by Sushi for The Saker blog
The Special Relationship
If we examine the position of the UK on the world stage, we observe a pattern of prolonged decline from the august position of imperial hegemon. After the great heights of empire, the UK found itself exhausted and diminished at the end WWII. The Suez crisis of 1956 marked “the end of Great Britain’s role as one of the world’s major powers.”
The UK has since managed to “punch above its weight” in world affairs primarily due to the “special relationship” between the UK and the USA. It was the Blair government that acted to facilitate the US military intervention in Iraq which can only be judged to be a strategic blunder, tactical failure, and humanitarian crime of the greatest proportions.
The current conflict in Syria represents a last ditch western attempt to snatch a small measure of victory from the crushing jaws of defeat. The future of Europe is now called into question due to the resettlement of millions of refugees escaping the conflict zones in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. The internal refugees and displaced persons number in the tens of millions. The attempt to arm “freedom fighters” suffered a massive failure when these various “armies of democracy” achieved spectacular rebirth as ISIS head-choppers.
An entire generation of Middle Eastern youth is now entering adulthood knowing only the misery of war, a series of destructive conflicts caused by intervening foreign armies. The rich citizens of the west have wreaked unimaginable pain and suffering, destroyed entire functioning societies, and have done so because death and destruction is the enlightened way to “democracy” and “freedom.”
If the one word history of the United States is “innovation” and the range of economic growth and opportunity that derives from change, then the one word history of the UK would be “tradition,” the stability that comes from continually recreating the past within the context of the future.
The UK has a traditional head of state, a traditional changing of the guard, tradition embodied in an unwritten constitution, traditional dress, traditional class structure, traditional world view, traditional enemies in France and Russia, a tradition that if you attend Eton, and place your genitals in the snout of a pig, then you will become Prime Minister, and a corresponding tradition that once Prime Minister you shall resign when your proposals are rejected by the public as David Cameron resigned on 13th July 2016 on the outcome of the Brexit vote.
Donald Trump is anything but traditional. The reason “deplorable Americans” elected him was the fact he not only promised a different way of doing things, he embodied that change, and broadcast it daily in 140 word bursts of Twitterese.
In June of 2016, following the Brexit vote, the island nation of Britain entered a period of great economic uncertainty. Across the Atlantic, the Republican candidate for president wanted to tear up all existing trade arrangements and renegotiate them to the benefit of the US. This initiative came precisely when the UK was counting on the US market to compensate for changes in its terms of trade with the EU. Trump’s protectionist, semi-isolationist, platform saw no need for an“obsolete” NATO, did not believe hostility toward Russia served US interests, sought to Make America Great Again but demonstrated little concern for the impact this might have on existing foreign relationships. The welfare of foreign countries was not Trump’s concern; Trump promised to upset the global applecart.
Can you imagine how the Trump campaign was viewed by the upper crust of the tradition bound UK elite? They had not encountered such upheaval since July 2 1776. There was only one thing worse than the Molotov cocktail hurling insurgent campaigner Trump and that was an elected to high office Molotov cocktail hurling insurgent President Trump. You can almost hear the sotto whispers, the elite accents filling dark rooms panelled with 311 years of cigar smoke and brandy fumes, all of them asking “What shall we do if he wins?”
And this brings us round to the Steele Dossier.
On reading the Steele Dossier a number of elements jump off the page.
The dossier opens with the report of a salacious ceremony in the Moscow Ritz-Carleton – prostitutes hired to urinate on the same bed once occupied by President Obama and his wife. No one was grabbed by the pussy but this alleged incident certainly grabs the attention of the reader and compels further reading.
Steele’s sources are described “speaking,” “said,” “confided to a trusted compatriot,” “speaking in confidence,” “speaking separately,” “confidentially confided,” “speaking in confidence to a trusted associate,” “speaking in early August,” “confides directly to Putin,” “Overheard Putin.” The sources appear able to eavesdrop, or participate in, conversations taking place at the very heart of the Russian power structure.
How does a washed up spy in Belgravia cultivate such a network of agents and penetrate deep into Putin’s inner circle? How was it possible for such salacious rumour and intimate privileged communication to come only to Steele’s attention? Steele is located in distant London yet he appears to have better local knowledge than the coterie of MI6 agents and the small army of UK diplomats deployed to Moscow. Diplomats and spies are paid to attend dull cocktail parties with the sole intent to gather exactly the type of intelligence that makes its exclusive appearance in the Steele Dossier. But only Steele has access to this rich haul? Does this not strike you as odd?
Trump is a game show host, a beauty pageant impresario, a casino operator, a golf course magnate, a Hugh Hefner of real estate, a serial bankrupt who has somehow captured the Republican nomination for President of the United States of America, a position judged to be the most powerful in the world, a position with a finger poised over a multitude of buttons. One button triggers Armageddon. The other button sends $150 million worth of Tomahawks screaming into the heart of darkness above Syria. Do you not think the other nations of the world have a degree of concern over the psychology of this game-show host cum political revolutionary? Would they not want to know the character of a man who threatens to tear up all existing trade treaties because they are so not good, so sad, so, so unfair to America? Would they not want to understand his business dealings? Know his true political outlook? His sympathies? His prejudices? The real size of his hands? Would not a thousand pairs of ears be alert for any scrap of information about Trump? But only Steele was listening in?
On Trump achieving the nomination, every state with a half competent intelligence service would be searching the globe for any scrap of intelligence on the man named Donald Trump. Many of these nations are military allies of the US. Do you believe any of them would encounter the explosive material uncovered by Steele and yet not bring it the attention of their governments, or to their counterparts in US intelligence?
According to Glen Simpson’s August 22nd, 2017 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Steele did not pay his sources. He did pay his “collectors,” a euphemism for a paid gaggle of Moscow spies who then obtained information from unwitting confidants operating in the heart of the Kremlin. Think about that for a minute. According to Theresa May and Boris Johnson the reach of Russian Intelligence is so great and vast the SVR can reach out and murder two innocents in Salisbury, then vanish into thin air. Russia’s motive? Skripal said bad things about Putin.
But, if Steele is to be believed, some of the closest associates of Putin, those entirely familiar with his murderous ways, those who know their lives hang by a thread in a police state which has them under constant surveillance, citizens of a lawless state free to murder anyone at any time using lethal nerve agents such as were used against the Skripals, these same people are willing to risk their lives for a few dollars of compensation from failed MI6 agent Steele? If you believe that story, I have a barely used bridge across the East River that I would like to sell to you.
How does Steele remit payment to his Moscow “collectors?” Can the FSB not trace this flow of money? If the SSSR monitors the communications of Yulia Skripal, is it not likely they would pay close attention to persons communicating with Steele in London? Steele is after all a known secret agent and ran the Russia House within MI6. Any communication with Steele would place the confidant under immediate suspicion. So how does Steele receive his informant information? By letter post? Email? Does he loiter by a red telephone box waiting for his agents to ring him up? London calling North Pole?
Once you begin to examine it, the Steele narrative is found to be as bogus as the Skripal story. But there is a significant difference between Steele and Skripal. The allegations contained in the Steele Dossier resulted in an investigation led by United States Special Counsel Robert Mueller, former Director of the FBI. Mueller’s team of lawyers and investigators amounts to a staff of over three dozen at an estimated cost of $1.3 million per month starting in May 2017.
The outcome of Mueller’s investigation? Four guilty pleas to a charge of giving a false statement to the FBI. One guilty plea in respect of identity theft. One person charged with filing a false tax return and other financial offenses. Sixteen persons charged for wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to defraud. That is not much to show for over 900,000 hours of legal investigation and $16 million dollars in public funds. And the American grand jury system makes it possible to indict a ham sandwich.
No one was charged for bedwetting in the Ritz-Carleton Moscow. If the Russians had interfered in the US election to get their man Trump elected do you not believe such a fact would have led by now to a charge of impeachment? The accusations against Trump have been many. The evidence against him is nil.
The Steele Dossier includes allegations which can be disproved. The leak of the DNC email server was not performed by a 400 pound hacker sitting on his bed in Petrograd, Leningrad, Saint Petersburg, or anywhere else. Forensic analysis of the metadata embedded in the files reveals they were downloaded to a USB stick, or similar locally attached device, and were not downloaded over a trans-Atlantic Internet connection which results in a significantly greater transfer time. The Steele Dossier wastes considerable ink on an allegation which may be refuted by anyone with some technical knowledge. Julian Assange knows who provided the SNC files to WikiLeaks and he asserts it was not Russia.
Which leaves us with the question: “How did Steele collect information the CIA and MI6 and all the rest of the alphabet agencies missed?” Missed not only by the alphabet agencies but also by the small army of diplomats that accompany them. Steele is clearly a super spy. Put him on the national payroll and you could dispense with all of the alphabet agencies.
Intelligence agencies do not seek out the truth. They understand that “truth” is almost impossible to obtain. The best you can achieve is the probability of truth, indications that deliver advance warning of some unfavourable activity. Intelligence agencies ask lots of questions and then work to make sense of the information puzzle that results.
What if Steele had no “collectors” in Moscow?
What if Steele retained connections to the UK intelligence community? Former colleagues he could approach for material? For saleable product?
What if Steele had a contact inside GCHQ, the British equivalent of NSA?
What if this contact was supplying Steele with communications intercepts of conversations occurring in Russia? The UK is known to maintain an intercept station on Cyprus that vacuums up telephone traffic from much of the Middle East. The May government claims this station intercepted the message “the package has been delivered” and that this phrase refers to the attempted murder of the Skripals.
Any intercept station will collect millions of scraps of information including salacious rumour, and who said what, when, chitchat. If this intercept material was provided to Steele would this not explain exactly how he ran a stable of spies inside Russia without any need of the support services, or technical assistance, available from MI6? When Steele was actually running agents in Moscow, he communicated by using a fake rock. He would not have required such technical aids if all his intelligence was sourced in the UK from within the British intelligence services.
Mixed in with this genuine intercept material would be the disinformation Steele’s true client wanted to deliver to the world. Who was that true client? Was it his former employer? Who had the most to lose with the election of Trump? With the obsolescence of NATO? The rapprochement with Russia? The abrupt change in the terms of trade?
Intelligence agencies are known to engage in Black jobs. If the prospective new manager of the IMF is someone who you would rather not see in that position you might, for example, compromise him with a hotel maid, release the results to the press, and so damage his / her reputation that s/he is no longer eligible for the position.
If your nation had just voted to leave the EU trading area, and your relationship with your top trading partner might possibly be threatened by President Trump, would you not have strong incentive to “manage” the flow of information, to “influence” public opinion, to “nudge” the electorate toward the opposing candidate?
Is it not probable that the Steele Dossier represents an attempt to interfere in the US election? Interference not by Russia but by Her Majesties Government? That a person, or persons, unknown arranged for Steele to be provided with information intended to compromise Donald Trump, to turn the electorate against him, and to emsure a Clinton victory?
Is there evidence to support such an allegation?
First there is the previously mentioned difficulty of managing an agent network inside Russia from a location in the UK. Second there is the question of why persons high in the Russian power structure would risk their position, or their lives, for the few dollars paid by Steele. Third, there is the strange case of the “Alfa group” which is transcribed in the Steele Dossier as the “Alpha Group.” Someone high in the Russian hierarchy would not make this error. A transcription clerk might make such an error; they listen to a raw intercept, hear Alfa and transcribe it into English as Alpha. Steele speaks Russian but does not catch this mistake. Why? Because he does not read the reports allegedly compiled by him? Perhaps he collects them from his mole, correction, his handler within the UK intelligence apparatus, and transmits them to his ostensible client, Fusion GPS? A modern day version of the Zinoviev letter?
In August 2016 Steele traveled to Rome to deliver his material to an FBI contact. No investigation was opened. In September 2016 Steele invites journalists from the The New York Times, The Washington Post, Yahoo! News, The New Yorker, and CNN, to a Washington briefing on his material. No stories are written. Steele then arranges to meet journalist David Corn in New York and on October 31st, eight days before the election, the story breaks. But it gains no traction.
Everyone knew Clinton was going to win. Clinton was the choice of the establishment, the media, the leadership of the FBI, all the important people in Washington and New York, Facebook and Google. She was the status quo candidate, the “We came. We saw. He died” candidate. Nobody seemed to pay much attention to the fact that America, for the 2016 election cycle at least, remained a democracy. And the “Deplorables” still had a vote. They voted for true change, for the candidate they believed best recognized and protected their interests. Is that not how democracy works? Are we not committed to bombing Syria until they understand this basic point?
There is one more meaningful piece of evidence. On January 10th 2017 Buzzfeed publicly released the full Steele Dossier which was known to be the worst kept secret in Washington. On the same day, the May government issued a DMSA notice which prohibited the UK press from revealing Steele to be the author. Thankfully, the colonies now enjoy First Amendment rights. The Wall Street Journal named Steele as the author the next day on January 11th, 2017.
On the same day, Steele packed his family into the car, asked a neighbour to take care of his cats, and disappeared. He did not return until March 27th, 2017 a period of almost 3 months. It is hard to disappear for 3 months when you have four kids, the youngest aged five. But, if your government knows you have been acting on behalf of the state, they will likely make available a safe house in which you may remain secreted until a proper risk assessment can be completed.
How does this effect Sergei and Yulia?
I doubt Yulia transferred documents hidden in a sack of buckwheat. I suspect HMG became aware Skripal was contemplating a return to Russia. He is reported to have written to Putin and to have made several trips to the Russian embassy in London. He had no family in England and spent his free time playing scratch-cards, computer games, and tending to his Guinea pigs.
Is it possible Skripal was involved in providing detail known only to him? Details to ensure the authenticity, and acceptance, of the Dossier material? HMG knew it could rely on Steele and Pablo Miller. All intelligence operatives had been legally silenced since the Peter Wright affair. Skripal was untrustworthy, a double agent with dual citizenship. He might flee and be an embarrassment to the May government. The embarrassment would be all the greater on the election of Trump. The picture at the head of this article portrays the “Special Relationship” as seen at a NATO parade in May of 2017. You can judge for yourself the special nature of the feelings between Trump and May. Can you imagine how that relationship would alter if the allegations presented here were proved to be true?
The revelation that the toxin employed against the Skripals was a cocktail of BZ and a less than lethal dose of A-234 makes sense in the context of an attempt to silence Skripal. The objective was not to kill, but to incapacitate, to place the Skripals in an environment where they were fully under the control of the state, protected from International legal obligations, and denied habeas corpus. After a dose of hallucinogens it should be possible to convince them that their lives were at risk and they should accept the generous offer of new identities and re-settlement in a secret overseas location. If they fail to agree, more BZ may be the antidote.
Cover-ups are always worse than the original crime. A botched cover-up leaves you even more exposed. But May has enjoyed some short term benefit.
Boris Johnson is known for his “dead cat” theory. You throw a bloody feline carcass onto the center of the meeting table and the entire audience is transfixed in horror. They can think and speak of nothing but the awful spectacle before them. This means, of course, they have no attention to spare for other matters.
The Skripal attack occurred on March 4th, 2018. Four days later the May government released information they had declined to produce for public review before March 8th, 2018. A full exposition of what you were not meant to read may be found here.
Goebbels would be impressed.
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Prior articles in this series:
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Many persons commenting on the Saker blog, and in information sources other than the MSM, have made statement similar to the following:
While scanning for news that morning I noticed that all of the MSM had basically the same text to describe the event, but in a few cases different headlines, mainly dependent on which side of the Pond they came from. I skipped them, they seemed too coordinated.
This lack of critical coverage on the part of the MSM reduces your ability to come to your own conclusions with respect to the truth. This is a critical issue both with respect to an understanding of this Curious Incident, and to the proper functioning of any democratic polity.
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In memory of David Christopher Kelly, CMG (14 May 1944 – 17 July 2003)