Did the FBI really fall for the Steele dossier's 'dezinformatsiya'?

Senator Lindsey Graham may have spilled the beans in saying the Russian-sourced Steele dossier, with its lascivious tales about a pre-presidential Donald Trump, was used by the leftist leadership at the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a pretext to get a 2016 FISA warrant against the presidential candidate.

Conservative Treehouse reports:

Senator Lindsey Graham just confirmed [that] the sketchy Steele Dossier was used to get the wiretap and surveillance warrant from the FISA court.  Brian Kilmead understood [that] what he was hearing was serious, but didn't quite catch the specific gravity of it.


The 2016 FBI counterintelligence operation was surveillance on the Trump Campaign and was thinly disguised under the fraudulent auspices of a FISA warrant, sold as a defense of U.S. democracy from Russia, which permitted the wiretaps and surveillance[,] etc.

The DOJ involvement surrounds legal arguments, processing of FISA applications, and use of the legal system to support the FBI operation with actionable legal framing (against Trump).  The DOJ National Security Division carried out that collaboration with the FBI.

With the Steele dossier exposed as a load of hooey, it shows that the FBI had political motivations all along, or else they fell for a classic Russian disinformation operation, neither of which makes the agency look good.

Having political motivations should be enough to get some of them fired.  So to defend themselves, they are claiming that the dossier was real.  This makes them look colossally incompetent.

Scott Johnson at Powerline, in an excellent summary of the entire affair, notes that FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe still considers the dossier credible despite the FBI's not being able to prove any of it, not even with its formidable investigative powers.

One expects the press to fall for such things, as these left-wing press organs are doing – it was not for nothing that Lenin called them "useful idiots."

"A lot of the Steele dossier has since been corroborated," wrote Slate on Sept. 11, 2017.

"The Trump-Russia dossier: Why its findings grow more significant by the day," wrote The Guardian on Oct. 7, 2017.

"How Putin's Twilight Zone Tipped the Election for Trump," wrote Newsweek, republishing from The Verdict, on Dec. 23, 2017

Same with Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, who commissioned the assemblage with money, big money, from the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign and got paid.  Simpson said as much during his congressional testimony.

But not the FBI, which is supposed to consider not only the source at the buying end of such concoctions, as much of the attention is focused on, but the one at the selling end, which was from what Christopher Steele himself said was three senior Kremlin sources in Moscow.

As reporters attempt to beaver away to show that the dossier's facts are true and authentic, they unwittingly expose that it was really a Russian disinformation or "dezinformatsiya" operation that the FBI should have caught quickly if it was any good at doing its job.

The really interesting one, by Michael Weiss at the Daily Beast, claims to have a copy of the old KGB training manual for operations, provided by "a Western intelligence service," that is meant to suggest that the Trump dossier is just more of the same from Russian intelligence doing what it always does.

It's a remarkably detailed three-part series, and it does seem to be largely based on facts.  It also seems to have impressed former CIA honcho John McLaughlin, who tweeted his approval.

This is classic spycraft from Sun Tzu (6th century BC) till today. A shadowy mosaic of cut-outs, access agents, plausible denial, gossamer webs. Whether or not Mueller proves collusion, Russia clearly took its best shot. https://t.co/f0JoaBKiLL

— john mclaughlin (@jmclaughlinSAIS) December 28, 2017

Part one describes how old KGB recruitment and disinformation operations were done through chains of cutout agents (sound like the Steele dossier case?) in a bid to conceal Kremlin puppetry.  It's a long and interesting piece on how the term "wilderness of mirrors" came to describe espionage.  The chains and chains of agentry from seemingly innocuous sources such as academia to conceal who was really getting the information inevitably led to the apex of the Kremlin masters in these described operations.  They were all about cutouts; sowing disinformation; and creating chaos, uncertainty, and confusion

This sounds a lot like what Scott Johnson at Powerline described at Fusion GPS:

Things are not as they seem.  The claim of Trump/Putin collusion lies at the heart of the controversy leading to the investigation, yet the only substantial collusion that we know of is the Clinton presidential campaign's with the friends of Vladimir Putin.  Now we know that the dossier was bought and paid for by the Clinton presidential campaign through the campaign's general counsel at the Perkins Coie law firm, which contracted GPS Fusion [sic], which contracted former British MI-6 officer Christopher Steele at Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd.  Why the cutouts?  One might get the impression that the dossier was not to be traced to the Clinton campaign.

That isn't absolute proof of anything, but it shows the ends to which deception, even passive deception, was employed to keep eyes off the origin of the file and look only to the claims in it.  The buyers of the file didn't want anyone to know any of these things described above in Scott's summary.  Even if the Kremlin didn't engineer this, the cutouts certainly help protect the Kremlin.

Part three is where it really gets interesting, because it starts to look at the sellers of this information.  Weiss describes how the dossier itself included information about Russian intelligence-linked front groups participating in the Steele dossier doings.

Like this:

For instance, the cultural organization Rossotrudnichestvo, run by Sergei Lavrov's Foreign Ministry, has financed any number of European governmental nongovernmental organizations – "GONGOs" – dealing with this mythical double-headed beast of resurgent Nazism and Russian persecution, from Tallinn to Tbilisi.  In some inspired cases, Russian neo-Nazis have stolen across the border to appear as Estonian neo-Nazis, for the purpose of furnishing fresh "evidence" for these GONGOs where little or none may naturally exist.

If Christopher Steele is to be believed, Rossotrudnichestvo also served another underhanded function in the 2016 election: [i]ts facilities in Prague were used to host a secret liaison between Trump attorney Michael Cohen and Kremlin officials in August 2016, a dossier allegation that Cohen has vehemently denied and has never been proven.

So here we have a known manufacturer of Nazis, now inserted by Steele as a platform of meetings with Trump attorney Michael Cohen, by presumably one of its overlords in the Kremlin, and we're supposed to focus on deception?  Secret liaison?

The whole story is fake.  It was credibly discredited by Cohen himself, who had never set foot in Prague and had the passport to prove it.  Yet someone in the Kremlin used that organization, which has been caught creating fake Nazis, to create a story it knew that the FBI would believe in a place like the Steele dossier. 

Does none of these people imagine that maybe the trickster front group planted the story?  Or one of its Kremlin overlords?  Why did the Russian source use "Rossotrudnichestvo" instead of some other group?  The Kremlin knew that the FBI knew all about Rossotrudnichestvo, and it also knew from undoubtedly intercepted cell phone calls that the FBI was out to get Trump, so it had the perfect con for the FBI to sow the confusion it wanted.

It goes to show that the FBI would be better off disavowing the Steele dossier as tainted sourcing and wash its hands of the matter.  Since it won't, its aims can only be political.

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