News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Tinker, Tailor, Clapper, Carter, Downer, Halper, Spy, by Mark Steyn...("Special relationship:" Free round trip airfare from US to London along with invitations to posh UK events with dignitaries given to two Trump volunteers in 2016)

8/1/2013, The US government has paid at least £100m [$139,426,261 US dollars] to the UK spy agency GCHQ [equivalent of US NSA] over the last three years [2009-2012] to secure access to and influence over Britain’s intelligence gathering programmes. The top secret payments are set out in documents which make clear that the Americans expect a return on the investment, and that GCHQ has to work hard to meet their demands." Aug. 1, 2013, "Exclusive: NSA pays £100m [$137,290,032] in secret funding for GCHQ," UK Guardian, Nick Hopkins, Julian Borger
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Free round trip air fare from US to London, England provided to two Trump volunteers in 2016:

1. George Papadopoulos: "So the Trump aide woke up one August [2016] morning to an email from a Cambridge academic he'd never heard of, inviting him on an all-expenses paid trip back to Britain to give a speech for $3000. Once in London, Halper casually inquired of his new friend, "George, you know about hacking the emails from Russia, right?"" (image of Papadopoulos below from Daily Caller)

George Papadopoulos,











2. Carter Page: "And while he [Carter Page] did not speak at the [London] event [July 11 and 12, 2016], he says the organizers paid his round trip air fare from New York....Mr. Page says the invitation to that event came much earlier-the end of May or early June. Mr. Page declined to say who invited him but says it was someone other than Mr. Halper....Mr. Halper kicked off the opening session on July 11. Mr. Page confirms he met Mr. Halper for the first time at the symposium."...5/22/18, "When Carter Page met Stefan Halper," Wall St. Journal Editorial Board..."A timeline that contradicts claims by Justice and the FBI."

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5/22/18, "Tinker, Tailor, Clapper, Carter, Downer, Halper, Spy," Mark Steyn, Steyn on America
As I think most persons paying attention now realize, the investigation into foreign interference with the 2016 election was created as a cover for domestic interference with the 2016 election.

It was run at the highest (or deepest) Deep State levels by the likes of James Clapper and John Brennan, whose frantic and hysterical Tweets are like no utterances of any CIA director in history. That also explains one of the puzzling aspects of the last year that I've occasionally mentioned here and on TV and radio: If you were truly interested in an "independent" Special Counsel, why would you appoint Robert Mueller? He's a lifetime insider and the most connected man in Washington - a longtime FBI Director, and Assistant Attorney-General and acting Deputy Attorney-General at the Department of Justice.

Exactly. His most obvious defect as an "independent" counsel is, in fact, his principal value to the likes of Andrew McCabe and Rod Rosenstein: He knows, personally, almost every one in the tight little coterie of discredited upper-echelon officials, and he has a deep institutional loyalty to bodies whose contemporary character he helped create. In other words, he's the perfect guy to protect those institutions. As for the nominal subject of his investigation, well, he's indicted a bunch of no-name Russian internet trolls who'll never set foot in a US courthouse. That's not even worth the cost of printing the complaint. Rush Limbaugh has been kind enough to quote, several times, my line that "there are no Russians in the Russia investigation". Which is true.  






or, to use today's preferred term, "Commonwealth citizens". All the action in this case takes place not in Moscow but in southern England.

Let's start at Cambridge University with a two-day conference  called "2016's Race to Change the World", held on July 11th and 12th 2016 - or three weeks before the FBI supposedly began its "counterintelligence" operation against Trump, codenamed "Crossfire Hurricane"....

I do my share of international junketing, but the bill of fare for this curious symposium is so bland as to be almost generic - panels titled "Europe and America", "2016 and the World", "Global Challenges Facing the Next President".  

Compared to the laser-like focus of a typical Cambridge confab ("A Westphalia for the Middle East?"), it's almost as if someone were trying to create an event so anodyne and torpid no one would notice it. All that distinguished these colorless presentations was the undoubted eminence of the speakers: former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; former UK Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind; and Sir Richard Dearlove, former C (that's M, for 007 fans) at MI6. 

The conference appears to have been put together at a couple of weeks' notice by Steven Schrage, former "Co-Chair of the G8's Anti-Crime and Terrorism Group" and a well-connected man on the counterterrorism cocktail circuit: Here he is introducing Mitt Romney to the director of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center, and here he is spending election night in the UK at a party with Scotland Yard elite counterterrorist types. Make of that what you will - it's a somewhat odd background for the convenor of an insipid, vanilla, cookie-cutter foreign-policy seminar - but among the small number of strangely prestigious attendees at Mr Schrage's conference were:
~Carter Page, a petroleum-industry executive and Trump campaign volunteer;
~Christopher Steele, the former head of the Russia house at MI6;
~Stefan Halper, a University of Cambridge professor with dual UK/US citizenship.
Today, Mr Page [who "was an FBI cooperating asset in 2013, and remained the primary FBI witness through May of 2016"] is better known as the endlessly surveilled "person of interest" whose eternally renewable FISA warrant was the FBI's gateway into the Trump campaign; Mr Steele is a sometime FBI asset who, a week before the Cambridge conference, had approached the G-men with the now famous "dossier" that provided the pretext for the FISA application; and Professor Halper turns out to be not some tweedy academic but a man with deep connections to MI6 and the CIA, on the payroll of something at the Pentagon called the "Office of Net Assessment", and (one of) the supposed FBI informant(s) inside the Trump circle. 

Carter Page says that in the course of this two-day conference he met Professor Halper for the first time. But I was struck by this aside Mr Page made to Sara Carter: 

"Madeliene Albright was always trying to get me to go into public debates. I told her I was there just as a listener, just as an attendee."...

At the FISA court, the FBI, to bolster their reliance on the Steele dossier, pointed to newspaper stories appearing to corroborate aspects of it - even though, as he subsequently testified under oath at the Old Bailey, those stories were in fact fed to those reporters by Steele himself. Nevertheless, it works like a charm on gullible FISA judges. You take one thing and you make it two things. Or even better, you take nothing and you make it a thing: Here, from yesterday's letter by Senator Ron Johnson, are McCabe, Sally Yates and other FBI/DOJ honchos arranging for Comey to brief Trump on the Steele dossier for the sole purpose of giving CNN a news peg for leaking details about what's in it. 

It's almost as if that's what Madeleine Albright is doing here, isn't it? It's one thing to invite Carter Page to show up at some tedious yakfest at Cambridge with Halper sitting in front of him and Chris Steele sitting behind.

But what if you could get Page to stand up and say something? Then you could find a friendly journo to report it and, instead of just a nobody on the fringes of the campaign, you'd have a "senior Trump advisor" sharing his thoughts on the global scene with Madam Albright and Sir Richard and Sir Malcolm and all the other bigshots, and then you could use that story three weeks later at the FISA court, to demonstrate how deep into the heart of the campaign the Russkies had penetrated. 

Instead, Professor Halper has to make do with chit-chatting to Mr Page over the tea and biscuits, and planting the seeds for a friendly relationship. 

Herewith a note on the academic circuit: emeritus professors and visiting fellows are popular covers with espionage agencies because there's minimal work and extensive foreign travel, to international talking shops like the one above. If you make the mistake of being a multinational businessman and go to foreign countries to meet with other businessmen, you'll be investigated up the wazoo. But, if you're a professor and you go to foreign countries to meet with other professors, the world is your oyster. You also get to meet young people, who are the easiest to recruit.

Here's another professor, and from another Commonwealth country: Malta. Joseph Mifsud is (was) a professorial fellow at the University of Stirling in Scotland, but is (was) based in London as a principal of the "London Centre of International Law Practice" and a director of the "London Academy of Diplomacy", both of which sound fancy-schmancy but are essentially hollow entities operating from the same premises - 8, Lincoln's Inn Fields, a tony address (next to the London School of Economics and the Royal College of Surgeons) but the "London Centre/Academy"'s fifth in three years and at which they and a handful of other endeavors are holed up in a minimally furnished back room filled by four interns round a trestle table on fifty quid a week. 

Professor Mifsud also has (had) similarly undemanding academic sinecures at the "Euro-Mediterranean University" in Slovenia and "Link Campus University" in Italy. At the beginning of March last year [2016], a young man called George Papadopoulos joined the Trump campaign. On March 14th, traveling through Italy, he met with Professor Mifsud. They got together again in Britain, and at some point Papadopoulos became head of the "London Centre of International Law Practice"'s soi-disant "Centre for International Energy and Natural Resources Law and Security", a post for which he had no obvious qualifications. 

Happily, like most other jobs at the "London Centre", it didn't require work, or showing up at the "London Centre" or even being in London.

Mifsud is said to have ties to high-ranking figures in Moscow, but there seems to be more prima facie evidence of ties to high-ranking figures in London. That's Professor Mifsud above with my old friend Boris Johnson, Britain's Foreign Secretary, at some Brexit event last October 19th. On October 31st [2017] Joseph Mifsud disappeared and has not been seen since. 

I know how he feels: The same thing happened to me twelve days after I lunched with Boris at The Spectator in early 2006. Is (was) Mifsud an FSB asset? An MI6 asset? Both? Neither? Well, there's more circumstantial evidence of Mifsud's ties to British intelligence, including multiple meetings with, inter alia, Claire Smith of the UK's Joint Intelligence Committee.

At any rate, back in London on April 26th 2016, Professor Mifsud told young Papadopoulos that the Russians have all this "dirt" on Hillary, "thousands of emails". A couple of days later, a friend of George's at the Israeli Embassy, Christian Cantor, introduced him to Erika Thompson, who worked for Alexander Downer, Canberra's High Commissioner in the UK, at Australia House. On May 4th, Papadopoulos was quoted in The Times of London denouncing David Cameron for calling Trump "divisive, stupid and wrong". On May 6th, Ms Thompson called Papadopoulos to say that Mr Downer wanted to meet him. On May 10th they met for drinks at the Kensington Wine Rooms. Young George claims that the High Commissioner told him to "leave David Cameron alone". Which doesn't sound quite right to me....

Somewhere in the course of the evening a pretty squiffy Papadopoulos lifted his head up from the bowl of cocktail olives and started blabbing about Russian "dirt" on Hillary. 

Another digression: Mr Downer was Australia's longest serving foreign minister and, as I used to say in those days, "my favorite foreign minister". Since then, he has spent many years on the "advisory board" of Hakluyt, a curiously named body set up by former MI6 chaps.... As for Hakluyt, its website is here....

At any rate Mr Downer relayed the information about young George to Aussie Intelligence back home. Canberra sat on the info for two months and then passed it along to the Yanks in late July [2016], just in time for that FISA application.

And so, as July turned to August [2016], Peter Strzok bade farewell to his "paramour" Lisa Page and flew to London for a sit-down with the High Commissioner at Australia House. When Strzok reported back to Washington, the FBI sicced the omnipresent "professor" Stefan Halper on George Papadopoulos. 

So the Trump aide woke up one August [2016] morning to an email from a Cambridge academic he'd never heard of, inviting him on an all-expenses-paid trip back to Britain to give a speech for $3,000. Once in London, Halper casually inquired of his new friend, "George, you know about hacking the emails from Russia, right?"

Right. As Rush put it, the day before I guest-hosted last week: 

"He was a nothing. He was a nobody, which made him a perfect mark. He was a young guy who wanted to go places... He actually put on his résumé that he had participated in Model UN in high school." 

Just so: Papadopoulos was the perfect mark. And the easiest way to reel him in is to get him off his home turf. In your own neighborhood, you have your routine - your usual bars, favorite restaurants; you notice if something's off. But, flown to London, you have no routine, no old haunts. You go where you're invited, you're introduced to important people - like "High Commissioners", woshever the hell thash ish, hic - and you want them to think you're important, too, so you reveal that you know all about the Russian "dirt" on Hillary. 

So you got that from the Russians, right? Er, no. I got it from a Maltese guy in Italy who's a Scottish professor and plugged in to MI6, and then I told it to an Australian bloke in London who's also plugged in to MI6 and told me to lay off David Cameron, and then an American guy in Cambridge who's plugged in to MI6 reminded me about it to see if I'd deny all knowledge of it, which would be suspicious, wouldn't it..? 

As I said, and as Rush likes to quote, there are no Russians in the Russia investigation....You just put these things out there and a few months later they come back to you, via Canberra and the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing program and suddenly it's "independently" "corroborated" "evidence" from a respected ally and you can take it to a FISA judge. 

There were two investigations into presidential candidates during the 2016 election. But, as Andrew McCarthy reminds us, these two investigations were not the same. The Clinton "matter" was a criminal investigation - because there was credible evidence that Hillary had committed criminal acts. 

The FBI had no such clear-cut goods on Trump. So they had to find something else: 

"The scandal is that the FBI, lacking the incriminating evidence needed to justify opening a criminal investigation of the Trump campaign, decided to open a counterintelligence investigation. With the blessing of the Obama White House, they took the powers that enable our government to spy on foreign adversaries and used them to spy on Americans — Americans who just happened to be their political adversaries." 

And the advantage of a "counterintelligence investigation", unlike a criminal investigation, is that everything in it is "classified". So that even an obvious set-up at a Cambridge confab or Kensington wine bar is "intelligence" that has to be "protected" for "national security" reasons.  

It's a brazen, audacious scheme, and unlikely to have been loosed without the approval, however discreetly stated, of the then President. 

Occam's Razor suggests that the man running the operation was the CIA's John Brennan through the "inter-agency taskforce" that met at Langley. But Brennan isn't that reckless: Go back to Madeleine Albright urging Carter Page to speak up at a Cambridge conference; Christopher Steele leaking parts of his dossier to the newspapers; a staffer at Australia House inviting George Papadopoulos for a drink... The best way to turn nothing into something is to plant it somewhere far away and wait for it to work its way back to you: 

"Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives the Guardian has been told."

Golly, you don't say! I wonder who "told" The Guardian that. A conference here, a speech there, a cocktail round the corner, and pretty soon you have the simulacrum of "counterintelligence" concerns from America's closest allies: 

"According to one account, GCHQ's then head, Robert Hannigan, passed material in summer 2016 to the CIA chief, John Brennan. The matter was deemed so sensitive it was handled at "director level". After an initially slow start, Brennan used GCHQ information and intelligence from other partners to launch a major inter-agency investigation." 

Er, wait a minute. If it's "so sensitive" it's being handled "director-to-director", why isn't the head of GCHQ meeting with his opposite number at NSA? Why's he meeting with Brennan?

Hey, don't get hung up on details. It all went brilliantly - except for one tiny detail: Hillary managed to do the impossible and lose. On January 23rd 2017, three days after Trump's inauguration, GCHQ at Cheltenham Tweeted the sad fate of Mr So Sensitive: 

"We're sorry to announce that Robert Hannigan, our Director since 2014, has decided to step down as head of GCHQ." 

Oh, dear. Well, enjoy your sudden retirement, old boy. Unfortunately, for Brennan and Comey and McCabe and Strzok and the others on this side of the Atlantic in the third week of January, it wasn't quite that simple. Because, instead of protecting Hillary, they were now protecting themselves - so it was necessary to dig in and double-down on the "Russia investigation".

Which sounds super-credible except for one small point: there was never a Russia investigation. As Andrew McCarthy sums it up: 

"Opening up a counterintelligence investigation against Russia is not the same thing as opening up a counterintelligence investigation against the Trump campaign." 

Which is what they did - Brennan and Clapper and Comey and McCabe. They took tools designed to combat America's foreign enemies and used them against their own citizens and their political opposition.  

It was an intentional subversion of the electoral process conducted at the highest level by agencies with almost unlimited power. 





That's what Brennan's telling us on Twitter, and Clapper on "The View":

Yeah? So what? Whatcha gonna do about it? [Come and get us, chumps.]

Good question."

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Comment: The message was to be: Never again must anyone even think about running for US president if he or she is outside the Beltway Establishment. The US will be joined by "allies" all over the world in attempting to destroy such a person.

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Among comments
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In the present day and age I'd have problems applying the term 'respected ally' to the UK....Unfortunately it has probably gotten to the tipping point where there are more UK 'citizens', or perhaps I should say 'inhabitants', that are particularly hostile towards President Trump and his vision for America....They're working towards tighter integration with the EUtopia and the continued destruction of Britain. Prime Minister May is most certainly among them."...

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Added: Two UK Guardian articles: 1. 2013, UK was indebted to Obama after he gave them $139 million in free spy equipment; 2. 2017, UK proudly gave its Obama admin. benefactors "first " information of Trump team's alleged "links" to Russia
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Obama gave $139 million in spy equipment to UK government from 2009 to 2012. UK was expected to fulfill Obama and US NSA surveillance needs. UK’s more lenient surveillance regulations were a key selling point:

Aug. 1, 2013, “Exclusive: NSA [US taxpayers] pays £100m  in secret funding for GCHQ,” [$139,426,261 US dollars] UK Guardian, Nick Hopkins, Julian Borger 

*Secret payments revealed in leaks by Edward Snowden 
*GCHQ expected to ‘pull its weight’ for Americans
*Weaker regulation of British spies ‘a selling point’ for NSA 

The US government has paid at least £100m [$139,426,261 US dollars] to the UK spy agency GCHQ [equivalent of US NSA] over the last three years [2009-2012] to secure access to and influence over Britain’s intelligence gathering programmes. The top secret payments are set out in documents which make clear that the Americans expect a return on the investment, and that GCHQ has to work hard to meet their demands. “GCHQ must pull its weight and be seen to pull its weight,” a GCHQ strategy briefing said. 

The funding underlines the closeness of the relationship between GCHQ [UK spy operations] and its US equivalent, the National Security Agency. But it will raise fears about the hold Washington has over the UK’s biggest and most important intelligence agency, and whether Britain’s dependency on the NSA has become too great.

In one revealing document from 2010, GCHQ acknowledged that the US had “raised a number of issues with regards to meeting NSA’s minimum expectations”. It said GCHQ “still remains short of the full NSA ask”.

Ministers have denied that GCHQ does the NSA’s “dirty work”, but in the documents GCHQ describes Britain’s surveillance laws and [more lenient] regulatory regime as a “selling point” for the Americans.

The papers are the latest to emerge from the cache leaked by the American whistleblower Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who has railed at the reach of the US and UK intelligence agencies.

Snowden warned about the relationship between the NSA and GCHQ, saying the organisations have been jointly responsible for developing techniques that allow the mass harvesting and analysis of internet traffic. “It’s not just a US problem,” he said. “They are worse than the US.”

As well as the payments, the documents seen by the Guardian reveal:

GCHQ is pouring money into efforts to gather personal information from mobile phones and apps, and has said it wants to be able to “exploit any phone, anywhere, any time”.

Some GCHQ staff working on one sensitive programme expressed concern about “the morality and ethics of their operational work, particularly given the level of deception involved”.

The amount of personal data available to GCHQ from internet and mobile traffic has increased by 7,000% in the past five years – but 60% of all Britain’s refined intelligence still appears to come from the NSA.

GCHQ blames China and Russia for the vast majority of cyber-attacks against the UK and is now working with the NSA to provide the British and US militaries with a cyberwarfare capability.

The details of the NSA payments, and the influence the US has over Britain, are set out in GCHQ’s annual “investment portfolios”. 

The papers show that the NSA gave GCHQ £22.9m in 2009. 

The following year (2010) the NSA’s contribution increased to £39.9m, which included £4m to support GCHQ’s work for Nato forces in Afghanistan, and £17.2m for the agency’s Mastering the Internet project, which gathers and stores vast amounts of “raw” information ready for analysis.

The NSA also paid £15.5m towards redevelopments at GCHQ’s sister site in Bude, north Cornwall, which intercepts communications from the transatlantic cables that carry internet traffic. “Securing external NSA funding for Bude has protected (GCHQ’s core) budget,” the paper said.

In 2011/12 the NSA paid another £34.7m to GCHQ. [Running tally: 113.2 million British pounds= $157,671,696 US dollars].  

The papers show the NSA [US taxpayers] pays half the costs of one of the UK’s main eavesdropping capabilities in Cyprus

In turn, GCHQ has to take the American view into account when deciding what to prioritise....

Other documents say the agency must ensure there has been “an appropriate level of contribution … from the NSA perspective”.

The leaked papers reveal that the UK’s biggest fear is that “US perceptions of the…partnership diminish, leading to loss of access, and/or reduction in investment … to the UK”.

When GCHQ does supply the US with valuable intelligence, the agency boasts about it. In one review, GCHQ boasted that it had supplied “unique contributions” to the NSA during its investigation of the American citizen responsible for an attempted car bomb attack in Times Square, New York City, in 2010....

It raises the possibility that GCHQ might have been spying on an American living in the US. The NSA is prohibited from doing this by US law.

Asked about the payments, a Cabinet Office spokesman said: “In a 60-year alliance it is entirely unsurprising that there are joint projects in which resources and expertise are pooled, but the benefits flow in both directions.”

A senior security source in Whitehall added: “The fact is there is a close intelligence relationship between the UK and US and a number of other countries including Australia and Canada. There’s no automaticity, not everything is shared. A sentient human being takes decisions.”

Although the sums represent only a small percentage of the agencies’ budgets, the [US taxpayer] money has been an important source of income for GCHQ. The cash came during a period of cost-cutting at the agency that led to staff numbers being slashed from 6,485 in 2009 to 6,132 last year.

GCHQ seems desperate to please its American benefactor and the NSA does not hold back when it fails to get what it wants. On one project, GCHQ feared if it failed to deliver it would “diminish NSA’s confidence in GCHQ’s ability to meet minimum NSA requirements”. Another document warned: “The NSA ask is not static and retaining ‘equability’ will remain a challenge for the near future.”

In November 2011, a senior GCHQ manager working in Cyprus bemoaned the lack of staff devoted to one eavesdropping programme, saying: “This is not sustainable if numbers reduce further and reflects badly on our commitments to the NSA.”

The overriding necessity to keep on the right side of the US was revealed in a UK government paper that set out the views of GCHQ in the wake of the 2010 strategic defence and security review. The document was called: “GCHQ’s international alliances and partnerships: helping to maintain Britain’s standing and influence in the world. It said: “Our key partnership is with the US. We need to keep this relationship healthy. The relationship remains strong but is not sentimental. GCHQ must pull its weight and be seen to pull its weight.”

Astonishingly, the document admitted that 60% of the UK’s high-value intelligence “is based on either NSA end-product or derived from NSA collection”. End product means official reports that are distillations of the best raw intelligence.

Another pitch to keep the US happy involves reminding Washington that the UK is less regulated than the US. The British agency described this as one of its key “selling points”. This was made explicit two years ago when GCHQ set out its priorities for the coming years.

“We both accept and accommodate NSA’s different way of working,” the document said. “We are less constrained by NSA’s concerns about compliance.”

GCHQ said that by 2013 it hoped to have “exploited to the full our unique selling points of geography, partnerships [and] the UK’s legal regime”.

However, there are indications from within GCHQ that senior staff are not at ease with the rate and pace of change. The head of one of its programmes warned the agency was now receiving so much new intelligence that its “mission management … is no longer fit for purpose”....

The Snowden documents show GCHQ has become increasingly reliant on money from “external” sources."...

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Second UK Guardian article, 4/13/2017: Subservient UK is naturally thrilled when describing what it believes  are services rendered to Obama, as outlined in above 2013 article.

UK spies were "first," had "crucial" role in 2016 US election, supplied alleged anti-Trump info dating from 2015 to Obama admin.

"Exclusive: GCHQ [UK Government Communications Headquarters] is said to have alerted US agencies after becoming aware of contacts in 2015....Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, the Guardian has been told."...UK GCHQ of course says they didn't target Trump, acquired data incidentally and gave it to Obama officials:

 April 13, 2017, "British spies were first to spot Trump team's links with Russia," UK Guardian, Luke Harding, Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Nick Hopkins

Exclusive: GCHQ [UK Government Communications Headquarters] is said to have alerted US agencies after becoming aware of contacts in 2015.

"It is understood that GCHQ was not carrying out a targeted operation against Trump or his team, but picked up the alleged conversations by chance."
"Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, the Guardian has been told.

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. Another source suggested the Dutch and the French spy agency, the General Directorate for External Security or DGSE, were contributors. 

It is understood that GCHQ was at no point carrying out a targeted operation against Trump or his team or proactively seeking information. The alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets. Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern of connections that were flagged to intelligence officials in the US. 

The issue of GCHQ’s role in the FBI’s ongoing investigation into possible cooperation between the Trump campaign and Moscow is highly sensitive. In March Trump tweeted that Barack Obama had illegally “wiretapped” him in Trump Tower.... 

Both US and UK intelligence sources acknowledge that GCHQ played an early, prominent role in kickstarting the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, which began in late July 2016.

One source called the British eavesdropping agency the “principal whistleblower”. 

The Guardian has been told the FBI and the CIA were slow to appreciate the extensive nature of contacts between Trump’s team and Moscow ahead of the US election. This was in part due to US law that prohibits US agencies from examining the private communications of American citizens without warrants. “They are trained not to do this,” the source stressed. 

“It looks like the [US] agencies were asleep,” the source added. “They [the European agencies] were saying: ‘There are contacts going on between people close to Mr Trump and people we believe are Russian intelligence agents. You should be wary of this.’ 

“The message was: ‘Watch out. There’s something not right here.’” 

According to one account, GCHQ’s then head, Robert Hannigan, passed material in summer 2016 to the CIA chief, John Brennan. The matter was deemed so sensitive it was handled at “director level”. After an initially slow start, Brennan used GCHQ information and intelligence from other partners to launch a major inter-agency investigation. 

In late August and September [2016] Brennan gave a series of classified briefings to the Gang of Eight, the top-ranking Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate. He told them the agency had evidence the Kremlin might be trying to help Trump to win the presidency, the New York Times reported. [April 6, 2017, "C.I.A. Had Evidence of Russian Effort to Help Trump Earlier Than Believed," NY Times, Eric Lichtblau]

One person familiar with the matter said Brennan did not reveal sources but made reference to the fact that America’s intelligence allies had provided information. Trump subsequently learned of GCHQ’s role, the person said.

The person described US intelligence as being “very late to the game”. The FBI’s director, James Comey, altered his position after the election and Trump’s victory, becoming “more affirmative” and with a “higher level of concern”.

Comey’s apparent shift may have followed a mid-October decision by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) court to approve a secret surveillance order. The order gave permission for the Department of Justice to investigate two banks suspected of being part of the Kremlin’s undercover influence operation.

According to the BBC, the justice department’s request came after a tipoff from an intelligence agency in one of the Baltic states. This is believed to be Estonia.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the same order covered Carter Page, one of Trump’s associates. It allowed the FBI and the justice department to monitor Page’s communications. Page, a former foreign policy aide, was suspected of being an agent of influence working for Russia, the paper said, citing US officials. [The reverse is true. Carter Page was an FBI cooperating asset in 2013, and remained the primary FBI witness through May of 2016 and FBI's successful completion of Buryakov case].

The application covered contacts Page allegedly had in 2013 with a Russian foreign intelligence agent, and other undisclosed meetings with Russian operatives, [From 2013-2016 Carter Page was an FBI asset: Carter Page was an FBI cooperating asset in 2013, and remained the primary FBI witness through May of 2016] the Post said. Page denies wrongdoing and complained of “unjustified, politically motivated government surveillance”.

Late last year [2016] Comey threw more FBI resources into what became a far-reaching counter-intelligence investigation. In March he confirmed before the House intelligence committee that the agency was examining possible cooperation between Moscow and members of the Trump campaign to sway the US election.

Comey and the NSA director, Admiral Michael Rogers, said there was no basis for the president’s claim that he was a victim of Obama “wiretapping”. Trump had likened the unproved allegation to “McCarthyism”.

Britain’s MI6 spy agency played a part in intelligence sharing with the US, one source said. MI6 declined to comment. Its former chief Sir Richard Dearlove described Trump’s wiretapping claim on Thursday as “simply deeply embarrassing for Trump and the administration”.

  “The only possible explanation is that Trump started tweeting without understanding how the NSA-GCHQ relationship actually works,” Dearlove told Prospect magazine.

A GCHQ spokesperson said: “It is longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters”.

It is unclear which individuals were picked up by British surveillance.

In a report last month the New York Times, citing three US intelligence officials, said warning signs had been building throughout last summer but were far from clear. As WikiLeaks published emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee, US agencies began picking up conversations in which Russians were discussing contacts with Trump associates, the paper said.

European allies were supplying information about people close to Trump meeting with Russians in Britain, the Netherlands and in other countries, the Times said.

There are now multiple investigations going on in Washington into Trump campaign officials and Russia. They include the FBI-led counter-espionage investigation and probes by both the House and Senate intelligence committees.

Adam Schiff, the senior Democrat on the House committee, has expressed an interest in hearing from Christopher Steele, the former MI6 officer whose dossier accuses the president of long-term cooperation with Vladimir Putin’s Moscow. Trump and Putin have both dismissed the dossier as fake.

One source suggested the official investigation was making progress. “They now have specific concrete and corroborative evidence of collusion,” the source said.

“This is between people in the Trump campaign and agents of [Russian] influence relating to the use of hacked material.”"
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Added: More on US-UK "special relationship:" From Washington Post, 2013: UK is free to massively surveil Americans in the US which NSA is supposedly not allowed to do: "To widen its access, it [US NSA] teamed up with its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ....The NSA believed it did not need permission from Congress or judicial oversight. Data from hundreds of millions of U.S. accounts flowed over those Google and Yahoo links, but classified rules allowed NSA to presume that data ingested overseas belonged to foreigners."... 

Dec. 23, 2013, "Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission's accomplished," Washington Post, Barton Gellman 

"Using PRISM, the cover name for collection of user data from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple and five other U.S.-based companies, the NSA could obtain all communications to or from any specified target. The companies had no choice but to comply with the government's request for data.

But the NSA could not use Prism, which was overseen once a year by the surveillance court [FISA], for the collection of virtually all data handled by those companies. To widen its access, it teamed up with its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, to break into the private fiber-optic links that connected Google and Yahoo data centers around the world.

That operation, which used the cover name MUSCULAR, tapped into U.S. company data from outside U.S. territory. The NSA, therefore, believed it did not need permission from Congress or judicial oversight. Data from hundreds of millions of U.S. accounts flowed over those Google and Yahoo links, but classified rules allowed NSA to presume that data ingested overseas belonged to foreigners."...

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Added: UK shares vast quantities of information with US NSA: Reuters, 2013: UK's GCHQ "is sharing vast quantities of personal information with the U.S. National Security Agency." 





"Britain’s spy agency GCHQ has tapped fibre-optic cables that carry international phone and internet traffic and is sharing vast quantities of personal information with the U.S. National Security Agency, the Guardian newspaper said on Friday.... 

Earlier this month, in response to questions about the secret U.S. data-monitoring program Prism, British Foreign Secretary William Hague told Parliament that GCHQ always adhered to British law when processing data gained from eavesdropping. He would not confirm or deny any details of UK-U.S. intelligence sharing....

“In line with long-standing practice we do not comment on intelligence matters,” a GCHQ spokesman said on Friday. 

NSA spokeswoman Judith Emmel rejected any suggestion the U.S. agency used the British to do things the NSA cannot do legally. Under U.S. law, the NSA must get authorization from a secret federal court to collect information either in bulk or on specific people.

“Any allegation that NSA relies on its foreign partners to circumvent U.S. law is absolutely false. NSA does not ask its foreign partners to undertake any intelligence activity that the U.S. government would be legally prohibited from undertaking itself,” Emmel said."
 
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Added: The notion that the US government is concerned about "national security" is demonstrably fake. References to "national security" are only to shut us up and prevent us from having a safe country. If anyone in the "intelligence community" or entire US political class cared in the slightest about the safety of Americans, they'd long ago have done two things: closed and barricaded the southern US border and forbidden Muslims from entering the country. Instead, they flood the country 24/7 with dangerous people in any way they can, even creating such things as "Diversity Lotteries" to bring unvetted third world persons from violent cultures to the US to overwhelm if not commit mass murder of Americans. If we say one word about not wishing to participate in our own genocide, we're called "racist."


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