Unfortunately, I have been taken up with the doings of another Christopher – surnamed Donnelly – whose antics with the ‘Institute for Statecraft’ and ‘Integrity Initiative’ seem just as ludicrous as those of Steele, and equally destructive.
I hope to come back to the implications of what has been coming out on your side about the dossier attributed to Steele in more depth in the none-too-distant future, particular if in fact the depositions made by him and David Kramer are unsealed reasonably promptly, but some background remarks may be worth throwing into the discussion.
It cannot be repeated often enough that an enormous amount of damage has been done as a result of people forming their impressions of MI6 from David Cornwell, aka John Le Carré, rather than Graham Greene.
A critical point is that, while if ‘humint’ is pursued by competent people, it can be invaluable, if pursued by incompetents, like so many of those Greene had known in his time in the wartime MI6, and portrayed so marvellously in ‘Our Man in Havana’, it is common for an ‘echo chamber’ to be set up, where people are told what they want to hear.
Those providing the ‘echo’ may genuinely share the delusions involved – or they may cynically exploit these, as part of a deliberate strategy of making the incompetents instruments of their own agendas (as MI5 and the Naval Intelligence Division did with the Abwehr during the war. MI6, largely incompetent apart from the section Philby ran, was marginal.)
That precisely this kind of ‘echo chamber’ had been set up by the Berezovsky group with people like Steele was the thrust of a pointed remark made by Andrei Lugovoi in the press conference on 31 May 2007 where he responded to the Crown Prosecution Service request for his extradition.
According to his account, ‘Litvinenko used to say: “They are total retards in the UK, they believe everything we are telling them about Russia.”’
A couple of pieces from a British researcher called Graham Stack may make this judgement more comprehensible, and also bring out its relevance to current issues.
In September last year, Stack published, in the ‘Kyiv Post’, what was essentially a ‘mea culpa’ in relation to his own contribution to the Fusion GPS research on Manafort which was a critical element in the dossier attributed to Steele. It was headlined ‘Everything you know about Paul Manafort is wrong.’ (Not just some things: everything.)
(See https://www.kyivpost.com/ar… )
All this bears upon a lot of the nonsense about the notorious Ukrainian Jewish mobster Semion Mogilevich, which we were discussing on SST not so long ago.
It was actually Putin and Tymoshenko who had eliminated the intermediaries associated with Firtash with which Mogilevich was reported – probably reliably – to be associated: and so it was their doing this which led to the distinctly dubious conviction of the ‘gas princess’ following Yanukovych’s election.
Far from being a Kremlin ‘Trojan horse’, Manafort was doing his utmost to encourage Yanukovych to sign the EU Association Agreement. However, his collaborator in this was the President’s chief of staff, Serhiy Lovochkin, who was a junior partner of Firtash. This kind of muddle is the real world of post-Soviet politics, rather than the infantile version produced by ‘retards’ like Simpson.
Also interesting in relation to Mogilevich is a piece which Stack produced in April 2015 in ‘bne IntelliNews’, entitled ‘The Rise and Fall of the Russian Oligarchy’, which was based on newly declassified Clinton Administration documents.
(See http://www.intellinews.com/… .)
Among other things, this provides a vivid picture of the apologetics which the members of the ‘semibankirshchina’ – the rule of the seven bankers – were making to U.S. Embassy officials following their collaboration with the United States, and Britain, in securing Yeltsin’s victory in the 1996 Presidential election.
One of the things which emerges clearly is that, in their search for Western ‘krysha’, the ‘semibankirshchina’ were prepared to give the Western powers everything they wanted – including enthusiastic support for NATO expansion.
Another point of interest is their apologetics in relation to accusations of criminal activities. In a lunch at the U.S. Embassy in November 1996 with Vladimir Gusinsky, at which he had explained how he and his associates would put the country on a pro-US course, the question of their associations with organised crime came up. In Stack’s summary:
‘Gusinsky “did not deny that many Russian businessmen, including himself, had engaged in dubious activities, especially as they were setting up their operations and accumulating capital”, he told the diplomats. “Nevertheless, a number of big businessmen had now emerged – for example, Berezovsky's seven bankers [Boris Berezovsky himself, Vladimir Gusinsky, Mikhail Fridman, Vladimir Vinogradov, Aleksandr Smolensky, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Vladimir Potanin] – who were so big and influential that they no longer had to engage in such activities and no longer did,” the document reads. Gusinsky claimed that allegations of oligarchs’ links to organised crime were spread by Russia's security services, with the aim of stemming capital flight.’
Actually, the criminalisation of the Russian economy in the ‘Nineties was the product of a combination of the legacies of Soviet and pre-Soviet Russian history, with the utter inability of those Russian ‘liberals’ who have aptly been dubbed ‘Market Leninists’, and their Western advisors, to grasp that a reasonably civilised market economy depends upon a functioning state.
As was vividly demonstrated by the history of the replacement of the old feudal order by market relations in Sicily in the late Napoleonic period, where there is no state that can effectively regulate and protect property rights and their transfer, this will be done on a private sector basis: which means mafias.
In such a situation, everyone seriously involved in business or politics is going to have some involvement with mafias. Confronted with ‘retards’ of course, everyone gets involved in a glorious game of accusing others of precisely what they have been doing themselves – pots finding ingenious ways of calling kettles black.
It is also natural to expect that the relatively weak law enforcement and security services will collaborate with some mafias against others. In the lawless Moscow of the early ‘Nineties, Berezovsky’s ‘krysha’ had come from the Chechen mafias. The Slavic mafias, in particular the Solntsevskaya, with which Mogilevich was associated, had fought them for control, and had been supported by the FSB, among other things because of the links between their opponents and the Chechen independence movement.
(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wi… .)
Something that struck me forcibly about the testimony which Glenn Simpson gave to the House Intelligence and Senate Judiciary committees was that it echoed the claims made in the first attempt by Steele et al and the Berezovsky group to provide a context for Litvinenko’s supposed assassination.
This was a BBC Radio programme which went on 16 December 2006, entitled ‘The Litvinenko Mystery’, in which starring roles were played by the former KGB major Yuri Shvets and the former FBI special agent Robert Levinson, who had been a if not the lead investigator into Mogilevich in the ‘Nineties, a fact Mangold did not mention, although the two had collaborated in a BBC ‘Panorama’ on the mobster.
Attempts to recover Levinson from Iran, where he was kidnapped on a covert mission for the CIA not long after his appearance on the BBC programme, have been in the news again recently.
(See https://www.newsweek.com/ro… )
Actually, anyone curious could easily have traced the page for Shvets on the ‘Intelligence Speakers Bureau’ section of the website of the ‘Centre for Counterintelligence and Security’ in Alexandria, Virginia – which can still be located through the ‘Wayback Machine.’
(See http://cicentre.com/intelli… .)
In addition to providing pointers to his involvement in the original ‘Orange Revolution’ – in which he was a key member of the Berezovsky-financed ‘information operations’ team – the list of ‘sample topics’, which starts ‘Illegal Purchases of Arms by Iraq’, and ‘Illegal Purchases of Arms by Iran’, provides a clue to another thing which these people were offering their Western associates.
Cocktails of accurate information and disinformation about WMD and other weapons supplies from the former Soviet Union to designated ‘rogue states’, which could be used to discredit enemies in the former, while providing ‘casus belli’ against the latter, were part of the stock in trade of Shvets and his associates.
This was the basis of the claims about Putin using Mogilevich in an attempt to equip Al Qaeda with a ‘mini nuclear bomb’, which are central to understanding how Litvinenko lived and died. It may also be crucial to understanding what Levinson was doing in Iran.
If then one reformulates the claims by Mangold and Simpson, along the lines of ‘the mobsters linked to the FSB have got the upper hand over the mobsters linked to friends of ours like Berezovsky’, they may begin to make some kind of sense.
Having watched with utter bemusement the seriousness with which so many people on your side appear to have taken a complete ‘retard’ like Steele, however, I think a question which needs to be confronted is how far the activities of American intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been corrupted by the same kind of credulity he has manifested.
In dealing not only with Simpson, but with a wide range of others, I have come to think we need a notion like a ‘retard ratio’, or perhaps ‘credulity coefficient.’ With people like John Sipher or John Herbst, or indeed Peter Srzok and Lisa Page, it seems to me, it is likely to be somewhere up in the 90% range.
I have come to suspect that, with the FBI organised crime people – the likes of Bruce Ohr, Andrew McCabe, and Michael Gaeta, something similar applies. And their utterly delusional views of post-Soviet politics feed back onto their views of what has been happening in their own country.