Saturday, January 5, 2019

What's So Special About That Relationship?

How it's done in Merrye Olde England ...

A little less than a week ago, Mike Sylwester drew my attention to a series of posts at the Moon of Alabama blog. These blog posts deal with the role that British intelligence agencies and their proxies played in our Russia Hoax. While they don't offer any breakthrough factual discoveries, per se, they do offer a valuable look inside the world of state sponsored intelligence operations that target public opinion as well as tantalizing links to US based people and organizations.

A good way to work our way into this topic is a piece that appeared today at Zerohedge: The Not So Special US-UK Relationship. The author begins by discussing the general notion of the Special Relationship between the US and the UK:

The Anglo-American ‘Special Relationship’ has been known to exist as a close alliance between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since the days of FDR and Churchill forged during the Second World War. It is called special because of the unique historical and cultural bonds of kinship that unite the American and British peoples through a perceived shared heritage, common political/social/economic values and language. Together over the course of 72 years it has been the White House with the support of 10 Downing Street as its principal strategic leading ally in Europe.

Of course, nowadays we also speak of the Five Eyes,

an anglophone intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. These countries are parties to the multilateral UKUSA Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence.

Indeed, we've seen the significant role that Australian intel operatives also played in our 2016 Presidential election. Nevertheless, the Anglo-American relationship remains special, especially because of the role the UK's GCHQ plays in monitoring worldwide communications:

The so-called 'Special Relationship' is an unprecedented coming together and sharing of two nation states intelligence and national security infrastructures and spy-intelligence organisations. The US-UK relationship is highly integrated at an intelligence, defence, foreign policy and security level.

The victory of Donald Trump and his detailed knowledge of British "meddling" in US elections has affected all that:

Now, quite possibly the US-UK “special relationship” has suffered serious damage and could be at its lowest ebb ever, which will have tremendous consequences for the UK's position in the world going forward outside of the European Union. The relationship and alliance has always meant far more to London than to Washington DC. But in so heavily involving the British intelligence services in interfering in the 2016 US Presidential election directly working against the Republican candidate Donald Trump and in favour of the Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton, the British State may just have crossed a red line to far in the mind of President Donald Trump.

With that in mind, let's turn to the Moon of Alabama, proceeding in chronological order.

In the first of the series, British Spies Infiltrated Bernie Sanders' Campaign? we learn that the British government has been running an operation it calls "The Integrity Initiative" ["Defending Democracy Against Disinformation"], a British pseudo-NGO tasked with running anti-Russian propaganda operation[s]." The Integrity Initiative is part of a far larger organization called The Institute for Statecraft:

The Initiative, and its parent organization the Institute for Statecraft, are registered as a Scottish charity at a disused Scottish mill. The mill is owned by one of the institutes directors, Daniel Lafayeedney, who was a member of an SAS Regiment and later of the British Military Intelligence.
The British government confirmed that it paid £2.2 million to the Initiative but it refused to disclose "the nature and purpose" of the funding citing "national security". It also confirmed that three of the employees of the Initiative are members of UK Forces.

It's the stuff of, well, spy novels! Naturally these revelations led to "questions being asked" in the UK, but we can skip the inside UK politics angle. For our purposes what's most interesting at this point is that an operative of the Institute for Statecraft, Simon Bracey-Lane, known in the UK for trolling far left Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, infiltrated the Bernie Sanders campaign--working for free! And then after the election it was back to the UK for Bracey-Lane, and business as usual:

It is, to say the least, very interesting indeed that just a year later the left wing, “Corbyn and Sanders supporting” Bracey-Lane is hosting a very right wing event, “Cold War Then and Now”, for the shadowy neo-con Institute for Statecraft, at which an entirely unbalanced panel of British military, NATO and Ukrainian nationalists extolled the virtues of re-arming against Russia.

Moving on, the Moon of Alabama has more--much more--to tell us about The Integrity Initiative and The Institute for Statecraft and some of its key operatives: The 'Integrity Initiative' - A Military Intelligence Operation, Disguised As Charity, To Create The "Russian Threat". For example:

Christopher Nigel Donnelly (CND) is the co-director of The Institute for Statecraft and founder of its offshoot Integrity Initiative. The Initiative claims to "Defend Democracy Against Disinformation".
The Integrity Initiative does this by planting disinformation about alleged Russian influence through journalists 'clusters' throughout Europe and the United States.
Both, the Institute as well as the Initiative, claim to be independent Non-Government Organizations. Both are financed by the British government, NATO and other state donors.

And Donnelly has quite a background for this type of work:

From his curriculum vitae (pdf) we learn that Donnelly is a long time soldier in the British Army Intelligence Corps where he established and led the Soviet Studies Research Centre at RMA Sandhurst. He later was involved in creating the US Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) at Ft. Leavenworth. He worked at the British Ministry of Defence and as an advisor to several Secretaries General of NATO. He is a director of the Institute for Statecraft since 2010. Donnelly also advises the Foreign Minister of Lithuania. He is a "Security and Justice Senior Mentor" of the UK’s Stabilisation Unit which is tasked with destabilizing various countries. He serves as a Honorary Colonel of the Specialist Group Military Intelligence (SGMI).

In the interests of brevity I'll skip over the details of Donnelly's past activities, but to give a flavor for the type of work product that Donnelly's Integrity Initiative was putting out between December 2015 and March 2016, check this out:
  • 17 March Atlantic Council: Yes, Putin really believes his own propaganda, Ben Nimmo
  • 21 March Newsweek: Putin's paranoia is driving his foreign adventures, Ben Nimmo
  • 22 March, UK House of Commons: Russian information warfare - airbrushing reality, Jonathan Eyal and Ben Nimmo
  • Mid May: Atlantic Council: Distract, deceive, destroy: Putin at war in Syria. Ben Nimmo et al (Major study)
  • Early May timeframe: Russian penetration in Germany, Harold Elletson, Ben Nimmo et al - 10,000 words
  • June timeframe: Atlantic Council, major report on Russian conspiracy theory and foreign policy, Ben Nimmo (potential launch events in London and / or Washington)
  • End-June: Mapping Russia's whole influence machine, Ben Nimmo - 10,000 words

The idea seems to be clear: drum up anti-Russian hysteria. And here's a tidbit that should remind us of those infamous Russion bots that stole the election from Hillary:

In late 2017 Ben Nimmo and Guardian 'journalist' Carole Cadwalladr disseminated allegations that Russia used Facebook ads to influence the Brexit decision. Cadwalladr even received a price for her work. Unfortunately the price was not revoked when Facebook revealed that "Russia linked" accounts had spend a total of 97 cents on Brexit ads.

But here's where things get even more interesting, although the thread can be difficult to follow.

Among the Institute for Statecraft documents that were leaked were "the names and email addresses of a number of military, government and think tank people": i.e., contacts of Donnelly. And among those contacts was one Pablo Miller, who just happens to be

the handler and friend of Sergej Skripal, the British double agent who was "novichoked" in Salisbury. When Miller's name was mentioned in the press the British government issued a D-Notice to suppress its further publishing,

And Pablo Miller provides a direct link to none other than Christopher Steele:

Pablo Miller, a British MI6 agent, had recruited Sergej Skripal. The former MI6 agent in Moscow, Christopher Steele, was also involved in the case. Skripal was caught by the Russian security services and went to jail. Pablo Miller, the MI6 recruiter, was also the handler of Sergej Skripal after he was released by Russia in a spy swap. He reportedly also lives in Salisbury. Both Christopher Steele and Pablo Miller work for Orbis Business Intelligence which created the "Dirty Dossier" about Donald Trump.

It seems highly likely that Donnelly and his Institute for Statecraft are well acquainted with Christopher Steele--and vice versa. I won't attempt to follow Moon of Alabama into speculation that Skripal was a "source" for Steele's "dossier." However, given what we already know about the involvement of the British Intelligence Services in the Russia Hoax--and now also of their infiltration of the Sanders campaign--Moon's closing question seems warranted:

After two years the Muller investigation found zero evidence for the alleged 'collusion' between Russia and the Trump campaign that the fake Steele dossier suggested. The whole collusion claim is a creation by 'former' British intelligence operatives who likely acted on request of U.S. intelligence leaders Clapper and Brennan. How deep was the Russia specialist Chris Donnelly and his Institute for Statecraft involved in this endeavor?

... and back in the USA

At this point you're probably thinking to yourselves, Wow, it's a good thing we don't have any shadowy government funded organizations disinforming us, like they have in the UK!

Well, not so fast. The same day Mike sent me the links to Moon of Alabama, the following piece showed up at Zerohedge: The Only Meddling "Russian Bots" Were Actually Democrat-Led "Experts". Please indulge me while I quote at a bit of length:

A week before Christmas, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report accusing Russia of depressing Democrat voter turnout by targeting African-Americans on social media. Its authors, New Knowledge, quickly became a household name. Described by the New York Times as a group of “tech specialists who lean Democratic,” New Knowledge has ties to both the U.S. military and the intelligence agencies.
The CEO and co-founder of New Knowledge, Jonathon Morgan, had previously worked for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the U.S. military’s advanced research agency known for horrific ideas on how to control humanity. Morgan’s partner, Ryan Fox, is a 15-year veteran of the NSA (National Security Agency) who also worked as a computer analyst for the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Their unique skill sets have managed to attract the eye of authoritarian investors, who pumped $11 million into the company in 2018 alone, according to a report by RT. 
Morgan and Fox have both struck gold in the “Russiagate” scheme, which sprung into being after Hillary Clinton blamed Moscow for Donald Trump’s presidential victory in 2016. Morgan, for example, is one of the developers of the Hamilton 68 Dashboard, the online tool that purports to monitor and expose narratives being pushed by the Kremlin on Twitter. And also worth mentioning, that Dashboard is bankrolled by the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy – a collection of Democrats and neoconservatives funded in part by NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and USAID (United States Agency for International Development). 
It is worth noting that the 600 “Russia-linked” Twitter accounts monitored by the dashboard is not disclosed to the public either, making it impossible to verify these claims. This inconvenience has not stopped Hamilton 68 from becoming a go-to source for hysteria-hungry journalists, however. Yet on December 19, a New York Timesstory revealed that Morgan and his crew had created the fake army of Russian bots, as well as several fake Facebook groups, in order to discredit Republican candidate Roy Moore in Alabama’s 2017 special election for the U.S. Senate.

Politicians, Deep State operatives, lots of money--OK, that would be bad enough, but Glenn Greenwald, tweeting from Brazil, wants us to look a bit further:

With an open mind, please read @MZHemingway on how the US media's mindless, shocking acceptance of every claim from "Hamilton68" - a group formed by Bill Kristol, CIA officials & various neocons - has deceived millions w/false stories. It's a scandal
6:24 AM - 22 Feb 2018

From the way it was formed to the secrecy of its "methods" to the blatantly false assumptions on which its claims rest, "Hamilton68" is probably the single most successful media fraud & US propaganda campaign I've seen since I've been writing about politics. It's truly shocking.6:25 AM - 22 Feb 2018

Well, I have an open mind, so I read Mollie Hemingway's article, How The Media Enable Rep. Adam Schiff’s Russian Bot Conspiracy Theories: For more than a year, Adam Schiff has been hopping to all the TV stations claiming, without benefit of specifics, the existence of a vast conspiracy between President Trump and Russia, and what I found out confirmed Greenwald's characterization of Schiff's disinformation operation as "probably the single most successful media fraud & US propaganda campaign" ever. I won't attempt to duplicate Hemingway's detailed account--do yourself a favor and read it. But here's a passage that really got my attention:

Natasha Bertrand, a reporter who facilitates messages from Fusion GPS, the group that authored the infamous Russia dossier on behalf of the Clinton campaign, wrote a piece headlined “Russia-linked Twitter accounts are working overtime to help Devin Nunes and WikiLeaks.” 
Her story and many others uncritically accept and promote a secretive group’s unverified claim of a Russian conspiracy. The Alliance for Securing Democracy runs an operation called Hamilton 68 that it claims tracks Russian bots, though it’s impossible to assess the claim because of the group’s methodology. The advisory council for the alliance includes NeverTrump stalwarts such as Bill Kristol and David Kramer, the man Sen. John McCain sent to London to pick up the discredited Russian dossier from Christopher Steele. 
Hamilton 68’s claim — later refuted by Twitter and Facebook — formed the entire basis of Schiff’s theory that it was Russian bots, not real Americans, who wanted to learn about FISA abuse by the FBI. Asked to respond to Hamilton 68’s claim, Twitter responded, “Because the Hamilton Dashboard’s account list is not available to the public, we are unable to offer any specific context on the accounts it includes.” 

So let's wrap this thing up by extracting some items of particular interest. 

Natasha Bertrand--she facilitates messages from Fusion GPS. Yes, that Fusion GPS, the one that hired Christopher Steele, who wrote the "dossier." And that's the same Christopher Steele who seems connected to Donnelly's neoconnish Institute for Statecraft.

The Alliance for Securing Democracy--who's that? Hemingway is right about the Alliance's Advisory Council. It contains many of the usual Neocon and NeverTrump suspects. Including David Kramer who went to London to get the "dossier" from Christopher Steele--the same Christopher Steele who seems connected to Donnelly's Institute for Statecraft. Did he meet anyone else there? Did he and McCain have any other contacts there? 

There are other interesting names on that Advisory Council--in fact, it's a regular Deep State rogues' gallery, even including John Podesta. But for me one name that really jumps out is: Mike Rogers. Yes, that would be the former GOP Congressman, former head of the Intel Committee, and former national security adviser to the Trump campaign. I devoted a blog post to him alone: The Spy In The Trump Campaign

Hopefully there are enterprising investigative journalists out there tracking down some of these tantalizing links.


  1. Kim Dotcom: "This year the criminals who run the Deep State will be exposed," adding "The shareholders profiting from war and chaos. The billionaires who turn democracy into an illusion. They own politicians, judges and all your data. They are the biggest pirates in history. Want to know who they are?"

    Hmmmm. Yeah, I think I wanna know.

  2. On January 4, 50 more documents about the Integrity Initiative were leaked to the public.

    The Integrity Initiative seems to be an instrument for the CIA and MI-6 to claim plausible deniability in a CIA/MI-6 plot to concoct false accusations that Russia colluded with Donald Trump to affect the 2016 Presidential elections.

    It's good to see that someone in the UK Government is leaking relevant documents to the public.

    I expect that we will find that the CIA too was funding the Integrity Initiative.

  3. The CIA and MI-6 are able to publish public reports explaining that Russia supposedly is conducting disinformation campaigns that, for example, meddle in US and UK elections. Instead of doing so, however, the UK Government (and probably also the CIA) have secretly funded a supposedly non-profit organization, Integrity Initiative, to provide such information to the public.

    By using Integrity Initiative as a conduit to provide such information to the public, MI-6 and CIA do not have to explain themselves or prove the insinuations and accusations.

    Ironically, this Integrity Initiative program to expose supposed Russian disinformation is itself a disinformation campaign conducted by MI-6 and CIA.

    The US Intelligence Community has continuing opportunities to inform the public about Russian meddling in the USA's 2016 elections. However, the US Intelligence Community has published only one public report, on January 6, 2017 -- two years ago. That report comprises thirteen pages of text, seven pages of which are about Russia's "RT America" television channel.

    Somehow "RT America" is a major consideration in the USA Intelligence Community's accusations that Russia interfered in our 2016 election. "RT America" paid Michael Flynn and Green Party candidate Jill Stein thousands of dollars to attend an "RT America" anniversary dinner in December 2015.

    I think it's likely that the FBI conducted FISA investigations of both Flynn and Stein, who supposedly used "RT America" money and communications to help Russia meddle in our elections.

  4. Simon Bracey-Lane, an Integrity Initiative associate, traveled from the UK to the USA and joined Bernie Sanders' election campaign.

    I think it's likely that Bracey-Lane was only one of several Integrity Initiative associates who traveled to the USA and joined candidates' election campaigns. Integrity Initiative was trying to collect information about Russian meddling in the USA's elections. Bracey-Lane and any other such campaign infiltrators were looking for Russian meddling in all the election campaigns (except perhaps Hillary Clinton's campaign).

    I speculate further that Bracy-Lane and his fellows were able to use sophisticated methods to search through the campaign staffs' computers and communications. If so, then Integrity Initiative was a cut-out between MI-6/CIA and these spying activities.

    Bracey-Lane is special in that he is the only Integrity Initiative associate who has been exposed as someone who traveled from the UK to the USA to collect information within a political campaign staff. The whereabouts of all other Integrity Initiative associates during 2016 should be studied.

  5. "It's good to see that someone in the UK Government is leaking relevant documents to the public.

    "I expect that we will find that the CIA too was funding the Integrity Initiative."

    Yeah, that leak was surprising and, yeah, "Nato and other state funding"? Sounds like CIA to me, too.

  6. Ironically, this Integrity Initiative program to expose supposed Russian disinformation is itself a disinformation campaign conducted by MI-6 and CIA.

    The US Intelligence Community has continuing opportunities to inform the public about Russian meddling in the USA's 2016 elections. However, the US Intelligence Community has published only one public report, on January 6, 2017 -- two years ago. That report comprises thirteen pages of text, seven pages of which are about Russia's "RT America" television channel.

    Beautifully put, Mike. You nail the total corruption of the Deep State.

    Re RT America, you've probably seen the John Solomon article exposing the fact that Flynn had gone through all the pre-briefing and post-debriefing that's standard. I'd heard that before but Solomon is detailed.

  7. The reason why DOJ/FBI continue to stonewall so persistently is that many more misdeeds remain hidden.

    The Integrity Initiative shenanigans have been hidden until recently. How much money has the US Government given to Integrity Initiative -- and in payment for what services?

    An Integrity Initiative associate traveled from the UK to the USA and joined Bernie Sanders election campaign. Did other associates travel likewise and join Donald Trump's and Jill Stein's campaigns?

    Were these associates collecting evidence that Russia was meddling in these campaign staffs? If so, what collection methods did they use? What did the US Intelligence Community know about these shenanigans?

    Integrity Initiative might be a significant part of the reason why DOJ/FBI continues to stonewall.

  8. The whereabouts of all other Integrity Initiative associates during 2016 should be studied.

    Yes, the idea that Bracey-Lane would have been a singleton seems vanishingly unlikely. I think we all knew that there's a lot more to learn about the Russia Hoax. The general outline seems clear enough, but these revelations show how important the details are. I assume Trump knows all this stuff already.


  9. All great questions, Mike. Sorry your comment got mislaid till now. As I said in response to your earlier comment: "the idea that Bracey-Lane would have been a singleton seems vanishingly unlikely." This was clearly a significant operation for both the UK and US Intel Services and consumed a commensurately significant amount of resources. And this is the central scandal: the use by a US administration of both foreign and domestic intel services against a presidential candidate--or, as you suggest, against multiple candidates, as now seems certain. The scope of it all is stunning.

  10. Tx, Mike. The main thing appears to be that it adds confirmation that persons associated with the Integrity Initiative--and thus with the UK Intel Services--continue in contact with Neoconnish US groups, especially those associated with McCain. I will say, the author's continuous use of the left/right dichotomy seems rather naive in that context. He's continually surprised that "rightists" should be working with "leftists," and vice versa, but never looks for a larger unifying dynamic.

  11. Mike, I see that that article was picked up today at Zerohedge, which means a lot more attention to the cooperation between UK and US Deep State players.