December - 2015

December, 2015 – British spy agency GCHQ tips off CIA director John Brennan that Putin was seeking to financially support Trump in the coming election

GCHQ headquarters in Cheltenham (Credit: BBC)

“Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, the Guardian has been told.

GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added.

Over the next six months, until summer 2016, a number of western agencies shared further information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians, sources said.

The European countries that passed on electronic intelligence – known as sigint – included Germany, Estonia and Poland. Australia, a member of the “Five Eyes” spying alliance that also includes the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, also relayed material, one source said.

Another source suggested the Dutch and the French spy agency, the General Directorate for External Security or DGSE, were contributors.

(..) “Both US and UK intelligence sources acknowledge that GCHQ played an early, prominent role in kickstarting the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, which began in late July 2016.

One source called the British eavesdropping agency the “principal whistleblower.” (Read more: The Guardian, 4/13/2017)

December 2015 – January 2017: Spygate, the true story of collusion – how America’s most powerful agencies were weaponized against Trump

Although the details remain complex, the structure underlying Spygate—the creation of the false narrative that candidate Donald Trump colluded with Russia, and the spying on his presidential campaign—remains surprisingly simple:

John Brennan (Credit: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

1. CIA Director John Brennan, with some assistance from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, gathered foreign intelligence and fed it throughout our domestic Intelligence Community.

2. The FBI became the handler of Brennan’s intelligence and engaged in the more practical elements of surveillance.

3. The Department of Justice facilitated investigations by the FBI and legal maneuverings, while providing a crucial shield of nondisclosure.

4. The Department of State became a mechanism of information dissemination and leaks.

5. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee provided funding, support, and media collusion.

6. Obama administration officials were complicit, and engaged in unmasking and intelligence gathering and dissemination.

7. The media was the most corrosive element in many respects. None of these events could have transpired without their willing participation. Stories were pushed, facts were ignored, and narratives were promoted.

Let’s start with a simple premise: The candidacy of Trump presented both an opportunity and a threat.

Initially not viewed with any real seriousness, Trump’s campaign was seen as an opportunistic wedge in the election process. At the same time, and particularly as the viability of his candidacy increased, Trump was seen as an existential threat to the established political system.

The sudden legitimacy of Trump’s candidacy was not welcomed by the U.S. political establishment. Here was a true political outsider who held no traditional allegiances. He was brash and boastful, he ignored political correctness, he couldn’t be bought, and he didn’t care what others thought of him—he trusted himself.

Governing bodies in Britain and the European Union were also worried. Candidate Trump was openly challenging monetary policy, regulations, and the power of special interests. He challenged Congress. He challenged the United Nations and the European Union. He questioned everything.

Brennan became the point man in the operation to stop a potential Trump presidency. It remains unclear whether his role was self-appointed or came from above. To embark on such a mission without direct presidential authority seems both a stretch of the imagination and particularly foolhardy.

Brennan took unofficial foreign intelligence compiled by contacts, colleagues, and associates—primarily from the UK, but also from other Five Eyes members, such as Australia.

Individuals in official positions in UK intelligence, such as Robert Hannigan—head of the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ, Britain’s equivalent of the National Security Agency)—partnered with former UK foreign intelligence members. Former MI6 head Sir Richard Dearlove, former Ambassador Sir Andrew Wood, and private UK intelligence firm Hakluyt all played a role.

Click on the infographic at The Epoch Times to enlarge.

(Read much more: The Epoch Times, 10/12/2018)

Late December 2015 – The key foreign intelligence players behind Spygate

(…) “The intelligence agencies initiated reports that Donald Trump was colluding with Russia, they nurtured them and helped them grow, and then they spread the word to the press and key government officials.  Reportedly, they even tried to use these reports to force Trump to step down prior to his inauguration.  Although the corporate press accuses Trump of conspiring with Russia to stop Hillary Clinton, the reverse now seems to be the case: the Obama administration intelligence agencies worked with Clinton to block “Siberian candidate” Trump.

Sir Richard Dearlove (Credit: Reuters)

The template was provided by ex-MI6 Director Richard Dearlove, Halper’s friend and business partner.  Sitting in winged chairs in London’s venerable Garrick Club, according toThe Washington Post, Dearlove told fellow MI6 veteran Christopher Steele, author of the famous “golden showers” opposition research dossier, that Trump “reminded him of a predicament he had faced years earlier, when he was chief of station for British intelligence in Washington and alerted US authorities to British information that a vice presidential hopeful had once been in communication with the Kremlin.”

Apparently, one word from the Brits was enough to make the candidate in question step down.  When that didn’t work with Trump, Dearlove and his colleagues ratcheted up the pressure to make him see the light.  A major scandal was thus born – or, rather, a very questionable scandal.

Former director of GCHQ, Robert Hannigan (Credit: GCHQ)

Besides Dearlove, Steele, and Halper, a bon-vivant known as “The Walrus” for his impressive girth, other participants include:

  • Robert Hannigan, former director Government Communications Headquarters, GCHQ, UK equivalent of the NSA.
  • Alexander Downer, top Australian diplomat.
  • Andrew Wood, ex-British ambassador to Moscow.
  • Joseph Mifsud, Maltese academic.
  • James Clapper, ex-US Director of National Intelligence.
  • John Brennan, former CIA Director (and now NBC News analyst).

A few things stand out about this august group.  One is its in-bred quality.  After helping to run an annual confab known as the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, Dearlove and Halper are now partners in a private venture calling itself “The Cambridge Security Initiative.”  Both are connected to another London-based intelligence firm known as Hakluyt & Co. Halper is also connected via two books he wrote with Hakluyt representative Jonathan Clarke and Dearlove has a close personal friendship with Hakluyt founder Mike Reynolds, yet another MI6 vet.  Alexander Downer served a half-dozen years on Hakluyt’s international advisory board, while Andrew Wood is linked to Steele via Orbis Business Intelligence, the private research firm that Steele helped found, and which produced the anti-Trump dossier, and where Wood now serves as an unpaid advisor.

CIA director John Brennan, visits Hakluyt’s New York office in January, 2018. Hakluyt retains close ties to the British Intelligence Agencies MI6 and GCHQ, as well as the intelligence agencies of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, also known as the Five-Eyes Alliance. (Credit: public domain)

Everyone, in short, seems to know everyone else.  But another thing that stands out about this group is its incompetence.  Dearlove and Halper appear to be old-school paranoids for whom every Russian is a Boris Badenov or a Natasha Fatale.  In February 2014, Halper notified US intelligence that Mike Flynn, Trump’s future national security adviser, had grown overly chummy with an Anglo-Russian scholar named Svetlana Lokhova whom Halper suspected of being a spy – suspicions that Lokhova convincingly argues are absurd. (Read more: Consortium News, 5/31/2018)

December 28, 2015 – A text message between Strzok and Page seeks approval for double agents

Newly unredacted text messages, sent between top FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, suggest that the agency initiated an offensive counterintelligence operation against the Trump campaign as early as December 2015.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee released 500 pages of documents and texts on June 4, the bulk of which consists of messages between Page and Strzok. One message, which was previously redacted, shows that FBI agents were working to recruit double agents as early as Dec. 28, 2015.

According to Chris Farrell, a former counterintelligence officer who ran double-agent operations for the U.S. Army, “oconus” stands for “outside the continental United States,” while “lures” refers to people used as bait to snag a potential double agent.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 6/07/2018)

December 2015 – Dem Chief of Staff tries to expose suspected theft ring on Capitol Hill, was met with resistance

Wendy Anderson (Credit: public domain)

“Rep. Yvette Clarke’s deputy chief of staff came into the office on a Saturday in December 2015 and caught the New York Democrat’s part-time IT aide, Abid Awan, rummaging through the congresswoman’s work area with new iPods and other equipment strewn around the room, according to a House document and interviews with Hill staff.

Wendy Anderson told Abid to get out of the office, the document said. She told Capitol Hill investigators that she soon suspected Clarke’s chief of staff, Shelley Davis, was working with Abid on a theft scheme, multiple House staffers with knowledge of the situation told The Daily Caller News Foundation. They also said that Anderson pushed for Abid’s firing.”

(…) “House Chief Administrative Officer Phil Kiko testified in a public hearing in April that “the House IG discovered evidence of procurement fraud and irregularities [and] numerous violations of House security policies” by the Awans. The alleged procurement fraud included submitting suspicious invoices to bill equipment to House offices.”

(…) “Speaker of the House Paul Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong told TheDCNF the Capitol Police “requested that the shared employees be allowed to continue to use their IT credentials until February 2017 because they didn’t want to tip off the employees.”

But Anderson soon concluded that the investigation was compromised because another high-level staffer based in New York was feeding information about authorities’ activities to Abid, a House staffer Anderson spoke with in detail about the situation told TheDCNF.

“Her district office chief, a female, was actively going against Wendy,” the staffer said. “She was good friends with Omar and was feeding him information. Clarke would tell this person and the woman was backdooring stuff to Omar. She was undermining the investigation.” Anderson told that to House investigators as well, the staffer said.” (Read more: Daily Caller, 6/24/2018)

December 10, 2015 – Admiral Michael Flynn is one of several guest speakers at Russia Today’s (RT) 10th anniversary gala in Moscow

“Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, made the baseless insinuation that Donald Trump compromised national security by inviting a man with Russian ties to his intelligence briefing.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (center) sits next to retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn (left), Jill Stein (right) as they attend an exhibition marking the 10th anniversary of RT (Russia Today) television news channel in Moscow, Russia, December 10, 2015. (Credit: Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Reuters)

Appearing on ABC News’ “This Week,” Mook said Trump was accompanied to his first intelligence briefing on Aug. 17 by “someone who’s on the payroll of the Russia Times, which is a basically a propaganda arm of the Kremlin.” Mook claimed this “gentleman” — whom he did not name — “was sitting two seats away from Vladimir Putin” at RT’s 10th anniversary gala in December, and he demanded that Trump disclose “whether his advisers are having meetings with the Kremlin.”

Who is this mysterious, unnamed gentleman? The Clinton campaign told us Mook was referring to retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who until two years ago was director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama.

Flynn is not “on the payroll of the Russia Times.” He was merely one of many speakers at RT’s anniversary conference on Dec. 10, 2015, in Moscow. RT is a Russian government-funded TV station once known as Russia Today.

Mook made his misleading assertion about Flynn shortly after he claimed that “real questions being raised about whether Donald Trump himself is just a puppet for the Kremlin.” Host George Stephanopoulos questioned Mook about that claim — which has been part of the Clinton campaign’s attacks on Trump ever since it was reported that Russia was likely behind the successful attacks on computer servers at the Democratic National Committee and the release of DNC emails.

Stephanopoulos: You’re saying he’s a puppet for the Kremlin?

Mook: Well, real questions are being raised about that. We — again, there’s a web of financial ties to the Russians that he refuses to disclose. We’ve seen over the last few week, him parroted Vladimir Putin in his own remarks. We saw the Republican Party platform changed. She saw Donald Trump talk about leaving NATO and leaving our Eastern European allies vulnerable to a Russian attack. The gentleman he brought with him to his security briefing just last week is someone who’s on the payroll of the Russia Times, which is a basically a propaganda arm of the Kremlin. He was sitting two seats away from Vladimir Putin at their 10th anniversary gala.

There are a lot of questions here. And we need Donald Trump to disclose all of his financial ties and whether his advisers are having meetings with the Kremlin.

However, Paul Manafort, who until last week was Trump’s campaign chairman, did have business dealings with Russian-aligned leaders in Ukraine, as uncovered by the New York Times. With Manafort gone, Mook redirected the campaign’s guilt-by-association attack on Trump by questioning Flynn’s associations with the Kremlin.”

(…) “In an Aug. 15 article, Flynn told the Washington Post that his speaking engagement was arranged by his speaker’s bureau and that he was paid for it. He said he was introduced to Putin, but did not speak to him.

The Clinton campaign provided no evidence that Flynn is “on the payroll” of RT or that he is “having meetings with the Kremlin,” as Mook alleged. It forwarded us a Politico story from May that said Flynn “makes semi-regular appearances on RT as an analyst.” Politico wrote that Flynn is “presumably” paid for those TV appearances, but the retired lieutenant general told the Post that he is not paid by RT or any other TV stations, because “I want to be able to speak freely about what I believe.” (Read more: FactCheck, 8/23/2016)

Late 2015 – The investigations into Donald Trump and his campaign began much earlier, in Great Britain

(…) “Late 2015: According to several former and current western intelligence sources who spoke to this reporter, the investigations into President Donald Trump and his campaign began much earlier than has been reported and for that matter, it did not begin in the United States but rather across the Atlantic Ocean, in Great Britain.

An aerial view of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), located in the suburbs of Cheltenham, England. (Credit: public domain)

Intelligence community counterparts in Great Britain, specifically GCHQ, which is similar to America’s NSA, had already begun looking into what they alleged was contact between Russians and some members of the Trump campaign and played “an early, prominent role” according to these sources. But whether that information was requested by the U.S. as assistance to an investigation here or whether the British began the investigation on their own is still not clear.

The Guardian reported that British Intelligence sources shared its signals intelligence on people connected to Trump campaign with the United States. However, The Guardian also reports that Germany, Poland, and Estonia also shared communications related to members of the Trump campaign with the United States.  Great Britain, which is part of what is called the “Five-Eyes” alliance includes the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand and the countries often shared signals intelligence, raw communications between targets they were investigating.

If what we are being told is true, who inside the U.S. and British intelligence agencies were aware that members of the Trump campaign had their communications intercepted by British intelligence, purportedly investigating the Russians? Was it the U.S. who asked the British to assist in a counterintelligence investigation or did the British do this on their own as claimed in The Guardian? If this did occur, how directly involved were CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in the information being shared by our allies? And how often had American political communications, unknown to the public, been intercepted by foreign governments for political purposes?

Moreover, if members of an administration collect information from allies based on overseas communications between opposition, what happens to that intelligence? How is it safeguarded from abuse and who or what agency has the oversight authority to ensure it is a legitimate counterintelligence investigation? Congressional oversight is always after-the-fact and lawmakers have been hampered by roadblocks set up by the DOJ, FBI and former senior officials of the Obama administration, who either have withheld documentation, evaded answering questions or lied.

If what the British and western intelligence officials are saying is true, then the investigation into the Trump campaign began much earlier than the FBI’s claims at the end of July 2016. More importantly, our allies may have been collecting more communications than we’re aware of on Trump campaign officials and volunteers. What we do know is that National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn; Carter Page, a short time foreign policy volunteer for the campaign; Paul Manafort, a short-term campaign chair and George Papadopoulos, a young short-term foreign policy advisor were all caught up in the spying dragnet.” (Read more: Sarah Carter, 6/01/2(018) (The Guardian, 4/13/2017)