Friday, June 14, 2019

Assessing The Assessment

A few days ago commenter Mike Sylwester noted in a comment to Brennan's Task Force--The Heart Of The Russia Hoax that the Brennan task force that was assembled to stop Trump appears to have excluded analysts from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and Department of State (DoS) from its work. This, despite the fact that DoD and DoS representatives with Democrat political connections played key roles in propagating the Russia Hoax. The task force's work, of course, included coming up with the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) that has been perhaps the fundamental driver of the whole Russia Hoax narrative. As a result, the ICA has been getting renewed scrutiny.

This morning I was taking a look at an article by Ray McGovern, DoJ Bloodhounds on the Scent of John Brennan, which also focuses on reporting that Brennan's task force is being targeted by Barr and Durham. It happens that McGovern's article closes with a pointed reference to the Intelligence Community Assessment and its exclusion of any views that might have been, well, independent. Earlier, in About that IC Assessment: Paul Sperry Has Good News, we quoted Sperry's reporting that GOP Congressional investigators have been honing in on the production of that Assessment and, in particular, the growing likelihood that--like virtually all else Russia Hoax--it was essentially a byproduct of the Steele "dossier":

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.

In that light, here are the closing paragraphs of McGovern's article, in which McGovern highlights the exclusion of DIA and DoS from the task force and, therefore, from any voice in developing the ICA:

Happily, at least for those interested in the truth, some of the authors of the rump, misnomered “Intelligence Community Assessment” commissioned by Obama, orchestrated by Brennan-Clapper-Comey, and published on January 6, 2017 will now be interviewed. The ICA is the document still widely cited as showing that the “entire intelligence community agreed” on the Russia-gate story, but this is far from the case. As Clapper has admitted, that “assessment” was drafted by “handpicked analysts” from just three of the 17 intelligence agencies – CIA, FBI, and NSA. 
US Attorney Durham would do well to also check with analysts in agencies – like the Defense Intelligence Agency and State Department Intelligence, as to why they believe they were excluded. The ICA on Russian interference is as inferior an example of intelligence analysis as I have ever seen. Since virtually all of the hoi aristoi and the media swear by it, I did an assessment of the Assessment on its second anniversary. I wrote: 
     “Under a media drumbeat of anti-Russian hysteria, credulous Americans were led to believe that Donald Trump owed his election victory to the president of Russia, whose “influence campaign” according to the Times quoting the intelligence report, helped “President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton.” 
     Hard evidence supporting the media and political rhetoric has been as elusive as proof of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2002-2003. This time, though, an alarming increase in the possibility of war with nuclear-armed Russia has ensued – whether by design, hubris, or rank stupidity. The possible consequences for the world are even more dire than 16 years of war and destruction in the Middle East. 
    The Defense Intelligence Agency should have been included, particularly since it has considerable expertise on the G.R.U., the Russian military intelligence agency, which has been blamed for Russian hacking of the DNC emails. But DIA, too, has an independent streak and, in fact, is capable of reaching judgments Clapper would reject as anathema. Just one year before Clapper decided to do the rump “Intelligence Community Assessment,” DIA had formally blessed the following heterodox idea in its “December 2015 National Security Strategy”: 
     “The Kremlin is convinced the United States is laying the groundwork for regime change in Russia, a conviction further reinforced by the events in Ukraine. Moscow views the United States as the critical driver behind the crisis in Ukraine and believes that the overthrow of former Ukrainian President Yanukovych is the latest move in a long-established pattern of U.S.-orchestrated regime change efforts.” 
Any further questions as to why the Defense Intelligence Agency was kept away from the ICA drafting table?

So the idea is that Brennan and Clapper feared that DIA might have wanted to analyze and critique the "intelligence" fromt the Steele "dossier" for reliability--or even plausibility. And they couldn't risk an independent viewpoint. Far better to staff the task force with reliables like Peter Strzok and other handpicked analysts.


  1. When the Trump Administration took office on January 20, 2017, one of its highest-priority tasks should have been to investigate the ICA, which was used to justify the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats four weeks earlier.

    Now in June 2019, that investigation is just beginning -- and only because of William Barr's initiative.

    Daniel Coats, who became President Trump's Director of National Intelligence on March 16, 2017, seems to lack the curiosity he should have exercised about his organization's shenanigans during the three months before he occupied his position. For more than two years, Coats has been ignoring what really mattered the most.

    1. I think you hit the nail on the head--Coats is part of the problem, not the solution. No doubt Coats was recommended to Trump by the usual suspects, and how was he to know?

      The good news is that Trump's AG, Bill Barr, is VERY unlikely to put up with nonsense from Coats. There's a reason why Barr himself asked for what amounts to presidential authority over declass. He made no bones about the fact that Trump didn't offer him the authority--he asked for it. He knows what levers in DC can accomplish what he needs to do. Declass authority is one of those levers.

    2. It really ticks me off that anyone like Coats or Haspel have the right or duty to resist a legitimate order from the President. We've really veered off-course if we think that the President isn't the supreme authority in the Executive Branch. Now if the case of corruption, by all means resist, and be prepared to be fired, or resign as a matter of principle. But to defy the President?

      And for amplification, I will repeat your statement that it is good news that Bill Barr is unlikely to put up with nonsense from Coats. In fact, I'll go further and say that Barr won't put up with any nonsense.

      Did you catch where George S asked Donald about receiving information on a candidate and would he go to the FBI? Donald's response is classic Trump. He said it to incite the media, Deep State and Dems and Reps (redundant to call out all four parties separately).

      I believe that his purpose was to sow division for Pelosi as the loonies ratchet up the calls for impeachment. Also, what he said he would do in not calling the FBI, illustrates exactly what the hypocrites do with regularity. They traffic in this stuff.

      When George S said that the FBI director stated the proper thing to do is to call the FBI, Donald retorted "The FBI director is wrong." I love that statement. First, as I said earlier, the President is the supreme executive authority, not Wray. Second, if this had been Obama, George S would not have challenged him. Third, this goes back to a statement that I made many months ago. When the liberals wanted to overthrow traditional morality, they used a bumper sticker, 'Question Authority.' Now that they've got their men in places of power, we aren't to question Wray's authority.

      My countrymen, throw off your shackles, open your eyes, and think for yourself!

    3. Correction to my first sentence.

      It really ticks me off that anyone like Coats or Haspel thinks he hse the right or duty to resist a legitimate order from the President.

  2. Clapper could not count on the DIA to concur with the ICA.

    In addition, Clapper's Task Force was framing former DIA Director Michael Flynn as a secret agent of Russian Intelligence, trying to destroy American Democracy. Clapper foresaw that DIA analysts attending the Task Force meetings might laugh out loud during the solemn discussions.

    1. Yeah, I think we're looking at a situation where Brennan knew he couldn't expose the dossier to subject matter experts that they might encounter at DIA or DoS. At DoS they knew they could deal with the political appointees, of course, as well as the Pentagon appointees.