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The Dodgy Trump Dossier Reminds Me of the Row Over Saddam's WMDs
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I read the text of the dossier on Donald Trump’s alleged dirty dealings with a scepticism that soon turned into complete disbelief. The memo has all the hallmarks of such fabrications, which is too much detail – and that detail largely uncheckable – and too many names of important people placed there to impress the reader with the sheer quantity and quality of information.

I was correspondent in Moscow in the 1980s and again during the first years in power of Vladimir Putin. Every so often, people would tell me intriguing facts about the dark doings of the Kremlin and its complicity in various crimes, such as the infamous apartment block bombings in 1999. But my heart used to sink when the informant claimed to know too much and did not see that what they were saying contained a fatal contradiction: Putin and his people were pictured as unscrupulous and violent people, but at the same time they were childishly incapable of keeping a secret damaging to themselves.

The conclusions reached in the Trump dossier similarly claim to be based on multiple sources of information where, in the nature of things, they are unlikely to exist. The dossier cites at least seven of them. “Speaking to a trusted compatriot in June 2016 sources A and B, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry and a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin respectively, [said that] the Russian authorities had been cultivating and supporting US Republican presidential candidate, Donald TRUMP, for at least five years.”

I obviously failed as a correspondent when I was in Russia because it turns out that Moscow is choc-a-bloc with fellows in senior positions willing to blow the gaff on the Kremlin’s deep laid plans. A and B, despite achieving high rank, apparently remain touchingly naive and more than willing to make revelations that, if known, would get them imprisoned or shot in short order.

Reading the papers on Trump brought back memories of talking to Iraqi defectors in the 1990s who claimed to have plenty of information about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and gossip about his family affairs. It did not take long to work out that they were making it up when they produced convincing but uncheckable details about the doings of some of the more dangerous and suspicious people in the world, with whom the defectors claimed have had frank and revealing conversations.


In its determination to damage Trump, the US press corps has been happy to suspend disbelief in this dubious document. The former member of MI6, Christopher Steele, reportedly has a high reputation in espionage circles and was stationed in Moscow 20 years ago. The New York Times is unworried by his consequent inability to travel to Moscow “to study Mr Trump’s connections there”. This is where the famed MI6 tradecraft proved so useful. Steele is said to have “hired native Russian speakers to call informants inside Russia and made surreptitious contact with his own connections in the country as well.”

The word “contact” is a useful word for journalists because it could mean a highly-placed friend or, alternatively, it might refer to some lowly freelancer who is being paid to supply information. Having Russian speakers call up Russians in Russia is an astute move, though it presupposes that FSB does not monitor foreign phone calls to people with sensitive information.

I suspect that those Iraqi defectors who used to tell me tall tales about WMD and the home life of Saddam Hussein would have dreamed up a more convincing story than this.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: American Media, Donald Trump, Russia 
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  1. What’s the world coming to. Even old Pat Cockburn can see that it is an obvious fabrication: the sort of thing that some hack could dream up during a boozy Friday afternoon session at his local pub – and probably did.

  2. 5371 says:

    Exactly. The Eternal Anglo has screwed the pooch with this one.

  3. Laundered and shopped by reputedly fake war hero and peripatetic warmonger John McCain, who seeks revenge for his dissing last year by Trump.

  4. Randal says:

    Well the campaign of lying over Iraq succeeded, to the extent it created sufficient political cover for the invasion to go ahead, albeit in the face of widespread popular opposition. Few, if any, of those involved suffered any real repercussions and those who did were mostly quietly compensated by the powers that be. And in truth those who did suffer mostly only suffered because of the practical failure of the occupation, not because of the deceitful and dishonest case made for the war itself. If the occupation had gone smoothly and the fantasies of the neocons had come true of establishing a secure and cooperative “democratic” regime to serve as a base for attacking Iran and Syria (I know, that could never have happened, but nevertheless) then there would have been none of the popular recriminations that ultimately made at least a few of the politicians face a political cost.

    Likewise, the dishonest pretence that there was an imminent massacre used to justify the attack on Libya worked, and nobody has faced any real costs for pushing that one.

    So the question is, will this latest fabrication work? Will the perpetrators as usual escape any consequences? If it works, surely not (“treason never prospers”, etc).

    A lot’s riding on this one.

  5. KA says:

    Why did Russia “leak” the dossier on Clinton and hide the one on Trump? Couldn’t she have been manipulated with those information after the election ( lying about her pubic private position , shortchanging Bernie, placing electoral ethics out of kilter , essentially promising lies knowingly, promising wars and supporting terrorism – given the right mix of the sustained pressure by the press and depth of the media chorus , public disapproval shown on some internet poll along with a few congressman’s shocking disdain at her , she also could have been “impeached” for selling knowingly bad products and supporting terrorism ) ? Couldn’t Russia have put pressure on Clinton’s re election in 2020 campaign using these existing information?

    How is it that the process of gathering information from Russia- Wikileaks by voters is not acceptable but accepting British -Russian information by Mc Cain is acceptable ? How come information from Mc Cain gathered from British -Russia ends up on FBI CIA Congress for scrutiny but not the WikiLeaks-Russia not ?

  6. Marcus says:

    Maybe it was Remington Steele who compiled it

    • Replies: @El Dato
  7. Marko says:

    “he hired native Russian speakers” …that’s code for Ukrainians.

    Kiev was the source of much of this document designed to interfere in the US election, and probably authorised at the highest levels there.

    So the appropriate response will be….err… to expel some more Russian diplomats!

    • Agree: Philip Owen
  8. Anyone know why Jeff Bush,who collected the most donations for his election, quit instantly?
    Jeff paid Mr. MI6 Steel for the 35 page report.

  9. El Dato says:

    Always remember

    >/pol/acks mailed fanfiction to anti-trump pundit Rick Wilson about trump making people piss on a bed obama slept in
    >he thought it was real and gave it to the CIA
    >the central intelligence agency of the united states of america put this in their official classified intelligence report on russian involvement in the election
    >donald trump and obama have both read this pol/acks fanfiction
    >the cia has concluded that the russian plans to blackmail trump with this story we made up

    just let that sink in what we have become.

  10. This “dossier” has been floating around Washington, D.C. for many months before the election. No one took it seriously because it could not be verified but it took a prominent senator, John “Tokyo Rose” McCain to give it credibility by formally giving it to FBI director Comey. And to promote this fiction to the American people and allow the MSM to include it in their “news”, the traitors in the intelligence community (IC) included a 2-page summary of the lies in an intelligence briefing that was leaked to the press. Like J. Edgar Hoover, the IC is showing the president elect that there are limits to what he can say and do. They didn’t even need to remind him of JFK.

  11. But my heart used to sink when the informant claimed to know too much and did not see that what they were saying contained a fatal contradiction: Putin and his people were pictured as unscrupulous and violent people, but at the same time they were childishly incapable of keeping a secret damaging to themselves.

    Duh! But isn’t this sort of bullshit even more conspicuous in the case of the “Russian hack” of the DNC mail server: one hacker’s user name is “Felix Edmundovich, rendered in Cyrillic script”! Lol. The US elite definitely regards the US public as a bunch of morons…

  12. Halit says:

    As long as western higher national interest is obtain petrol by any means
    and keep ignoring Palestine and Palestinian rights does anybody expect light end of the tunnel ?
    How long this situation we are living would carry on?
    One might say ; well it last 60 years why wouldn’t last another 60?
    One might say ; I am sure people looking for revenge doing best to obtain portable nuclear bomb to make a point when one town disappears as the nuclear bomb scientist say so recently.
    One might say; God must be American and Anericans are chosen one and American God wouldn’t do such a thing.
    One might say; Elvis is in the building.
    As long as Clint Eastwood alife nobody can do nothing to America : Go ahead God make my day.

  13. Nice work, as usual, from Patrick Cockburn, and thanks to the Unz Review for re-posting this sensible piece here!

    It would be heartening to believe that the long, “silly season” of the US political campaign (which get longer and longer, until most Americans are simply sick of it all!)–that that barely endurable season is over!

    But, in “let’s-beat-the-dead-horse-to-death” America–that’s not likely, is it?

    So, this will continue ad infinitum and ad nauseum and truth will be obscured and we shall have obstructionist government while our very real problems multiply like cancer cells in our sick bodies.

    I believe it was John Hancock who said, when signing the Declaration of Independence: “We shall either all hang together, or hang separately!” Now, in 2017, we seem determined to go our separate, factionalized ways, hang our Democracy out to dry, hang up the phone on a planet calling out for help!

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