Bob Woodward : “Role Of Steele Dossier In Russia Probe Needs To Be Investigated” [UPDATE — How Did So Much of the Media Get the Steele Dossier So Wrong?]

“All of this underscores that the great scandal of 2016 wasn’t Russian collusion. It was the unleashing of America’s premier law enforcement agency against a presidential campaign based on Russian disinformation midwifed and financed by the Clinton campaign. The public is finally getting the truth about the FBI’s malfeasance, and Messrs. Barr and Durham deserve credit for exposing it.”

Wall Street Journal (September 26 2020)

April 26 2019 — “Watergate” journalist Bob Woodward told this week’s edition of “Fox News Sunday” that the role the Steele dossier played in the origin of the Trump-Russia investigation is “highly questionable” and “needs to be investigated.” Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

RELATED POST: Two Years Ago — The Trump Dossier : Raw Intelligence or Clever Fabrication? — POLL [UPDATE — Chris Steele Gets Cold Feet]

RELATED POST: Intel Report Suspiciously Anachronistic

RELATED POST: CIA Accusations are Unproven, Dangerous and Beyond Hypocrisy

RELATED POST: Fake News: FBI and DHS release ‘evidence’ of Russia Interference

RELATED POST: Two Years Ago — From Watergate to… GoldenGate?

RELATED POST: Bob Woodward: Trump Dossier Is a ‘Garbage Document’ — “Intelligence Chiefs Should ‘Apologize’ to Trump”

RELATED POST: Seymour Hersh: “Russia Election Hack is a CIA Hoax” [UPDATE — CIA Baer and FBI Marquise]

“Some first rough drafts are more accurate than others, as every journalist will concede. So when reporters uncover new information that undermines earlier copy, they write new stories, updating the record. What they don’t do is go back and erase the original, flawed version. But that’s what the Washington Post did last week.”

POLITICO (Nov. 16 2021)

UPDATE (November 17 2021) — Last Friday, The Washington Post took the unusual step of correcting and removing large portions of two articles, published in March 2017 and February 2019, that had identified a Belarusian American businessman as a key source of the Steele dossier.

The newspaper’s executive editor, Sally Buzbee, said The Post could no longer stand by the accuracy of those elements of the story. [The Washington Post corrects, removes parts of two stories regarding the Steele dossier]

The Post’s decision to edit and repost the Millian stories is highly unusual in the news industry.

Mainstream publications often add corrections to published stories when credible new information emerges. Some publishers also enable readers to petition them to remove unflattering stories from their websites, a once-controversial practice that has gained more acceptance in the digital era, when articles can remain accessible online for years.

But it’s rare for a publication to make wholesale changes after publication and to republish the edited story, especially more than four years afterward.

“No such case comes immediately or specifically to mind, at least no historical case that stirred lasting controversy,” said W. Joseph Campbell, a professor and journalism historian at American University.

Now the Post is tossing old, flawed stories down the memory hole. Is this how journalism dies … in darkness?

“It’s hard to have a paper of record if the record keeps changing.”

Stephen Bates — Professor of journalism at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas

Bill Grueskin is a professor of professional practice and former academic dean at Columbia Journalism School. He has held senior editing positions at The Wall Street Journal, The Miami Herald and Bloomberg News.

Grueskin just wrote an opinion piece asking a simple question: “How Did So Much of the Media Get the Steele Dossier So Wrong?” [New York Times (Nov. 15, 2021)]

But news organizations that uncritically amplified the Steele dossier ought to come to terms with their records, sooner or later. This is hard, but it’s not unprecedented. (…)

More than two decades ago, after New York Times articles identified a scientist at Los Alamos as being investigated for having a role in a spying scheme, which federal investigators were unable to substantiate, the paper ran both an extensive editors’ note and an article that included details about how its reporting had gone astray.

Newsrooms that can muster an independent, thorough examination of how they handled the Steele dossier story will do their audience, and themselves, a big favor. (…)

In the meantime, journalists could follow the advice I once got from Paul Steiger, who was the managing editor of The Journal when I was editing articles for the front page. Several of us went to his office one day, eager to publish a big scoop that he believed wasn’t rock solid. Mr. Steiger told us to do more reporting — and when we told him that we’d heard competitors’ footsteps, he responded, “Well, there are worse things in this world than getting beaten on a story.”

This morning, I reminded you the origin of the “Deep Throat” expression in the context of the Watergate scandal.

RELATED POST: On this Day — US President Richard Nixon : “I am Not a Crook” (November 17 1973) [UPDATE : 50 Years of Deep Throat]

The reader will remember that legendary Watergate journalist Bob Woodward immediately called the “Steele Dossier” a garbage document. Woodward was not alone….

Most Intel Today readers believed — correctly as we now know — that the dossier was a piece of disinformation.

What went wrong at The New York Times? What went wrong at The Washington Post? How did so much of the Media get the Steele Dossier so wrong???

PS — The 2018 Pulitzer Prize [National Reporting] was awarded to the staffs of The New York Times and The Washington Post “for deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage” of — wait for it — the Steele Dossier!

END of UPDATE

“I think it was the CIA [John Brennan] pushing this, real intelligence experts looked at this and said no, this is not intelligence, this is garbage and they took it out. But in this process, the idea that they would include something like that in one of the great stellar intelligence assessments as Mueller also found out is highly questionable. Needs to be investigated.”

Bob Woodward (April 2019)

UPDATE (November 5 2021) — The US Department of Justice has charged Igor Danchenko with repeatedly making false statements to the FBI.

Danchenko was a key source of information used by former British intelligence operative Christopher Steele in a dossier that alleged Trump was compromised by ties to Russia ahead of the 2016 election.

Among the salacious claims Danchenko has said he passed on was that the Russians had a tape of Trump with women that became infamously shorthanded as the pee tape. 

According to the indictment, Danchenko was charged with five counts of making false statements to the FBI. He faces up to five years in prison for each count.

This is not the first indictment of the Durham investigation. And it may not be the last one…

In January 2021, a former FBI attorney, Kevin Clinesmith, was sentenced to a year probation for altering an email related to a surveillance request that was part of the Russia investigation.

In September 2021, officials charged D.C. lawyer Michael Sussmann for allegedly making false statements to the FBI.

According to the federal indictment, a US-based public relations executive “who was a long-time participant in Democratic Party politics” was “a contributor of information” to the dossier.

“PR Executive-l maintained historical and ongoing involvement in Democratic politics, which bore upon PR Executive-l’s reliability, motivations, and potential bias as a source of information,” the indictment states.

Mr Danchenko lied to agents when he said he had never communicated with this unnamed PR executive about the dossier allegations.

The unnamed P.R. executive is the longtime Democratic activist and Russia relations expert Chuck Dolan Jr.

In June 2016, Dolan wrote an email:

“He [Danchenko] is too young for KGB. But I think he worked for FSB. Since he told me he spent two years in Iran. And when I first met him he knew more about me than I did. [winking emoticon].”

PS — Prior to the release of the Mueller’s report, Intel Today ran a poll: “Is the Steele dossier a genuine work of intelligence or a piece of disinformation?”


– – –

Most readers believed — correctly as we now know — that the dossier was a piece of disinformation.

END of UPDATE

“Had Orbis been given the opportunity to respond in a private session, the statements by the Primary Sub-Source would be put in a different light. The Primary Sub-Source’s debriefings by Orbis were meticulously documented and recorded.”

Counsel for Christopher Steele and Orbis Business Intelligence (December 10 2019)

*** *** ***

Lawyer Hugh Tomlinson: “But none of these documents [mentioned in the rebuttal to the IG report] exist, so they have all been destroyed?”

Christopher Steele :“They no longer exist. That is my assertion, indeed my assertion under oath.”

British Court (March 18 2020)

UPDATE (September 29 2020) — WSJ : “The FBI’s Bad Intelligence” — Better late than never. One newspaper has finally published a correct story regarding the FBI’s 2016 investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia.

In a piece titled “The FBI’s Bad Intelligence”, the Wall Street Journal finally concludes what was obvious long ago.

Four years into accusations about Russia-Trump collusion, we finally learn that Russia’s main conduit for disinformation may have been America’s FBI.

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz last year revealed that former spook Christopher Steele relied on one primary “subsource” for most of his accusations against the Trump campaign. This subsource was later identified as Ukrainian-born Igor Danchenko, who worked as a research analyst from 2005 to 2010 at the Brookings Institution in Washington. The latest disclosures show that Mr. Danchenko was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011, based on concerns he was a Russian agent and “a threat to national security.”

Here’s the kicker: The FBI identified Mr. Danchenko as Mr. Steele’s source in December 2016, when senior bureau officials also became aware of the prior FBI investigation. The FBI’s realization that it was being fed potential Russian disinformation should have put an immediate halt to the Page probe, if not the entire collusion investigation.

Instead and incredibly, the FBI failed to disclose this information to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in all three of its subsequent renewal applications against Mr. Page.

All of this underscores that the great scandal of 2016 wasn’t Russian collusion. It was the unleashing of America’s premier law enforcement agency against a presidential campaign based on Russian disinformation midwifed and financed by the Clinton campaign. The public is finally getting the truth about the FBI’s malfeasance, and Messrs. Barr and Durham deserve credit for exposing it.

“The FBI identified Mr. Danchenko as Mr. Steele’s source in December 2016, when senior bureau officials also became aware of the prior FBI investigation. The FBI’s realization that it was being fed potential Russian disinformation should have put an immediate halt to the Page probe, if not the entire collusion investigation.”

Wall Street Journal (September 26 2020)

UPDATE (July 21 2020) — Newly declassified documents that they say “significantly undercut” the “reliability” of the infamous Steele dossier from the Russia probe, as well as the accuracy and reliability of the factual assertions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

The first document, which the committee said spanned 57 pages, is a summary of a three-day interview with ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele’s primary sub-source.

Steele authored the unverified anti-Trump dossier of claims about alleged ties between Donald Trump and Russia that served as the basis for FISA warrants obtained against Page.

The source, according to the committee, told the FBI in interviews in January and March of 2017 that the information contained in the anti-Trump dossier was unreliable.

The document revealed that the dossier was “unsubstantiated and unreliable,” according to sources who reviewed it, and showed that the FBI was on notice of the dossier’s credibility problems, yet continued to seek further FISA warrant renewals for Page.

The document revealed that the primary “source” of Steele’s election reporting was not a current or former Russian official, but a non-Russian-based contract employee of Steele’s firm, according to the committee.

Moreover, the document demonstrated that the information Steele’s primary sub-source provided him was “second and third-hand information and rumors at best.”

The document also revealed that Steele’s primary sub-source “disagreed with and was surprised by” how information he gave Steele was then conveyed by Steele in the dossier.

For instance, the source told the FBI he “did not recall” where some of the information attributed to him or his sources came from; was never told about or mentioned to Steele certain information attributed to him or his sources; said that Steele “re-characterized” some of the information to make it more substantiated and “less attenuated” than it really was; and that he would have described some of his sources differently.

The sub source also told the FBI, according to committee sources, that Steele “implied direct access to information where the access to information was indirect.”

The document, according to the committee, further demonstrates that the dossier “which played a central and essential role” in obtaining a FISA against Page. [Fox News — Senate Republicans release files they say ‘undercut’ Steele dossier]

Here is the sentence that puzzles me.

“the primary “source” of Steele’s election reporting was not a current or former Russian official, but a non-Russian-based contract employee of Steele’s firm…”

This is an interesting use of language. This could mean various things as “non-Russian based” is meaningless.

It should be EITHER be a “non-Russia based” which means that the source was not based in Russia at the time of being the source; OR “a non-Russian, based” somewhere (Russia or elsewhere) who is or was a “contract employee”.

If he meant to say “Non-Russia based” then he meant someone who was not based in Russia at that time. So that could be Sergei Skripal or Pablo Miller or someone else.

RELATED POST: Who is MI6 Officer Pablo Miller?

RELATED POST: On This Day — The Skripals Drama Begins (March 4 2018) [2020]

If he meant the person was a non-Russian it could also be Skripal or Miller; as Miller is a UK national and, I believe so is Sergei Skripal who was granted a British passport when he defected.

My guess is that the statement is intended to be confusing!

On the first anniversary of the Skripal affair, I wrote:

“Frankly, it would not surprise me a bit if we discover one day — 50 years from now? — that a Western Intelligence agency was feeding Skripal with a mix of information and disinformation regarding the alleged Trump-Russia collusion, knowing full well that this report [Steele Dossier] would eventually end up at the FBI.

If true, that agency has played Steele, and therefore the FBI, like a skripka. Let us hope that Robert Mueller has learned from his past mistakes…”

It seems we are moving in that direction a bit faster than I had expected. Stay tuned!

END of UPDATE

The ’25-page’ US Intel Report released on January 6 2017 was always suspicious. This “Intel Report” is in fact 5 pages long and the document contains 7 pages of information related to the 2012 US election?!?

The ‘Trump dossier’ consists of a series of unsigned memos that appear to have been written between June and December 2016.

The dossier contains lurid and mostly hard-to-prove allegations.

CHRIS WALLACE: President Trump kicking off what may be the next chapter of the Russia probe, looking into why the FBI launched the investigation and we are back now with the panel. Well, Mr. Woodward, more than two years ago back in January of 2017 when the Steele dossier first surfaced, I remember you saying right here on the show that it is a “garbage document.” Do you feel that the Mueller report basically discredited it, and to what degree do you think it played a role in the Russia investigation?

BOB WOODWARD: That’s what’s going to be investigated by lots of people, including the attorney general and including Senator Lindsey Graham.

CHRIS WALLACE: The inspector general is also doing it.

WOODWARD: And it should be. What I out recently, which was really quite surprising, the dossier, which really has got a lot of garbage in it and Mueller found that to be the case, early in building the intelligence community assessment on Russian interference in an early draft, they actually put the dossier on page two in kind of a breakout box. I think it was the CIA pushing this, real intelligence experts looked at this and said no, this is not intelligence, this is garbage and they took it out. But in this process, the idea that they would include something like that in one of the great stellar intelligence assessments as Mueller also found out is highly questionable. Needs to be investigated.

Earlier this month (April 2019), Attorney General William Barr told Congress that he has formed a team within the Department of Justice to look into the origins of the counter-intelligence investigation, and mentioned the dossier specifically as a point of inquiry.

Bob Woodward : “Role Of Steele Dossier In Russia Probe Needs To Be Investigated”

UPDATE (April 25 2020) — Lies, lies, and more lies. Just when you think it cannot get worse, it does!

Christopher Steele admitted under oath in March [2020] that he had no records of his conversations with the primary sub-source for his infamous dossier, contradicting public claims made by his lawyers in December [2019] and sowing further doubts amid allegations that Steele relied on Russian disinformation.

According to a transcript of a British court deposition obtained by the Daily Caller, Steele admitted to a lawyer representing three Russian bankers that he had no records to back up the salacious allegations made in his dossier, all of which were fed to him by one “primary sub-source” who allegedly obtained the information from other sources in Russia, none of whom Steele ever met.

Steele submitted to the deposition after the Russian bankers sued him for defamation for claiming they made illegal payments to Vladimir Putin in his now infamous dossier.

Steele said he had no records related to the creation of his dossier memos, including “Report 112” from the dossier, which dealt with the Alfa Bank owners.

“You have no record of anything, have you?” Tomlinson asked.

“I haven’t got any records relating to the creation of 112,” said Steele.

“Or indeed any of the other memoranda?”

“No, they were wiped in early January 2017.”

Steele said that a Hushmail account he used in late December 2016 was “wiped” clean.

He also said that communications with Fusion GPS on his company’s computer network were scrubbed on January 5, 2017.

The ’25-page’ US Intel Report released on January 6 2017 was always suspicious. This “Intel Report” is in fact 5 pages long and the document contains 7 pages of information related to the 2012 US election?!?

RELATED POST: Three Years Ago — Russiagate Intel Report Suspiciously Anachronistic

It is now clear that John Brennan intended to use the Steele Dossier right at the beginning (on page 2), but intelligence analysts pushed back because it is garbage, not intelligence. And without the Steele Dossier, there was nothing to write.

UPDATE (July 9 2020) — Yesterday, a British court ruled that Christopher Steele must pay damages to two Alfa Bank partners for publishing “inaccurate or misleading” material in his infamous dossier, including claims the banks funneled “illicit cash” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Justice Mark Warby of the High Court of England and Wales concluded that the allegation about the Putin payments “clearly called for closer attention, a more enquiring approach and more energetic checking.”

“Orbis failed to take reasonable steps in this regard, and to that extent, a breach of the Fourth Principle is established.”

Kevin R. Brock is a former assistant director of intelligence for the FBI. He was an FBI special agent for 24 years and principal deputy director of the National Counter-terrorism Center (NCTC).

Brock believes that the Durham investigation will come to the following conclusion:

“A group of people aligned with or sympathetic to one political party conspired to illicitly use the authorities of the FBI to besmirch the opposing party’s presidential candidate — and that every effort should be made to indict those who can be charged as a result.”

REFERENCES

The Russiagate Debacle — Le Monde Diplomatique

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The Russiagate Debacle — Bob Woodward : “Role Of Steele Dossier In Russia Probe Needs To Be Investigated”

One Year Ago — Bob Woodward : “Role Of Steele Dossier In Russia Probe Needs To Be Investigated” [UPDATE : All Steele/Orbis records were wiped out]

Bob Woodward : “Role Of Steele Dossier In Russia Probe Needs To Be Investigated” [UPDATE : Steele ordered to pay damages over ‘inaccurate’ dossier claims]

Bob Woodward : “Role Of Steele Dossier In Russia Probe Needs To Be Investigated” [UPDATE : FBI knew that the dossier was “unsubstantiated and unreliable.”]

Bob Woodward : “Role Of Steele Dossier In Russia Probe Needs To Be Investigated” [UPDATE — WSJ : “The FBI’s Bad Intelligence”]

Bob Woodward : “Role Of Steele Dossier In Russia Probe Needs To Be Investigated” [UPDATE — Steele dossier ‘analyst’ charged with repeatedly making false statements to the FBI]

Bob Woodward : “Role Of Steele Dossier In Russia Probe Needs To Be Investigated” [UPDATE — How Did So Much of the Media Get the Steele Dossier So Wrong?]

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