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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Turns out it WASN'T the dossier

Today's big news is that the FBI did not start investigating the Trump-Russia connection based on Christopher Steele's dossier. It all started in May of 2016, when Trump adviser George Papadopoulos went drinking with a friend named Alexander Downer, who was connected with the Australian diplomatic corps. Georgie told his Aussie pal that Moscow had stolen lots and lots of Democratic emails.

This all happened in the Kensington Wine Rooms. In vino veritas.

The Aussies held onto this info for a while, until those stolen emails found their way online. At that point, the Australians decided to call the FBI -- who, shortly thereafter, also had THAT dossier to work from.

I'll be amazed and amused to see how the right-wingers spin this. In recent weeks, Trump and his supporters have twisted themselves like Plastic Man in their attempt to give the impression that the FBI somehow did something wrong when the Bureau decided to pay attention to these leads. Obviously, the Bureau would have been remiss if they had ignored this information.

The Trumpers have even told us that the fact that the FBI took this information seriously means that Hillary colluded with the Russians.

No, it doesn't make sense to me either. The people who think this way -- if "think" is indeed the right term -- must live in a surrealist painting. For the Trump-loving conspiracy buffs among us, things don't need to make sense; in their world, logic can only obscure the beatific vision.

I'm sure that Trump will now tell us that Georgie-poo may have known all about the Great Russian Mail Theft in May of 2016, but nobody else in the Trump campaign knew. Not Trump, not Roger Stone, not Paul Manafort, not nobody. Just George.


Nevertheless, that "George dunnit" yarn is something you have to believe if you insist on going along with Trump's protestations of innocence.

Israel...? The most interesting paragraphs of the NYT are buried way, way down:
It is unclear whether Mr. Downer was fishing for that information that night in May 2016. The meeting at the bar came about because of a series of connections, beginning with an Israeli Embassy official who introduced Mr. Papadopoulos to another Australian diplomat in London.

It is also not clear why, after getting the information in May, the Australian government waited two months to pass it to the F.B.I. In a statement, the Australian Embassy in Washington declined to provide details about the meeting or confirm that it occurred.
Seems to me that the NYT writers are hinting at more than they can say. What was the nature of these connections? Who is this other Australian? And what the hell do the Israelis have to do with this? Was this Israeli official helping Team Trump? Was he or she working with the Australians?

What the hell is going on here?

Look, I know that it has become a bit of a cliche: Here I go again, sounding the paranoia alarms simply because Israel was mentioned in a story involving a covert operation. But we really do need to know if the Israelis were in any way involved with helping Trump get elected. Conversely, they may have been worried about the Trump contacts with Russia.

Or perhaps they simply stumbled into this business -- although it's hard to believe that one could just stumble into the world of George Papadopoulos in May of 2016.

Other sources. Digby directs our attention to this piece published in the Guardian back in April.
GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added.

Over the next six months, until summer 2016, a number of western agencies shared further information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians, sources said.

The European countries that passed on electronic intelligence – known as sigint – included Germany, Estonia and Poland. Australia, a member of the “Five Eyes” spying alliance that also includes the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, also relayed material, one source said.
Looks to me as though the Beast With Five Eyes was on to Trump from the very beginning. Apparently, everyone knew about Team Trump's collusion with Russia except for Donald Trump.

It seems very possible that someone decided to get Georgie-poo sloshed because that someone needed to verify the SIGINT.

So here's the big big BIG question, the question which (as longtime readers know) I've been asking for a while: Why was a Trump presidency allowed to happen? The spooks had major dirt on Trump. They could have upended his presidential bid early on, back when he was comparing dick sizes with Marco Rubio.

Perhaps they simply presumed that Trump, vulgar and unstable creature that he is, would simply destroy his own candidacy. But I've long favored another view.

I think that Trump had helpers within the intelligence community.

Never forget that Cambridge Analytica is composed largely of right-wing British intelligence veterans. Never forget that CA had strong ties to the American intelligence community.

Never forget that James Comey could have told the world about the FBI's investigation of Trump. If Comey had done so, he'd probably still be running the Bureau.

There's a deep, subterranean level of the Trump/Russia story that no-one (on either the right or the left) wants to talk about. A spooky level. And I'm talking about our spooks, not the FSB. Even the liberal media rarely glimpses this aspect of the story.

Fun historical facts. Do you know why Adolf Hitler joined the fledgling NSDAP? He was a spy, working for Army intelligence. He was sent into the group to compile a report on their operations.

Also: Did you know that NSDAP got a lot of money early on from Henry Ford? Ford might be considered the Putin of his day, channeling big money to far-right causes. The Ford money came in at a time when German industrialists disdained Hitler's movement. Without Ford, Hitler would have remained a footnote figure.

Here's the important part: These overseas bucks were covertly "washed" through German military intelligence. Even in the early days, there were people in that world who wanted the Nazi party to succeed. Now, you can call this operation anything you like -- but if you want to use the right terminology, you had better feel comfortable using the word conspiracy.

Don't believe me? Look it up in Poole's Who Financed Hitler? That's the book on the topic.

What's past is present. History repeats itself.
The part of this story that is killing me the most is wondering WTF happened in the NY FBI field office. Everyone paying attention knows shady stuff was going on there. But there has been no information about what it was. Common sense tells us it was what influenced Comey to release his letter, but we still have no idea on the specifics. It's the one great mystery where I know there is more to the story but fear we will never find out.
Alexander Downer was Aussie Foreign Affairs Minister in 2002-04 under conservative PM John Howard. He had plenty of foreign affairs and intel contacts before his posting as High Commissioner to the UK (a political sinecure to retired high profile politicians).

In 2005 Australia established a Royal Commission (the Cole Inquiry) into alleged kickbacks to the Saddam regime from the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) in return for purchasing wheat in breach of the UN Oil-For-Food program . The Paul Volker Inquiry determined that such corruption had occured and that Australia was the leading culprit. The Cole Inquiry confirmed the breaches but found that none of it would sustain criminal charges, and so the matter publicly died.

But there is an interesting back story here of Downer's links to the US MIC. Downer is close friend of former US defence secretary, William Cohen, founder of the Cohen Group. It's no accident, I suppose, that this powerful US PR firm with close ties to defense industries and the Bush leadership, was willing to assist the AWB before the Volker and Cole Inquiries. And then there's Frank Miller, also a Downer confidante. This former Senior Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control at the National Security Council, VP of the Cohen Group, served for thirty one years at senior levels of the US government on things like nuclear deterrence, strategic arms reduction, national space policy, defense trade reform, and transforming the American and NATO militaries. This is a very senior guy. He doesn't get out of bed except to reorganise NATO. Yet we are told that he flew to Australia to handle "the day-to-day work" for the AWB before the Cole inquiry. What gives? What was a Frank Miller doing handling a piddling wheat corruption investigation in Australia? It couldn't be, could it, that Miller and the Cohen Group were acting as damage control agents, not for the AWB, but for Downer and the Federal government? Just to cover up any possible leaks of other illicit dealings with Saddam by US allies or agents?

Of course, the Cohen Group was a major player in the American Turkish Council (ATC) which has been well covered by Sibel Edmonds. These are the go to guys for covert US foreign policy, especially in Asia and the former Russian states -- and all the drugs and arms trafficking in between.
Further tidbit. Back in Feb 2002 Australia's UN ambassador John Dauth advised former AWB chairman Trevor Flugge that US military action to depose Saddam Hussein was inevitable and that Australia would be participating. The details, which appeared in minutes tended to the Cole inquiry, were dismissed by Alexander Downer as Dauth's personal views. But how likely is this? A professional diplomat at a key embassy is going to express 'personal views' about market-sensitive information to one of our major exporters? That's simply unbelievable. Dauth did advise Flugge that war was coming twelve months ahead of time. That means PM Howard and Foreign Minister Downer knew as well and they lied to Parliament and the Australian people. The Aussie leadership -- and Downer -- knew of the Iraq invasion from Feb 2002. So let's be clear: Downer is well connected.
I failed to mention that Downer was Aussie Foreign Minister between 1996-2007, under both the Clinton and Bush administrations. He would have been known to every senior US Defense, State Dept and Intelligence official in those administrations as a completely reliable US supporter in the Pacific. He was definitely a 5-Eyes insider at the highest level and was not just some minor diplomat, even at the time of his meeting with Papadopoulos. P knew that Downer worked well with the Bush team and probably figured he would enjoy a bit of Hillary-hate. Big mistake. Aussie politicians left and right are immune to the GOP disease, being all about the Alliance. Papadopoulos may as well have taken out a full page NYT ad. Dumb as a bunch of rocks. Downer also has extensive pro-Israel links.
"Who Financed Hitler" is eye opening indeed. I read it when it was first published. Are you also familiar with "Trading With The Enemy"?
Kathleen, I spoke with author Charles Higham twice, both times under weird circumstances. Among many other things, he said that "Trading With the Enemy" and "American Swastika" were the two books that justified his life, and that he wrote them without a single thought for money. In fact, I'm pretty sure that he lost money doing the research.

If memory serves, the documents he retrieved are now stored at USC. I may be wrong about that.

Higham also strongly hinted that he had an affair with Vicky Morgan. Higham was gay, but Vicky specialized in seducing gay men. Said Charles with a twinkle in his eye.
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