Monday, May 27, 2019

UPDATED: About that IC Assessment: Paul Sperry Has Good News

There has been a continuing undercurrent of discussion in the comments regarding what has usually been referenced as the "NIA" but it's more properly termed the ICA: Intelligence Community Assessment. That's the document that has to a great extent set the terms of official DC and news punditry discussion concerning alleged Russian "meddling" or "interference" in the 2016 US Presidential election. The official name of the public (unclassified) summary document is Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections. This "assessment" spread the narrative that Russian "meddling" in 2016 was part of a long line of Russian interference in our elections that marked the "boldest" Russian effort "yet," and that it should be viewed as a harbinger of future such efforts building on the "qualified success" of 2016. The ICA has fueled Establishment hysteria about Russia generally.

Several commenters, including myself, have expressed frustration that there has been so little public examination of the ICA, so little subjection of the ICA to critical analysis. Yesterday Paul Sperry linked to an important article addressing precisely this issue, dated 2/22/18, and there is good news: the ICA has, in fact, come under signficant scrutiny, and that scrutiny has come from sources which, in my opinion, make it a virtual certainty that the ICA will be targeted by Bill Barr's investigators in the coming weeks and months. Indeed, it may in fact be a very high profile target and may well explain the sweeping grant of declass authority accorded to Barr by the recent presidential order--which places Barr over CIA and DNI.

Writing in Yet another way Obama’s spies apparently exploited the Trump ‘dossier’, Sperry first set out the background, as above--but please note, the "dossier" he referrs to as the "Trump" dossier is actually what is normally termed the "Steele Dossier":

The much-hyped Obama intelligence report that determined “Vladimir Putin ordered” Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails hacked and leaked “to help Trump’s chances of victory” has been accepted as gospel among DC punditry and given the investigations besieging the Trump presidency their legs. To date, no evidence has publicly emerged to corroborate the report, and the reason may have a lot to do with that sketchy [Steele] dossier bought and paid for by Clinton. 
Suspiciously, Barack Obama’s Intelligence Community Assessment matches the main allegations leveled by the Clinton-paid [Steele] dossier on Trump, which wormed its way into intelligence channels, in addition to the FBI, Justice Department and State Department, during the 2016 campaign. 
After learning Obama Justice and FBI officials relied heavily on unsubstantiated rumors in the dossier to wiretap a Trump adviser during the election, congressional leaders now suspect the dossier also informed Obama intelligence officials who compiled the ICA.

 Then comes the important part:

Staff investigators for GOP Rep. Devin Nunes’ intelligence committee, for one, are now going over “every word” of the ICA — including classified footnotes — to see if any of the analysis was pre-cooked based on the [Steele] dossier. On Tuesday, Nunes sent letters to Obama intel officials responsible for the report. He demanded former top spook John Brennan and intel czar James Clapper provide answers about how they used the dossier in intel reports and when they learned the Clinton camp paid for it. 
Under oath, Brennan has denied knowing the Clinton campaign commissioned the dossier. He also told the House intelligence panel the CIA didn’t rely on the dossier “in any way” for its reports on Russian interference. Committee staff are taking a second look at his May 2017 testimony. 
Clapper, for his part, conceded in a recent CNN interview that the ICA was based on “some of the substantive content of the dossier.” Without elaborating, he maintained that “we were able to corroborate” certain allegations.

It seems apparent that, just as the FBI was enabled by Rod Rosenstein to stonewall the House investigators to a distressing extent, the CIA and DNI also were able to stonewall the House investigators. And that, of course leads to the question: What exactly was Mike Pompeo doing while he headed the CIA and what exactly has Dan Coats been up to at DNI? They'll be providing answers to those questions to Bill Barr in future, unless I'm very much mistaken.

Sperry goes on in the article to explain how the ICA was rigged to exclude dissenting views--ground I think we're all familiar with. But he concludes with the assessment of a former CIA analyst who had experience working on Intelligence Assessments:

So far, the investigative evidence is not lining up with the ICA’s conclusions. That’s because “the ICA is for the most part simply a reflection of the dossier’s central findings,” Fleitz said. Congressional investigators agree the similarities are “suspicious.”

Here's my assessment: I assess that there's zero chance that Bill Barr will not take a very close look at the origins of and the role played by the ICA in the Russia Hoax.

UPDATE: Sperry provided a nice photo of John McCain with Sergei Millian:

McCain with "Source D/Source E" of Steele dossier ...


  1. IIRC, only committee chairmen can issue a subpoena, so I don't think Nunes letter accomplishes anything more than publicizing his questions--pointing the direction of the investigation. I wonder if it makes more sense for him to keep his powder dry, and let Barr et al., get on with their investigations. I don't see Intel Committee Chair Schiff letting Nunes take the lead on anything...

    1. The article is actually from 2018. You're right that Nunes' letter doesn't "accomplish" anything--except to flag a major issue. As it was, Nunes was stonewalled on this as on many other things. But they developed a record for Barr to work off, and Barr will also be informed of who stonewalled and who was helpful.

  2. To me, it all comes down to this: are both Barr and Trump deadly serious about eventually being able to tell an essentially complete story of all that has gone on in this whole Russia Hoax/Spygate affair (and perhaps IC/USG shenanigans more broadly)? I'm cautiously optimistic both are, and as long as this is so, all these obvious areas in need of exploration will get explored.

    We all agree Bill Barr is plenty smart, so no way do things like taking a proper look at the ICA get by him. If instead it's the case that political goals come first, well of course then all bets are off. I'm as cynical as they come, but I really do have a good feeling about Barr and Trump on this, especially since doing the right thing here just seems to be dead square in their political interests as well as their patriotic interests. For those of us who see it as critical the nation learn what really went on here, that's an auspicious combination of motives for them to have.

    1. One thing that has drawn a lot of attention is that Barr has put the intel chiefs on notice that he's going to be looking at more than just the FBI.

      From that standpoint, the ICA is a very important aspect for covering the tracks of the coup plotters. Barr cannot avoid looking at this for the investigation to be credible.

  3. According to the document that James Clapper published on January 6, 2017, the assessment about Russian meddling in the 2016 election was done by drafted and coordinated by just three agencies -- CIA, FBI and NSA. (See the section titled "Scope" on Page 6, numbered Page i).

    The assessment was not conducted in accordance with normal procedures for a National Intelligence Assessment. In particular, DIA and the State Department did not participate.

    It is likely that no Intelligence agencies outside of CIA, FBI and NSA were even aware that such an assessment was being drafted and coordinated.

    Furthermore, it's likely that Clapper chose the CIA, FBI and NSA analysts based on those analysts' attitudes toward Donald Trump and on their desires to earn promotions by pleasing Clapper.

    If Hillary Clinton had won the election, Clapper's specially selected analysts all would have been promoted soon and high.

    Although only those few analysts from only three agencies participated, Clinton tried to shame Trump for doubting the assessment, which supposedly had been approved by all 17 US Intelligence agencies.

    Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, took no action to clarify for the public that only three agencies had participated in the assessment. Clapper was happy that Clinton was benefiting politically against Trump because of her false claim about "all 17 Intelligence agencies".

  4. What exactly was Mike Pompeo doing while he headed the CIA and what exactly has Dan Coats been up to at DNI?

    William Barr said recently that no significant work had been done, by the time that Barr assumed office, to explain how Crossfire Hurricane had begun and developed.

    If I had been Pompeo or Coats, I would have begun studying that matter critically on my first day in office. I am flabbergasted by their lack of skepticism and even mere curiosity.

    Without Barr, nothing ever would have been done, except covering up everything maximally.

    1. Totally true. Sadly. Two years in and Trump finally has a real AG, but how many other dept. and agency heads are really working for him?

    2. We Deplorables understood the nature of the beast from the beginning, that's why we battened to the only none Swamp creature running in 2016. Unfortunately no one, not even DJT really got that. So, naturally, he turned to Swamp creatures (Rep's, Senator's, former Poo-bah's of various stripes) to help him select appointees. No surprise the list he was provided with was almost entirely Swamp creatures.

      Swamp creatures gonna Swamp. They cannot comprehend fresh air, sunlight or clean flowing water (any one is bad, all three together they will view as an environmental catastrophe). I find the fact that he could find one righteous man (Barr) in the entire sewer to be as much a miracle out of Old Testament scripture as the Angels unlikely discovery of Lot. Hopefully we will not be disappointed when it's fire and brimstone time. We already have many of pillars of salt (Sessions, Wray, Burr, Romney, McCain, et. al.) from the reputations of those who gaze back wistfully toward the Swamp.

    3. True. I'm afraid that Trump expected the GOPe to get over their loss to him and rally round his winning agenda. He has paid a price.

  5. When exactly did Brennan claim to not know the Steele Dossier was financed by the DNC and the Clinton Campaign? In the Spring of 2017, the public didn't know this fact, though the FBI definitely did. Can I assume this was in other testimony by Brennan?

    1. I can't answer that. I know that he testified to the House on 5/23/17: "May 2017" is what Sperry says.

    2. That's a good question from Yancy Ward. But also, are we certain when the FBI knew who was paying/how Steele was being paid? The FBI was paying Steele in 2016--did they bother to inquire how/why Steele was initially engaged?

      Steele's Orbis Business Solutions is obviously his reason d'etre, but also looks to be a cover story for continued work for MI6, with plausible deniability as a "contractor." I.e., MI6 doesn't control him.

      The hoax/coup effort appears to contain many, many obvious questions that no one at the FBI/DOJ asked. In Steele's case, as he had a "known" reputation with the much earlier FIFA investigation (Loretta Lynch's prosecution at EDNY). Too good to check? Confirmation bias? He told the FBI/DOJ just enough that his motivation, agenda, self-interest didn't matter. The FBI/DOJ didn't want to know due to their motivation, agenda, self-interest?

      Some people apparently didn't want to know, under the presumption that an error of omission can be rationalized as a mistake--a lack of dilligence, whereas an error of commission might be a crime.

      I guess we'll find out what crimes were committed...

    3. Between the Kavalec email, contacts with Steele himself and knowing his contacts with journalists, contacts with Bruce Ohr who served as a handler for Steele and go between to Simpson, and James Baker's contacts with the Perkins Coie lawyers I have no doubt whatsoever that the FBI knew who was behind Steele.

    4. What I should have said--especially in light of your comment and Solomon's piece linked--is that Steele's "connections" were an open secret. (Kinda like Harvey Weinstein!) Everybody "knows" something about Steele, but nobody discusses it or questions it, so there's no "official" acknowledgement/confirmation of how Steele was initially engaged or paid, etc..

      Then Kavalec memorializes a meeting, so that memo had to be buried. Kavalec's meeting was four weeks before the election, and if they just get past Hillary's election, then what nobody doesn't know won't harm them.

      It's a no huddle, two-minute drill in football. Everybody knows the objective, i.e. no one has to spell it out for you. Pay attention to the QB, play your position and execute.

    5. Remember, too, that the FBI had been working with Steele for years. So then he shows up in Washington for the election, they're aware that he's shopping different versions of his "reports," Kavalec and Ohr are telling them he's eager to get this stuff out for the election, they knows he's talking to journos--it's not rocket science. Somebody's paying him to put out anti-Trump stuff and it doesn't take much if any imagination to figure out who that would be, especially when you're getting some of the stuff from Hillary's lawyer.

    6. Exactly. Perkins Coie lawyer(s) were talking to General counsel Baker, Steele was talking to Ohr, Steele was talking to Michael Isikoff (Yahoo News) and David Corn (Mother Jones) among others. FusionGPS was orchestrating flooding the zone with chickenfeed, and the FBI/DOJ wanted to believe. If you're gonna lie--go big. Cheers.

    7. "If you're gonna lie--go big."

      Which is apparently the Mueller/Weissmann theory of prosecutorial conduct.

  6. "If you're gonna lie--go big."

    Which is apparently the Mueller/Weissmann theory of prosecutorial conduct.


    "If you're gonna lie--go big."

    Which is apparently the Mueller/Weissmann theory of prosecutorial MISconduct.