Kremlin Sources Go Quiet Leaving CIA in the Dark About Putin’s Plans for Midterms

The title comes from another bit of satirical self-parody from the NYT.com, August 24; Alex Jones don’t got nothin’ on these dudes, Barnes and Rosenberg:

“WASHINGTON — In 2016, American intelligence agencies delivered urgent and explicit warnings about Russia’s intentions to try to tip the American presidential election — and a detailed assessment of the operation afterward — thanks in large part to informants close to President Vladimir V. Putin and in the Kremlin who provided crucial details.

But two years later, the vital Kremlin informants have largely gone silent, leaving the C.I.A. and other spy agencies in the dark about precisely what Mr. Putin’s intentions are for November’s midterm elections, according to American officials familiar with the intelligence.

The officials do not believe the sources have been compromised or killed. Instead, they have concluded they have gone to ground amid more aggressive counterintelligence by Moscow, including efforts to kill spies, like the poisoning in March in Britain of a former Russian intelligence officer that utilized a rare Russian-made nerve agent.

Current and former officials also said the expulsion of American intelligence officers from Moscow has hurt collection efforts. And officials also raised the possibility that the outing of an F.B.I. informant under scrutiny by the House intelligence committee — an examination encouraged by President Trump — has had a chilling effect on intelligence collection.”

But in case ‘The officials do not believe the sources have been compromised or killed’ was a bit too mmmm…opaque as to what the reading public should really believe, Barnes & Nobel offer this visual ‘clue’.

Emergency crews investigate the site where Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found poisoned in Britain.

“C.I.A. informants in Russia are believed to be underground, fearing aggressive campaigns by Moscow to hunt spies. The United States continues to intercept Russian communication, and the flow of that intelligence remains strong, said current and former officials. And Russian informants could still meet their C.I.A. handlers outside Russia, further from Moscow’s counterintelligence apparatus.”

Then Brennan, Coats, Brennan…

Mr. Putin has also said he is intent on killing so-called traitors, comments he made just ahead of the high-profile assassination attempt of the former Russian intelligence officer, Sergei V. Skripal.”  [snip]

“Former C.I.A. officials said Mr. Putin has made plain to his counterintelligence forces his antipathy, and desire to eliminate, to so-called traitors who provide information to the West. In public comments in 2010, Mr. Putin made menacing comments about former agents who worked for Western intelligence, although he publicly disavowed assassination.

“The Russians are very focused and upset,” Mr. Sipher said. “They have shown they are willing to kill sources.”

Informants close to Putin are very rare, according to current and former officials. The United States, in recent years, has had only a few, and at times been reliant on only one or two for the most important insights on Mr. Putin, according to former officials. If those people go silent for their own protection, it can make it very hard for the agency to look inside Moscow.”

I’d found the Times piece at an ever more gruesome librul website I admit I’d joined at the urging of a few friends after Josh Marshall had shut down the readers diaries at TPM.  Except for two or three denizens there (who are called ‘trolls’) they all share the usual common denominators on the importance of Russiagate, Dictator Thug Putin owns Trump, McCain was a saint, Assange is a treasonous pedophile, White Helmets rock!, and so on.  There’s an extensive ‘In the News’ column on the right sidebar, and for the most part, they celebrate and comment on those links and stories, WaPo and NYT in the main.  I’d clipped some of the agitprop from the Times dreck to use sometime, but lo and behold, I was tickled to see yesterday that my favorite Putin Apologist had weighed in on it yesterday.

‘Vital’ US moles in the Kremlin go missing! – by Stephen Cohen, 30 Aug, 2018, RT, originally at the Nation

Now I’ll say straightaway that Cohen hadn’t thought that the above NYT ‘news’ was as funny as I had, but he makes a decent point as to his reasoning.  After noting that Russiagate drowning out all other far more significant news concerning Amerika’s place in the world over the past two years, he brings examples, such as:

“French President Emmanuel Macron declared  “Europe can no longer rely on the United States to provide its security,” calling for instead a broader kind of security “and particularly doing it in cooperation with Russia.” About the same time, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin met to expand and solidify an essential energy partnership by agreeing to complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia, despite US attempts to abort it. Earlier, on August 22, the Afghan Taliban announced it would attend its first ever major peace conference – in Moscow, without US participation.”

Noting that a lesser piece of ‘news’ was reported in the WaPo in Dc. 2017, which he’d found inplausible for the same reasons he’d found previously found Christopher Steele’s “Dossier,” also purportedly based on “Kremlin sources,” implausible, he writes that the Times piece has newer and larger implications.

“If US intelligence really had such a priceless asset in Putin’s office – the Post report implied only one, the Times writes of more than one – imagine what they could reveal about Enemy No. 1 Putin’s intentions abroad and at home, perhaps daily – why would any American intel official disclose this information to any media at the risk of being charged with a treasonous capital offense? And now more than once? Or, since “the Kremlin” closely monitors US media, at the risk of having the no less treasonous Russian informants identified and severely punished? Presumably this is why the Times’ leakers insist that the “silent” moles are still alive, though how they know we are not told. All of this is even more implausible. Certainly, the Times article asks no critical questions.

But why leak the mole story again, and now? Stripped of extraneous financial improprieties, failures to register as foreign lobbyists, tacky lifestyles, and sex having nothing to do with Russia, the gravamen of the Russiagate narrative remains what it has always been: Putin ordered Russian operatives to “meddle” in the US 2016 presidential election in order to put Donald Trump in the White House, and Putin is now plotting to “attack” the November congressional elections in order to get a Congress he wants. The more Robert Mueller and his supporting media investigates, the less evidence actually turns up, and when it seemingly does, it has to be considerably massaged or misrepresented.”  [snip]

“The pretext of the Times story is that Putin is preparing an attack on the upcoming November elections, but the once-“vital,” now-silent moles are not providing the “crucial details.” Even if the story is entirely bogus, consider the damage it is doing. Russiagate allegations have already de-legitimized a presidential election, and a presidency, in the minds of many Americans. The Times’ updated, expanded version may do the same to congressional elections and the next Congress. If so, there is an “attack on American democracy” – not by Putin or Trump but by whoever godfathered and repeatedly inflated Russiagate.

As I have argued previously, such evidence that exists points to John Brennan and James Clapper, President Obama’s head of the CIA and director of national intelligence respectively, even though attention has been focused on the FBI. Indeed, the Times story reminds us of how central “intelligence” actors have been in this saga. Arguably, Russiagate has brought us to the worst American political crisis since the Civil War and the most dangerous relations with Russia in history. Until Brennan, Clapper, and their closest collaborators are required to testify under oath about the real origins of Russiagate, these crises will grow.”

In a somewhat similar vein, Facebook and the Atlantic Council (“ serial war criminal Henry Kissinger, Former CIA Heads Michael Hayden and Michael Morrell, and George Bush’s chief of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, among a whole list of horrors”) have decided that former Ambassador Craig Murray is a Russian Bot.

And in case you’re interested, ‘How the Department of Homeland Security Created a Deceptive Tale of Russia Hacking US Voter Sites’, Gareth Porter, consortium news, Aug. 28, 2018, a teaser, but it’s extremely long as in 2L4Me.

“But the real story behind that narrative, recounted here for the first time, reveals that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created and nurtured an account that was grossly and deliberately deceptive

DHS compiled an intelligence report suggesting hackers linked to the Russian government could have targeted voter-related websites in many states and then leaked a sensational story of Russian attacks on those sites without the qualifications that would have revealed a different story. When state election officials began asking questions, they discovered that the DHS claims were false and, in at least one case, laughable.

The National Security Agency and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigating team have also claimed evidence that Russian military intelligence was behind election infrastructure hacking, but on closer examination, those claims turn out to be speculative and misleading as well. Mueller’s indictment of 12 GRU military intelligence officers does not cite any violations of U.S. election laws though it claims Russia interfered with the 2016 election.”

(cross-posted from Café Babylon)

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EdMass's picture

After 38 years, always go to ground.

The officials do not believe the sources have been compromised or killed. Instead, they have concluded they have gone to ground

"Never write if you can speak; never speak if you can nod; never nod if you can wink."

It's a fairly easy maxim.

"In the Halls of Justice, the only justice is in the halls."

Still standing!

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Prof: Nancy! I’m going to Greece!
Nancy: And swim the English Channel?
Prof: No. No. To ancient Greece where burning Sapho stood beside the wine dark sea. Wa de do da! Nancy, I’ve invented a time machine!

Firesign Theater

Stop the War!

@EdMass “You’re never caught until you stop lying.”

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"Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now..."

wendy davis's picture

@vtcc73

mr. wd was laughing about stephen cohen's "Until Brennan, Clapper, and their closest collaborators are required to testify under oath about the real origins of Russiagate, these crises will grow.”

his point that both have already lied to congress, and even a senate inquiry on cia torture, *and* they'd discovered the CIA had been spying on the committee. i checked, and two sources said they'd lied under oath

can't a lot of sociopaths even beat lie detector tests? paging paul eckman...

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wendy davis's picture

@EdMass

do you go to your man cave? a secure deep dark badger hole? me, i hide under the bed.
do you head for higher ground?

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You mean Putin the evil genius KGB spymaster couldn't figure out there was a mole close to his inner circle?

But this claim of inside sources seems awfully suspicious. Why? The US and NATO/EU look to have been surprised by a number of very critical decisions that could only have been made at Putin's level. The US/EU/NATO looks to have been surprised when Putin could over Crimea, sent bombers and soldiers to Syria, and the extent of counter sanctions ordered by Putin over Crimea (which royally fck'ed EU farmers). But gosh darn it, CIA/NSA knew about Putin's intention to do election meddling?

What is bizarre is that the whole Russiangate narrative is based implicitly on the Russians being caught each and every time. Phish Podesta's password out of him, and Russians shit on the DNC servers giving up their identities. You name it; the Russians/Putin are caught each and every time. And now deep state leakers are saying "we don't know"? A very strange shift in the narrative which I can't figure out.

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wendy davis's picture

@MrWebster

put your comment into art territory, and not the Shadow Play the CIA/nsa is presenting in theaters near you.

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Alligator Ed's picture

@wendy davis

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wendy davis's picture

@Alligator Ed

exactly. whoosh, i like me some rory gallagher. can't put my finder on whose vocal style is similar, though, jumping up an octave here and there. sure adds punch and zip, no?

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edg's picture

"more aggressive counterintelligence by Moscow, including efforts to kill spies, like the poisoning in March in Britain of a former Russian intelligence officer that utilized a rare Russian-made nerve agent"

Facts not in evidence:

1. Moscow/Russia/Putin did it
2. The nerve agent is "rare"
3. The nerve agent was "Russian-made"
4. Russia had any reason to "kill" this particular spy

Yet it's printed in the NYT as though it's all proved facts. SMH

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wendy davis's picture

@edg

may i add a 5? i admit i ♥: "Mr. Putin has also said he is intent on killing so-called traitors, comments he made just ahead of the high-profile assassination attempt of the former Russian intelligence officer, Sergei V. Skripal", (although he publicly disavowed assassination."

first it's a bird, then it's novichok, then it's 'novichok-like', it's a spray on a door knob, then it's a gel, then it's a bottle of perfume?? then it's Vodka!

and by the by, speaking of deep dark badger hole: where are those pesky skripals?

'they seek them here...they seek them there...those damned elusive...pimpskripals...'

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Alligator Ed's picture

@wendy davis

The more Robert Mueller and his supporting media investigates, the less evidence actually turns up, and when it seemingly does, it has to be considerably massaged or misrepresented.

Just as in 2016, the more HRC talked, the less popular she became, even losing a rigged election. Now that's talent!

Clapping

And in June, [Putin] amid heightened tensions over Russiagate and other scandals, he amplified: “It is not our aim to divide anything or anybody in Europe…. On the contrary, we want to see a united and prosperous European Union because the European Union is our biggest trade and economic partner. The more problems there are within the European Union, the greater the risk and uncertainties for us.” Is this really a Russian leader who would risk his entire mission and legacy on tawdry “kompromat” on behalf of an American candidate and then president whose caprice had unnerved the Kremlin only slightly less than it did Washington? A leader who would consider that he had “won” as a result of Russiagate?

In short, in these most dangerous of times in US-Russian relations, American politics is consumed by a Russiagate “core narrative” that is essentially a conspiracy theory about an alleged conspiracy. The first victim is rational discourse, the second rational policy-making, the third our own national security. At this moment, we need above all a full critical discussion of that orthodox “core narrative” in the American mainstream media, from which truly informed dissenting opinions are effectively banned. Serious, nonpartisan alternative explanations of various crucial aspects of the “core narrative” have been published and broadcast, but almost never by influential mainstream-media outlets. In these times, it may be the case that anything could be true, including conspiracies. But it is both reckless and undemocratic to prevent public discussion of all of the possibilities, not just those that uncritically support Russiagate’s “core narrative.”

Russiagate: a donut that's all hole.

Strange, isn't it, how former liberals, in the true meaning of Liberal, such as observing the Bill of Rights, now want government fact-checkers to oversee internet-based utilities correctly manage "the truth"? It's free speech--as long as we say so.

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wendy davis's picture

@Alligator Ed

repeating the words of that Putin apologist anyway? oh, i'll repeat this worthy phrase:

"...consumed by a Russiagate “core narrative” that is essentially a conspiracy theory about an alleged conspiracy." brilliant. insane, but...useful. i kinda like sheldon wolin's term for the D political class: 'the inauthentic opposition'.

thanks for the fun, sir gator of the swamp.

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wendy davis's picture

and in the nick of time...thank the goddess for the five eyes.

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