Supposedly Reliable Steele Acted 'Crazy,' His FBI Handler Says: 'People's Ears Were Bleeding.'
The article is fine, as far as it goes--Felten concentrates on Gaeta's and the FBI's dismay when Steele turned out to be the source for an article by ueber-sleazy 'journalist' David Corn. Corn's article--A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump--Has the bureau investigated this material?--came out in Mother Jones on October 31, 2016, just a week before the election. Corn's article is, typically, full of innuendo and anonymously sourced characterizations. Coming in the immediate wake of disgraced former FBI Director James Comey's reopening of the Hillary email case, Corn hints at possible negligence on the part of the FBI in not following up on the 'Veteran Spy's' information about supposed Trump - Russia collusion, leading off with a statement by noted champion of bipartisanship, Senator Harry Reid:
On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid upped the ante. He sent Comey a fiery letter saying the FBI chief may have broken the law and pointed to a potentially greater controversy: “In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government…The public has a right to know this information.”
The FBI was predictably upset that their supposed top source, Steele, was participating in a hit job on the Bureau. Steele's handling agent, Michael Gaeta was dispatched to contact Steele--tellingly, not so much to read Steele the riot act but to find out what had gone wrong. Was it something the FBI had done or neglected to do? Was Steele in a huff about slow payments? Was this payback for the Bureau's slowness?
"Listen, is it about the money?" Gaeta asked Steele. "Because we have the money now. Is it about the money?" The FBI had promised, but had yet to deliver to Steele, $15,000 for one meeting with Crossfire Hurricane agents. The bureau had further promised Steele he would be paid “significantly” for his Trump-Russia research.
One seems to sense a pleading tone on Gaeta's part. Please, please, can we patch this up? But Steele was having none of the kiss and make up routine. He forthrightly responded:
“Yes, I'm owed the money, but that's secondary," Steele told Gaeta. "I'm very upset about – we’re very upset – about the actions of your agency." By the “we” in “we’re very upset” one can reasonably infer that Steele was speaking about himself and his client, Fusion GPS head Glenn Simpson (whose client, not counting cutouts, was Hillary Clinton’s campaign).
Gaeta told the Senate that he had "no idea what [Steele] was talking about." If so, then he was probably the only person in any way knowledgeable about the Russia Hoax at that point who didn't get it.
Let's start with the FBI's promise to Steele that he would be paid "significantly" for his Trump related material. There was nothing in Steele's track record to suggest to the FBI that he could provide reliable information about the inner top-level machination's of the Putin regime. There were, however, even by October 31, numerous indications that he was winging it with his "dossier" memos. For example, Kathleen Kavalec from the State Department had told the FBI that Steele seemed to think that Russia had a consulate in Miami--an absurd mistake for a supposed Russian expert. There was also the public refutation of Steele's claims by Carter Page, as well as the absurd Alfa bank hoax, which had already collapsed.
But above all there was the well known fact that Steele was working for the Hillary campaign--he was well known to be "with her," in the employ of Hillary's oppo research shop: Glenn Simpson's Fusion GPS. James Baker--former General Counsel for the FBI, turned cooperating witness for John Durham--told House interrogators that David Corn had fed him "dossier" material before the election, which he duly relayed to Bill Priestap. Baker surely knew that this material was sourced to Steele, and would have told Priestap. Michael Sussman, part of Hillary's legal team, also provided Baker with "dossier" material. Baker himself indicated that it was well known that multiple versions of the "dossier" were floating around Washington, that Glenn Simpson was flogging the stuff to all and sundry. Steele's contact with Kavalec had already violated his supposed "exclusive" relationship with the FBI.
All of this provided abundant reason for the FBI to keep Steele at arm's length. Instead, with no known reservations, they embraced Steele and his dodgy "dossier."
In this situation, one wonders about the FBI's promise--made in advance--to pay Steele "significantly" for additional material. Doesn't that violate the basics of agent handling? Here you have a source with a clear axe to grind against Trump who is up to his neck in a business--oppo research--well known for playing fast and loose with facts (or even inventing 'facts'). He would have every reason to manufacture material, to cash in on the FBI's promise. That promise appears terribly amateurish, yet no one at FBIHQ seems to have given the matter a second thought.
One suspects that the Bureau's upset over the Corn article may have to do with the inclusion of certain details about the FBI's investigation. Those details were provided to Steele by FBI personnel in Rome just a couple of weeks before Corn's article appeared. That, too, violated a cardinal rule of agent handling--the source is supposed to provide information, not receive inside the FBI details from the handlers. I suspect that the FBI was upset because they were concerned that sharp eyed readers of the Corn article would surmise that Corn's article contained material that could be sourced to the FBI. It would not take much speculation to put two and two together and realize that the FBI was in bed with the Hillary campaign--via Glenn Simpson's Fusion GPS and Simpson's dashing "veteran spy", Chris Steele, who seemed to be quite the man about town in DC in those last days before the election.
And that seems to have been the truth of the matter--the FBI was all in against Trump. Thus, while the FBI "fired" Steele, they maintained contact with Steele through a backdoor, unofficial, and quite irregular source: Bruce Ohr.
All of this makes sense once you realize Steele was NOT a source for the FBI in this particular matter...he was a conduit to give some purposely outrageous falsehoods in the 'file' so the conspirators could have a pretext to illegally investigate a political opponent. People like Felten get such cognitive dissonance when they try to apply the conventional definitions from the 'cover story' for the operation to the reality of the operation. They all go away when it's seen for what it was! Steele said in his UK case at the outset he was hired to do work for the HRC campaign...he didn't see it as a routine FBI matter at all. His actions are consistent with that.ReplyDelete
I think that's very true. One aspect that I've often wondered about is something I encountered numerous times among agents--a reflexive and quite naive pro-British sentiment, coupled with an exaggerated (IMO) regard for British intel professionalism. The naive notion that the Brits are on "our side," rather than out for their own self interest as they see it. I've often wondered whether to some degree--beyond the genuine antipathy for Trump and their own desire to safeguard the Deep State--the FBI got played by Steele. Or rather, they played themselves, naively trusting the Brit "veteran spy". One example would be in the Rome meeting when, by all accounts, they divulged to Steele much of what they were doing in their investigations. They seemed to regard Steele as part of the team, rather than as a source. Meanwhile, Steele had his own agenda.Delete
MW wrote: >>One example would be in the Rome meeting when, by all accounts, they divulged to Steele much of what they were doing in their investigations. They seemed to regard Steele as part of the team, rather than as a source. Meanwhile, Steele had his own agenda.<<Delete
An alternate interpretation is that the FBI's CH team was using Steele as a "reverse conduit" ("cutout") to relay what they were doing back to the Clinton Campaign team.
Clever trick, if true.
I think this is cultural to some extent. The American middle and upper class have always had a soft (blind) spot for upper-class European society. In the case of Britain this means the aristocracy or anyone that talks like they had a public school education. In a way I think this reflected in Americans slack-jawed fascination with "celebrities" in general. For some reason many Americans simply assume Europeans are somehow, magically, more sophisticated/educated/worldly than they. Being raised in rural West Texas in the 50's I was never that impressed, though I have to admit that on liberty in Hong Kong in the early '70's I met a young Chinese lady that spoke the Queen's English in a manner that was to die for.Delete
"The American middle and upper class have always had a soft (blind) spot for upper-class European society.... slack-jawed fascination with "celebrities" in general."Delete
Their empty souls *have to* identify, with such wielders of Status as the Nobility, and those of Hollywood fame.
The rot started to become significant in the '50s, when Zsa Zsa Gaboor was known for being "famous for being famous", and when the Academy Awards were first televised.
"...though I have to admit that on liberty in Hong Kong in the early '70's I met a young Chinese lady that spoke the Queen's English in a manner that was to die for."Delete
Hong Kong isn't the same. I was there five or six times in the 90s, when the Brits still controlled the city and then later after the Brits had departed. The entire complexion of the city changed after the British departed in '97. The British military and civil service dependents who worked many of the pubs and restaurants left with their families which resulted in mostly Filipinos, ethnic Chinese, and Thais filling the void.
Of course today, Hong Kong has become a pariah. What was once a great U.S. navy liberty port is no more. Singapore will likely become the new Hong Kong.
This is not necessarily on topic but I just read this:ReplyDelete
Strozk was stupid enough to write a book? Is he a complete idiot? Doesn't he have a lawyer? No one is more exposed in all this than he. I'm just astounded that this big a moron was allowed to do more than work at the Starbuck's kiosk at FBI headquarters, much less actually carry a firearm.
I've been ignoring that book, fearing that to read any of it could make me stupid. I wish I could say I'm surprised, but I'm not. SWC calls Strzok "not very bright" and "a clown." I think that's about it.Delete
"not very bright"Delete
Well, he was ... "counter intelligence". Oh c'mon, you dangled that one in the strike zone. But seriously, Strzok's House testimony behavior should have removed most doubt that there was something off about him.
Having myself been called a "clown" on occasion I feel violated by the comparison. ;-)
I just had a terrible thought. We know as a matter of public record that numerous people associated with Steele pitched his memos to multiple US government agencies, which used them in official investigations. The Danchenko interview makes clear large chunks of those memos were embellished or fabricated.ReplyDelete
I.e. Steele conspired to defraud the United States. Within the last four days Strzok in his CBS interview has disavowed the Steele Dossier, going so far as to say its terrible it was used against Carter Page (while of course denying his own cuplability--I was tricked), and someone has pointed Paul Sperry to a passage in the dense 900 page latest SSCI tome about Michael Gaeta calling Steele a crazy person.
Disturbing hypothesis: might this be an information preparation of the battlefield for Steele to be indicted by the SDNY--Gaeta was in the FBI's NY office--for conspiracy to defraud the US? Then after he's convicted or pleas out, anyone who relied on the dossier, like Gaeta or Strzok, could claim, "we was tricked"?
Don't think so. They had a duty to verify and didn't do it.Delete
IMO; Strzok's book coming out; media interviews, public disclosures as you describe make me think he's probably had his "come to Jesus" moment w/Durham's team and sort of knows his fate, awaiting when the time comes to spill the beans and deciding to get a bit in front of things. Just feels that way to me.Delete
Yes to not removing culpability. "you can't cheat an honest man." They are literally called "... Bureau of Investigation." They get paid to not be duped.Delete
The whole "blame the source" thing is crazy when they hired the "source" just to give them back fantastical lies that were written, basically, at Brookings Institution! Still calling Steele a source is a disingenuous way to make it look like a legit investigation that just happened to run across a "bad source" in a Red Riding Hood on the way to Grandma's house!Delete
Barr saw through that cover in a heart beat.Delete
Tom Fitton thrashing around about the Durham investigation, saying conservatives are being scammed. How would he and Judicial Watch know what Durham was doing? I think that’s the problem. Also some rivalry. Fitton likes to be a top dog, IMO. Problem is that he can’t do much of anything with what he gets via his FOIA requests. Durham can do a lot with what his investigators unearth.ReplyDelete
Yes, I've been reading that stuff this morning. Fitton is fund raising. I have no problem at all with the actual work he does, but he regularly makes misrepresentations both about the effectiveness of some of his lawsuits and the perfidy of others. It's about fund raising and it's cynical.Delete