Saturday, February 10, 2018

WSJ Editorial Again Spouts Balderdash About The Steele Dossier

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"I believes it if  FOX News and WSJ  editorial agree! Doh!"

Once again, The Wall Street Journal disclosed the dichotomy between its regular reporting of news, and its FOXian editorial page. I say FOXian, because its editorials come over more like scripts from Fox & Friends than any serious opinions predicated on fact. (By contrast its news accounts on the Russian collusion with Trump almost read as if they came from the NY Times. Go figure!) And as I read the latest blather and bilge, 'More Doubts About Mr. Steele' (p. A16, Feb. 8th) I pondered how many hundreds of thousands of readers would be hoodwinked into  believing this artful codswallop.

I am not going to recycle all the dreck for counter attack, only to single out specific parts for condemnation and exposure. First is the claim the "Grassley--Graham referral letter confirms the House memo's finding that the FBI relied heavily on Mr. Steele's dossier claims....."

In fact, as  I pointed out in an earlier post,  this is horse manure.  The true fact is that  the FBI  had in hand foreign intel intercepts pointing to Trump campaign collusion with the Russkies  long before the Steele Dossier contents were known.   In addition, the FBI had in hand the communications from an Australian diplomat - who was informed by George Papadopoulos (in London)  about Russian meetings with the Trumpies- long before Steele's name popped up.

The Right's hysteria about the Fusion GPS oppo research was exposed once it was learned the original firm that hired them was The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news site. The WSJ editorial at the time even noted it was funded by big GOP donor Paul Singer.  If  the Journal's editorial scribes want a real donkey to pin the tail on it should be Singer! Singer then was merely part of the old Repub order that respected norms and traditions and abhorred the idea of  a two bit Queens real estate chiseler and lowlife becoming  President. So he and the Beacon wanted "oppo" research on him. That is the hard fact.  Once Trump won the nomination, the research was continued by Democrats and HRC. So what?. That proves nothing more than Fusion GPS is a firm that is happy to be employed by either side.

If you want, call them a bipartisan oppo research outfit. But don't call them conspirators or "sleazy operators" as the WSJ editorial writers did then and continue to try to sell.

Another reason this is all offal and claptrap was noted in The Washington Post:

"It's strange is that Grassley and Graham are alleging that Steele may have lied using information the Justice Department already has and had shared with them. It's not clear why Grassley and Graham believe they see potential lies in Steele's interviews that the investigators haven't noticed."

Try now to process this, because it truly reaches the heights (pits?)  of bullshit and propaganda: these two clowns  - Grassley and Graham  - are claiming the DOJ's experts missed the info on Steele they already had - before they gave the material to the two clowns.  This beggars the imagination even as it engenders incredulity on  a scale unseen since the "Pizza gate" horse shit was spread around by Right media back in the fall of 2016. (To refresh readers' memories: In this conspiracy Hillary was alleged to be  keeping child sex slaves in the basement of a pizza parlor in D.C. and exploiting them,)

So no wonder this inspired one former federal prosecutor, Peter Zeidenberg, to outright call it “nonsense.” He suggested  (and I agree) it is a political effort intended to impact the Russia investigation — in which Steele's dossier has become the focus of GOP allegations of improper conduct by federal law enforcement — rather than a serious letter.

But to the WSJ's  anti-Steele troglodytes it's as if they found a gold cache of hidden "info" no one had a  clue about .  Their regular news contributors failed to notify them it was bull shit like Pizzagate.  Every other paragraph in the WSJ  editorial hangs on what this or that other person (including James Comey) said about Steele or his dossier, in particular claiming Steele "wrote it at the direction of the Clinton campaign".  Which is a flat out lie. Steele had already been hired by Fusion GPS  before any Clinton campaign connection and became alarmed at what his sources relayed to him about Trump - Russian contacts. (Which included the Carter Page meets with FSB personnel) We also know many of Steele's sources were from foreign intel intercepts that would have captured meetings of Carter Page with the Russians at various venues.

Because James Comey did not reveal these intercept sources when asked about the Steele dossier's relevance at his hearing, does not mean -  as the WSJ infers - that the FBI "based their wiretap on a single source"   only that Comey wasn't at liberty to reveal all the sources at that time. Indeed, he demurred in elaborating a number of times, "I'm sorry but I can't disclose that.".

The hit job on Christopher Steele - impugning him as a liar e.g.

"whether Mr. Steele lied to the FBI or the FBI was too incompetent to verify that he was the source of a Yahoo News story the result is the same - the FISA court issued a surveillance order on the basis of false information about the credibility of the FBI's main source"

is mind boggling on its own. Truth be told, it was Steele who alerted the FBI to a possible crime in progress, based on his sources and the potential for a hostile foreign power blackmailing an American presidential candidate. Loopy? Lies? Baloney? Not on your life! Steele himself has impeccable character and would be exactly the person you'd want testifying on your behalf in a high profile criminal case - or testifying against the bad guys. As per a Financial  Times account (Feb. 16):

Steele was the "UK intelligence expert on Russia".   James Nixey, the head of Chatham House's Russia and Eurasia program, informed the AP that sections of the dossier document created by Steele "read exactly as reports from the secret services".

In other words 100 percent legit.  Thus, the efforts of the WSJ editorial nabobs and the two Repuke Senator clowns to tar and incriminate him are pure propaganda ploys.  But to be expected from a media-political  axis that peddles lies and unsupported conspiracy bunkum 99 percent of the time.

As the WaPo piece puts it:

"There is an increasing effort among Republicans and the conservative-leaning media to question the legitimacy of the Russia investigation. Increasingly prominent in that effort are attempts to use the Steele dossier as the basis for a deep-state conspiracy against the president. The argument is basically that the dossier was used as the pretext for investigating the Trump campaign — despite The Washington Post and others reporting that "other things also factored into that decision."   But in today's fractured and polarized news environment, too many only see and hear what they want to see and hear.  If they are obsessive FOX News watchers then their confirmation bias will have them only seeing Steele as a "Killary" puppet.

But the point is those "other things" may not be up for debate or exposure, given they are linked to intercepts by other (foreign) intelligence agencies which do not want their sources, personnel and methods revealed. Hence, the WSJ editorial's last sentence:

"The best way to learn what's true and false in the Russian influence story is radical transparency, and the Trump administration should declassify all four FISA applications on Mr. Page and all of the documents behind them."

is total insanity,  masquerading as a rational proposal.   Why? Because there is no way in Hell or on God's green earth that any foreign intelligence service - say that provided info for FISA warrants on Carter Page- would agree to such compromising disclosure. In effect, if such a reckless action was taken, by Trump or anyone in his administration, you can kiss further cooperation with foreign intel agencies goodbye. That ain't gonna happen, and no amount of goading by the WSJ's editors or FOX news will make it happen.

Last but not least, the day after the cited WSJ editorial appeared there was harridan hack Kimberley Strassel, e.g.
Image result for kimberley strassel

once more recycling her scattered attacks on Christopher Steele's character, e. g. 'Who Is Christopher Steele?', WSJ, Feb. 9th, p. A13):

"Watch for the House Democrats to continue defending Mr. Steele despite all this"


What's "all this"? According to Strassel, "Steele was fired for defying FBI orders, meeting with the press, undercutting a probe, and lying about it."

Which is total nonsense especially the part about undercutting a probe when Steele provided many of the key elements germane to it. The lying claim is also baffling but figures into the conspiracy theories Strassel has been nursing and pushing for the past year. In other words, any one who doesn't conform to her pet conspiracy meme, i.e. that Steele was a creature of Hillary and the DNC,  is lying - so that includes Steele too.

As for "defying FBI orders" as my friend Rolf (former Swiss Spezialdienst)  noted, that's ridiculous given Steele isn't a U.S. citizen and isn't bound to obey any "orders" from a foreign intelligence or law agency.  That also means he can give interviews if he desires. This may not apply if he was specifically hired as a contract agent, but we don't know that. We don't have the exact details of the FBI-Steele arrangement, only that he was an "asset".   That's enough semantic latitude to drive a metaphorical Mack truck through. 
So all Strassel has done is to inflate ordinary differences between UK and U.S nationals into some huge, festering sinister operation. 

What we DO know, as a sensible and intelligent WSJ letter writer  (Albion Urdank) makes clear in today's paper is that: "The FBI long regarded Mr. Steele as a valuable asset.  He was fired after speaking to the press because of the public relations fallout, not because the FBI had lost confidence in him. He did so to prod authorities into moving faster on the information he provided. Mr. Steele was no Clinton partisan but seemed genuinely alarmed at the prospect of a Trump presidency for obvious security reasons."

And most to the point, in rebuttal of Strassel's idiocy:

"America owes him a debt of gratitude instead of the calumny being heaped upon him."

 As for Kimberley, she needs to cool it, along with the WSJ's editors, maybe take her Zoloft and chill.

Leave out the WSJ editorial and op-ed pages' conspiracy mongering, as well as the FOX News campaign to undermine Mueller.  What we do know is that there is now hard evidence of attempted Russian hacks into the election systems of 21 states. Given this,  we ought to cease this phony debate and be ready to protect our voting system now  as the midterms approach. 

If the WSJ's op- ed team - including its stable of  ardent Mueller probe opponents (William McGurn, Kimberley Strassel,  Dan Henninger,  Holman Jenkins) -  are truly the defenders of freedom they so often profess,  then  they ought to drop this BS campaign to attack the FBI, and honorable persons like Christopher Steele  -  the guy who warned us about this perfidy. That,  instead of portraying him as a liar, Hillary-DNC shill  and all purpose bogeyman. So long as they refuse, I will be ignoring the op-ed pages as I would ordinary commercial fishwrap like the National Enquirer.

See also:

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/christopher-brauchli/77665/a-message-to-the-wall-street-journal-give-voice-to-accuracy-instead-of-partisanship


Excerpt:

The editorial entitled: “A Reckoning for the FBI” appeared three days after a lengthy report by WSJ reporters, Rebecca Ballhaus and Byron Tau had been published. The reporting of those two individuals contradicted much of the “Reckoning for the FBI” editorial.

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