contained in the infamous Steele dossier, insisting that the FBI use “every resource available to investigate this matter.”

The Reid letter marked the first official blast of the Brennan-Clinton collusion narrative into the open. Clinton opposition-research firm Fusion GPS followed up by briefing its media allies about the dossier it had dropped off at the FBI. On Sept. 23, Yahoo News’s Michael Isikoff ran the headline: “U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin.” Voilà. Not only was the collusion narrative out there, but so was evidence that the FBI was investigating.

In their recent book “Russian Roulette,” Mr. Isikoff and David Corn say even Mr. Reid believed Mr. Brennan had an “ulterior motive” with the briefing, and “concluded the CIA chief believed the public needed to know about the Russia operation, including the information about the possible links to the Trump campaign.” (Brennan allies have denied his aim was to leak damaging information.)

Clinton supporters have a plausible case that Mr. Comey’s late-October announcement that the FBI had reopened its investigation into the candidate affected the election. But Trump supporters have a claim that the public outing of the collusion narrative and FBI investigation took a toll on their candidate. Politics was at the center of that outing, and Mr. Brennan was a ringmaster. Remember that when reading his next “treason” tweet.

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For Republicans, ‘The Dam Has Broken.’ But for How Long?

July 18, 2018

After 17 months, three weeks and six days of Donald J. Trump’s tumultuous presidency, some of his fellow Republicans had finally had enough. “The dam has broken,” Senator Bob Corker, a Republican critic from Tennessee, said on Tuesday.

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Senator Bob Corker

But has it really broken and if so for how long? As Mr. Trump scrambled to patch any holes on Tuesday by reimagining his extraordinary news conference with Russia’s president the day before in Helsinki, Finland, the question was whether he had reached a genuine turning point or simply endured another one of those episodes that seems decisive but ultimately fades into the next one.

For the moment, at least, this time did feel different. After seeming to take President Vladimir V. Putin’s word over that of America’s intelligence agencies on Russian election meddling, Mr. Trump was being accused not only of poor judgment but of treason — and not just by fringe elements and liberal talk show hosts, but by a former C.I.A. director.

By  Peter Baker
The New York Times

In a presidency without precedent, mark another moment for the history books. While the accusation of treason has been thrown around on the edges of the political debate from time to time, never in the modern era has it become part of the national conversation in such a prominent way.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin on Monday at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

To the president’s defenders, this all sounds like another eruption of what they often call Trump Derangement Syndrome. That he drives his critics to such extremes, they argue, says more about them than it does about Mr. Trump. As the president backtracked on his deferential comments at Monday’s meeting with Mr. Putin and asserted that he really does accept that Russia intervened in the 2016 election, allies assumed that this, too, would blow over.

But the list of Republicans rebuking the president included not just the usual suspects like Mr. Corker, who has been a frequent critic and plans on retiring when his term is up in January, but friends of the president like the former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who called his performance in Finland “the most serious mistake of his presidency,” and the conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, which called it a “national embarrassment.”

Even some of the normally friendly folks at Fox News expressed astonishment, including Neil Cavuto and Abby Huntsman, whose father, Jon Huntsman, is Mr. Trump’s ambassador to Moscow.

While Republican leaders like Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin trod more carefully on Tuesday, focusing their fire on Russia rather than the president, they were seeking ways to demonstrate their distance, perhaps with new sanctions on Moscow or hearings to grill members of the Trump administration.

And Republicans were eager to latch onto Mr. Trump’s retreat to avoid a confrontation. “I wish he had said it in front of President Putin and the world yesterday, but yeah, I take him at his word if he said he misspoke, absolutely,” Senator Rob Portman of Ohio said on Fox News.

John Brennan, a former C.I.A. director, accused Mr. Trump of treason after Monday’s meeting with Mr. Putin.CreditAl Drago/The New York Times

That Russia would become the third rail for the party of Ronald Reagan is a sign of just how far politics have shifted under Mr. Trump. Republicans once denounced President Barack Obama for suggesting that he would have more “flexibility” to work with Mr. Putin after his re-election; now Mr. Trump treats Mr. Putin as a trusted friend.

And that was too much for John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director who had already emerged as one of Mr. Trump’s most vocal critics. He called the performance “nothing short of treasonous.” The late-night hosts Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel also invoked treason on their shows. The front-page banner headline for The New York Daily News declared “OPEN TREASON.”

Max Boot, the former Republican who has become one of Mr. Trump’s sharpest critics, noted in a column on Monday in The Washington Post that accusing him of treason was once unthinkable. No longer. “If anyone is ‘the enemy of the people,’ it is Trump himself,” he wrote.

Mr. Trump returned to the White House on Monday night as protesters outside the gate shouted, “Welcome home, traitor.” Even trolled the president, tweeting out a definition: “Traitor: A person who commits treason by betraying his or her country.”

It later said that searches for “treason” had increased by 2,943 percent. By Tuesday afternoon, the word “traitor” had been used on Twitter 800,000 times and the word “treason” about 1.2 million times.

Read the rest:



Trump-Putin meeting sets a new world order

July 17, 2018

The president has upended the global definitions of friends and foes

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 July, 2018, 10:10am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 July, 2018, 10:10am

This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Christopher Cadelago on July 17, 2018.

US President Donald Trump cast his meeting Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin as a step “towards a brighter future”.

But the global community had a different assessment: the summit in Helsinki signalled the manifestation of a new world order.

As Trump decamped from his weeklong trip to Europe, he was holding up America’s friends as its “foes,” and presenting Russia, the former superpower scorned by his predecessor as a fading regional player, as significant enough to be in competition with the US.

Trump, during a surreal joint news conference following the meeting, showed deference to Putin by repeatedly refusing to criticise the Russian president, noting that his description of him as a “competitor” was meant purely as a compliment.

At another point, Trump stepped in to answer a pointed question directed at Putin, only days after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted a dozen Russian intelligence agents for allegedly hacking the Democratic National Committee and his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton’s campaign to help Trump win the contest.

Trump told reporters that while he has “great confidence” in US intelligence officials, “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

Mueller’s spokesman declined to comment.

The president’s regard for Putin – who on Monday affirmed his preference for Trump in the 2016 election – contrasted sharply with his increasingly tough talk toward Europe, language that chips away at international order, to still unclear affect.

A similar dynamic played out last month in Singapore, when Trump left flustered allies, including Canada, behind after departing the G7 summit to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, whom he called “tough” and “very smart”.

“It’s just really striking,” said Thomas Wright, director of the Centre on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution.

“I think it shows he’s much more comfortable with strongman adversaries than he is with democratic allies.”

For Trump, who often expresses his views on trade and economics as a zero-sum game, his friendliness toward a country or region can be measured by the degree to which they are seen as an economic threat to the US, experts noted.

A news ticker displays headlines from the meeting of US President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland on the News Corp building in New York. Photo: Reuters

By that measure, Europe and Canada are far scarier than Russia – despite it being at the centre of years of Republican attacks on Democrats over security issues.

Though Trump has long expressed affection for authoritarian rulers, it’s the degree to which Trump is eroding US relationships with others around the world that is leading some to call for the resignation of his top officials and commanding the focus of spurned foreign leaders.

Trump over the last week lashed out at European leaders, suggesting that Nato nations double the amount of their gross domestic product that they spend on defence; ripped German officials for approving a natural gas pipeline link from Russia; falsely denied criticising British Prime Minister Theresa May behind her back, and answered a CBS interviewer’s question about who he considers to be his biggest foe by naming the European Union.

Trump specifically cited “what they do to us on trade”.

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a joint press conference in Helsinki, Finland. Photo: Xinhua

“Now you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe,” he added.

“Russia is a foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly a foe.”

In Germany, Trump’s rebuke left such a lashing that the country’s foreign minister said he has no choice but to believe that Europe can no longer count on the president and must begin further turning inward for support.

“We can no longer completely rely on the White House,” Heiko Maas told the Funke newspaper group. “To maintain our partnership with the USA we must readjust it. The first clear consequence can only be that we need to align ourselves even more closely in Europe.”

Added Maas: “Europe must not let itself be divided however sharp the verbal attacks and absurd the tweets may be.”

The backlash in Britain was already setting in when Trump slammed May in The Sun tabloid and spoke glowingly about her political rival.

Thousands protested in the streets under a giant balloon depicting Trump as an orange baby and headlines blasted his break with protocol by walking in front of Queen Elizabeth.

Trump opened Monday blaming American “foolishness and stupidity” and the investigation into Russian election meddling that he dismisses as a “rigged witch hunt,” for historically strained relations with Russia.

Despite earlier listing Russia in his list of adversaries, his Europe trip seemed to give Putin few reasons to be displeased overall.

Putin, for his part, seemed to shape-shift from international outlaw into veteran statesman, calm, cool and collected. Only once did he seem to directly confront the Trump agenda, when he credited the Iran nuclear deal that Trump tore up for allowing the Middle East country to “become the most controlled in the world.”

But experts who lauded the relationship-building goals of the meeting suggest the larger context surrounding it were not conducive to long-term success, including the Russian hacking indictments handed down Friday, last week’s Nato summit, and last month’s G-7. The former is a particularly sensitive subject for Trump because it threatens to undercut his own role in the 2016 victory.

“The whole concept of that came up perhaps a little bit before, but it came out as a reason why the Democrats lost an election which, frankly, they should have been able to win, because the Electoral College is much more advantageous for Democrats, as you know, than it is to Republicans,” Trump said in response to a question meant for Putin about why he should be believed that Russia didn’t interfere.

Christopher Preble, vice-president for defence and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, and a proponent of the meeting, said Trump’s answers won’t soon settle the charged subject.

“It amounts to the president of the United States appearing to give more credence to the claims of Vladimir Putin than to the claims of his own intelligence, law enforcement and national security agencies.”

But Preble, considering the awkward timing of the meeting, urged sceptics not to discount possible long-term benefits for the US relationship with Russia, not Europe.

He concluded: “I didn’t expect Donald Trump to say or do anything dramatically different than what he said and did.”

David Herszenhorn contributed to this report.

Trump’s five days of diplomatic carnage

July 17, 2018

The US president leaves Europe with Nato in turmoil and Putin in a stronger position

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting

© Reuters

By Edward Luce

We know nothing of what Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin agreed in their private two-hour conversation. But the praise Mr Trump offered to the former KGB agent in public was astonishing enough. American’s president ended the joint press conference — the most obsequious display ever shown by a US president to a Russian counterpart — much as he conducted it, by shouting “total witch hunt” as he left the room. Those were his final words. He began and ended with domestic politics on the brain.

When asked if Russia were to blame for any of the decline in relations, Mr Trump replied: “I think that the [Robert Mueller] probe is a disaster for our country.” He made no mention of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the poisoning of British citizens on UK soil, or the fact that Mr Trump’s own head of intelligence has just compared Russia’s cyber attacks to the build-up to 9/11.

Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA, said that the groans at the CIA, the State Department, and the FBI would have been audible. “The sounds at Langley, Foggy Bottom and Hoover Building would be like a London pub when Croatia scored,” Mr Hayden said. “There is no bottom to this.” Others were not so kind. John Brennan, another former CIA director, tweeted that Mr Trump’s performance’s was “totally treasonous”.

The sounds at Langley, Foggy Bottom and Hoover Building would be like a London pub when Croatia scored

Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA

Even if Mr Trump’s odds of impeachment remain low, he has thrown the west into existential crisis. It was only last Wednesday that he arrived in Brussels for the Nato summit. Since then, he has cut a path of diplomatic carnage through America’s closest relationships. He accused Angela Merkel, Germany’s leader, of being “captive” to Russia. He has described Europe as a leading “foe” of the United States. He undercut Theresa May, Britain’s prime minister, during a working visit to the UK. But he has lavished nothing but praise on Russia’s autocratic leader. Mr Putin, alone, escaped any criticism from Mr Trump or negative commentary on his domestic politics. The outcome of Mr Trump’s five-day trip is a Nato in turmoil and a genuine reset in US-Russia relations — all in Mr Putin’s favour.

What happens next? The first concern is about Nato’s preparedness. The body’s key principle is that an attack on one is an attack on all. Nato’s Article 5 is meant to act as a deterrent to would-be adversaries. It is anybody’s guess what Mr Trump told his Russian counterpart in private. But the chances are Mr Putin will feel highly emboldened by the events of the last week. What are the odds that Mr Trump would come to the aid of a Baltic country if Mr Putin launched one of his hybrid wars? What are the chances Mr Putin will intensify cyber attacks on democracies such as Germany and the UK and, of course, the US? Mr Trump has left Nato wondering if it has a transatlantic partner. He is offering Russia the equivalent of an open goal.

The second concern is for the longevity of Mr Mueller’s investigation. The bulk of Mr Trump’s answers to direct questions about Russia’s interference in the US elections were complaints about domestic critics — from the Democratic Party, to the Mueller team and the media. When asked if he trusted Mr Putin’s assurances over the word of Dan Coats, his own director of national intelligence, and a former Republican congressman, Mr Trump ducked the question. But he added that he had received very strong assurances from Mr Putin. He also said that Mr Putin had offered a “very interesting idea” for joint US-Russia collaboration to investigate the election-meddling allegations. It is hard to overstate the irony of Mr Putin’s suggestion. Likewise, it is hard to compare anything to a US president doubting the word of his own intelligence agencies while standing next to the leader of America’s main geopolitical adversary. The future of the western alliance is now in severe doubt. Mr Trump has made sure of that.

Did the U.S. Intelligence Community Collude With Hillary Clinton Campaign to Influence the Outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election?

July 10, 2018

Image result for clapper and john brennan, photos

CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. FILE photo

As controversial as the Steele dossier has become, it may well prove key to a political corruption scandal far more insidious than anyone has presently suggested. To be sure, critics have blasted its seeming partisan falsity, and many also have declaimed that it enabled the FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign. And there is evidence that the opening of the “Russiagate” investigation was itself premised strongly on this “salacious and unverified” report. But little attention has been paid to the role of American intelligence agencies in its creation, which now is appearing substantial, and which would implicate a governmental conspiracy making Watergate look like child’s play.

This is not to minimize the profoundly troubling questions that this dossier has already presented, including those about the legitimacy of using “human sources” (i.e., spies) to entrap the opposition candidate during a presidential campaign. These questions are being doggedly pursued by Congress, and fought tooth and nail by a DOJ/FBI whose present and former officials face serious jeopardy. For instance, any official who knowingly presented a materially false FISA application, for warrant or extensions, should be guilty, for one, of obstruction of justice under 18 U.S.C. §1505.

By John D. O’Connor | Is the attorney who revealed Mark Felt as Watergate’s Deep Throat

But reasonable inferences to be drawn from the known evidence suggest that governmental wrongdoing may be even more darkly sinister than DOJ critics presently imagine, encompassing possible criminality so pervasive and widespread that every top DOJ and FBI official serving in 2016 may face discipline or even indictment. The basis for this pandemic criminality would be the participation of the DOJ, FBI and CIA, not just in the questionable use of the partisan, false Clinton-funded Steele Dossier, but in its planning and development, an issue not yet been meaningfully explored.

Why would engagement in the dossier’s creation be any more heinous than the FISA fraud already being widely suggested? No one should make light of the distinct possibility that some officials possibly defrauded the FISA court, FISC, wrongdoing, however, also possibly excused as negligent, blinding political bias. But if the Steele dossier was conceived and developed by our own intelligence agencies, as opposed to it having been used by them after this allegedly reliable dossier fell in their laps, the potential for criminality changes dramatically.

If our intelligence agencies had a hand in creating this dossier, such would have been done with the intent to frame Trump for serious crimes, to leak false charges to the media during an election campaign, and possibly to use as an insurance policy supporting impeachment. Our trusted intelligence organizations, reminiscent of East Germany’s, would have employed their vast powers to corrupt our most important democratic processes.

Before the skeptical reader dismisses these statements as so much overheated rhetoric, let’s calmly examine this hypothesis. We now know that the Steele dossier is false in its major claims, at least as to Trump’s involvement. If American intelligence (FBI, CIA and DNI James Clapper) substantially developed the dossier, it would have only done so if it knew that the dossier would be false. If it was planned to be a true report, why would these agencies bother disguising the report, using a law firm, a British spy, and an opposition research firm? These American agencies, which were closely cooperating with British GCHQ, could have produced the same salacious findings, and presented them to FISC with even greater credibility than, as they did, vouching for a former British spy’s credibility. If the claims were thought to be true, the FBI and CIA, also citing GCHQ, could strongly rely on their own stellar reputations to support their own report. So they would use a “cutout” like Steele only if they needed deniability should the falsity be discovered. Since Clinton was heavily favored, this potential discovery would be a minimal risk, especially with the unctuous Comey continuing in his twelve-year FBI term. But the unthinkable happened.

Let’s consider the circumstantial indicia suggesting that our intelligence agencies did participate in the Steele dossier ab initio. The first such fingerprint is that of British intelligence, present throughout the CIA/DOJ/FBI work, and closely connected to Steele.

As the British journal Guardian has reported, and left-leaning Media Matters has confirmed, the tip that Putin intended to financially support Trump was relayed from GCHQ to the CIA, led at the time by Brennan, in December 2015. So GCHQ was involved from the outset, and was itself likely no fan of a possible Trump presidency which had much in common with the governmentally despised Brexit movement. Brennan then hurriedly formed an “inter-agency” group, including the FBI, which we know existed as of December 28, 2015, when FBI lawyer Lisa Page inquired of her lover, FBI Deputy Peter Strzok about his request for approval of “LUREs,” fedspeak for human informants or spies, inferentially to penetrate the Trump campaign.

What suggests continuing GCHQ involvement is the British locus of subsequent spying and entrapping activity, such as approaches to London resident George Papadopoulos by Joseph Mifsud, Sergei Millian and Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, all occurring in March through mid-May 2016. Later Stefan Halper lured Papadopoulos, Carter Page and, unsuccessfully, Steven Miller to London for more entrapping initiatives. Indeed, GCHQ chief Robert Hannigan traveled to Washington in August 2016 to personally discuss the investigation with Brennan.

We know that retired British spies stay close and loyal to their alma mater, with reciprocity, which would suggest that Christopher Steele’s retention in June 2016, by Clinton’s Fusion GPS, was likely sanctioned by GCHQ, with the approval of its partners CIA and FBI. Let’s put it this way: could Steele do what he did, seemingly exploiting CGHQ assets regarding sensitive American issues, without the explicit approval of GCHQ and its partners the CIA and FBI? Of course not.

Icing on this cake is provided, first, by the shadowy Sergei Millian, who had presumably been working for some intelligence agency (perhaps playing a double game) when hounding Papadopoulos commencing April 2016. Whoever was Millian’s employer, it certainly spoon-fed him as “Source D” and “Source E” to Steele, who pumped out his first report tout de suite, relying mainly on Millian. At the least, the readily talkative Millian was certainly known to GCHQ and its partners CIA and FBI, who in turn employed the frighteningly partisan Strzok. So we ask, were these three partnering agencies so incompetent that they could not uncover in seven months what Steele found in days for his first report, after his retention, in June 2016? Of course they could have. But they knew such reporting would be palpably false, and so, we infer, routed the false Millian stories through Steele.

By June 2016 all the human sources of GCHQ, CIA and FBI had come up dry, with the best they had being Papadopoulos’s repeating the ho-hummer that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary. And by June 2016, their first FISA application suffered the unusual and ignominious disgrace of having been rejected by a normally friendly FISC, one of the disappointed officials being DOJ’s Bruce Ohr. So they were in a pickle: they did not have enough evidence to get a FISA warrant, and yet needed a FISA warrant to get evidence, failing which the whole venture would have been dead in June 2016. If they were going to gamble to fabricate evidence, they needed a cutout – Steele – precisely because they could not themselves get a legitimate warrant based on legitimate evidence. And the cutout had to be sellable to FISC as a trained intelligence agent with good credentials, like Steele.

In that vein, it appears that Steele himself was not hired to do real investigatory work so much as to be a “front” through which to route claims to FISC that were not proven. He was paid a mere $168,000 (out of a multi-million-dollar research budget), a startlingly low figure for what claims to be highly sensitive digging through numerous sources in multiple countries. So clearly, whether through his handler, Nellie Ohr, the Russian-speaking wife of Bruce Ohr, or through GCHQ and its American partners, Steele was being fed his purported findings.

Steele’s job, thus, seems something other than the “opposition research” it has been labelled, to Comey and Brennen’s likely relief. Rather, his concealed partisan provenance and his professional intelligence reporting style were seemingly intended from the outset to support a FISA application, using Steele as a credible front. Let’s put it differently: if Steele’s work was not intended from the beginning to be used in a warrant application, why would it be written in an intelligence report style? Why all the efforts to hide his financing by Clinton? These efforts only make sense if they were originally pointed toward a warrant.

While all of the foregoing suggests, circumstantially, coordination and planning from the get-go, it is confirmed by Fusion’s hiring of Nellie Ohr just as Bruce Ohr was failing in the first FISA application, shortly following a White House visit in April 2016 by Mary Jacoby, wife of Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson. Nellie provided Steele with researchobtained a ham radio license, presumably for secure communications with Steele (including husband Bruce?), and Bruce delivered the product to the FBI’s Peter Strzok, who met with Steele around the time of the first report. So the Nellie Ohr-Steele-Bruce Ohr-Strzok pipeline was pumping early on. And, of course, Steele kept spitting out his seemingly spoon-fed reports well into October, each one of them going, it appears, directly into FBI and CIA hands. Were the FBI, CIA and GCHQ partner merely passive recipients? Common sense argues no. After all, Strzok and Bruce Ohr met with Steele on multiple occasions as the reports were prepared, presumably as something other than human out-boxes.

In addition to obtaining an illegitimate FISA warrant, were our intelligence agencies looking to politicize Steele’s phony reports? The ink was barely dry on most of Steele’s “findings” when Brennan made a big play of his “secret” briefing of the Gang of Eight in August 2016, along with his special private briefing of the unprincipled Senator Harry Reid, who had falsely leaked as to Mitt Romney in 2012. Reid, thereafter, to no one’s surprise, wrote a public letter alluding to the scurrilous allegations.

In short, if the Steele dossier did not simply come over the transom, but was in fact developed in coordination with them, then Comey, Brennan and Clapper, along with their underlings, should face serious consequences. We have heard their pious pronouncements about the sanctity of our democratic processes. Were these agencies, as the facts suggest, wrongfully interfering in the 2016 election? Documents sought by Congress should provide conclusive answers in what may be a scandal of unprecedented explosiveness.

John D. O’Connor is the San Francisco attorney who represented W. Mark Felt during his revelation as Deep Throat in 2005. O’Connor is the co-author of “A G-Man’s Life: The FBI, Being ‘Deep Throat,’ and the Struggle for Honor in Washington” and is a producer of “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” (2017), written and directed by Peter Landesman.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.