I've been a champion of AG Bill Barr and his avowed purpose of getting to the bottom of the Russia Hoax. However, in recent weeks commenters have expressed frustration that there has not been massive declassification and publication of relevant documents and that there have been no indictments. I believe the reason for this is relatively straightforward.
Hitherto, attention has largely focused on the FBI criminality, and in particular on the fraudulent FISA that was opened and renewed three times against Carter Page. Of course, that FISA followed upon the dossier-driven opening of the Crossfire Hurricane Full Investigation, and the FISA itself was therefore undoubtedly dossier-driven as well. Given that background, the Team Mueller operation could only have been also dossier-driven--as I've argued at great length over the months. That view has, I think, been totally vindicated. In a sense, therefore, the focus on the FBI has been the easy part of the Russia Hoax investigation, simply because the opening of investigations, the applications for FISA coverage, all involve the creation of extensive paper trails. There can be no doubt whatsoever that, if Barr wished to, he could indict a fair number of former FBI officials today.
However, that would not insure getting to the "origins" of the Russia Hoax, as Barr is determined to do. FBI involvement in the Russia Hoax was necessary because the FBI, as our lead counterintelligence (CI) agency, must be the agency to open investigations and apply for electronic surveillance of US persons via FISA. But, as we have seen, the FBI wasn't the true originating and driving force behind the Russia Hoax. That honor goes to John Brennan of the CIA and the inner circle of the Obama Administration and its State Department. To get to that level Barr will need to work up from the level of the FBI.
Even so, we can get some idea of what Barr will be looking at, and why it will take more time than we observers might wish. Consider--while the FBI's overseas role has expanded considerably since 9/11, the CIA remains the key overseas operator for the USIC. We speak of the FBI's use of "OCONUS lures", assets, informants, such as Steele, Halper, Downer, and Mifsud, and others, but the reality is that Brennan's CIA probably approved the FBI use of these persons who were in all likelihood primarily CIA and MI6 sources. You won't find that in FBI files, but it will probably have been the reality. That means Barr--probably with the active assistance of Trump--will need to secure the cooperation of several foreign intelligence services. Thus we have the interesting phenomenon of Obama meeting privately with former Italian PM Matteo Renzi in Italy at the same time that Matteo Salvini, Italian Deputy Prime Minister of Italy and Minister of the Interior, is in Washington for meetings with the Trump administration. As George Papadopoulos has tweeted, this surely has to do with Italian involvement in the Russia Hoax.
Again, at a very fundamental level back at home, the difficulty involved in working up the ladder is that at the higher levels the paper trail will not have been as clear as was the case with the FBI. For all Rosenstein's and Wray's stonewalling, the FBI criminality is clear enough and documented, but investigation of CIA and State personnel is only now beginning and the collection of necessary documents is also at an early stage--that was the point of Trump's executive order granting full declass authority to Barr but also, importantly for purposes of this post, requiring full IC cooperation with Barr's investigation. We should all expect that the CIA, under Gina Haspel, will resist Barr every step of the way. Barr will win, I think, but Trump's executive order will not be self executing--it will require all Barr's deterimination.
Despite the lack of leaks, there can be no doubt that this investigation has begun in earnest and that Brennan and the CIA are feeling the heat. We're hearing about the Deep State's increasing anxiety from their usual media outlets, and especially the NYT. I've covered some of all this in three posts (beginning with the most recent):
Assessing The Assessment
Brennan's Task Force--The Heart Of The Russia Hoax
About that IC Assessment: Paul Sperry Has Good News
As further confirmation, I offer some extensive quotes from an article by a certified former Deep Stater, Jed Babbin--￼The CIA Is Running Scared: Barr’s bloodhounds are sniffing up Langley’s skirts. Babbin is very confident in the direction Barr is taking.
Babbin begins by noting the recent NYT article we discussed, in which "current and former American officials” expressed alarm and dismay that DoJ is seeking to question CIA analysts about their work on the ICA--why, they want to know, should their work be investigated? Well, we all know why. Babbin continues:
... From the Times report, we can easily deduce the fact that those who ran the spy op — including CIA Director Gina Haspel — are running scared from the Durham investigation.
Start with the sourcing: “current and former American officials.” That includes all of the people who were in the Obama White House, Comey’s FBI, Brennan’s CIA, and everyone else who’s ever held a government job in, for example, the Obama White House.
The reason the CIA’s “analytical work” is being subjected to a federal prosecutor’s scrutiny is that there is a lot of evidence of criminal conduct by the CIA and FBI. That’s one of the fundamental differences between the Barr/Durham investigation and the Mueller investigation into the imaginary conspiracy between candidate Trump and his campaign and the Russians.
... Haspel and her people are going to drag their feet, and probably hide evidence and lie to protect themselves from the investigators.
[The investigators] will be intensely interested in the facts and opinions that drove the IC’s judgment. The January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment concluded that the Russians interfered to benefit Trump. ... either John Brennan, Obama’s CIA director, or then-FBI director James Comey insisted on using the unverified information from the Steele Dossier (the opposition research paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign) in the ICA to reach that conclusion.
The January 2017 ICA has been used by the media incessantly to prove their assertion that Trump conspired with the Russians to rob the election from Clinton. Durham will find out who insisted on using the Steele Dossier — when it was known to be unverified — to make a devastating conclusion on behalf of the entire intelligence community.
The senior CIA officials Durham’s investigators will question will obviously include CIA Director Gina Haspel, ... She and several (many?) other current and former CIA and FBI officials have just as much at risk.
There’s more, so much more, for Durham’s team to dig into at the CIA, the FBI, and, probably, the NSA. They’re going to be very busy for the rest of this year and probably into 2020.
UPDATE: George Papadopoulos reminds us why Gina Haspel has every reason in the world to drag her feet rather than cooperate with Barr and Durham:
America: do not forget that that current CIA director, Gina Haspel, was running the CIA desk in London in 2016 while Alexander Downer (Australia) Joseph Mifsud (Italy) Stefan Halper (CIA), Azra Turk (CIA) and the US embassy were spying on me and trying to sabotage Donald Trump.
I've written about this previously, but if as I said above:
while the FBI's overseas role has expanded considerably since 9/11, the CIA remains the key overseas operator for the USIC. We speak of the FBI's use of "OCONUS lures", assets, informants, such as Steele, Halper, Downer, and Mifsud, and others, but the reality is that Brennan's CIA probably approved the FBI use of these persons who were in all likelihood primarily CIA and MI6 sources. You won't find that in FBI files, but it will probably have been the reality.
then the identity of the CIA Station Chief in London at the time all this was going down becomes a matter of absorbing interest. Which is why Gina Haspel finds herself in the Barr/Durham crosshairs.
Also, check out comments by Joe, below. Following the provided links I came across Sue Gordon:
"Pompeo and Coats had a really good relationship. I think Pompeo and Haspel get along exceptionally well."
It should be clear how complicated a minefield the Russia Hoax is, and why Barr/Durham will need to proceed in a very methodical manner, never presuming that cooperation is complete.