I will never know who put it there.
But there it was. Somebody must have used a ruler; the placement in the middle of my desk in the governor´s office was perfect. I couldn´t have missed it if I tried.
The report was from the governor´s Organized Crime Commission. The Commissioner was a retired FBI agent.
My duties for the governor centered on the legislature, not the Crime Commission. Somebody obviously wanted me to see the report anyway. I suspect he or she slipped the dossier to me knowing perfectly well what I would think.
I closed the door.
Here is what was in the report.
An "informant" was sitting in the bar at the local horse race track, recording conversations. Hearsay, lies, hot and steamy sex stories, backyard fence innuendos, wild speculations, puerile chit chat.
Pure bullshit -- all of it.
The only organized crime was that one highly-disorganized ex-FBI agent was on the state payroll to collect and record crap. On top of everything else, he was a double-dipper.
I fired off a memo to the governor. I don´t believe it! ... What barnstorming idiocy. Please, give the taxpayers a break and get that damn guy out of here!
Watching last week´s events unfold, the disorganized crime incident from long ago came roaring back. It was accompanied by this thought:
Crime Detective Magazine ... Here we go again.
* * *
In case you are from Mars or were in a coma, here is what happened earlier this month:
Secret memos published recently on Buzzfeed alleged that there was "an extensive conspiracy between Trump´s campaign and Kremlin"; that Russia has damaging information about Trump´s business interests; and that Russia had filmed Trump with prostitutes at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow during the Miss Universe pageant in 2013.
The memos were purportedly -- I will clarify below why I say "purportedly" -- written by a former British intelligence agent, Christopher Steele, who had been posted at the British embassy in Moscow. Steele left MI6 and now runs a private consultancy firm in London. His sources of information for his anti-Trump memos were said to be contacts in the Russian secret service.
Originally, an opposition research firm commissioned the memos from Steele for an anti-Trump Super PAC. I suspect the PAC was Republican because after Trump won the Republican primaries, the research firm was hired by an anonymous Democratic Party supporter. Against the firm´s advice, the supporter gave the memos to the FBI.
A few weeks ago, a two-page summary of the Steele memos was attached to a secret briefing on Russian election hacking submitted by the CIA, FBI and NSA to President Obama and president-elect Trump on early in January The CIA included the summary because it was convinced that, given Steele´s solid professional reputation in the eyes of his MI6 employers, the allegations were credible. The existence and substance of the memos was subsequently "mysteriously" leaked publicly; NBC and CNN led the way.
Trump denied the memos´ veracity in a January 11 press conference: "I think it's a disgrace that information would be let out. I saw the information; I read the information outside of that meeting. It's all fake news. It's phony stuff. It didn't happen."
Russian President Vladimir Putin attacked the memos as "utter nonsense" made up by people who are "worse than prostitutes." He called Steele "some runaway crook from the MI6." He said the motive for leaking the memos was "to undermine the legitimacy of [Donald Trump]."
Back to the present, I hate to tell the boys and girls of the CIA, FBI and NSA about this great big thing out there called life, but obviously somebody has to do it.
(1) There is a Steele I and a Steele II. Economic circumstances account for the difference.
Steele I was a MI6 agent employed by the British government.
Steele II is a private consultant working for money.
Steele II was contracted to dig up dirt on Donald Trump. I don´t know how things work on Pluto or Jupiter, but there is no way on earth that Steele was going to report back that he couldn´t find anything.
And so, a bevy of unsubstantiated allegations was born; the he-said-that-she-saids; unabashed, unabridged Clapperisms, i.e., ambiguous nonsense -- see prior post -- of maybe-this-maybe-that, on-the-one- hand-on-the-other. All topped off by a red hot and throbbing sex escapade report that would have made editors at "Crime Detective Magazine" green with envy.
In toto the same barnstorming idiocy I saw decades ago.
Steele I´s good reputation has nothing to do with Steele II. Owing to his changed economic situation, the latter was a different guy who was trying to hustle a buck -- get it, CIA? FBI? NSA?
I know you think I am wrong. You don´t make the Steele I/Steele II distinction because you can´t: you have no analysis. More to follow.
CIA et al, the Steele anti-Trump memo incident confirms this blog´s long-standing conclusion: you are professional amateurs:
(1) The way you presented the summary of the memos to President Obama and President-Elect Trump speaks volumes ...
For readers who have never worked for a chief executive, I need to explain something.
If you want to get in to see governors and presidents, the proper way to do it is to spell out precisely why you want an appointment. You cannot tell a president you want to see him to discuss climate warming and then in the meeting switch to corruption in Iraq. Sticking to the agenda is the professional approach; it is also common sense because chief executives´ time is limited.
True, chief executives are used to abrupt switches of topics in conversations with ordinary citizens; the executives don´t get mad because it happens all the time -- the citizens don´t know better. Top government employees, on the other hand, are expected to not interject off-the-wall themes. When they do, I can tell you from experience that a president or governor has one and the same instantaneous reaction: ambushed.
Appending the two-page summary of the Steele memos to a presidential briefing on Russian hacking was, to put it mildly, amateurish. Obama and VP Joe Biden had the proper reaction to the appendix: so what, exactly, in hell am I supposed to do with this?*
Trump, on the other hand, rightfully hit the ceiling. He had been called to a meeting to discuss one thing and was subjected to a Lieutenant-Columbo,oh -- by the way, switch in topics. Ambushed.
(2) CIA, FBI, NSA: you are neck-deep in the quicksand of your own garbage. You do not know the difference between facts -- a tangible, put-it-in-my-hand video of Trump with prostitutes -- and opinion, hearsay, bad jokes, i.e., somebody said that Trump was with prostitutes.
You do not know the difference because you have no analysis. Because you have no analysis, you mistake information -- billions of tapped cellphone conversations, trainloads of hacked emails -- for knowledge.
Sidebar: CIA et al, the consequences of your information-knowledge confusion are often deadly. This blog has documented case after case of FBI and CIA officers not knowing a terrorist sitting two feet in front of them. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, head of ISIS, leads the way: you had him, gentlemen; you let him go.
FBI et al, when it comes to terrorism, you literally do not know what you are talking about. You do not know what a terrorist is, which is manifested in the fact that you have no practical, insightful definition** of the term. You have no definition because -- the third time -- you have no analysis.
Your confusion of Steele I, the MI6 agent, with Steele II, the have-gun-will travel operator, is at the bottom of the Steele memo affair. On a deeper level, the affair reflects your substitution and confusion of information with knowledge.
3. CIA et al, the real purpose of your secret briefing of Obama and Trump on Russian hacking was not a briefing; it was to housebreak Trump.
Better play ball, buddy. We got secret information on you and your affairs, both business and private.
Of course, any chief executive worth his salt would smile, then dump you on the first street corner. Which is why when pressed, you say ... well, actually ... ah, it´s not us that has the information, it´s the Russians.
A video? Really? Where is it? When pressed further, you say, gosh, you know ... oh my ... in the end, those memos are only allegations, nothing more. But the man who made them is credible ...
Amazing: here you acknowledge (without being aware of it) you wasted President Obama´s and President-Elect Trump´s time with pure allegations submitted by a credible source, Steele I, who no longer exists. To repeat, owing to life circumstances, Steele II, who purportedly wrote the memos, is a different guy -- get it, CIA? FBI? NSA?
(3) Something in the secret memos caught my eye.
"TRUMP campaign insider reports recent DNC email leaks were aimed at switching SANDERS (protest) voters away from CLINTON and over to TRUMP."
The Russians, too, were said to be engaged in a Sanders-to-Trump conversion effort. "SENIOR KREMLIN FIGURE OUTLINES EVOLVING RUSSIAN TACTICS IN PRO-TRUMP, ANTI-CLINTON CAMPAIGN ... Educated youth to be targeted as protest (against CLINTON) and swing vote in attempt to turn them over to TRUMP."
Our prior post showed why any attempt to convert Sanders supporters to Trump would be a waste of time and resources. Those supporters are NOT swing voters; they are -- for Trump at any rate -- hostile voters. If you know what you are doing, hostile voters are the LAST group to be approached.
Our prior post explained at length a practical strategy for Trump to pursue: overload Sanders supporters with cognitive dissonance -- contradictory thoughts, conflicting emotions -- so that they would stay home. That is exactly what happened -- not as the outcome of deliberate tactics by Trump or the Russians, but because of circumstances beyond their comprehension or control.
Stayed home: as our prior post concluded, abstention by Obama 2012/Sanders supporters was what won the presidency for Trump. Trump and the Russians were dumbfounded on election night precisely because they are not sophisticated in campaign methods that create cognitive dissonance in the opponent's camp. Instilling cognitive dissonance does not exist in their vocabulary, much less in their campaign toolbox. And so, what happened, happened.
The reported attempt to switch Sanders supporters to Trump leaves us with three options:
(i) The Steele memos told the truth, in which case both the Trump camp and the Russians are incredibly ignorant of the most fundamental campaign principles and practices.
(ii) The memos did not tell the truth. They were dreamed up by Steele or somebody else (see below) who are babes in the woods of campaign land. Convert Sanders supporters to Trump ... oh brother.
(iii) Both of the above.
4. CIA, FBI, NSA: We noted above that you have been caught in your own garbage. In an effort to get you to clean up -- to start focusing on the real world instead of hearsay, rumors, allegations, chit chat, in brief: crap -- I offer the following opinion:
Let´s start with a juicy tidbit from the Steele memos which is right up the alley of "Crime Detective Magazine":
"According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP´S (perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite in the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and Mrs. OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ´golden showers´ (urination) show in front of him."
CIA et al: if I were Trump and were innocent, I would sue you so hard you wouldn´t come down in 50 years. That way, intelligence officers throughout the land would be put on notice: if in a secret report you engage in shameless rumor-mongering, you risk being tossed under a bus if the report is leaked publicly.
Note my use above of the word opinion. Our regular readers know our long-standing policy:
This blog does not give advice; it offers opinion. The line between them is not always clear. Please keep in mind three considerations:
"An opinion may consist of advice which is (i) deliberately offered too late to be actionable; (ii) knowingly impossible to implement due to circumstances prevailing at the moment; and/or (iii) offered with the foreknowledge that the simple fact of its publication will render its practical value null and void."
A Trump lawsuit will not happen due to all three conditions. It is a nonstarter because oligarchs like Trump define power exclusively in terms of leverage. To wit:
At the start of January, National Intelligence Director James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and the intelligence community at large were undoubtedly rubbing their hands in glee, figuring they had leverage over Trump by possessing Steele´s secret, damning information.
But things took a nasty turn ...
Because it was totally unsubstantiated, Steele´s secret stuff went puff, evaporated when exposed to the full light of day. Trump now holds an ace: he COULD turn his defamers into accusers in open court -- something the intelligence community cannot tolerate and cannot allow. Blackmail stories about golden showers and a threat of megabucks lawsuits work only if NOT exercised; once they are put into action and become known, the leverage they create is gone.
There you have it, CIA et al: your certain victory, your power, your control over Trump was reduced to a draw. Touché.
(5) Frankly, the whole Steele affair smacks of a Russian chess move. "The Setup":
Let´s assume for the moment that Steele told the truth -- that he in fact spoke with Russian secret police officials and didn´t simply sit at home and write the memos off the top of his head, then laugh all the way to the bank. Now, what is to prevent those officials from getting together and dreaming up a collection of phony Trump stories, knowing it would eventually explode (with or without their help) to the everlasting humiliation of the CIA, FBI, and NSA?
If "The Setup" is what in fact happened, Steele II was conned, used, dumped. Also taken in were the opposition research firm that hired him; the Republican SUPER PAC for which the firm originally worked; the subsequent Democrat Party bigshot who hired the firm; and finally the CIA, FBI and NSA.
In 1994 I studied Russian at the Moscow State Linguistic University. The place was loaded with ex-KGB agents. Over the months I came to know them, saw how they thought, did things. Frankly, "The Setup" is my number one hypothesis. The hustler from London got hustled; the man on the make was made, had.
In the end, there is no reason to think that Steele was any different than the CIA agents who believed him: clumsy, naive.
(5) Did Steele, an Englishman, really write the memos or did somebody else? I spent years in London. The memos attributed to Steele consist entirely of American spellings as well as idiomatic expressions, e.g., the "scandal has legs." Steele is in hiding so we can´t ask him. Keep this in mind, dear reader: the entire credibility -- as tenuous as it may be -- of the memos rests on the fact that SUPPOSEDLY a respected former English intelligence officer wrote them. If he didn´t, ah ... well ...
If Steele didn´t write the memos, who did? Is Steele in hiding because he fears the Russians or does he fear somebody else? If somebody other than Steele was the author, the simple fact that he or she overlooked the British language factor is the telltale heart of a professional amateur.
You, dear reader, don´t need me to string those beads.
Update, February 11. Here are the latest developments in the Steele memo case as reported by CNN:
Washington. For the first time, US investigators say they have corroborated some of the communications detailed in a 35-page dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent, multiple current and former US law enforcement and intelligence officials tell CNN. As CNN first reported, then-President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama were briefed on the existence of the dossier prior to Trump's inauguration.
None of the newly learned information relates to the salacious allegations in the dossier. Rather it relates to conversations between foreign nationals. The dossier details about a dozen conversations between senior Russian officials and other Russian individuals. Sources would not confirm which specific conversations were intercepted or the content of those discussions due to the classified nature of US intelligence collection programs.
But the intercepts do confirm that some of the conversations described in the dossier took place between the same individuals on the same days and from the same locations as detailed in the dossier, according to the officials. CNN has not confirmed whether any content relates to then-candidate Trump.
The corroboration, based on intercepted communications, has given US intelligence and law enforcement "greater confidence" in the credibility of some aspects of the dossier as they continue to actively investigate its contents, these sources say.
FBI, CIA, NSA: you still don´t get it. You are living in the 1950s when most people in Western nations believed what Washington told them.
You SAY this; you SAY that. Your "greater confidence" is laughable in the light of the Weapons of Mass Destruction debacle at the U.N. in 2003. You do not corroborate your collaboration in any way, shape or form. This, under the guise of the need to preserve top secrecy.
Any true professional would not make public your Clapperistic maybe-this-maybe-that nonsense in the first place.
CIA et al: you have another problem. Nowhere do you explore the possibility that the meetings and conversations among Russians did indeed take place; however, they were following a script to mislead you. We have noted previously that terrorists in Syria and Iraq may have held "secret" conversations about "secret" reunions, knowing full good and well they were bugged. The United States then sends aircraft and bombs the terrorist meeting site only to discover ... they bombed a wedding. The terrorists sit on a hill somewhere, watch the fireworks, laughing at the naive Americans.
Boys and girls of the intelligence community: merely because you don´t know the difference between facts and statements -- he-said-that-she-said crap -- does not mean we the American public -- which you so haughtily disdain -- are like you. All you have to do to convince us is to hand over the video of Trump with prostitutes in Moscow. Simple, no?
In your latest maneuvering to find a hammer to hold over Trump, that is to say, to housebreak him, you openly deny you have the video; however, you say you have corroboration of "some" of the Steele memos, thereby insinuating the Trump/whore romp took place. We will call what you are doing what it is: guilt by insinuation.
To repeat: to clear yourselves of detective magazine scandal mongering -- "the Russians won the election for trump" -- all you have to do is hand over the video.
The video: where is it?
FBI, CIA, NSA: There is something else you can do to establish credibility. You claim you have corroborated some -- not all -- of the items in the Steele memos. Now, what other items did you find that were incorrect/false?
Go ahead -- make a list of the Steele memo errors, then publish it. Until you do so, your "corroboration" statement should be rejected out of hand.
*A Global News report:
Biden said that in the briefing he and Obama received from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and others, there were “no conclusions drawn” from the uncorroborated dossier, which was produced in August and then released publicly this week by the media. Biden said it was “totally ancillary” to the purpose of the meeting, which was to brief Obama on a report he ordered documenting Russian interference in the U.S. campaign.
“As a matter of fact, the president was like, ‘What does this have anything to do with anything?”‘ Biden said. He said intelligence leaders responded by saying “Well, we feel obliged to tell you, Mr. President, because you may hear about it. We’re going to tell him,” referring to Trump.
Biden said intelligence leaders told him and Obama that they couldn’t say whether or not the allegations were true or untrue. He said there was “hardly any discussion” about the allegations in the briefing.
“Neither the president nor I asked for any detail,” Biden said.
**According to federal government definitions, Harry Truman was a terrorist for ordering the nuclear attack on Japan; see our article here. We say Truman may or may not have been morally wrong; in any event, he was not a terrorist according to our definition:
"A terrorist is most often a middle class rebel (1) experiencing magnified marginal and/or transitional conditions, who (2) voluntarily (3) goes through certain rites of passage, among which are (4) clique membership and (5) a deliberate decision to commit a criminal act which is almost always (6) violent and usually (7) murder, in (8) the name of higher intentions or convictions without (9) retaining consciously the ambiguity of his criminal act and his higher intentions/convictions. He manifests powerful, unconscious, ambivalent emotions in two ways: (10) converting his intentions/convictions into idées fixes or absolute truths, the opposite extreme from ambiguity, and (11) wielding uncertainty as a weapon. That uncertainty is total, as demonstrated by the fact that (12) everybody -- allies, non-combatants, even himself -- is a potential victim.
A concluding note: it is the syndrome, the running together of components, which counts -- not components in isolation.
By not admitting what he cannot admit, the terrorist guards his secret, even from himself.
By not admitting what he is, the terrorist shows the gravity that admission holds for him. To my knowledge, no terrorist or other middle class rebel ever said what he is.
What he is, is the secret he keeps: he is a middle class rebel." (The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion, p. 141).