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A new commentary every Wednesday - April 26, 2017

The Moscow Dossier: More Cheap Thrills


Dossier: (French) Detailed collection of documents concerning a person or subject under investigation.


Donald J. Trump, unpredictable President of the United States of America.

Christopher Steele. Once the head of British M.1.6 Secret Service operating in Moscow, now a principal in a firm named Orbis Intelligence, LTD. Headquartered in London, its mission is to discover guarded, valuable information for a list of undisclosed clients. Its undercover (as in bedroom) reports in a 35-page dossier they disclosed in mid 2016 sometimes buzzed with James Bond stuff that even Ian Fleming couldn't dream up. (Clandestine Business Rule #1: If the information is too juicy to be true, it probably isn't.)

Glenn Simpson. Once upon a time, an Investigative Reporter for The Wall Street Journal, now partner in Fusion GPS, also an intelligence gathering service for unnamed clients. (Rule #2: Never utter the name of a client—another intelligence service may be listening. As best as my reading has informed me, this far, he and Steele remained faithful to this precept. 

Howard Blum, one-time reporter for the New York Times and present Vanity Fair magazine contributor. In a recent article, Blum said that  "Steele and Simpson were destined to meet. Steele had a thirst for knowledge and Simpson knew where many of the bodies were buried." Okay, for now, we'll accept Mr. Blum's take on that. We become a bit shaky in our resolve to accept intel when second hand (hearsay) informants do not wish to be identified. (You know what I'm saying?)

If I had the right to subpoena, the first question I would ask this pair would be "Who is paying you to do this digging and why?"

James Comey, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, purportedly investigating, among many other claims important to our safety and welfare, whether and to what extent foreign hackers interfered in the recent U.S. general election; maybe also to some degree what kinds of relationships American business leaders and officials have with Russian business and political leaders. In my view, Director Comey is an intelligent, trustworthy public servant. It's just that he has undertaken a chore that demands meticulous attention and time.

Other Shoe Division: The testimony of Carter Page, once an investment banker for Merrill Lynch brokerage firm in its Moscow Office, now heads "Global Energy Capital," an investment advisory firm that specializes in reports on foreign energy resources such as oil. Page is known to have acted as one of the many advisors to the Trump campaign. Time magazine learned that the FBI obtained a secret warrant to monitor Page's communications. He denies any improper tie with Russian firms or officials. We'll have to wait and see what he swears to under oath, if of course if he is required to make a deposition or testifies before one of several political bodies or governmental investigative agencies.

"Mother Jones,"  a bi-monthly publication named after a 20th century labor organizer, that describes itself as "progressive." It does a lot of reporting on political and labor issues. David Corn, the publication's Washington Bureau Chief was the first journalist to break a lead on a story, headlined "A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump."

"Buzzfeed," a blog that once was identified for a short time as a site where the entire "Trump in Moscow" 35-page expose' dossier was supposed to be available, but my searches on their website this past week drew a blank. If there ever was anything relative to this on the Buzzfeed website, someone has since hit the "delete" button. The provenance; the dots... do not connect, if they ever did!  (Clandestine Business Rule #3: If your claims cannot be substantiated, simply make yourself unavailable for further inquiry.)

Your takeaway: As with the Watergate scandal, we've probably a long way to go before this cheap thrills plays itself out. At this early stage, we need another grandmotherly lady to come to the counter in the fast-food line and demand to know "Where's the meat?

I'm inclined to think that (BIG "IF") Director Comey used the dossier to obtain permission to tap into anyone's business, he ought to be allowed to explain his reasons for doing so.

Lucky for us, we've some of the finest anti-hack technicians operating in cyberspace. Given time, the FBI will eventually sort fact from fiction.


  -Phil Richardson, Observer of the human condition and storyteller. "He goes doddering on into his old age, making a public nuisance of himself." - Joseph L. Mencken



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