Friday, July 10, 2020

The FBI 'Analyst' At The Heart Of The Russia Hoax

Paul Sperry has a very thorough, and lengthy, article out today that details the role of Brian J. Auten, a Supervisory Intelligence Analyst for the FBI, in enabling the Russia Hoax. Auten was a key player in getting the Carter Page FISA warrants approved as well as being a key contributor to the fraudulent Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA). He was also targeted repeatedly by IG Horowitz' FISA Report. The Sperry article,

FBI Man at the Heart of Surveillance Abuses Is a Professor of Spying Ethics

is too long to attempt to summarize. I'll confine myself here to citing a few examples.

Auten's wrongdoing appears to have involved both failures to disclose necessary information as well as what appear to be outright misstatements:

By January 2017, the lead analyst had ample evidence the dossier was bogus. Auten could not get sources who provided information to Steele to support the dossier’s allegations during interviews. And collections from the wiretaps of Trump aide Carter Page failed to reveal any confirmation of the claims. Auten even came across exculpatory evidence indicating Page was not the Russian asset the dossier alleged, but was in fact a CIA asset helping the U.S. spy on Moscow. 
Nonetheless, he and the FBI continued to use the Steele material as a basis for renewing their FISA monitoring of Page, who was never charged with a crime.

That is very important. In order to renew a FISA, it's necessary to either demonstrate that the FISA has been "productive"--that is, has provided information that confirms the probable cause claims made in the original FISA application--or explain why the FISA had been unproductive to that point and why an renewal would lead to productive results. In addition, of course, a process of reviewing the reliability of past information that was relied upon in obtaining the FISA is also required. Obviously, none of the above occurred with regard to the Carter Page FISA applications, and Auten was a key player in that entire process:

In his report, Horowitz wrote that the analyst [Auten] told his team of inspectors that he did not have any “pains or heartburn” over the accuracy of the Steele reports. As for Steele’s reliability as an FBI informant, Horowitz said, the analyst merely “speculated" that his [Steele's] prior reporting was sound and did not see a need to  “dig into” his handler’s case file, which showed that past tips from Steele had gone uncorroborated and were never used in court. 
According to the IG report, Auten also wasn’t concerned about Steele’s anti-Trump bias or that his work was commissioned by Trump’s political opponent, calling the fact he worked for Hillary Clinton's campaign “immaterial.” Perhaps most disturbing, the analyst withheld the fact that Steele’s main source disavowed key dossier allegations from a memo Auten prepared summarizing a meeting he had with that source.

With regard to all this Sperry quotes a veteran FBI agent, Chris Swecker. Swecker raises the question of whether Auten's misconduct was simple incompetence or was deliberate manipulation, and whether Auten's actions were coordinated with others at the top of the FBI hierarchy--which seems to me to be an inescapable conclusion:

Auten is a central, if overlooked, figure in the Horowitz report and the overall FISA abuse scandal, though his identity is hidden in the 478-page IG report, which refers to him throughout only as “Supervisory Intelligence Analyst” or “Supervisory Intel Analyst.” In fact, the 51-year-old analyst shows up at every major juncture in the FISA application process. 
Auten was assigned to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation from its opening in July 2016 and supervised its analytical efforts throughout 2017. He played a key supportive role for the agents preparing the FISA applications, including reviewing the probable-cause section of the applications and providing the agents with information about Steele’s sub-sources noted in the applications. He also helped prepare and review the renewal drafts. 
Auten assisted the case agents in providing information on the reliability of Steele and his sources and reviewing for accuracy their information cited in the body of the applications, as well as all the footnotes. His job was also to fill gaps in the FISA application or bolster weak areas. 
In addition, Auten personally met with Steele and his “primary sub-source,” reportedly a Russian émigré living in the West, as well as former MI6 colleagues of Steele. He also met with Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and processed the dirt Ohr fed the FBI from Glenn Simpson, the political opposition research contractor who hired Steele to compile the anti-Trump dossier on behalf of the Clinton campaign.

Knowing as we do the hands on involvement of McCabe, Strzok, and others in the entire Carter Page FISA process, there is no possibility that Auten and those others were at loggerheads, were not on the same page.

But Auten's involvement in the overall Russia Hoax was broader than even just the Page FISA:

Auten was involved in the January 2017 investigation of then-Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, according to internal emails sent by then-FBI counterintelligence official Strzok. 
What’s more, the analyst helped draft a summary of the dossier attached to the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference, which described Steele as “reliable.” Other intelligence analysts argued against incorporating the dossier allegations — including rumors about potentially compromising sexual material — in the body of the report because they viewed them as “internet rumor."

Again, Auten's involvement in both these matters argues that he coordinated his activities with the FBI hierarchy--beginning with Peter Strzok, who was the agent-point man in both.

I suspect the reason that Auten has not been available to the Senate is because Durham--whose investigation is strongly focused on the ICA--has had a lot of questions for Auten, who could be a key witness against those higher up the food chain at the FBI.

The above is a pretty bare summary. Sperry includes a long catalog of instances in which Auten withheld highly relevenant--necessary--information, misrepresented other information, or included outright misstatements. In addition to numerous instances pertaining to Steele's supposed "sources", these two instances stand out:

Auten withheld the fact of Steele's employment by the Clinton campaign from the DoJ lawyer (Stu Evans) who had strong doubts in general about the sufficiency of the Carter Page FISA application.

Auten also included in the applications language claiming that Steele's information with regard to the international soccer investigation had been "corroborated and used in criminal proceedings.” That was untrue (Just How Reliable Is Christopher Steele?).


  1. Along with Auten, the FISC is complicit. Their sole reason for existence is to protect the constitutional rights of unknowing defendants. They did not ask for Woods confirmation. They did not ask "If you want to spy on the President, why not name him, instead of a 2-hop charade?" They did not interrogate any oath-signer. They just said, repeatedly, "OK, you want to spy on the Presidential Candidate and President, why not, WHERE DO WE SIGN?". The FISC asked no questions, made no record of its proceedings and representations of the lying DOJ. All honest courts have recorded proceedings. The FISC had no sense of constitutional impropriety, asked for no sign of "progress". In fact, there was 'unprogress' with denials from their sole source for the pee pee dossier. There is an ethical obligation not to lie to the court, or withhold information from the court. Even worse, the FISC has not disciplined any of the liars and withholdershas failed to discipline the liars, and withholders.
    The FISC is the constitutional bulwark against this scam. Had the FISC not completely failed, hd it not been complicit, the scam would have failed immediately, despite Auten..

    1. While the FISC is, in many ways, at the mercy of the FBI/DoJ in these matters, the failure to demand to see progress in the investigation--there was NONE--is one extremely important aspect of the renewal applications that's definitely on the FISC.

    2. The FISC is not at the mercy of the DOJ. They can record their proceedings, ask questions, refuse to grant a warrant until Woods materials are confirmed and counsel + oath signers are are fully on the record. Especially for a "spy on the President Warrant !!!? The FISC can limit a Warrant scope, which they refused. They could ask "Why not tell Donald Trump you believe Carter Page is a russian agent, so keep him away from russians?"
      The FISC is complicit.
      The clear evidence that the FISC is complicit is the failure to severely discipline the liars, withholders and oath-signers who 'deceived' their court, and recommend disbarment, as ANY honest court would do to protect the integrity of their proceedings.

    3. You have no idea what you're talking about.

  2. I wonder if Durham will charge some FBI officials for lying to the Horowitz IG investigators.

    1. It's certainly possible. However, disciplinary action--including firing--for 'lack of candor' is the usual route taken in OIG investigations.

  3. I am glad at least one guy tried

    1. Yes--and he was lied to, as well.

      We've heard that Evans has been cooperating extensively with Durham.

    2. Mark, regarding Rosey's recent virtue signalling on Stone, does this dampen your hope that he has flipped for Durham?

    3. I'll say this: That was the first question that came to my mind. I've always regarded RR as a villain--not as manipulated, not as misguided, but as a knowing participant. Since "retirement" he has been notably silent, so I was surprised at this.

  4. I recently read Sidney Powell's "Licensed To Lie" and the problems outlined above regarding outright contradictions, selective disclosure, ignoring exculpatory information, inability to confirm allegations/assertions, etc., run rampant throughout the several cases addressed in Powell's book. The cases discussed start with the Enron Taskforce in early 2000s. The same practices as followed by Auten having become standard fare for over a decade and a half represents a crisis in leadership and culture at the FBI/DOJ.

    But no one should be surprised, as no one at FBI/DOJ paid a price for the unethical and likely criminal behavior in the Enron cases nor Sen. Stevens' prosecution. The same conduct is present in the Russian hoax, Flynn prosecution, etc.

    And these are the examples known--how many others are buried for lacking headline prominence??

    1. "unethical and likely criminal"

      The 'likely' says it all. It's a policy--which is unethical--of getting away with anything you can with the knowledge that criminal intent is almost impossible to prove in such cases and that the unethical behavior will receive no more than a slap on the wrist. No consequences because now 'everybody' does it. Everybody that counts for advancing their careers.

    2. It's Lavrentiy Beria's NKVD, "Show me the man, I'll show you the crime" level of dishonesty and corruption. Except worse.

      In some cases, there was no crime--an invented crime as a theory to get before of jury who would convict out of animus and vengeance. In others, withhold exculpatory evidence and voila--conviction. Lastly, threaten indictment to intimidate defense witnesses from truthfully testifying.

      FBI "302s" have to be discontinued/forbidden. All interviews video recorded--and no summaries created as evidence or for discovery. No FBI testimony or evidence based on interview notes reconstructed after the fact. All recordings must be turned over to the defense as discovery or Brady material. (By definition, the prosecution cannot determine what information is useful to the defense.)

      The DOJ has been turned into the Department of Prosecutions and Injustice. This has to change.

    3. Basing investigative decisions on "upside/downside," "pro/con," "risk/reward," and basically "What can we get away with" rather than law and policies leads to the kinds of abuses one would expect. Et voilá.