Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Russian Spy's Arrest Shows Trump May Indeed Be Compromised

No automatic alt text available."Cooperate, Donald, or we release the piss video with our girls doing their number ones all over you in a Kompromat hotel room!"

For many, after the Russian hacking of the 2016 election was revealed, it remained to explain how the Intelligence agencies could be so certain that it was the Russians who hacked the email of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Two Russian intelligence officers who worked on cyberoperations and a Russian computer security expert have been arrested and charged with treason for providing information to the United States, according to multiple  Russian news reports.

As in most espionage cases, the details made public so far are incomplete, and some rumors in Moscow suggest that those arrested may be scapegoats in an internal power struggle over the hacking. Russian media reports link the charges to the disclosure of the Russian role in attacking state election boards, including the scanning of voter rolls in Arizona and Illinois, and do not mention the parallel attacks on the D.N.C. and the email of John Podesta, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman.
But one current and one former United States official, speaking about the classified recruitments on condition of anonymity, confirmed that human sources in Russia did play a crucial role in proving who was responsible for the hacking.

Steven L. Hall, a former C.I.A. head of Russian operations, said it was “very tempting and certainly reasonable to connect the arrests to the American intelligence findings".

But he added a cautionary note: “The rule of law doesn’t apply in Russia, and they manipulate the law to do whatever they want to do. So what they call treason may not be what we call treason.”

Still the report of the arrests, originally in an independent  Russian newspaper Kommersant founded by Mkhail Gorbachev,  have to be taken seriously to the point of connecting them to the Steele report and the U.S. election hacking. They were made in early December and amounted to a purge of the cyberwing of the F.S.B., the main Russian intelligence and security agency.

Those arrested by the agency’s internal affairs bureau included Sergei Mikhailov, a deputy director of the Center for Information Security, the agency’s computer security arm, and Ruslan Stoyanov, a senior researcher at a prominent Russian computer security company, Kaspersky Lab.

Recall that MI6 spy Christopher Steele had uncovered  a  plot to torpedo the 2016 general election using dsinformation as well as outright hacking of both parties' computers, although only using the gathered material against one. In addition, an annex to the released intelligence report disclosed high level conspiratorial shenanigans involving the Trump team and Russian counterparts as well as compromising material collected on Trump when he was in Moscow in 2013 for a "Miss Universe" beauty pageant.

As revealed by Mr. Steele in his last interview (with David Corn, published in 'Mother Jones') before going underground, the material gathered in memos was considered so explosive that he turned it over to contacts he had in the FBI last summer. This was without informing the opposition research group for which he'd initially begun his project. The FBI, despite this explosive stuff sitting on its shelves, chose instead to go after Hillary Clinton with damning insinuations of guilt over her email server, as opposed to parsing and exposing the Steele material.

While the intelligence community and FBI has been playing it coy saying they can't substantiate what's in the dossier. or that it is "raw intelligence" and doesn't "prove" anything, others have recognized that where there's smoke there's fire. In particular, contrary to a dopey Trump tweet that Steele is a "failed spy" he was actually one of the UK's best on Russian matters. A highly regarded and respective intelligence operative who doesn't make shit up like Trump, or pull it out of his ass.

According to an earlier AP report in the Denver Post ( 'Ex Spy Regarded as Dependable') :

"Three British intelligence agents interviewed by the Associated Press described Steele as well regarded in the intelligence community, with excellent Russian skills and high level sources."

According to one Financial Times account, 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, professional through and through, no exaggerations and no fillers that hadn't been  sourced. 

The new revelations regarding the FSB "treason" crackdown and arrests, now underscore the validity, with perhaps a 99 percent confidence level. Something most working scientists would embrace in a heart beat.   Look, if what's in that dosser is even partially true, the risk to Trump  must be terrifying. Think about it. If any of that material is true, i.e. Steele was able to get real information from the Russian government about what they have on Donald Trump, how they got it, and how they were planning on using it, then the Russians right now would be going all out to root out Steele's sources. This would include who inside the Russian government had access to that true information and gave it lock, stock and barrel to Christopher Steele. From the FSB perspective, they're now working overtime to figure out who are the traitors, who are the leakers.

Several nationalist publications, Tsargrad, and RBC, a respected business newspaper, identified  a third suspect, Dmitry Dokuchayev. .Described as a former hacker who used the online pseudonym Forb, Mr. Dokuchayev had agreed to work for the F.S.B. to avoid prosecution for credit card fraud, a rampant crime in Russia.

Both Novaya Gazeta, an outlet for the liberal opposition, and the hard-line nationalist Tsargrad reported that the F.S.B. added a theatrical touch to the arrest of Mr. Mikhailov. Agents arresting the suspected spy placed a bag over his head in the midst of a congress of senior intelligence agency officers in Moscow and led him from the room, the two publications reported.

“The arrest was certainly colorful,” Tsargrad’s report said. “Mikhailov was led from the congress of F.S.B. colleagues with a bag on his head.”

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