Some Sanity by way of Stephen Cohen’s 'Russiagate or Intelgate?'
‘The publication of the Republican House Committee memo and reports of other documents increasingly suggest not only a “Russiagate” without Russia but also something darker: The “collusion” may not have been in the White House or the Kremlin’, the beginning of his Feb. 9 analysis was published at thenation.com, and picked up by rt.com.
The intro notes that this is the most recent weekly discussion he and John Batchelor have been having on the latter’s radio program; other episodes are inked at the top in the intro.
You’ll likely know the issues, players, and documents far better than I, but these might be by way of the Cliffs Notes:
Cohen apparently notes in the podcast that as a Russian studies professor emeritus who’s studied Soviet-era (then) classified intel reports, all such must be put into contexts of time, other sources, and competing material as well.
But this episode features the Nunes memo, alluding to the (cough) questionable methods us by the Obama DoJ to obtain warrants to spy on Carter Page and ‘the role played in this by the anti-Trump “dossier” complied by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer whose career specialization was Russia. But he states that the memo’s implications are even larger.’
Cohen asks salient questions about the timelines of the published episodes, Brennan’s first investigations into the matter, his opaque testimony to Congress, but according to a Guardian piece, he was receiving or soliciting foreign intel reports on “suspicious ‘interactions’ between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents.” The characters in part include: James Comey’s obfuscations, lowly Trump advisor George Papadopoulos (not to be confused with: Richard Scarry’s ‘Lowly Worm’), an unnamed ambassador in a London bar, J. Edgar Hoover, a secret envelope likely given to Obama (<WaPo link), Bruce and Nellie Ohr, Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson…and aaaand the ‘papers of record’. Yer heads spinning by now? If so, good: mine sure is.
Cohen says in short, if these sources are to believed, [wd here: and of course, that’s Big IF, but it makes sense], it means that Brennan himself is the Godfather of Russiagate. As to where Steele got his information, the deep state and stenographers claim that it was from Steele’s longtime connections ‘at or near the Kremlin’. Cohen then jack-hammers some major (imo) holes into that now-reified meme.
“We are left, then, with a vital, ramifying question: How much of the “intelligence information” in Steele’s dossier actually came from Russian insiders, if any?” He also notes that Hannityesque and Clinton ‘pro-Trump’ rubbish declaring that ‘the Kremlin used Steele to push its propaganda’ simply extends the new Cold War, which he’s long posited ‘could turn hot’ any day now.
Given that I’ve paraphrased a lot of this discussion already, and that a podcast is in the public weal in any event, I’m going to ‘liberate’ the rest. I’d think Professor Cohen should mark all his op-eds as Creative Commons, but instead, at the Nation, the first four hits a month are free, then…ya pay to get in the door, just like the New York Slimes and Jeff Bezos’s WaPo.
“And so, Cohen concludes, we are left with even more ramifying questions:
- Was Russiagate produced by the primary leaders of the US intelligence community, not just the FBI? If so, it is the most perilous political scandal in modern American history, and the most detrimental to American democracy. And if so, it does indeed, as zealous promoters of Russiagate assert, make Watergate pale in significance. (To understand more, we will need to learn more, including whether Trump associates other than Carter Page and Paul Manafort were officially surveilled by any of the agencies involved. And whether they were surveilled in order to monitor Trump himself, on the assumption they were or would be in close proximity to him, as the president once suggested in a tweet.)
- If Russiagate involved collusion among US intelligence agencies, as now seems likely, why was it undertaken? There are various possibilities. Out of loathing for Trump? Out of institutional opposition to his promise of better relations—“cooperation”—with Russia? Or out of personal ambition? Did Brennan, for example, aspire to remaining head of the CIA, or to a higher position, in a Hillary Clinton administration?
- What was President Obama’s role in any of this? Or to resort to the Watergate question: What did he know and when did he know it? And what did he do? The same questions would need to be asked about his White House aides and other appointees. Whatever the full answers, there is no doubt that Obama acted on the Russiagate allegations. He cited them for the sanctions he imposed on Russia in December 2016, which led directly to the case of General Michael Flynn (not for doing anything wrong with Russia but for “lying to the FBI”); to the worsening of the new US-Russian Cold War; and thus to the perilous relationship inherited by President Trump, who has in turn been thwarted by Russiagate in his attempts to improve relations through “cooperation” with Putin.
- With all of this in mind, and assuming Trump knew most of it, did he really have any choice in firing FBI Director Comey, for which he is now unfairly being investigated by Mueller? We might also ask, given Comey’s role during Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign (for which she and her team loudly condemned him), whether as president she would have had to fire him.
Listening almost daily to the legion of former US intel officers condemn Russiagate skeptics ever more loudly and persistently in the media, we may wonder if they are increasingly fearful it will become known that Russiagate was mostly Intelgate. For that we will need a new bipartisan Senate Church Committee of the 1970s, which investigated and exposed misdeeds by US intelligence agencies and which led to important reforms that are no longer the preventive measures against abuses of power they were intended to be. (Ideally, everyone involved would be granted amnesty for recent misdeeds, ending all talk of “jail time,” on the condition they now testify truthfully.) But such an inclusive investigation of Intelgate would require the support of Democratic members of Congress, which no longer seems possible.”
A competing piece of intel? Or is this an already known known?
Email reveals that Michael Isikoff, whose Yahoo News article based on the “Steele dossier” was used to obtain the FISA interception warrant against the Trump campaign’s Carter Page, was secretly “working with” the DNC’s Alexandra Chalupa. https://wikileaks.org/dnc-emails/emailid/3962 …
In a different direction altogether, I’ll add ‘U.S. Intelligence Crisis Poses a Threat to the World’; Privatized and politicized intelligence is undermining the mission of providing unbiased information to both high-level decision makers and the American public, explains George Eliason in this first of a three-part series’, February 11, 2018, consortiumnews.org, although I haven’t taken the time to read it, so I won’t recommend it. Eliason writes from the Donbass region of Ukraine.
(cross-posted from Café Babylon.net)