• Christopher Steele’s Other Job: He Ran an Info Op Against the United States (How to Steele an Election)

    February 18, 2018

    Tags: , , , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Trump

    Christopher Steele did far more than simply provide an opposition research dossier to the Democratic National Committee, his Job One. As a skilled intelligence officer, Steele ran a full-spectrum information operation against the United States, aided either willingly or unwittingly by the FBI. His second job was the more important one: get his information into the most effective hands to influence the United States in the most significant way.

    To understand how effective Steele has been in his op, we need to understand he had two jobs. The first was to create the dossier. The second job was to disseminate the dossier. Steele had to get the information into the most effective hands to influence the United States in the most significant way.


    Job One: Create the Dossier

    Job One was to create the opposition research. “Oppo” is not a neutral gathering of facts, but a search for negative information that can be used against an opponent. The standards — vetting — vary with the intended use. Some info might be published with documents and verification. Some leads discovered might be planted in hopes a journalist will uncover more “on her own,” creating credibility. Some likely near-falsehoods might be handed out to sleazy media in hopes more legit media will cross report — the New York Times might not initially run a story about a sexual dalliance itself, but it will run a story saying “Buzzfeed reports a sexual dalliance involving…”

    Oppo research follows no rules; this is not peer-reviewed stuff that has to pass an ethics board. One goes out with bags of money shouting “Anyone got dirt on our opponent? We’re paying, but only for dirt!” You look for people who didn’t like a deal, people with an axe to grind, the jilted ex-wife, not the happy current one. So to say oppo research might be biased is to miss the point.

    You’re not required to look too far under a rock that hides something naughty — stop when you’ve got what you came for. It all depends how the information will be deployed. The less sure you are about the veracity of the information you acquire the more you need that info to be inherently palatable; it has to feel right to the intended audience. The old political joke is you need to find a live boy in bed, or a dead girl, to really smear an opponent with a sex scandal. So if you’re going to run with info that supports what the public already sort of believes, the standards are lower.


    What Does the Dossier Say?

    Turning to Christopher Steele’s dossier, it looks like he read the same espionage textbook as everyone else. So while it would have been a game-changer had Steele found unambiguous evidence of financial transactions between Trump and the Russian government, that would have required real evidence. Steele’s sources claim money changed hands, but never provide him with proof. On dossier (page 20) one source goes as far as to say no documentary evidence exists.

    That means instead of the complex financing scams you might expect out of Trump, the big takeaway from the dossier is the pee tape, sources claiming the Russians have video to blackmail Trump at any moment. The thing reaches almost the level of parody, because not only does the dossier claim Trump likes fetish sex, the fetish sex occurred in the context of an anti-Obama act (Trump supposedly for his pleasure employed prostitutes to urinate on a bed Obama once slept in.) As for other sex parties Trump supposedly participated in, the dossier notes all direct witnesses were “silenced.” You couldn’t do better if you made it all up.

    In fact, the thing reads very much like what lay people imagine spies come up with. In real intelligence work, documents showing transactions from cash to commercial paper to gold run through a Cayman Islands’ bank are much more effective than dirty video; the latter can be denied, and may or may not even matter to a public already bored by boasts of pussy grabbing and rawdog sex with porn stars. The former will show up in court as part of a racketeering and tax evasion charge that dead solid perfect sends people to jail. Intelligence officers who pay out sources maintain meticulous receipts; you think their own agencies trust them with bags of cash? And in the dark world, prostitutes don’t need to be “silenced.” They have no credibility in most people’s’ minds to begin with, and a trail of bodies just attracts attention. And unlike Steele’s product, real intel reporting is full of qualifiers, maybes, liklies and so forth, not a laundry list of certainties, because you know your own sources have an agenda. The dossier is also short of the kind of verifiable details of specific dates and places you’d expect. It is a collection of unverifiable assertions by second-hand sources, not evidence. Steele is a smart man, an experienced intelligence officer, who knew exactly what he was writing — a dossier that will read true to the rubes.

    So it is not surprising to date there has been no public corroboration of anything in the dossier. If significant parts of the dossier could be proven, there would be grounds for impeachment with no further work needed. At least one fact has been disproven –Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, produced his passport to rebut the dossier’s claim that he had secret meetings in Prague with a Russian official.

    Job Two: Run the Info Op, Place the Dossier

    Steele excelled at turning his dossier into a full-spectrum information operation, what some might call information warfare. This is what separates his work creating the dossier (which a decent journalist with friends in Russia could have done) from his work infiltrating the dossier into the highest reaches of American government and political society. For that, you need a real pro, an intelligence officer with decades of experience running just that kind of op. You want foreign interference in the 2016 election? Let’s take a closer look at Christopher Steele.

    Steele’s skill is revealed by the Nunes and Grassley memos, which show he used the same set of information in the dossier to create a collaboration loop, every intelligence officer’s dream — his own planted information used to surreptitiously confirm itself, right up to the point where the target country’s own intelligence service re-purposed it as evidence in the FISA court.

    Steele admits he briefed journalists off-the-record starting in summer and autumn 2016. His most significant hit came when journalist Michael Isikoff broke the story of Trump associate Carter Page’s alleged connections to Russia. Isikoff did not cite the dossier or Steele as sources, and in fact denied they were when questioned.

    Isikoff’s story didn’t just push negative information about Trump into the public consciousness. It claimed U.S. intel officials were probing ties between a Trump adviser and the Kremlin, adding credibility; the feds themselves felt the info was worthwhile! Better yet for Steele, Isikoff claimed the information came from a “well-placed Western intelligence source,” suggesting it originated from a third-party and was picked up by Western spies instead of being written by one. Steele also placed articles in the New York Times, Washington Post, New Yorker, Mother Jones, and others.

    At the same time, Steele’s info reached influential people like John McCain, who could then pick up a newspaper and believe he was seeing the “secret” info from Steele confirmed independently by an experienced journalist. And how did McCain first learn about Steele’s work? At a conference in Canada, via Andrew Wood, former British Ambassador in Moscow. Where was Wood working at the time? Orbis, Christopher Steele’s research firm.

    A copy of the dossier even found its way to the State Department, an organization which normally should have been far removed from U.S. election politics. A contact within State passed information from Clinton associates Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer (both men played also active roles behind in the scenes feeding Clinton dubious information on Libya) to and from Steele. The Grassley memo suggests there is was a second Steele document, in addition to the dossier, already shared with State and the FBI but not made public.

    The Gold Medal: Become the Source of Someone Else’s Investigation

    While seeding his dossier in the media and around Washington, Steele was also meeting in secret with the FBI (he claims he did not inform Fusion GPS, his employer), via an FBI counterintelligence handler in Rome. Steele began feeding the FBI in July 2016 with updates into the fall, apparently in the odd guise of simply a deeply concerned, loyal British subject. “This is something of huge significance, way above party politics,” Steele commented as to his motives.

    The FBI, in the process of working Steele, would have likely characterized him as a “source,” technically a “extra-territorial confidential human source.” That meant the dossier’s claims appeared to come from the ex-MI6 officer with the good reputation, not second-hand from who knows who in Russia (the FBI emphasized Steele’s reputation when presenting the dossier to the FISC.) Think of it as a kind of money laundering which, like that process, helped muddy the real source of the goods.

    The FBI used the Steele dossier to apply for a FISA court surveillance warrant against Carter Page. The FBI also submitted Isikoff’s story as collaborating evidence, without explaining the article and the dossier were effectively one in the same. In intelligence work, this is known as cross-contamination, an amateur error. The FBI however, according to the Nunes memo, did not tell the FISA court the Steele dossier was funded by the Democratic National Committee as commissioned opposition research, nor did they tell the court the Isikoff article presented as collaborating evidence was in fact based on the same dossier.

    Steele reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the bureau to pay him $50,000 to continue his “research,” though the deal is believed to have fallen through after the dossier became public (though an intelligence community source tells The American Conservative Steele did in fact operate as a fully paid FBI asset.) Along the way the FBI also informed Steele of their separate investigation into Trump staffer George Papadopoulos, a violation of security and a possible tainting of Steele’s research going forward.

    Gold Medal Plus: Collaborate Your Own Information

    The Nunes memo also showed then-associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr back-channeled additional material from Steele into the DOJ while working with Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and her replacement, Rod Rosenstein. Ohr’s wife Nellie worked for Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned the dossier, on Steele’s project. Ohr’s wife would be especially valuable in that she would be able to clandestinely supply info to collaborate what Steele told the FBI and, via her husband, know to tailor what she passed to the questions DOJ had. The FBI did not disclose the role of Ohr’s wife, who speaks Russian and has previously done contract work for the CIA, to the FISA court.

    Ohr’s wife only began work for Fusion GPS in September/October 2016, as the FBI sought the warrant against Page based on the Steele dossier. Ohr’s wife taking a new job with Fusion GPS at that critical juncture screams of the efforts of an experienced intelligence officer looking to create yet another pipeline inside, essentially his own asset.

    Steele’s Success, With a Little Help From His Friends

    All talk of Russia aside, it is difficult to find evidence of a foreigner who played a more significant role in the election than Christopher Steele. Steele took a dossier paid for by one party and drove it deep into the United States. Steele’s work formed in part the justification for a FISA warrant to spy on a Trump associate, the end game of which has not yet been written.

    Steele maneuvered himself from paid opposition researcher to clandestine source for the FBI. Steele then may have planted the spouse of a senior DOJ employee as a second clandestine source to move more information into DOJ. In the intelligence world, that is as good as it gets; via two seemingly independent channels you are controlling the opponent’s information cycle.

    Steele further manipulated the American media to have his information amplified and given credibility. By working simultaneously as both an anonymous and a cited source, he got his same info out as if it was coming from multiple places.

    There is informed speculation Steele was more than a source for the FBI, and actually may have been tasked and paid to search for specific information, essentially working as a double agent for the FBI and the DNC. Others have raised questions about Steele’s status as “retired” from British intelligence, as the lines among working for MI6, working at MI6, and working with MI6 are often times largely a matter of semantics. Unless Steele wanted to burn all of his contacts within British intelligence, it is highly unlikely he would insert himself into an American presidential campaign without at least informing his old workmates, if not seeking tacit permission (for the record, Steele’s old boss at MI6 calls the dossier credible; an intelligence community source tells The American Conservative Steele shared all of his information with MI6.) It is unclear if the abrupt January 2017 resignation of Robert Hannigan, the head of Britain’s NSA-like Government Communications Headquarters, is related in any way to Steele’s work becoming public.

    As for the performance of the DOJ/FBI, we do not have enough information to judge whether they were incompetent, or simply willing partners to what Steele was up to, using him as a handy pretext to open legal surveillance on someone inside the Trump circle (surveillance on Page may have also monitored Steve Bannon.)


    How to Steele an Election

    The Washington Post characterized Steele as “struggling to navigate dual obligations — to his private clients, who were paying him to help Clinton win, and to a sense of public duty born of his previous life.” The Washington Post has no idea how intelligence officers work. Their job is to befriend and engage the target to carry out the goals of their employer. When they do it right, the public summation is a line like the Post offered; you never even knew you were being used. In the macho world of intelligence, the process is actually described more crudely, having to do with using enough lubrication so the target didn’t even feel a rough thing pushed up a very sensitive place.

    Steele played the FBI while the FBI thought they were playing him. Or the other way around, because everyone was looking the other way. Steele ran a classic info op against the United States, getting himself inside the cycle as a clean source. Robert Mueller should be ashamed of himself if he uses any of Steele’s dossier, or any information obtained via that dossier. That’s where our democracy stands at the moment.


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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...


      The Russians didn’t have to blackmail Trumpie or engage in collusion. They knew Trumpie would put his personal interests over the nation’s.

      02/18/18 7:28 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Like this one:

      HJ Resolution 40 was signed by President Trump on 28 February last year, days after his inauguration.

      It repealed an Obama-era rule that would have affected about 75,000 US citizens who are too mentally ill to handle their own disability benefits.

      The Obama measure covered those of “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease”.

      It also ordered the US Social Security Administration, which administers benefits, to add these names to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

      That database is used by the FBI to determine who is able to purchase a firearm.

      02/18/18 7:42 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Shame on the FBI for wasting its time

      Trumpie: Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable,” he wrote. “They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion.”

      The FBI actually is spending most of its time investigating the million death threats Trumpie gets. Talk about a waste of time.

      02/18/18 2:12 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Trumpie’s heart has maybe one more year before it gives out. Then we can all go golfing.

      02/19/18 10:19 PM | Comment Link

    • Mr Odwin said...


      Looks like Mr Bauer needs another 20 comments to make it to official troll status
      I know how frustrated you have been over the seeming impossibility of breaking the spell that has been woven. BUT, I have used and passed along your observations and I can tell you that the cognitive dissonance is starting to trouble even some of the inside the beltway crowd. Like bankruptcy for Hemingway- clarity comes- slowly at first- then all at once. The biggest, or most common, question I field is “so what can I do?”
      My answer is “Look for the agenda behind the narrative” Its hard work pushing on a string, but when you’ve sufficiently lubricated their footing so that they doubt the thoughtstoppers the have relied on, the string can serve to guide them. Thank you for your efforts and experience, because there is a Diogenes in all of us. We want to believe, and so we do—until we don’t. Its A Constitutional Republic It came with a users manual, lets open that book. Including The Preamble

      02/20/18 12:39 PM | Comment Link

    • Mr Odwin said...


      WASHINGTON — A team of American political strategists who helped [California] Gov. Pete Wilson with his abortive presidential bid earlier this year said this week that they served as Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin’s secret campaign weapon in his comeback win over a Communist challenger.—The Los Angeles Times, July 9, 1996

      Courtesy Of JHKunstler

      of course James Woolseys on camera admission that its only bad if somebody else does it to us will probably not register with Mister Bauer. hypocrisy never sleeps

      02/20/18 12:47 PM | Comment Link

    • Mr Odwin said...


      WASHINGTON — A team of American political strategists who helped [California] Gov. Pete Wilson with his abortive presidential bid earlier this year said this week that they served as Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin’s secret campaign weapon in his comeback win over a Communist challenger.—The Los Angeles Times, July 9, 1996

      Courtesy Of JHKunstler

      of course James Woolseys on camera admission that its only bad if somebody else does it to us will probably not register with Mister Bauer. hypocrisy never sleeps

      A little Upton Sinclair and a whole lot of Mencken would go a long way toward corrective vision

      It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

      02/20/18 12:56 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      And then? Full theocratic rule by Romney. Even the Democrats will support him! Anyone who would believe in the Mormon doctrine is insane just like a mullah pushing Allah.

      02/20/18 1:28 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...



      Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Presidenses come and go. Not the Koch Bros, the song remains the same.

      02/20/18 8:35 PM | Comment Link

    • Jonathan L. Seagull said...


      Woah. I just tried to post this to Reddit and it got hit by a downvote squad. Looks like you’ll have trouble getting this post distributed.

      02/21/18 5:27 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Bauer- agreed. We are all pawns in a clever game of charades – we sheeple are given the catnip of dirty politics to fuel but actually defuse our self righteous outrage while the Masters of the Universe types sip fine wine and play us all. Trump may not even know he’s being played. But! Where would a Romney type with his voodoo religious beliefs fit into the purely secular machinations of the ruling elite? I’m clueless but if he runs for POTUS things should be interesting.

      02/21/18 8:54 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      I think the Democrats are spent. They played the magic negro ruse and it worked brilliantly and then the Warrior Queen which didn’t work. Trump might actually welcome Romney for 2000 and gladly turn over the reigns. A magnificent gesture (“And now time to get back to being an unbound plutocrat without Mueller unfairly stalking me!”).

      02/22/18 9:39 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Seagull- I’m naive. I had no idea there are “gatekeepers” trying to keep the palace from being stormed. PVB’s observations are meant to inform and the opposite of seditious.

      02/22/18 9:45 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...



      Trumpie won’t run again. Trumpie may even decide to take a permanent golf vacation after the 2018 results.

      02/22/18 9:50 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Fake news: If significant parts of the dossier could be proven, there would be grounds for impeachment with no further work needed.

      Branching out to comedy?

      02/23/18 6:27 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Trumpie doesn’t have the balls of Steele

      How do we explain Trumpie only giving Putin lip service on his big balls? Trumpie either fears Putin blackmail or is willing to sell US out for personal business opportunity. I think the former. The guy is a chickenhawk draftdodger coward who projects his cowardice onto others.

      Bone Spurs is quick to call the Parkland deputy armed with a handgun who did not charge into the school to face certain death by an unknown number of terrorists with assault weapons. You can bet Bone Spurs would have showed his cowardice when confronted with the DeadZone. Bone Spurs did NOT run toward the sound of the guns in Vietnam and now labels an officer with a handgun a “coward” for not running toward the sound of an AR15.

      The coward shoots his mouth off in a desperate effort to deflect attention from his own shortcomings. The Little Dick ain’t got any balls either.

      Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5428379/Trump-slammed-calling-cop-coward.html#ixzz583uy4XQj
      Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

      02/24/18 4:27 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Bauer- the sheriff deputy drew $78K to protect the students which meant he agreed to put his safety on the line when needed. He could have easily bought an AR15 to keep in his trailer if he felt he would need such a weapon. He was making $102K per year with perks and overtime. A Glock in the hands of an expert can take out some kid with an AR15 easily at 30 feet. Don’t be enamored with kids with rifles. A conscientious deputy trains monthly and can be extremely deadly with a handgun.

      02/24/18 9:52 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      I stand corrected. Demented swears he would have run inside the school even if he didn’t have a gun. And we know Demented NEVER lies.

      02/26/18 12:56 PM | Comment Link

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