Oh, the irony! Amid all the accusations of foreign interference in the election, the first solid indication of it showed up with the publication of a slanderous unsourced memo written by a “former” British intelligence agent accusing Donald Trump of various “perversions” and claiming he’s vulnerable to blackmail by those evil Russkies. The “ex”-MI6 agent, one Christopher Steele – how’s that for a name straight out of a James Bond novel? – works for “Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd.,” a high-toned Londo-based “private” spook agency usually hired by big corporations out to spy on their competitors or those pesky environmentalists.
According to press reports, Steele worked undercover in Russia for several years, cultivating a wide network of contacts who, today, regularly feed him information. It was through these contacts that he concocted a series of memos first reported by CNN and later published by BuzzFeed, the product of rumor, gossip, and innuendo – in short, the stuff “raw” intelligence is made of.
News accounts also report that it was Fusion GPS, a Democratic “research” firm, that got the initial contract, and was paid by the Republican wing of the “Never Trump” movement. After Trump won the Republican nomination, the ball was passed to the Democrats, who picked up the bill. Oh, but it didn’t end with Trump’s victory at the polls: Steele and Fusion GPS head honcho Glenn Simpson soldiered on: “By then,” the New York Times reports, “the election was over, and neither Mr. Steele nor Mr. Simpson was being paid by a client, but they did not stop what they believed to be very important work.”
Yes, out of the goodness of their hearts – patriotic duty, dedication to the victory of the West over the Evil Putinite Threat, and good old-fashioned stick-to-it-tiveness – the Dauntless Duo pursued their quarry through thick and thin, and they did it all for free, casting aside any thought of reward and abjuring the huge sums they are usually paid for such work.
We interrupt this fantasy to bring you an important announcement: it didn’t happen that way.
To begin with, anyone who thinks Orbis is a “private” intelligence agency, totally separate from MI6, the legendary British intelligence service, is delusional. These agencies – there are several, including the notorious Halykut, which recently surfaced in China – are simply extensions of the parent organization, MI6, which is, itself, intertwined with similar spook outfits in the US and throughout Europe. It’s an international fraternity, one that shares information, contacts, and a common worldview – and this last is what brings it into conflict with the President-elect.
When Trump began talking about how “obsolete” NATO is, their alarm bells began to go off. The alliance is the bedrock of the international security apparatus that nurtures and rewards this crowd, and the anchor of the expansionist agenda that envisions Ukraine and Georgia as the next entrants in the anti-Russian grand coalition. Those alarm bells started screaming when Trump took up with Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader and spokesman for the rising nationalist anti-EU movement: the Brexit campaign dealt the internationalists a near mortal blow, and the Trump-Farage hook-up drove them up the wall. Like Trump, Farage is “pro-Russian,” i.e. he opposes the drive to war against Moscow, and the double victory of Trump-Brexit has the NATO-crats in a panic. Something had to be done.…
A piece by Paul Wood, who reports on Syria for the BBC, in the British Spectator, gives us more pieces in this international puzzle:
“[Steele], apparently, gave his dossier to the FBI against the firm’s advice. And the former MI6 agent is not the only source for the claim about Russian kompromat on the President-elect. Back in August, a retired spy told me he had been informed of its existence by ‘the head of an East European intelligence agency.’”
Another account has Sen. John McCain receiving the report from a “former British ambassador,” who then hands it off to the FBI. In any case, Wood goes on to detail his relationship with “active duty CIA officers” who basically told him there was “more than one tape,” made on more than one occasion, “of a sexual nature.” The memo, they told him, was “credible,” which is why “these claims ended up on President Obama’s desk last week, a briefing document was also given to congressional leaders and to Trump himself.” The Trump campaign, by the way, denies getting any such document.
“Last April, the CIA director was shown intelligence that worried him. It was – allegedly – a tape recording of a conversation about money from the Kremlin going into the US presidential campaign. It was passed to the US by one of the Baltic States’ intelligence agencies. The CIA cannot act domestically against American citizens so a joint counter intelligence task force was created. It included six agencies or departments of government: dealing with the domestic, US, side of the inquiry, were the FBI, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Justice; for the foreign and intelligence aspects of the investigation, there were three agencies: the CIA, the Office of the Director on National Intelligence, and the NSA, the National Security Agency, responsible for electronic spying. Lawyers from the National Security Division in the Department of Justice then drew up an application. They took it to the secret US court that deals with intelligence, the FISA court, named after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They wanted to intercept the electronic records from two Russian banks. Their first application, in June, was rejected outright by the judge. They returned with a more narrowly drawn order in July and were rejected again. Finally, before a new judge, the order was granted, on October the 15th, three weeks before election day.”
The investigation, Wood avers, is in progress: a ticking time bomb waiting to go off under Trump’s chair in the Oval Office.
So let’s step back and look at the players: the CIA, MI6, “the head of an Eastern European intelligence agency,” and the “one of the Baltic states’ intelligence agencies” – an international coalition out to oust Trump.
Talk about “foreign interference” in American politics! This makes Russia’s alleged intervention look like child’s play.
The Never-Trumpers are demanding a “bipartisan independent commission” to investigate the alleged Russian connection to the Trump campaign: they might as well call it the Commission to De-legitimize Trump’s Presidency. These “patriots” scream that “foreign interference” is a mortal danger to the Republic, and that Trump is Putin’s Manchurian candidate intent on raising the Russian flag over the Capitol.
It’s hogwash of the sort we haven’t seen since the 1950s, when J. Edgar Hoover was “investigating” (i.e. harassing) anyone who didn’t toe the cold war line. But these people wouldn’t dream of investigating the many foreign connections to the anti-Trump campaign, stretching all the way from London to Kiev to the Baltic states (I’d guess Estonia).
The latest word is that Steele, “in fear for his life,” has fled his multi-million-dollar estate and is hiding in a “safe house,” perhaps in “another country.” Has anyone looked in Lindsey Graham’s closet? Those two drama queens should get along famously.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.