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Adam Schiff: Credulous Congressman

By Ray McGovern, January 24, 2020

Five days after President Trump took office, I had an opportunity to brace House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff personally about evidence that Russia “hacked” into the DNC.  He had repeatedly given that canard the patina of flat fact during an address at the old Hillary Clinton/John Podesta “think tank,” The Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Fortunately, the cameras were still on when I approached Schiff during the Q&A:  “You have every confidence but no evidence, is that right?” I asked him. ( https://raymcgovern.com/2017/01/31/thats-bogus-ray-mcgovern-pwns-congressman-schiff-on-russian-hacking-fairy-tale/  ) —  2 minutes

The canard was just barely at the duckling stage back then.  So, to give Schiff the benefit of the doubt, he may have put misplaced confidence in the Gang of Three — CIA/Brennan-FBI/Comey-National Intelligence Director/Clapper — con-men all.  They were, in any case, telling Schiff what he wanted to hear.

As frequenters of this site are aware, subsequent years have turned up no concrete, technical evidence that the DNC was “hacked” — by Russia, or by anyone else.  The DNC emails were copied onto an external storage device before being given to WikiLeaks.  Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, whose ranks include two former NSA Technical Directors, have shown this to be the case, relying on the principles of physics and on the forensics that the FBI, for some reason, did not do.  (And, please, do not let adjectives like “debunked” be used in attempts to cast doubt on VIPS’ unchallenged — if often unwelcome — conclusions.)

I need to tell you right off the bat that the next video-clip is not from The Onion.  Rather, it shows a more recent example of Schiff’s incredible, incurable credulity, as he regaled some equally credulous young folks at the same “think tank” on Oct. 23, 2018 (hat tip to Rosie Memos @almostjingo for tweeting).  Chairman Schiff clearly has a nose for hot tips about his bete noire, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This was abundantly that October day when he addressed a young audience at the same old Clinton/Podesta “think tank”.  Schiff said he had been told that Putin has one of his henchmen follow then-Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev around with a pillow to smother him in his sleep if he ever gets out of line.  ( See: https://raymcgovern.com/2018/11/24/adam-schiffs-incredible-incurable-credulity/ .)

There is not the slightest hint in the video that Schiff was speaking tongue in cheek. Equally sad, no one in the audience laughed.  (Where do they recruit such credulous young folks?).

But who gave Schiff the “intelligence” about the “pillow-carrier” poised to snuff out Medvedev?  Which of the Gang of Three might it have been?  U.S. Attorney John Durham surely has enough on his plate these days as he looks into the larger Russia-gate canard, of which “the-pillow-carrier-and-Medvedev” is but a small duckling. Nontheless, it seems possible we will learn the identity of the con who whispered the tale of the pillow into Schiff’s impressionable ear.

Adam Schiff’s Incredible, Incurable Credulity

Putin henchman ready to assassinate Medvedev by pillow
https://twitter.com/almostjingo/status/1054963776661938176
(hat tip to Rosie Memos @almostjingo for tweeting)Rep. Adam Schiff, who takes the chair of the House Intelligence Committee in January, has a nose for hot tips about his bete noire, Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as a strong bent toward credulousness.  On October 23, 2018, Schiff solemnly told a young audience at the old Hillary Clinton/John Podesta Center for American Progress Action Fund that he had been told that Putin has one of his henchmen follow Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev around with a pillow to smother him in his sleep if he ever gets out of line.

No, the video contains no hint that Schiff was speaking tongue in cheek.  Perhaps worse, no one in the audience laughed (where do they recruit such credulous young folks?).

Be sure to scroll down for images of the pillow-carrier caught in action. :-))  He apparently has no reason to fear “identification,” since, according to Schiff’s source, “Medvedev is nothing.”

On a more serious note, it was 22 months ago that I challenged Schiff as the “Russian hacking” accusations were proliferating. ( See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdOy-l13FEg ) In the 2-minute clip, Schiff recites language highly relevant today as the Deep State tries desperately to brand Julian Assange a “known participant” — that is, an active conspirator with Russia, and not merely Russia’s “useful idiot.”

Some of our “Justice” officials today apparently think they can detour around 1st amendment hurdles if they can dredge up, or manufacture, “evidence” enabling them to use the Espionage Act of 1917 against Assange.

At think tanks like the Center for American Progress, hope springs eternal.  Impatience too.  As poor Schiff knows, Mueller has been at it for a year and a half — and FBI super-sleuth Peter Strzok for a half-year before that, after which he complained to FBI lawyer/girlfriend Lisa Page that “there is no big there there.”  But when Schiff takes the chair in January, God knows what they’ll find!

Meanwhile back at the ranch, President Donald Trump and his chief advisers give no indication they are aware of what to expect, if Trump continues to allow the Justice Department to slow-walk his order to declassify crucial documents that could — in a lawful world — land ex-FBI Director James Comey, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former CIA Director John Brennan, et al. behind bars.
The stakes are very high.  By all indications Trump is afraid — and not only of pillows.

Those wishing more background on the rudderless Schiff may wish to click on:
  — or —

Ray Was Face-to-Face With Adam Schiff, ranking member, House Intelligence Committee, this morning – January 25, 2017

https://www.c-span.org/video/?422656-1/representative-adam-schiff-discusses-russian-electionyear-hacking

(Segment with Ray and Schiff is from minute 1:14:25 to 1:16:20.)

 

The official Q and A after a panel on “Russian Hacking and U.S. Elections” was greatly shortened this morning at Mrs. Clinton’s most enthusiastic supporter/think tank, the Center for American Progress, so Ray did not get to ask a question during the Q and A.  (The Center, founded by John Podesta and now led by Neera Tanden, has been going all out to blame Mrs. Clinton’s defeat on Russian President Putin, James Comey – anyone but their too-clever-by-half campaign.)

 

But the camera was still running after the formal session and caught Ray asking Adam Schiff, D, California, whether he is claiming he knows more than Obama about the gaping evidence-gap between Russian hacking and WikiLeaks.  Ray referred Schiff to then-President Obama’s words at his last press conference exactly a week ago:

 

“… the conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive” regarding WikiLeaks.  In other words, the intelligence community has no idea how the DNC emails reached WikiLeaks.  (See: https://consortiumnews.com/2017/01/20/obama-admits-gap-in-russian-hack-case/ )

 

The gravitas displayed at the panel discussion gave superficiality a bad name.  The c-span video is probably worth skimming through, if only for that.  But Ray’s two minutes with Schiff may be worth a fast-forward.

The Sanger and Schiff Who Cried Wolf

“The Russians are coming” again, according to NYT David Sanger:
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/30/us/politics/2020-election-security-briefings.html

The Russians are “aggravating tensions in our cities,” according to Adam Schiff:
https://www.thedailybeast.com/adam-schiff-trumps-willfully-fanning-the-flames-of-violence-in-cities

How are we to believe them after they lied about the “Russian hacking” of the DNC emails?
https://raymcgovern.com/2020/08/21/no-forensic-evidence-russia-hacked-dnc-emails/

“THAT’S BOGUS!” Ray McGovern PWNS Congressman Schiff On Russian Hacking Fairy Tale.

Moxnews.com has put on YouTube, under the above title, the discrete 2-minute segment of Ray’s indiscreet question of Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, on January 25.  Those who have not had time to fish that segment out from the longer YouTube version (posted below “Ray Was Face to Face With Adam Schiff”) can access it easily at:

The bogus-ness of Schiff’s answer is shown in the January 17 VIPS Memorandum for President Barack Obama, “A Demand for Russia ‘Hacking’ Proof.”

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/01/17/a-demand-for-russian-hacking-proof/
As senior CIA veteran Milton Bearden has put it, there are occasions when more damage is done by “protecting” sources and methods than by revealing them.

In Final Days, Trump Gave Up on Forcing Release of Russiagate Files, Nunes Prober Says

By Aaron Mate, Feb. 25, 2021
https://www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2021/02/25/in_final_days_trump_gave_up_on_forcing_release_of_key_russiagate_files_nunes_prober_says_127267.html

After four years of railing against “deep state” actors who, he said, tried to undermine his presidency, Donald Trump relented to U.S. intelligence leaders in his final days in office, allowing them to block the release of critical material in the Russia investigation, according to a former senior congressional investigator who later joined the Trump administration.

CIA Director Gina Haspel was instrumental in blocking one of the most critical documents, says Kash Patel. It is a House report detailing “significant intelligence tradecraft failings” in the CIA’s assessment that Russia ordered  interference in the 2016 campaign to elect Trump.  [Emphasis added.]

Kash Patel, whose work on the House Intelligence Committee helped unearth U.S. intelligence malpractice during the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane probe, said he does not know why Trump did not force the release of documents that would expose further wrongdoing. But he said senior intelligence officials “continuously impeded” their release – usually by slow-walking their reviews of the material. Patel said Trump’s CIA Director, Gina Haspel, was instrumental in blocking one of the most critical documents.

Patel, who has seen the Russia probe’s underlying intelligence and co-wrote critical reports that have yet to be declassified, said new disclosures would expose additional misconduct and evidentiary holes in the CIA and FBI’s work.

“I think there were people within the IC [Intelligence Community], at the heads of certain intelligence agencies, who did not want their tradecraft called out, even though it was during a former administration, because it doesn’t look good on the agency itself,” Patel told RealClearInvestigations in his first in-depth interview since leaving government at the end of Trump’s term last month, having served in several intelligence and defense roles (full interview here).

Trump did not respond to requests seeking comment sent to intermediaries.

Although a Department of Justice inspector general’s report in December 2019 exposed significant intelligence failings and malpractice, Patel said more damning information is still being kept under wraps. And despite an ongoing investigation by Special Counsel John Durham into the conduct of the officials who carried out the Trump-Russia inquiry, it is unclear if key documents will ever see the light of day.

Patel did not suggest that a game-changing smoking gun is being kept from the public. Core intelligence failures have been exposed – especially regarding the FBI’s reliance on Christopher Steele’s now debunked dossier to secure FISA warrants used to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. But he said the withheld material would reveal more misconduct as well as major problems with the CIA’s assessment that Russia, on Vladimir Putin’s orders, ordered a sweeping and systematic interference 2016 campaign to elect Trump. Patel was cautious about going into detail on any sensitive information that has not yet been declassified.

‘Continuously Impeded’ Public Disclosure 

Patel’s work on the House Intelligence Committee, under the leadership of its former Republican chairman, Devin Nunes, is widely credited with exposing the FBI’s reliance on Steele and misrepresentations to the FISA court. Yet congressional Democrats and major media outlets portrayed him as a behind-the-scenes saboteur who sought to “discredit” the Russia investigation. 

Rep. Devin Nunes: Patel said he went to work for the California Republican with a condition: optimal disclosure.

The media vitriol unnerved Patel, who had previously served as a national security official in the Obama-era Justice Department and Pentagon – a tenure that exceeds his time working under Trump. Patel says that ensuring public disclosure of critical information in such a consequential national security investigation motivated him to take the job in the first place.

“The agreement I made with Devin, I said, ‘Okay, I don’t really want to go to the Hill, but I’ll do the job on one basis: accountability and disclosure,” Patel said. “Everything we find, I don’t care if it’s good or bad or whatever, from your political perspective, we put it out.’ So the American public can just read it themselves, with a few protections here and there for some certain national security measures, but those are minimal redactions.”

That task proved difficult. The House Intelligence Committee’s disclosure efforts, Patel said, “were continuously impeded by members of the intelligence community themselves, with the same singular epithets that you’re going to harm sources and methods. …  And I just highlight that because, we didn’t lose a single source. We didn’t lose a single relationship, and no one died by the public disclosures we made because we did it in a systematic and professional fashion.”

“But each time we forced them to produce [documents],” Patel added, “it only showed their coverup and embarrassment.” These key revelations he helped expose include Justice official Bruce Ohr’s admission that he acted as a liaison to Steele even after the FBI officially terminated him; former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s false statements about leaks related to the Hillary Clinton email investigation; and the FBI’s reliance on the Steele dossier to spy on Page. “There is actually a law that prevents the FBI and DOJ from failing to disclose material to a court just to hide an embarrassment or mistake, and it came up during our investigation. It helped us compel disclosure.”

Assessing the ‘Intelligence Community Assessment’ 

For Patel, a key document that remains hidden from the public is the full report he helped prepare and which Trump chose not to declassify after pressure from the intelligence community is a House Intelligence Committee report about the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA); it found that John Brennan’s Intelligence Community Assessment “deviated from established CIA practice”. It remains classified.

The ICA is a foundational Russiagate document. Released just two weeks before Trump’s inauguration, it asserted that Russia waged an interference campaign to help defeat Hillary Clinton. Despite widespread media accounts that the ICA reflected the consensus view of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, it was a rushed job completed in a few weeks by a small group of CIA analysts led by then-CIA Director John Brennan, who merely consulted with FBI and NSA counterparts. The NSA even dissented from a key judgment that Russia and Putin specifically aimed to help install Trump, expressing only “moderate confidence.”

The March 2018 House report found that the production of the ICA “deviated from established CIA practice.” And the core judgment that Putin sought to help Trump, the House report found, resulted from “significant intelligence tradecraft failings that undermine confidence in the ICA judgments.”

Along with that March 2018 report, Patel and his intelligence committee colleagues produced a still-classified document that fleshed out the ICA’s “tradecraft failings” in greater detail.
“We went and looked at it [the ICA], and looked at the underlying evidence and cables, and talked to the people who did it,” Patel says. According to Patel, the ICA’s flaws begin with the unprecedentedly short window of time in which it was produced during the final days of the Obama White House. “In two to three weeks, you can’t have a comprehensive investigation of anything, in terms of interference and cybersecurity matters.”

Patel said that still classified information undermines another key claim – that Russia ordered a cyber-hacking campaign to help Trump. The March 2018 House report noted that the ICA’s judgments, “particularly on the cyber intrusion sections, employed appropriate caveats on sources and identified assumptions,” but those were drowned out by partisan insistence that Russia was the culprit.

Constrained from discussing the material, Patel said its release “would lend a lot of credence to” skepticism about the Mueller report’s claim that Russia waged a “sweeping and systematic” interference campaign to install Trump.

That skepticism was bolstered in July 2019 when the Mueller team was reprimanded by a U.S. District judge for falsely suggesting in its final report that a Russian social media firm acted in concert with the Kremlin. (Mueller’s prosecutors later dropped the case against the outfit.)

“We had multiple versions, with redactions, at different levels of classifications we were willing to release,” Patel said.“But that was unfortunately the one report, which speaks directly to [an absence of concrete evidence] that’s still sitting in a safe, classified. And unfortunately, the American public – unless Biden acts – won’t see it.”

Confirming earlier media reports from late last year, Patel says it was Trump’s CIA Director Gina Haspel who personally thwarted the House report’s release. The report sits in a safe at CIA headquarters in Langley. “The CIA has possession of it, and POTUS chose not to put it out,” Patel says. He does not know why.

‘Outrageous’ Reliance on CrowdStrike

Another key set of documents that the public has yet to see are reports by Democratic National Committee cyber-contractor CrowdStrike – reports the FBI relied on to accuse Russia of hacking the DNC. The FBI bowed to the DNC’s refusal to hand over its servers for analysis, a decision that Patel finds “outrageous.”

“The FBI, who are the experts in looking at servers and exploiting this information so that the intelligence community can digest it and understand what happened, did not have access to the DNC servers in their entirety,” Patel said. “For some outrageous reason the FBI agreed to having CrowdStrike be the referee as to what it could and could not exploit, and could and could not look at.”

According Patel, Crowdstrike CEO Shawn Henry, a former top FBI official under Mueller, “totally took advantage of the situation to the unfortunate shortcoming of the American public.”

CrowdStrike’s credibility suffered a major blow in May 2020 with the disclosure of an explosive admission from Henry that had been kept under wraps for nearly three years. In December 2017 testimony before the House Intel Committee showed he had acknowledged that his firm “did not have concrete evidence” that Russian hackers removed any data, including private emails, from the DNC servers. 

“We wanted those depositions declassified immediately after we took them,” Patel recalled. But the committee was “thwarted,” he says, by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence under Dan Coats, and later by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff once Democrats took control of Congress in January 2018. According to Patel, Schiff “didn’t want some of these transcripts to come out. And that was just extremely frustrating.” Working with Coats’ successor, Richard Grenell, Patel ultimately forced the release of the Henry transcript and dozens of others last year. 

Still classified, however, are the full CrowdStrike reports relied on by the FBI, Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Committee. Patel said their release would underscore Henry’s admission while raising new questions about why the government used reports from DNC contractors – the other being Fusion GPS’ Steele dossier – for a consequential national security case involving a rival Republican campaign.

Doubting Reliability of CIA’s Kremlin Mole 

The CIA relied on another questionable source for its assertion that Putin personally ordered and orchestrated an interference campaign to elect Trump: a purported mole inside the Kremlin. The mole has been outed as Oleg Smolenkov, a mid-level Kremlin official who fled Russia in 2017 for the United States where he lives under his own name. According to the New York Times, some CIA officials harbored doubts about Smolenkov’s “trustworthiness.”

Patel said he could not comment on whether he believes Smolenkov relayed credible information to the CIA. “I’m sort of in a bind on this one, still, with all the classified information I looked at, and the declassifications we’ve requested, but have not yet been granted.”

Patel did suggest, however, that those who have raised skepticism about the CIA’s reliance on Smolenkov are “rightly” trying to “get to the bottom” of the story. “But until that ICA product that we created, and some of the other documents are finally revealed – if I start talking about them, then I’m probably going to get the FBI knocking at my door.”

Will Key Documents Be Released?

On his last full day in office, President Trump ordered the declassification of an additional binder of material from the FBI’s initial Trump-Russia probe, Crossfire Hurricane. A source familiar with the documents covered under the declassification order confirmed to RealClearInvestigations that it does not contain the House committee’s assessment of the January 2017 that Patel wants released. Nor does it contain any of the CrowdStrike reports used by the FBI.

In addition to those closely guarded documents, Patel thinks that there is even more to learn about the fraudulent surveillance warrants on Carter Page. The public should see “the entire subject portion” of the final Carter Page FISA warrant, Patel said, as well as “the underlying source verification reporting” in which the FBI tried to justify it, despite relying on the Steele dossier. By reading what the FBI “used to prop up that FISA, the American public can see what a bunch of malarkey it was that they were relying on,” Patel added. “The American public needs to know about and read for themselves and make their own determination as to why their government allowed this to happen. Knowingly.

“And that’s not castigating an entire agency. We’re not disparaging the entire FBI because of Peter Strzok [the FBI agent dismissed, in part, because of anti-Trump bias] and his crew of miscreants. Same thing goes for the intelligence community. If they did some shoddy tradecraft, the American public has a right to know about it in an investigation involving the presidential election.”

What I Learned Last Year

By Ray McGovern

— That Bill Casey, Reagan’s CIA Director, has largely succeeded in the objective he set forth at a cabinet meeting in Feb. 1981:
“We’ll know when our disinformation program is complete, when everything the American public believes is false.”

— The media is the cornerstone of the MICIMATT (Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-MEDIA-Academia-Think-Tank) complex. Wall Street and Silicon Valley, of course, fit under that rubric — as does what has become of the Democratic (as well as the Republican) Party.

— “Trump Derangement Syndrome” also plays a significant role. The understanding accorded a broken clock — which is correct two times a day — is withheld from anything liar-in-chief Trump says. Accordingly, if he is correct in saying that he was spied upon, and that Russia-gate was a fraud (as Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity has proved), well, the very suggestion that Trump might be telling the truth — if only twice a day — is anathema. (Many are astute enough to realize that this has to do with politics, not truth.)

— The most “progressive” of analysts/editors can feign an inability to understand how the deep expertise of former NSA Technical Directors and other senior NSA analysts, the revelations of Edward Snowden, and the application of the very principles of physics allowed VIPS to prove, as with a theorem, that the DNC emails were leaked, not hacked — QED. That was more than four years ago: (See: https://consortiumnews.com/2016/12/12/us-intel-vets-dispute-russia-hacking-claims/ .)

— Nevertheless, Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was able to hide the fact that there was no, repeat no, technical evidence that the Russians — or anyone else — hacked those DNC emails that were so embarrassing to the Clinton campaign. The head of CrowdStrike, Shawn Henry, testified to that under oath on Dec. 5, 2017; Schiff did not release his testimony until May 7, 2020, when he was forced to by the Director of National Intelligence. The NY Times has suppressed Henry’s testimony since May 7. What does that tell you? (See: https://consortiumnews.com/2020/05/09/ray-mcgovern-new-house-documents-sow-further-doubt-that-russia-hacked-the-dnc/ .)

— Simply stated: Russia-gate is too big to fail. The media, the sine qua non for the MICIMATT to succeed, rule the roost. To suggest that Establishment media and politicians are being flat-out dishonest on the “threat” and the frequent “attacks” from Russia is to put yourself, ipso facto, in “Putin’s pocket”. This is dangerous.

— The possible extradition of Julian Assange poses an extremely serious threat to the freedom of the press enshrined in the first amendment, but the corporate media do not give a rat’s patootie. As long as today’s journalists/stenographers keep feeding from the trough of the Security State, and criticize those who don’t as “conspiracy theorists”, they will continue to live high on the hog.

These thoughts, including Casey’s braggadocio, were brought into bas relief yesterday, as I read “Letters from an American”, the blog of Professor Heather Cox Richardson (See:
https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/december-30-2020/comments#comment-957134 ). I wrote the following”

Professor Richardson writes:
“… Trump was eager enough to make sure a Democrat didn’t win that, according to American intelligence services, he was willing to accept the help of Russian operatives. They, in turn, influenced the election through the manipulation of new social media, amplified by what had become by then a Republican echo chamber in which Democrats were dangerous socialists and the Democratic candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was a criminal….”

This is the prevailing narrative but it is seriously mistaken. The trust placed in “American intelligence services” by Establishment media and academe is stunningly misplaced. It seems nothing was learned from their noxious collaboration in adducing pre-Iraq-war “intelligence” that was “uncorroborated, contradicted, or even nonexistent” (Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller, describing the bipartisan results of a five-year investigation). And, speaking of “non-existent”, the evidence for what Richardson writes about Russia-gate is equally “uncorroborated, contradicted, or even nonexistent”. It is, to put it politely, male bovine excrement consumed by the likes of NYT’s David Sanger (of WMD fame) and spit onto the pages of a paper that once bragged about publishing all the news that’s fit to print.

Here’s a small case study:

We no longer have to rely on what David Sanger is fed by “the American intelligence services” to figure out how blaming Russia got its big push. To experienced observers, what was happening was clear enough way back on the first day of the Democratic Party convention and the day that followed.

July 25, 2016: writer/journalist Patrick Lawrence wrote this:
“How the DNC fabricated a Russian hacker conspiracy to deflect blame for its email scandal,” https://www.salon.com/2016/07/25/shades_of_the_cold_war_how_the_dnc_fabricated_a_russian_hacker_conspiracy_to_deflect_blame_for_its_email_scandal/ (For more on this, see: https://raymcgovern.com/2020/09/30/uh-oh-was-hrc-behind-the-russian-dnc-hack-canard/ )

July 26, 2016: This day saw the “alleged approval by Hillary Clinton of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisors to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services”, according to a letter from Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe to Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sept. 29, 2020. (https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/09-29-20_Letter%20to%20Sen.%20Graham_Declassification%20of%20FBI’s%20Crossfire%20Hurricane%20Investigations_20-00912_U_SIGNED-FINAL.pdf .)


In his letter Radcliffe indicates that, according to then-CIA Director John Brennan’s handwritten notes, Brennan briefed President Obama and other senior officials on this information, which came from “Russian intelligence analysis”. The Russian analysis was deemed serious enough that on Sept. 7, 2016, U.S. intelligence officials forwarded an investigative referral to FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok regarding “U.S. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private mail server.” James Comey testified on Oct. 30, 2020 that this does not “ring a bell”.
(https://consortiumnews.com/2020/10/05/ray-mcgovern-comeys-amnesia-
makes-senate-session-an-unforgettable-hop-skip-jump-to-fraud/
)

July 26, 2016: David Sanger, the NYT’s Chief Washington Correspondent, shows that he “got the Memo”. Sanger co-authors an article with Eric Schmitt titled: “Spy Agency Consensus Grows That Russia Hacked D.N.C.”
(See: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/27/us/politics/spy-agency-consensus-grows-that-russia-hacked-dnc.html .)
“WASHINGTON — American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have ‘high confidence’ that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, according to federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence.”

About Sanger: those who were alert before the Iraq war may remember that David Sanger was second only to Judith Miller in spreading the party line on the existence of WMD in Iraq.  For example, Sanger apparently “got the Memo” from his intelligence leakers shortly after July 20, 2002, when then-CIA Director George Tenet told his British counterpart that “Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. …” (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-secret-downing-street-memo-xh9h29xhqzr )

Lapping up “intelligence” from sources in the intelligence community nine days later, Sanger’s sewing machine went into full swing weaving WMD out of whole cloth.  With co-author Thom Shanker, Sanger flat-facted WMD into Iraq no fewer than seven times in “U.S. Exploring Baghdad Strike As Iraq Option on July 29, 2002”, of July 29, 2020 (http://nytimes.com/2002/07/29/world/us-exploring-baghdad-strike-as-iraq-option.html ).

Fast forward to 2016: In my view, Trump won in 2016 mostly because too many Americans saw Mrs. Clinton as a deeply flawed candidate.  Perhaps enough voters saw through the “Russia-hacked” diversion and actually read some of the DNC emails showing how Bernie was cheated out of the nomination — maybe enough disenchanted Bernie supporters to make a difference and give clown Trump the edge in key states.  Attentive voters (who read more than the Establishment media) could also see that Clinton was let off the hook by the same Security State seniors who did their best to sabotage Trump as candidate (and then succeeded in emasculating him as president).  But you will not read about this in what has become of the New York Times regurgitating leaks from “American intelligence services”.

Empathy

I’m trying to understand.  I am from New York City, was educated there, and I remember how much trust most of us put in the NY Times several decades ago. Most of my well educated friends still believe it publishes all the news that’s fit to print — and that if it’s not in the Times it didn’t happen and cannot be true.  And Trump Derangement Syndrome makes it virtually impossible for them to believe that anything Trump has claimed — like Russia-gate being a hoax — could possibly be true.

In addition, I am aware that my intelligence veteran friends and I enjoy the freedom of not having to teach, administer and mark exams, and navigate university bureaucracies.  I appreciate that, truly, just as I did during the many years I spent as a CIA analyst.

But still.  Well, let me put it this way: What are we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity and the work we have painstakingly put forward on these neuralgic issues? Chopped liver?

I close with Voltaire and John Adams:

“If you want to know who controls you, look at who you are not allowed to criticize.”  Voltaire

“Be not intimidated… nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice.” John Adams

FBI: Another Fraud on the Court?

By Ray McGovern, Dec. 21, 2020

Can the FBI be trusted?  You decide, but only after you learn about the Bureau’s most recently revealed fraud on the court.

Establishment media are ignoring the latest FBI flip-flop (surprise, surprise); they are reporting instead that incoming president Joe Biden wants Christopher Wray to stay on as FBI director? What’s that all about?

Again, you decide after reading what follows.  The latest known FBI caper involves hiding materials regarding the neuralgic, (dont-even-think-about-it) issue of why the Democratic National Committee 27 year-old insider, Seth Rich, was murdered on July 10, 2016.

Media coverage of L’Affaire Rich has been so scant in recent years that some background seems needed to grasp the facts, their relevance, and the implications for the ever-increasing immunity enjoyed by the Security (aka Deep) State.  Those generally aware of some of the detail may find this background a helpful refresher. Those who wish to can scroll down for a discussion of the most recent episode of FBI malfeasance.

Context

On June 12, 2016, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced he had “emails related to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication.”  Those emails had been copied in late May 2016 onto an external storage device (probably a thumb drive) and given to WikiLeaks.

— On July 10, 2016, Seth Rich was shot and killed.  The motive was said to be robbery, but nothing is known to have been taken from him.

— On July 22, 2016, three days before the Democratic National Convention began, WikiLeaks published the DNC emails.

There was speculation at the time that Seth Rich was involved in the leak of the damaging emails (which showed how the DNC had stacked the deck against Bernie Sanders), and that perhaps the leaker had been identified by DNC cyber-sleuths.

Adding fuel to the fire, on August 9 2016, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange publicly implied that Rich may have been a WikiLeaks’ source. ( See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-G21u6YnLoA ) That same day, WikiLeaks announced “a $20,000 reward for information leading to conviction for the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich”.  (See: https://www.businessinsider.com/wikileaks-20000-seth-rich-dnc-2016-8 )

An Insider, Not Russia

On Dec. 12, 2016, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) formally ruled out, on technical grounds, the possibility that the Russians “hacked” those DNC emails.  Drawing on the expertise of former technical directors at NSA, material revealed by Edward Snowden, and applying the principles of physics, VIPS concluded that:

“… the emails were leaked by an insider – as was the case with Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. Such an insider could be anyone … with access to NSA databases, or perhaps someone within the DNC.” (See: https://consortiumnews.com/2016/12/12/us-intel-vets-dispute-russia-hacking-claims/ )

A year later on Dec. 5, 2017, Shawn Henry, the head of the cyber-security firm CrowdStrike hired by the DNC (and highly touted by then-FBI Director James Comey) to do the forensics, testified under oath that there was “no concrete evidence” the emails were hacked — by the Russians or by anyone else.)  (See:  https://consortiumnews.com/2020/05/09/ray-mcgovern-new-house-documents-sow-further-doubt-that-russia-hacked-the-dnc/ )

 AND

( https://intelligence.house.gov/uploadedfiles/sh21.pdf ). The supplementary “circumstantial” evidence that Mr. Henry adduced to blame Russia could not pass a smell test by anyone with a nose in working order.

But House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff did not release Henry’s testimony until May 7, 2020.  Establishment media picked up where Schiff left off and have been hiding Henry’s testimony since May 7.

Seth Rich

By almost all accounts, Seth Rich had excellent access to DNC computers. But the possibility that he played a role in leaking the DNC emails to WikiLeaks, and then paid for it with his life, proved too much for Official Washington to handle.  Besides, the “Russian hack” canard was not only a handy way to attribute Mrs. Clinton’s loss to Russian interference and to prove Donald Trump wrong on Russia.

It also proved a convenient way to divert attention from the fate that befell Rich.  What would happen to the Russia-did-it story that media hacks were pushing, if it became widely known that there was a simpler way to explain how the DNC emails got to WikiLeaks. (Julian Assange had denied strongly that any state actor was involved.) 

Oddly, President Obama himself was not fully persuaded by the rump, misnomered “Intelligence Community Assessment” (written by “hand-picked” analysts from FBI, CIA, and NSA), that pinned the “hack” on Russia.  At his last press conference, less than two weeks after being fully briefed on the Assessment’s “high-confidence” findings, Obama pointed out that one of its conclusions — how the DNC emails reached WikiLeaks — was “inconclusive”. ( See: https://consortiumnews.com/2017/01/20/obama-admits-gap-in-russian-hack-case/ ).

As to the killing of Rich, there was no official investigation worthy of the name — despite a host of anomalies and unanswered questions.  Those who did try to look into it, and were willing to raise speculative hypotheses anathema to the official narrative, were branded “conspiracy theorists”. The same thing happened to highly experienced scientists who applied the principles of physics and took advantage of highly relevant information revealed by Edward Snowden.  Here’s one telling example of swords drawn by pundit mercenaries enlisted to promote the Establishment narrative — the (Democratic) party line, if you will — on Russia’s 2016 “hack”.

Risen on “Rising”

Erstwhile investigative journalist James Risen, now apparently a self-styled expert on the forensics of hacking, brought up Seth Rich during an interview on “Rising” on Aug. 5, 2019.  Risen charged that VIPS’s widely respected former NSA Technical Director Bill Binney (primary author of the Dec. 12, 2016 VIPS Memo) had gone into “conspiracy theory mode”.

The charitable explanation is that Risen had not performed due diligence by doing his homework before the interview.  Had he taken the trouble to read the December 12, 2016 VIPS Memo (with its revealing embedded charts from Edward Snowden), Risen would have known that it is not a matter of what Binney and the other NSA alumni in VIPS believe, it is what theyproved in writing four years ago — proved, as in QED. (See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OxZEhN9RBY

(The relevant part of Risen’s remarks runs from minutes 2:34 to 4:00.) Risen, by the way, is still at it ( See: https://theintercept.com/2020/12/23/assange-snowden-whistleblower-pardons-espionage/  AND  https://theintercept.com/2020/10/21/trump-presidency-summary/ ).

Question Most Awkward: If It Wasn’t the Russians …

By late last year, Seth Rich’s family was suing just about anyone who wrote or implied that Seth might have played a role in leaking the DNC emails.  As VIPS kept reporting new technical evidence that the culprit was not Russia, the avoid-at-any-cost, awkward question kept raising its ugly head. “If it wasn’t the Russians, then who gave those emails to WikiLeaks?”  There was only one known insider candidate, but mentioning his name could get you sued by a family with seemingly unlimited funds to pay lawyers close to the Democratic party.

There were even … dare I say conspiracy theorists? … like an erstwhile British investigative reporter in the mold of the latter-day James Risen, who implied that we were — whether witting, or duped — agents of the Kremlin.  And so began a witch hunt into the computers of those VIPS members most directly involved.  In the fall of 2019, several VIPS members were served highly intrusive subpoenas on the Russian hacking issue.

I shall confess that, for a couple of months I had a touch of subpoena envy.  Then, alas, I was served — not once but twice.  In my initial response last December to the first subpoena, I took some pains to lay out, as concisely as I could, what VIPS had proven and why.  And I added enough links to help anyone seriously interested in learning the longer story. Readers may wish to skim through my response to the first subpoena.  ( See: https://raymcgovern.com/?s=subpoena.)

FBI Comes Clean — John Ehrlichman-Style

The expression “modified limited hangout” coined by Nixon adviser John Ehrlichman seems an apt description for what the FBI did two weeks ago when it blithely reversed an earlier sworn FBI Declaration that it had no records on Seth Rich. Readers of the barren Establishment media will be surprised to learn that, after three years of denial — the last two under Director Christopher Wray — the FBI has now admitted that it does, after all, have thousands of records relating to Seth Rich.  Its “initial search” has identified “approximately 50 cross-reference serials, with attachments totaling over 20,000 pages, in which Seth Rich is mentioned”, as well as “leads that indicate additional potential records that require further searching.”

The FBI also admitted to having custody of Seth Rich’s long-gone-missing laptop.  These confessions came in an unapologetic Dec. 9, 2020 letter to attorney Ty Clevenger  (See: Clevenger’s informative blog post, “FBI changes story, finally admits it has thousands of pages of documents about Seth Rich” at https://lawflog.com/?p=2410.)

In admitting to having thousands of records relating to Rich, the FBI ipso facto conceded that its Oct. 3, 2018 “Declaration”, sworn “under penalty of perjury”, was — at best — misleading. The FBI fall guy is David M. Hardy, who swore that he could find no records on Rich. (See: https://lawflog.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Hardy-Declaration.pdf .) Hardy was FBI Section Chief, Record/Information Dissemination Section, Information Management Division.  Those working for Hardy — the Hardy Boys & Girls, if you will — number in the hundreds; they appear well trained in how not to find information responsive to Freedom of Information Act requests, when zero results are the objective.

Ty Clevenger’s client, Brian Huddleston, had filed an FOIA request on April 9, 2020 for information regarding Seth Rich and Seth’s brother Aaron but initially was stiff-armed by the FBI.  Now, eight months later, thousands of records are to be made available. But wait.

Still Slow-Rolling: FBI Wants 3 More Months

“Can’t wait to find out what those magically appearing records on Seth Rich reveal,” you may be saying to yourself.

Not so fast, says the FBI which explained in its letter to Clevenger how it intends to proceed:

“At this time, FBI anticipates processing only the pages where Seth Rich is mentioned, along with perhaps another page or two in each situation to provide context. The issue right now with this batch of documents is the amount of labor required to ingest all of the material so that the responsive pages will, first, be in a page format, secondly, can be identified from among the thousands of non-responsive pages, and finally, be processed. The FBI is also currently working on getting the files from Seth Rich’s personal laptop into a format to be reviewed.  As you can imagine, there are thousands of files of many types.”

Pouring more cold water on eager anticipation, the FBI letter added, “Unfortunately, these efforts are hampered by FBI FOIA office’s reduction to a 50% staffing posture due to Covid.”

And here is an additional wet blanket for those still waiting:

“In light of the status of this search and the work left to be done, we propose an additional three months [Emphasis added] to complete the tasks described above.  At that time, we will propose a production schedule and briefing schedule.” If that were not enough to dampen spirits, the FBI adds that it “will continue to evaluate the responsiveness of these files under the FOIA.”

And one can certainly anticipate copious redactions of any politically/bureaucratically/embarrassing material.

Waiting for Godot …

Director Wray seems to have ordered the Hardy Boys & Girls to continue dragging their feet.  Let’s see; three months will take us well into the Biden administration with the Democrats calling the shots.  If, as has been reported, Joe Biden lets Christopher Wray remain as FBI director, well, Godot is likely to arrive before any significant material on Seth Rich.

… and for John Durham

In his blog entry ( See: https://lawflog.com/?p=2410 ), Ty Clevenger includes a link to an important October 12, 2020 letter ( See: https://lawflog.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/2020.10.12-Letter-to-Barr-Durham-redacted-v.1.pdf ) he sent to Attorney General William Barr, US Attorney John Durham (who for the past year and a half has been investigating the FBI inquiry into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia), and Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz.  Clevenger writes that he has learned that “Durham will not be investigating whether former Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich provided DNC emails to WikiLeaks in 2016.” [Emphasis added.]

Mr. Clevenger says former FBI agent John Eckenrode explained to him that inquiry into a possible internal, non-Russian, source for the emails leaked to WikiLeaks does not have a direct bearing on Mr. Durham’s investigation.  Clevenger registered strong dissent, pointing out that “Robert Mueller himself acknowledged the possibility that the DNC emails were not transmitted remotely by email to Wikileaks, but were provided by hand delivery from someone originating in the United States.”

In his letter Clevenger notes: “Shawn Henry of Crowdstrike has testified under oath that Crowdstrike did not observe any exfiltration of emails from the DNC, but that had observed “preparation for exfiltration’, which would be consistent with a local download to a DNC user”.  Taking the gloves off, Clevenger claims that “the failure of the relevant agencies to investigate thoroughly the possibility of an internal source is an indication of the type of result-driven, error-ridden and highly damaging investigative work identified by Inspector General Horowitz in his review of various FISA abuses.”

Seymour Hersh Deposed

In his indictment of the Justice Department’s lackadaisical approach to the Seth Rich issue, Clevenger cites what Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh asserted in a deposition in a pending court case.  Hersh stated that it was “absolutely true that his source told him that Seth Rich transmitted emails to Wikileaks and requested payment”.  Hersh described his source as “very, very knowledgeable”, someone “senior” in the intelligence community, and a person Hersh had known for over 30 years.

The information provided by Hersh’s source cries out for either confirmation or denial.  Such could readily come from the National Security Agency which collects everything on the Internet. Has NSA not been asked?

Hersh said during his deposition that he had not been contacted by anyone from Robert Mueller’s team, nor from Durham’s team, nor from the Attorney General’s office.  Clevenger added the following footnote, which speaks for itself:

“Likewise, no one from the Office of Special Counsel made any attempt to interview Julian Assange”, even though Assange had hinted that Seth Rich might have been a source for the DNC emails: “As far as I can determine, nobody from Mr. Durham’s team, the FBI, nor the Justice Department has made any attempt to interview Mr. Assange … even though Mr. Assange would know better than anyone else how and from whom he obtained the emails.”  VIPS called attention to this strange anomaly as soon as the Mueller report was released ( See: 

“VIPS Fault Mueller Probe, Criticize Refusal to Interview Assange”, https://consortiumnews.com/2019/04/16/vips-fault-mueller-probe-criticize-refusal-to-interview-assange/ ). 

Attorney General William Barr, who jumped ship on Dec. 23, has left John Durham to an unenviable, uncertain future.  ( See: https://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2020/12/04/barr-kicks-durham-can-down-the-street/ .) 

So, Were the “Investigations” a Sham?

Seems so, from the looks of it.  By all appearances, the top officials at the Justice Department, the FBI, and intelligence agencies who — for political purposes —  conjured up the “Russian hack”, emasculated Trump, and led the U.S. into a new Cold War with Russia will walk free.  Section Chief David Hardy may get a slap on the wrist or a letter of reprimand in his personnel file.  And it is a safe bet that FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who committed an earlier fraud on the court, by altering a consequential email relating to a FISA application, is not likely to face much, if any, jail time.

Presumably, many senior law enforcement and intelligence officials eagerly await the arrival of President Joe Biden, who has zero incentive to hold them accountable for what they did over the last four years.  (As if any president would be courageous or foolish enough to try to hold them accountable, in any case).

Biden has been on the Washington scene for so many years that he does not need Sen. Chuck Schumer to warn him — as Schumer warned President-elect Donald Trump indirectly via Rachel Maddow on Jan. 3, 2017 — not to get crosswise with the “intelligence community”, noting that it has six ways to Sunday to get back at you. (See: https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/schumer-trump-being-really-dumb-to-fight-with-intel-agencies-847022147815 .)

President Donald Trump’s weird combination of arrogance, ineptitude, and naïveté made him an easy target. As the years went by, it became clearer and clearer that the president was not really in charge. The Security State is riding higher than ever.  And that’s not good.