CNN has really outdone itself this time. Like a propagandistic Houdini, the Most Trusted Name In News has managed to garner less credibility than the CIA — a government spy agency who literally uses deception as its fundamental operating principle.
If nothing else, one must admire their commitment.
It began yesterday when Fake News veteran Jim Sciutto reported on the supposed extraction of a high-level U.S. intel asset within the Kremlin. Sciutto reported the informant was extracted in 2017 after President Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office in May 2017 and disclosed some classified information about an anti-ISIS operation in Syria. Although CNN did manage a passing reference to concerns about the informant that predated the Trump administration, the thrust of the report is that Trump’s actions were the impetus behind the extraction. Our brave spy couldn’t be protected because the reckless POTUS was liable to disclose their info and get them killed. Nothing like a big juicy narrative.
And now we enter the Twilight Zone.
Hours after CNN fired its latest cannonball toward the White House, none other than the Failing New York Times released further reporting that undermined their Fake News bedfellows. As it turns out, their CIA sources were telling a different story. According to the NYT report, the main culprit in the spy extraction wasn’t an untrustworthy president, but—wait for it—the media itself!
The follow-up report said media inquiries about CIA sources, following the U.S. intel community’s detailed statements blaming Putin for interfering in the election, prompted officials to worry about the informant’s safety and led to an offer for extraction in 2016. Our asset initially refused, citing concerns about family, which led every counterintelligence official not named Peter Strzok to be skeptical of the source’s trustworthiness.
Months later, after Trump’s meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak, there was more media scrutiny and our asset finally accepted an offer for extraction. This reassured our U.S. officials who had begun to doubt him/her, as double agents tend not to return to their homeland in order to avoid scrutiny. To the NYT’s credit, they quote former intelligence officials as saying “there was no evidence that Mr. Trump directly endangered the source” and current U.S. officials “insisted that media scrutiny of the agency’s sources alone was the impetus for the extraction.”
Even the CIA’s preferred paper, the Washington Post, quoted national security officials as saying this was not the reason for the asset’s removal.
The informant, recruited by the CIA decades ago, has been described as a mid-level Russian official who was outside Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, and yet saw Putin on a regular basis and was privy to high-level information. This Moscow spy’s intel was key to the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Putin himself ordered a Russian interference campaign in the U.S. 2016 election.
The identity of this ex-informant has not been revealed in order protect him or her from Russian reprisal.
So, there you have it. The official story, as told by several mainstream outlets. Now let’s read between some lines and ask some questions that real journalists would have asked already.
A Convenient Disclosure
Winston Churchill once said that following Russian politics was like watching “bulldogs wrestle beneath a rug.” If only Sir Winston were tasked with analyzing conflicting information between CNN and the CIA, he would understand just how good he had it with Stalin.
On one side, we have a propaganda outfit who’s been on a mission to take down the president since the election. On the other, we’ve got a propaganda outfit who’s been on a mission to take down the president since the election — with spy tools. One can understand the skepticism and scrutiny warranted by this story given the actors in play. In most cases, a sound analysis can be conducted simply by identifying who stands the gain—or lose— the most in any given scenario. In this case, all players have dirty hands, so our analysis will have to extend a little further.
First, let’s examine the alleged asset. According to Sciutto, this asset was very well-placed within the Kremlin and able to offer extremely sensitive information on a regular basis. Indeed, the asset was such a rock star that he/she provided the smoking gun on Putin’s order of interference in the American election:
“Given NYT has now made details on Russian spy public, I can now report additional info we had withheld. Asset had direct access to Vladimir Putin, including the remarkable ability to take photos of presidential documents, and had served US for more than a decade. Asset had risen to the highest levels of Russia’s national security infrastructure. US offered extraction months earlier during Obama administration, but asset refused. Asset’s information was crucial to IC assessment that Putin had directed election interference to favor Trump.”
Sciutto added that his information is “based on Trump and Obama administration [officials] with direct knowledge.”
What CNN, the NYT and the CIA left out of this bio is that this asset was dealing personally with former CIA chief John Brennan. By that, I mean information from the asset was being personally delivered to the White House by Brennan, then returned to CIA once President Obama had been briefed on its contents. None other than the Washington Post reported back in 2017 that Brennan began feeding this material to Obama and a “small group of aides” with a report in an envelope to be read and promptly returned to the CIA. The material was apparently deemed so sensitive that it was kept out of the Presidential Daily Brief due to concerns that too many people would be made aware of its contents.
Let’s examine that for a second. A Presidential Daily Brief contains highly classified intel. They are never briefed to a large group of people, and the people who are privy to them have the requisite clearance and need-to-know. Random White House secretaries don’t walk into PDB’s. They are conducted in Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facilities (SCIFs), though one can be created almost anywhere with the proper controls and technology.
Bottom line: If you can not trust the attendees of a Presidential Daily Brief with high level intelligence, you can not trust anyone.
Yet they did trust certain people — a “small group of aides.” To whom could they be referring? Is it Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes or Samantha Power? If you’ll recall, members of the Obama inner circle have been connected with the unmasking of Trump campaign members in intelligence reports despite lacking qualifications for such a task. If John Brennan personally delivered info to the POTUS while intentionally leaving national security professionals out of the loop, we can deduce that those who were deemed “trustworthy” enough to receive the information are almost certainly same ones who had been in on the operation throughout. That is, unless you’re willing to believe that Obama’s political machine was deemed more trustworthy with classified info than actual national security professionals.
Longtime readers of RNR will recall that as long as three years ago we suspected the entire Russia operation to largely be the work of John Brennan. Now the picture is finally coming together.
Another claim in need of scrutiny is that our asset in the Kremlin provided intel regarding Putin’s ordering of election interference in order to help Trump. The “in order to help Trump” part of that statement is what demands inquiry, since, if you’ll recall, the intel community was not always uniform in their assessment of that being the case. During the election, Brennan and his folks were happy to confirm the Trump angle of the story, while some agencies refused to sign off on a high confidence assessment of Putin’s motives. If the information regarding Putin’s orders came from a high-ranking official close to Putin, complete with documentation, this should not have been a point of contention. Human intelligence (HUMINT) is among the most reliable intel we collect, simply because it’s collected by actual people connected to the target in question; someone inside the huddle, if you will. Aside from SIGINT (intercepted communications), it’s about as close to a smoking gun as the intel community can get. Yet that gun only smoked for certain people in the beginning. Why is that? Were the heads of intel agencies suddenly replaced by members of the OJ jury? Could they not see the clear evidence in front of them, provided by Putin’s own right hand man?
Let me guess — CIA was afraid to reveal highly sensitive information to career intel professionals. Yet they were all too eager to get their signatures to validate it.
So what we have here—allegedly— is a long-cultivated informant deep inside the Kremlin who was apparently so good at their job that they were able to relay information regarding Russia’s most closely guarded intel operations. And this goldmine of sensitive info was relayed straight to the upper echelons of the CIA, which was in turn relayed to President Obama “and a small group of aides” by John Brennan’s own hand.
The Fake News messed up on this one, I’m afraid. See, CNN was happy to report on the president’s untrustworthiness leading to the extraction of a high level asset. But they didn’t count on dots being connected between this report and ones over the past several years that connect said asset directly to John Brennan and the Obama’s inner circle.
Given this “unconventional” method of intelligence briefing combined with the media’s seamless relationship with intel leakers up to now, we’re confronted with some pretty serious questions. I would be so bold as to question whether this informant exists at all.
The first thing you must remember is that timing is everything to the Deep State/Media complex. When reports were surfacing regarding the questionable origins of the counterintelligence probe against Trump (Crossfire Hurricane), a story in the Failing New York Times suddenly appeared carrying the narrative put forth by the Obama IC, namely that George Papadopoulos had started the whole thing by drunkenly bragging in a foreign bar that Putin had the goods on Hillary.
What the NYT didn’t mention was that assets working for our own FBI and CIA had planted that idea in Papadopoulos’s head in the first place. They also didn’t report the fact that the FBI had received exculpating information regarding Papadopoulos months prior to when he supposedly spawned a CI probe into a presidential candidate. Yes, they knew he was clean and they used him to justify their investigation into the president anyway.
And let’s not forget the leaking of the Steele dossier to none other than this very same CNN reporter, Jim Sciutto, ON THE VERY DAY IT WAS BRIEFED TO THE PRESIDENT. And who briefed the dossier to President Trump that day? None other than James Comey. How did the contents of a Presidential Daily Brief—some of the most sensitive intel we have— go from the FBI director’s file to a CNN anchor’s desk? And what do you know — immediately after that leak, John Brennan was hired as a talking head on CNN to warn Americans of the looming danger of Donald Trump.
The dossier leak put the president on the defensive at the very start of his presidency and kept him there for over 2 years, which was just what the doctor ordered for the Deep State at the time. Details of the government’s illicit spying had slowly begun to seep out despite their best efforts to conceal it, and now a brand new POTUS was headed into office with a full head of steam and a national mandate to #DrainTheSwamp. It was not a good scenario for the corrupt Obama apparatus. With the leak of the dossier, Brennan, Comey and co. were able to work directly with the media to flip the script and force Trump to prove he’s not a Russian asset. The best defense is always a good offense.
Comey has admitted to leaking information for his own selfish purposes, even for the appointment of his buddy Bob Mueller to attack the president and his orbit for over two years. This tactic is not theoretical; it is proven. And there is overwhelming circumstantial evidence it was used in that scenario.
That leads us to now. Timing is everything, and this is merely the latest example in the pattern. Anyone who believes CNN and the CIA are at odds here is a fool. They have (demonstrably) worked together against this administration since before it even took office.
In this case, we have an informant who will conveniently never be identified, and whose existence and work can only be corroborated by others whom we will never know. His/her most important work was kept so secretive that Obama’s own national security team wasn’t in the loop, so no confirmation to be had there, either.
Essentially, we’re left to trust John Brennan, Barack Obama and a select few of their closest aides. Not good odds for getting any real evidence.
You know who does know the identity of this informant if he/she actually exists? Vladimir Putin. Put on your thinking caps, folks. If you’re Putin, and someone who is in your inner circle—someone you apparently trust with your most sensitive secrets—suddenly falls off the face of the Earth, wouldn’t you be able to put two and two together? Do you think any Russian intel analysts are sitting in the Kremlin right now asking themselves, “Gee, which member of Putin’s highly guarded inner circle who just disappeared suddenly could be the spy?”
But again, of all the convenient aspects of this story, none are so convenient as the timing. Seeing as how multiple investigations are ongoing regarding the actions of the CIA, FBI, etc. leading up to and during the Trump administration, along with a #BigFat declassification order that remains on the horizon pending completion of said probes, what would be the most beneficial narrative for those attempting to escape accountability?
How about a narrative of a reckless president disclosing information that could hurt the intel community?
I just saw your lightbulb come on. Let that baby shine, because it’s about to get brighter.
Now imagine a narrative of not only the president being reckless with classified information, but reckless with the superhuman Russian source who delivered proof of Putin’s election operation. Think about it. Not only do they get to demonize the declassification process, but they get to reinforce the notion that their inquiries into the president were completely legitimate, substantiated by none other than someone in Putin’s own circle.
It’s tailor-made to undermine AG Barr’s investigation in every way. And that is not a coincidence.
And how do they add credibility to the story? Simple. Report a rough draft of sorts with all kinds of mistakes (CNN), then have another friendly outlet “correct” the article with more precise facts (NYT). In the process, rather than questioning the underlying theme of the story, people get caught up in details. Right now, rather than asking the questions I’ve posed in this piece, Republicans are gloating about how CNN got another story wrong. None of them question whether the entire story could have been nonsense from the start, which is exactly what Mr. Brennan needs. And the kicker? The CIA get to come to the defense of the president, further reinforcing the idea that they’re in his corner despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Our Founders designed the First Amendment so that our media could behave as the government’s watchdog. That pit bull has devolved into a lapdog within the span of a few centuries. High-ranking government officials have been working hand-in-hand with the media for years to push whatever self-serving propaganda deemed necessary. The government gets to control the narrative and, in return, the media get high-level government access, invitations to cocktail parties and the satisfaction of helping their nanny state brethren.
They’ve done this over and over and over and over and, sadly, to great effect. And now, those who abused their power for so long need the media more than ever.
The need to “attack the messenger” is never greater than when said messenger has declassification power. Once one examines everything through that lens, it all makes sense.
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