Forbidden Op-Ed: The Sputnik Vaccine as a Lifesaving Global PartnershipMinistry of Health (Russia) COLUMNISTS 10:30 GMT 11.08.2020(updated 10:34 GMT 11.08.2020)Get short URL by Kirill Dmitriev
This opinion piece, which tells the story behind the creation of the Russian vaccine against COVID-19 and emphasizes the willingness of Russia to cooperate with the international community, has been rejected by all leading Western media.
We therefore decided to publish it as is in order to share our views with an international audience and to lift the blockade imposed on positive information about the Russian COVID-19 vaccine. We believe that this information is crucial for the international effort to fight the world’s biggest challenge and would like readers to decide for themselves why this op-ed has been rejected.
This op-ed can be republished by any media, should they find it useful to present their readers with the history and some facts about the world's first registered COVID vaccine. RDIF has also launched the website http://www.sputnikvaccine.com to provide accurate and up-to-date information about the vaccine. Russia’s Success in Developing COVID-19 Vaccine is Rooted in History The “Sputnik moment” has happened. The Russian vaccine “Sputnik V” has been launched becoming the world’s first registered COVID-19 vaccine and evoking memories of the 1957 shock launch of a Soviet satellite, which opened space to exploration by humans. This new era led not only to competition but also to many collaborative efforts, including the joint Apollo-Soyuz mission by the United States and the Soviet Union.
A COVID-19 vaccine is the world’s number one priority and many countries, organizations and companies claim they are close to developing one. By the end of this year some other countries may have their own vaccines. It is important that political barriers do not prevent the best available technologies from being used for the benefit of all people in the face of the most serious challenge humankind has faced in decades.
Unfortunately, instead of looking into the science behind the proven adenoviral vector-based vaccine platform Russia has developed, some international politicians and media chose to focus on politics and attempts to undermine the credibility of the Russian vaccine. We believe that such an approach is counter-productive and call for a political “ceasefire” on vaccines in the face of COVID-19 pandemic.
It is not broadly known worldwide that Russia has been one of the global leaders in vaccine research for centuries. Russian Empress Catherine the Great set an example in 1768 when she received the country’s first smallpox vaccination, 30 years before the first vaccination was done in the United States.
In 1892 Russian scientist Dmitri Ivanovsky observed an unusual effect while studying tobacco leaves infected with a mosaic disease. The leaves remained infectious even after the scientist filtered out the bacteria. Although it was still almost half a century before the first virus could be seen through a microscope, Ivanovsky’s research gave birth to a new science called virology.
World's first coronavirus vaccine
Since Ivanovsky’s discovery, Russia has been one of the global leaders in virology and vaccine research, producing scores of talented scientists such as researcher Nikolay Gamaleya, who studied at the laboratory of French biologist Louis Pasteur in Paris and opened the world’s second vaccination station for rabies in Russia in 1886.
The Soviet Union continued to support research into viruses and vaccines. Everyone born after the Second World War received mandatory vaccinations against polio, tuberculosis and diphtheria. In a rare example of Cold War era cooperation, three leading Soviet virologists went to the United States in 1955 to offer testing opportunities in the Soviet Union for a U.S. vaccine against polio, a deadly disease which claimed millions of lives. If we were able to cooperate then, we can and must do it again now.
Decades of efforts by Russian and Soviet scientists led to the creation of an excellent research infrastructure, such as the National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology named after Nikolai Gamaleya. This infrastructure ranges from one of the richest “virus libraries” in the world, created using a unique preservation technique, to experimental animal breeding centers. We are proud of this legacy, which allowed us to create the first approved COVID-19 vaccine in the world. We already received international requests for 1 bln doses of our vaccine and reached international agreements to produce 500 mln doses annually with the intention to ramp it up.
The Real Secret Today, many Western media and politicians question the speed of the COVID-19 vaccine creation in Russia, raising doubts about its efficacy and authenticity. The secret behind this speed is Russia’s expertise in vaccine research. Since the 1980s, the Gamaleya Center has led the effort to develop a technological platform using adenoviruses, found in human adenoids and normally transmitting the common cold, as “vectors” or vehicles, which can induce a genetic material from another virus into a cell.
The gene from adenovirus, which causes the infection, is removed while a gene with the code of a protein from another virus is inserted. This inserted element is small, not a dangerous part of a virus and is safe for the body but still helps the immune system to react and produce antibodies, which protect us from the infection.
The technological platform of adenovirus-based vectors makes it easier and faster to create new vaccines through modifying the initial carrier vector with genetic material from new emerging viruses. Such vaccines provoke a strong response from a human body in order to build immunity while the overall process of vector modification and pilot-scale manufacturing takes only a few months.
Human adenoviruses are considered some of the easiest to engineer in this way and therefore they have become very popular as vectors. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic all Russian researchers had to do was to extract a coding gene from the spike of the novel coronavirus and implant it into a familiar adenovirus vector for delivery into a human cell. They decided to use this already proven and available technology instead of going into uncharted territory.
The most recent studies also indicate that two shots of the vaccine are needed to create a long-lasting immunity. Since 2015 Russian researchers have been working on a two-vector approach hence the idea to use two types of adenoviral vectors, Ad5 and Ad26, in the COVID-19 vaccine. In this way, they trick the body, which has developed immunity against the first type of vector, and boost the effect of the vaccine with the second shot using a different vector.
It is like two trains trying to deliver an important cargo to a fortress of a human body which needs the delivery in order to start producing antibodies. You need the second train to make sure the cargo reaches its destination. The second train should be different from the first one, which already came under attack from the body’s immune system and is already familiar to it. So, while other vaccine makers have only one train, we have two.
With its two-vector approach the Gamaleya Center also developed and registered a vaccine against Ebola fever. This vaccine has been used on several thousand people over the last few years creating a proven vaccine platform that was used for the COVID-19 vaccine. Аbout 2,000 people in Guinea received injections of Gamaleya vaccines in 2017-18 and the Gamaleya Center has an international patent for its Ebola vaccine.
Two Vector Approach The Gamaleya Center used adenoviral vectors to develop vaccines against influenza and against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Both vaccines are currently in advanced stages of clinical trials. These achievements show that Russian labs did not waste their time in the last few decades while the international pharmaceutical industry often underestimated the importance of new vaccines research in the absence of global health threats prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other countries follow in our footsteps developing adenoviral vector-based vaccines. Oxford University is using an adenovirus from a monkey, which has neither been used in an approved vaccine before unlike human adenoviruses. U.S. company Johnson & Johnson is using adenovirus Ad26 and China’s CanSino - adenovirus Ad5, the same vectors the Gamaleya Center is using, but they are yet to master the two-vector approach. Both companies already received large orders for vaccines from their governments.
The use of two vectors is the unique technology, developed by the Gamaleya Center scientists, which differentiates the Russian vaccine from other adenoviral vector-based vaccines under development around the world. Vaccines based on adenoviral vectors also have clear advantages over other technologies such as mRNA vaccines.
Prospective mRNA vaccines, undergoing clinical trials in the United States and other countries, do not use vectors for delivery and represent an RNA molecule with coronavirus protein code wrapped in a lipid membrane. This technology is promising but its side effects, especially an impact on fertility, have not yet been studied in depth. No mRNA vaccine has yet received regulatory approval in the world. We believe that in the global vaccine race to fight coronavirus adenoviral vector-based vaccines will be the winners but even in this category the Gamaleya vaccine has the edge.
Confronting Skepticism The Russian vaccine is now ready and registered. The first two phases of clinical trials are over and their results will be published this month in line with international requirements. These documents will provide detailed information about the vaccine, including the exact levels of antibodies as shown by several third-party tests as well as by Gamaleya’s proprietary test, which identifies the most efficient antibodies attacking the spike of coronavirus.
They will also show that all the participants of the clinical trials developed a 100 percent immunity to COVID-19. Studies on Syrian hamsters, animals which usually die from COVID-19, showed 100% protection and an absence of lung-damage after they received a lethal infection dose. After the registration we will conduct international clinical trials in 3 other countries. Mass production of the vaccine is expected to start by September and we already see strong global interest in the vaccine.
Skepticism among international media and politicians has surfaced just as Russia announced its plans for mass COVID-19 vaccine production. When I spoke with Western media many refused to include key facts about the Russian COVID-19 vaccine research in their stories. We view this skepticism as an attempt to undermine our efforts to develop a working vaccine, which will stop the pandemic and help to re-open the global economy.
It is not the first time Russia has faced international mistrust over its leadership in science when politics stand in the way of scientific breakthroughs and put public health at risk. During the polio outbreak in Japan in the 1950s Japanese mothers whose children were dying from polio, went to demonstrate against their own government, which banned imports of Soviet polio vaccine for political reasons. The protesters achieved their goal and the ban was lifted saving the lives of more than 20 million Japanese children.
Today politics again stand in the way of the Russian technology, which can save lives around the world. Russia is open to international cooperation in fighting this and future pandemics. In the words of a Soviet delegate at the international conference on polio vaccines in Washington in 1960 who said in response to questions from the audience about the vaccine’s safety that we in Russia “love our children and are concerned for their wellbeing as much as people in the United States, or any other part of the world are for their children”.
After these words the Soviet delegation received a standing ovation from the audience and joint work on vaccines continued. The wellbeing and prosperity for future generations is what we need to think about now. All countries in the world need to leave politics behind and focus on finding the best solutions and technologies in order to protect lives and resume economic activity.
Our fund has already secured manufacturing partnerships in 5 countries to jointly produce the Russian vaccine. Maybe at some point thanks to this partnership in fighting COVID-19 we can also review and abandon the politically motivated restrictions on international relations, which have become obsolete and represent an obstacle to coordinated efforts in dealing with global challenges.
Kirill Dmitriev is chief executive officer of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund with $50 billion under management.
Global scandals now labeled Russiagate, Spygate, and what President Trump calls “Obamagate” shook the political world, but hit me closer to home. I’m the reason the so-called FBI “spy” at the center of Spygate, Stefan Halper, met Carter Page, the alleged “Russian Asset” in Russiagate’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
On May 19, 2018, this realization blindsided me in London as I was about to fly out for my wedding. The New York Times, NBC News and other sources had outed my PhD supervisor, Stefan Halper, as a spy known to the UK’s MI6 intelligence service as “The Walrus.”
It didn’t seem real. Could a former professor I once trusted as a mentor have betrayed his word, profession, and country to start these disasters? I had moved to England to pursue an academic career and leave DC’s politics behind, only to have my PhD supervisor throw me back into the most outrageous political firestorms I could imagine. Just my luck. Then an even worse question began nagging at me. Did I unintentionally light the match that started it all?
As I started to piece together what happened over the next few months, I realized something. The stories that The New York Times, Washington Post, and others were pushing didn’t add up. Many seemed planted to cover up or advance the agendas of several individuals whose tentacles secretly ran through these scandals, and who each had longstanding ties to intelligence services like the FBI, CIA, and MI6. I call these individuals the Cambridge Four.
Strangely, all four were linked through that sleepy British academic town thousands of miles from the alleged “ground zeroes” of Russiagate’s conspiracies, Moscow and DC. In addition to the central “Spygate” figure Halper, they include the central source of “Russiagate’s” fake conspiracy theories, Christopher Steele; former MI6 Director Sir Richard Dearlove; and Halper’s and Dearlove’s partner in a Cambridge Intelligence Seminar linked to titillating — but false — tales of a “Russian spy” seducing Trump’s top national security advisor. My years of work with Halper provided an inside view of how their four networks interconnected.
The more I dug up new pieces of this puzzle, the more I saw how these individuals’ seemingly separate acts might fit together in an absurd picture of how these scandals really started.
Armed with first-hand knowledge and evidence, I quietly sought to help federal investigators uncover these scandals’ mysteries. It wasn’t my first rodeo. After witnessing the plane that hit the Pentagon on 9/11, I led G8 and State Department international crime and terrorism efforts with Department of Justice (DOJ), FBI, and intelligence officials and had worked for decades in White House, Congressional, and presidential campaign roles.
This helped me keep a stiff upper lip when I was falsely accused in 2019 by the House Intelligence Committee’s Ranking Republican and others on television as being part of a secret anti-Trump cabal. As much as I wanted to defend myself, I knew our best shot of exposing the real forces behind these scandals was for me to remain publicly silent and not let those under investigation know what I knew or was willing to say.
Yet a few weeks ago, I asked to speak to the DOJ lead investigator John Durham to give his team a heads up. I would continue to offer help, but my time for waiting for government to act was over. Recently, I had discovered and flagged for Durham disturbing recordings. One involved one of the Cambridge Four, Halper, and raised serious questions about the origins of what has been called the “kill shot” against Trump’s first national security advisor, General Michael Flynn.
On January 12, 2017 a felony leak about phone calls between the Russian Ambassador and General Flynn was published by The Washington Post. This led to Flynn’s downfall and reignited the Trump-Russia investigations still tearing our nation apart. 48 hours before the leak was published, my former supervisor Halper eerily laid out what was about to happen to Flynn, something he had no independent reason to know. Halper described how Flynn’s “so called enemies” would make Flynn “blow up…he’s really fucked.”
The next legal hearing on Flynn’s prosecution is this Tuesday. Yet for four years government officials have withheld key materials and blocked individuals like Halper from testifying about the real genesis of these scandals and the felony leak on Flynn. While I once worked in Republican politics, I know Americans of every affiliation believe citizens deserve a fair trial without the government concealing evidence.
The remaining mysteries of Russiagate are too important to be turned into a game of political football, or buried until after the election when unsubstantiated allegations could be dug up to sabotage Vice President Biden if he is elected president — as I believe was done to President Trump.
Nor should they be used as a cynical, last-minute Republican “October Surprise” to disrupt the election. Nothing excuses foreign meddling in U.S. elections. Yet it is hypocritical and absurd to use that as an excuse to hide abuses by U.S. intelligence, law enforcement, and political officials against our own citizens.
I know the consequences of my speaking out. America is now in a political “UnCivil War” where individuals—even at outlets like The New York Times and Washington Post that profess objective journalism—are personally attacked if their facts don’t fit entrenched narratives.
Key politicians and intelligence figures would like the facts surrounding Russiagate’s origins classified and buried for decades, as with past U.S./MI6 intelligence scandals. I can’t let that happen. After all, I inadvertently helped jump-start it. Even if this story is hidden now, it will ultimately impact Trump, Biden, the 2020 election, and our country for years.
There is far too much to tell in a single article. In the next several weeks I plan to reveal what I know, including: the comedy of errors leading to a Cambridge Four member meeting and targeting the FBI’s main surveillance excuse Carter Page; the information given to an FBI source in August 2016 should have immediately ended their investigation alleging Page was a master spy linking top Trump officials to Putin; how a secret anti-Trump source sought one of the world’s most powerful positions that could undermine the president; and how official statements by FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane officials to the DOJ Inspector General were factually inaccurate or wildly inconsistent with other evidence, raising the question of if those officials risked criminal prosecution to conceal their acts.
This is not a position I ever sought. As I worked with government investigators it seemed inconceivable that key facts could be covered up until now. Yet with both Flynn’s hearing and the election approaching, whatever the consequences, everyone impacted deserves to know the truth.
Conspiracy of Dunces
People who convince themselves that they’re really smart often do the dumbest things. I’ve fallen prey to this dynamic myself in the past. Yet perhaps no one in history is a better example of this than the Cambridge Four. Their story is both a tragedy and a farce—think Jason Bourne meets Austin Powers — with larger-than-life characters that might be equally at home in a Saturday Night Live skit or a John Le Carré spy thriller. Yet the damage they did is deadly serious.
The Cambridge Four’s most mythical, larger-than-life character — both literally and figuratively — is my former advisor, Halper. Codenamed “the Walrus,” in person he appears well over 300 pounds, and carries himself with grandiose airs, evoking fictional anti-heroes like Ignatius O’Reilly of Confederacy of Dunces or Shakespeare’s Falstaff.
At first, I was drawn to and respected him for his bold books opposing brain-dead Republican orthodoxies on the Iraq War and China policy. It seemed his real-world government experience eerily mirrored my own. I had yet to discover his checkered past, including: his reported role in organizing ex-CIA operatives to steal Jimmy Carter’s 1980 debate materials; 1990’s crack cocaine arrest; and FBI firing in 2011 for “mercurial” behavior, demanding more “compensation” and “questionable allegiance to [intelligence] targets.”
By the time I organized a major 2016 conference to serve as a capstone of my years of research at Harvard and Cambridge — ironically focused on the national security risks of U.S. presidential campaigns — Halper was a gregarious, opinionated eccentric who struggled to use Cambridge’s basic internet system without help.
He appeared slightly more “mercurial” and rattled after losing his politics professorship in the months before my conference. Yet the idea that any competent FBI or government official would rely on him as a linchpin for world-changing Trump-Russia conspiracy investigations was and is preposterous.
Halper might have faded into retirement — and Spygate likely never would have happened — without my driving forward with the 2016 conference, one that Halper, again ironically, had repeatedly urged me to cancel. An all-star cast of international academics and officials would be there, headlined by Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton’s confidante Madeleine Albright.
But after a 20-something Cambridge administrative official smugly told me “there’s no way Trump can win” and cut our travel funding, it sent me on a mad scramble. I had to find someone, anyone, to fly over on a last-minute economy ticket to represent the Trump campaign. This is the only reason Spygate’s “FBI Spy” Halper and Russiagate’s “Russian Spy” Carter Page ever met, with consequences still shaking politics today. For most of the conference, Halper couldn’t be bothered with Page, about whom he made snarky comments about behind Page’s back, while focusing on Albright. That all changed when another one of the Cambridge Four arrived.
Sir Richard Dearlove is a former director of MI6 and Halper’s long-time collaborator. He arrived at the last minute from a billionaire’s Rocky Mountain soiree called the Allen Conference, whose other attendees reportedly included Oprah, Obama confidants, and Hollywood sexual predator Harvey Weinstein. Dearlove was under the cloud of an official UK investigation into the Iraq war rationale, called the Chilcot Report that were serious even by the Walrus’s or Weinstein’s standards, given the geopolitical consequences.
Among other things, it involved Dearlove’s MI6 allegedly withholding the fact that a key piece of “intelligence” George W. Bush used to launch the attacks – the idea that chemical munitions were kept in “glass beads or spheres” – suspiciously mirrored an erroneous factoid from the plot of the 1996 WMD-heist movie The Rock, starring Nicholas Cage.
At my conference’s last session, Dearlove went far off the script I had discussed with his assistant, lambasting Trump as a national security threat in front of a Trump advisor, and our official guest, Page. My jaw hit the floor in embarrassment, but that, and his discussion with Dearlove, seemed to cause Halper to do a 180-degree shift. Suddenly, he seemed desperately interested in isolating, cornering, and ingratiating himself to Page and promoting himself to the Trump campaign.
Dearlove’s former MI6 agent and the third Cambridge Four member, Christopher Steele, is now as famous as his old boss. According to multiple reports, Steele had been hired by a Clinton campaign contractor a few weeks earlier to compile the infamous “Steele Dossier.” Steele filled his “intelligence” reports with obviously non-intelligent assertions, including that Trump-Russia conspiracies were run out of Russia’s Miami consulate — a consulate an average high schooler with internet access could instantly show did not exist.
Similarly, Steele’s famous allegations that notorious germaphobe Trump paid prostitutes to urinate while Putin recorded him seemed like a teenage boy’s dream after watching too many Austin Powers movies — and with recent news revealing Steele’s highly suspect sub-source, Igor Dyachenko, his story appears just about as based on reality.
The Cambridge’s Four’s final member, Christopher Andrew, seemed the least likely to become involved. He initially called some of Halper’s Russia conspiracy theories “absurd.” Yet by early 2017 he published an articlethat helped legitimize false allegations against Trump’s team and even implicated his own student.
I call them — Halper, Steele, Dearlove, and Andrew — the Cambridge Four because of parallels to another British spy story of yore, perhaps the most notorious intelligence scandal in history. That earlier “Cambridge Five” spy ring, including infamous names like Kim Philby and Guy Burgess, became the basisfor John LeCarré’s famous spy thriller and film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The Five were Cold War Soviet spies who escaped virtually unpunished after embarrassed British and American officials essentially covered up the extent of their betrayals. One, Anthony Blunt, was even knighted and served as art curator to the Queen.
These Cambridge men undermined democracy and the U.S.-UK relationship, while making fools of politicians, the media, and officials linked to the FBI, CIA and MI6 for years. The same can be said of our new Cambridge Four.
I have no indication that any of the Cambridge Four were ever on Russia’s payroll or were actual spies for Russia, like their Cambridge Five namesakes. Yet the Cambridge Four, and their media and political enablers, did a miraculous job in pushing fake Trump-Russia conspiracy stories that undermined America’s democratically-elected government and sparked investigations still ripping us apart today. In this regard, the Cambridge Four were probably the most effective tools for Russia’s disinformation campaign to divide America that Putin could have ever dreamed of.
Flynn’s Tag Team Take Down
Perhaps nothing better illustrates the Cambridge Four’s roles — or is more urgent given Flynn’s legal hearing August 11 — than the takedown of Trump’s national security advisor. Starting in 2016, Halper made odd requests for me to brief him and others on Trump’s team. He even had me research Trump, allegedly as part of my thesis work, even though my thesis was focused on past, not present, presidents.
In these discussions I stressed that Flynn was indispensable. He was perhaps the only campaign advisor who both had Trump’s personal trust and the deep intelligence experience necessary to expose hidden problems in the intelligence community. At one point, I even recall telling Halper that taking Flynn out would be like “beheading” Trump’s team. I had no idea I had been unintentionally aiding a spy preparing the guillotine and helping lead Flynn to exactly such a beheading.
Whether and to what degree the Cambridge Four’s individual acts were formally coordinated can likely only be proven by testimony under oath and reviewing phone records, emails, and documents — things government officials seem to have blocked the Cambridge Four and Halper’s FBI handler, Steve Somma, from for four years. Yet it would seem odd if four, interconnected individuals linked to a town thousands of miles from Moscow or DC, randomly took acts that fit together so perfectly to take down Flynn.
My conference ended on July 12, 2016 with a closing session where Halper, Dearlove, and Page had their strange interactions. Almost immediately after that, the sparks of international intelligence interest surrounding Trump-Russia connections caught fire. Seven days after the conference, Steele provided a new report for the Clinton Campaign. In it, for the first time, Steele made Page central to his Trump-Russia conspiracies.
Eleven days after that, the Crossfire Hurricane investigation officially launched, allegedly due to a tip (based on a casual London wine bar conversation two months earlier) by an Australian diplomat named Alexander Downer linked to the Clinton Foundation and to the Cambridge Four through the tight-knit London/Cambridge Five Eyes intelligence community (involving the CIA, FBI, and MI6). Current CIA Director Gina Haspel was the CIA station chief in London when Downer reportedlybroke typical protocol by giving his tip directly to that Embassy’s team.
Halper’s long-time FBI handler Steve Somma, who personally saved Halper’s FBI career after Halper’s firing in 2011, was quickly reassigned to Crossfire Hurricane despite Somma telling the DOJ’s Inspector General that he “lacked a basic understanding of simple [campaign] issues.” Shortly after his reassignment, Somma claimed he “couldn’t believe [their] luck” as he “kind of stumbled upon” Halper’s ties to Crossfire Hurricane’s top targets, including from his recently meeting Page at my conference.
Halper quickly agreed to highly questionable, if not illegal, FBI requests to secretly record his own party’s presidential campaign advisers. Two business days after Somma held his meetings with Halper, the Crossfire Razor investigation of Flynn launched on August 16.
In the weeks after my Summer 2016 conference, Halper and Dearlove quit an academic entity, the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar (CIS), they’d put together with Andrew. After these resignations, rumors circulated that Trump’s national security advisor, General Michael Flynn, was seduced by a young blonde “Russian spy” in Cambridge years earlier. This “seduction” allegedly occurred after three of the Cambridge Four — Halper, Dearlove, and Andrew — hosted Flynn for CIS events in 2014. I attended part of their program and found nothing untoward, just typical academic fare. Neither apparently did any of the Cambridge Four find anything wrong, until years later after two of them crossed paths with Page at my conference.
Steele’s role pushing anti-Flynn stories was revealed in his dossier and the testimony of an aide to Republican Senator John McCain. Steele met the aide in London during the fall of 2016, telling him that “Flynn had an extramarital affair with a Russian woman in the U.K.” and using details mirroring the other Cambridge Four stories. The Washington Post also reports Steele and Dearlove discussed how his anti-Trump work might integrate with UK government actions from at least “early fall” 2016.
Yet by winter 2016, these efforts were imploding. After Trump’s election, FBI agents texted about “a lot of scared MFers” at headquarters who needed to “[s]tart looking for new jobs fellas.” Yet doubling down on questionable investigations might have been some of the FBI Keystone Cops’ only escape route.
Before the election, Halper and the FBI made several wired-up spying attempts: secretly recording and questioning Page and Papadopoulos to try and catch them in statements supporting Steele’s Trump-Russia conspiracies. Their clown car operation backfired spectacularly, often contradicting Steele. Halper at one point awkwardly put a phone down as if to record Papadopoulos while spewing questions about Russia. On an FBI recording, Halper apparently admitted he was “three sheets to the wind” drunk.
The supposedly “confidential” source Halper seemingly made a public, last-ditch attempt to try and legitimize allegations of a Russian conspiracy at Cambridge through a December 16 Financial Times newspaper article. Halper claimed he and Dearlove quit the seminar that hosted Flynn due to “unacceptable Russian influence.” Halper’s partner Andrew initially called Halper’s assertions “absurd.” Another professor added that “Cambridge is a wonderful place for conspiracy theories, but the idea there is a Machiavellian plot here is ridiculous…it’s real Reds under the Bed stuff—the whole thing is ludicrous.”
But Andrew later seemed to flip, giving legs to his Cambridge Four comrades’ smears by authoring an 2017 article implying their falsely accused “Russian spy” behaved seductively towards Flynn. That this fake “spy” was a new mother — and Andrew’s own student mentee for years — made this more disturbing.
Despite Halper’s article, a few weeks later these efforts were dead. A memo to terminate the Flynn investigation was on its way to FBI director on January 4, finding “no derogatory evidence.” Flynn would soon lead the NSC, where he would be empowered to expose the Cambridge Four and could bring them to their own career guillotines. They would likely be joined by Director Comey, McCabe, and FBI officials whom Democrats had widely derided earlier for botching the Hillary Clinton email investigation before they staked what remained of their credibility to Steele’s falsehoods. Then everything changed.
A General, a Walrus, and a “Kill Shot”
McCabe’s FBI subordinate Peter Strzok — who earlier texted that the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation was like an “insurance policy” in case of Trump’s election which “[w]e’ll stop” and he could “SMELL the Trump support” at a Walmart — intervened on January 4 to pull the memo terminating Flynn’s investigation.
The next day, January 5, Strzok attended an Oval Office Meeting with President Obama, National Security Adviser Rice, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and FBI Director Comey. Among the topics were intercepted calls between Flynn and Russia’s Ambassador discussing sanctions. Strzok’s notes indicate Vice President Biden suggested that Flynn somehow violated a 216-year-old, possibly unconstitutional, and never successfully prosecuted, law called the Logan Act.
All of this — White House discussions, the taping of Flynn, Flynn-Russia conversations — were highly classified. They were never supposed to go public. If no one commits a felony by leaking them, this whole situation likely disappears. It is hard to believe anyone in Trump’s White House, or even in the last days of Obama’s presidency, would try to prosecute Flynn for a “Logan Act” violation of a possibly unconstitutional law he probably didn’t even violate, and that hasn’t been successfully prosecuted in its over two centuries of existence.
If this law — created to stop private citizens from intervening in foreign affairs — applied to incoming presidential teams, likely Joe Biden, Susan Rice, and most of the incoming international teams of Presidents Obama, Bush, Reagan, and Clinton would be guilty. Under our Constitution, it is the job of presidential campaigns to announce how they will change policy. So, unless someone commits the leak against Flynn, this all would be resolved internally. It is never transformed into a public Russia-Trump conspiracy tearing our country apart. But as we all now know, and history recorded, that is not what happened.
Five days after that the January 5 Oval Office meeting, I met Halper in Virginia. I didn’t think much about that meeting until Durham’s team requested I review my records. Because Halper had seemed increasingly erratic in our dealings, making it difficult to advance my doctoral work, I requested to start recording our conversations back in 2015 to document his guidance.
When I listened to my January 10, 2017 recording a few weeks ago, I expected to find boring academic discussions. Instead I found something else.
In the recording Halper laid out what was about to happen to Flynn, something he had no independent reason to know. “I don’t think Flynn’s going to be around long,” he said, adding, “the way these things work” was that “opponents… so-called enemies” of Flynn would be “looking for ways of exerting pressure…that’s how it builds.”
Flynn, he said, would be “squeezed pretty hard,” and Flynn’s “reaction to that is to blow up and get angry. He’s really fucked. I don’t where he goes from there. But that is his reaction. That’s why he’s so unsuitable.”
The full audio of his Flynn discussion is linked here:
Those still defending the Crossfire Hurricane investigation will say there is no smoking gun here. There is no confession that individuals lied to ensnare Flynn, leaked classified information, or illegally undermined and sabotaged America’s government.
As someone experienced in crime and terrorism efforts, I can assure you of a hard truth: there almost never is. That is why we have jury trials, congressional investigations, and adversarial processes to uncover the truth.
That is why the most disturbing thing is that the Cambridge Four, their FBI/intelligence handlers, and others have been hidden from critical public and government inquiries for over four years. Context (including my background and materials) is vital, as is the chance for Halper, myself, Carter Page, and others involved to publicly testify, defend themselves, and answer questions. Yet for now, the context I can add makes this more troubling.
Halper would not have independently known Flynn, Trump’s most trusted security advisor, was about to go down. Halper knew the Cambridge Four’s Flynn affair allegations were, at best, unsubstantiated speculations, if not intentional lies. The FBI sought to close Flynn’s investigation and had mounting evidence undermining Steele’s Page and Papadopoulos allegations.
Even if Halper knew about Flynn’s “Logan Act violation” calls, it wouldn’t have mattered. Trump’s Administration would not prosecute this. It was, as Obama’s Acting Attorney General Sally Yates even admitted, “certainly unlikely” Obama’s Administration would either — it would expose their Crossfire investigation and spark bipartisan ridicule over a legally and politically suspect “Logan Act” prosecution in Obama’s last 10 days.
Halper was often unhinged and “mercurial,” as FBI described him in his 2011 firing. Months earlier he exploded screaming to block my long-planned outreach to the Trump campaign, likely fearing I would expose him and the Cambridge Four. Now Halper’s efforts were collapsing like a house of cards, likely leading to the Cambridge Four’s actual exposure, possibly even prosecution, once Flynn came to power. He should have been at wits’ end. Yet in the recording he was as eerily calm, almost cocky, as I’ve ever heard him.
One of the remaining tasks of investigators is determining the precise source of the leaks about Flynn to the Washington Post. These leaks were a critical inflection point. They revived the Trump-Russia investigations that were about to die and stopped Flynn before he could expose the fabrications and incompetence behind it all.
This is not a classic whistleblowing situation, wherein the confidentiality of the leaker should ideally remain sacrosanct in light of an important, socially-beneficial disclosure. This is the opposite: a leak seemingly manufactured with the intent of creating a media firestorm around a figure the FBI had already investigated, to no effect. The FBI’s key “confidential” source was already naming himself in a major global newspaper as he openly pushed Russia conspiracy theories.
Fairness demands individuals have a chance to testify under oath and defend themselves, yet members of the Cambridge Four, once again, have links that should be explored. It is demonstrably true that Halper knew Ignatius for decades, and he also bragged to me Ignatius was his press contact. Ignatius’ Post colleague, Robert Costa, was also Halper’s former student, and has described Halper as a “friend” he “had dinner with on many occasions.”
When Halper was outed as an FBI informant in 2018, Ignatius quickly filed a story calling Halper a “bit player” and a “middle man,” in what may have been an attempt to turn attention away from his long-time source. It is also worth noting that Flynn’s lawyer, Sydney Powell, has accused Pentagon official James Baker of making the leak — a charge a Pentagon official denied — and of coordinating with Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, on what she called a “kill shot” on Flynn.
Baker leads the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment (ONA), which reported paying Halper $411,575 while he surveilled Trump’s team. ONA claims this enormous sum —more than the annual salary of the President of the United States — was paid to Halper for fairly normal, largely publicly-sourced, reports to this office. I always found it strange that Halper profusely thanked me for introducing him to Carter Page, even after Page was accused of being a “Russian spy.” The disclosure that some of these payments started around the time Halper met Page, provided me with a theory on why he was so grateful.
According to a former Washington Post reporter, numerous sources were checked before the January 12, 2017 Ignatius story was published. While Flynn’s lawyer Powell suggested Baker leaked to Ignatius, it might be safer for Halper, rather than highly monitored government officials like Baker or Clapper, to provide information to his long-time media contact Ignatius, former student Costa, or one of their Post colleagues. Halper’s confidential FBI source role could be used to hide him from Congressional or public scrutiny. Halper’s FBI handler Somma could be hidden by a DOJ policy shielding lower-level employees, while foreign members of the Cambridge Four can selectively dodge U.S. investigations.
This exactly corresponds to what has happened so far.
My former supervisor, using his booming voice and bold ideas, likes to be the center of attention. Yet for two years his allies with powerful intelligence, political, and media ties seem to have done the impossible. They made this massive figure almost completely disappear.
The Mueller and DOJ IG investigations of these scandals relied in large part on input from DOJ and FBI officials linked to potential abuses — including the FBI’s Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Lisa Page and DOJ’s Andrew Weisman. When Congress grilled long-time FBI leader Mueller about why he didn’t interview “Steven Schrage” or others who might expose DOJ or FBI improprieties, he stammered: “[i]n those areas, I am going to stay away from…I stand by that which is in the report and not so necessarily with that, which is - which is not in the report.”
Given Mueller’s stated preference to “stay away” from those with information that might implicate members of his team and the DOJ IG’s reliance on DOJ insiders, it’s not surprising that people like me who were in a position to expose the Russiagate narrative were not interviewed.
What is surprising for anyone valuing journalistic standards, is that those under government investigation for abuses of power have so easily avoided hard questions. Some have even been given media contractsto spin their own actions. Imagine if Nixon’s allies appointed the Watergate burglars to investigate themselves, then placed them in nightly news positions where they could attack anyone questioning them. Politics shouldn’t destroy our principles.
There is too much to fully detail here, but further revelations – and they are forthcoming – will make these moves even more damning. How Cambridge Four members and Carter Page came together is a comedy of errors rivaling Dumb and Dumber. An FBI source had information that should have stopped Carter Page’s invasive surveillance in August 2016 before it started. A covert anti-Trump operative sought to be appointed to one of the world’s most powerful positions that could be used to undermine the president.
Evidence suggests undisclosed famous officials, including Republicans, tried to cover up their links to Steele’s smears. The IG report contains statements by Crossfire officials that appear factual inaccurate, inherently inconsistent, or highly improbable, raising questions about whether they risked prosecution to conceal their acts.
“I don’t remember.” That should be the official, trademarked motto of the government officials involved in these events. It is what former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates responded under oath this past Wednesday.
She had been asked if Vice President Biden raised the Logan Act in their Oval Office discussion of Flynn on January 5, 2017, seven days before the felony leak on Flynn’s alleged “Logan Act” violation was published. Flynn’s appeals hearing is on Tuesday, and Vice President Biden and President Trump are on the ballot in less than 90 days. These issues should be beyond politics. They should have been dealt with before now. They would have, if Washington insiders could “remember” things, like how to provide legally-mandated documents under our Constitution or their duties to the public.
This is also beyond the pervasive, often subconscious, partisanship that now blinds us. The intelligence leak claiming Russia supported Bernie Sanders over Vice President Biden in 2020’s critical Nevada Democratic caucuses, shows how our national security powers could just as easily be deployed against Democrats as against Republicans.
In my work after 9/11, I saw how those national security powers combined with unaccountable government officials could do things George Orwell never dreamed over. Russia and foreign interference in elections should be taken seriously. Yet pushing the threat of Russia—now a country with a GDP the CIA publicly estimates is far closer to Indonesia’s than our own—like we are in the middle of a 1950’s Red Scare push by Senator Joseph McCarthy, should not be used as a political weapon to cover up or excuse our own government officials’ abuses.
For years, political and intelligence officials have concealed key documents — and even my former supervisor the Walrus — in ways that have divided America and derailed our government’s work.If Biden, Trump, or members of their teams grossly abused national security powers to upend democracy, we deserve to know as soon as possible before the election.
This should not be turned into an “October surprise” or later used to throw any new presidential administration into chaos.Allowing politicians and national security officials to cover up or even profit from abuses of power, puts us on course for even greater disasters. America can’t afford another government and media strike out, after four years of too much denial, incompetence, and coverup.
If Barthes can forgive me, “What the public wants is the image of passion Justice, not passion Justice itself.”
Hard to believe the amounts of time and money these bumbling fools waste. They're like competing tabloid reporters, publicists, and advertising hacks. Remarkable for their unoriginality and willful blindness.
Grizzly wrote:The Spies Who Hijacked America As a doctoral candidate at Cambridge working under "FBI Informant" Stefan Halper, I had a front-row seat for Russiagate
I only later realized this was not written by Matt Taibbi.
Explains some of the odd remarks I interpreted as Taibbi taking a 'long view.'
I shared the piece with my liberal-Democrat friend, who made the same mistake and immediately started calling Taibbi a "Tea Partier." Either way, my friend does not like having the established narrative changed; he's got too much anger invested in Russia over 2016. Sigh.
Of course, the piece is written by Steven P. Schrage, PhD.
"It seems to be what we have now is a political system which has essentially become, for the last thirty or forty years, a war on the human imagination." (David Graeber)
The Russian Interference Report, Without Laughing August 12, 2020 in Uncategorized by craig | View Comments
Now the madding crowd has moved on, I take a mature look at the report by the Intelligence and Security Committee on Russia. It is so flawed it is tempting simply to mock it. But in fact, it is extremely dangerous.
It calls expressly and repeatedly for the security services to be actively involved in “policing the democratic space” and castigates the security services for their unwillingness to interfere in democratic process. It calls for tough government action against social media companies who refuse to censor and remove from the internet material it believes to be inspired by foreign states. It specifically accepts the Integrity Initiative’s Christopher Donnelly and Ben Nimmo as examples of good identifiers of the material which should be banned – even though Nimmo is the man who stated that use of the phrase “Cui bono” is indicative of a Russian troll, and who accused scores of ordinary Scottish Independence supporters of being Russian trolls.
A (long but) good read where Craig Murray exposes the nefarious nonsense of the UK ISC report into alleged 'Russian meddling' in UK political affairs.
The ISC took evidence from five “experts” - Craig gives background info on these 5 & explains that the report into meddling was based on testimony from these 5 who are, in the main, themselves proponents of anti-Russian meddling in the UK political/media forum.
Ex-FBI Lawyer To Plead Guilty In Durham Probe To Altering Email About Carter Page
A former FBI attorney will plead guilty to making false statements in documents used to obtain a surveillance warrant against former Trump aide Carter Page, his lawyer told the Associated Press Friday.
The guilty plea from Kevin Clinesmith is the first legal action taken in an investigation led by John Durham, a U.S. attorney looking into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe and other intelligence-gathering activities related to the Trump campaign.
Clinesmith’s lawyer, Justin Shur, told the Associated Press that his client will plead guilty to a single false statements charge as part of a cooperation agreement with the government.
Many of you like burning the messenger, I was always taught you can learn a whole hell of a lot, by listening to the people you really don't agree with. Mostly, not what they want you to get, but seeing how they roll. But, you know, just because I post stuff you don't agree with feel free to keep your lighter handy.
Or think critically.
[Moderator note: Lengthy, ill-formatted transcript deleted. Link at video.]
If Barthes can forgive me, “What the public wants is the image of passion Justice, not passion Justice itself.”
Grizzly wrote:Many of you like burning the messenger, I was always taught you can learn a whole hell of a lot, by listening to the people you really don't agree with. Mostly, not what they want you to get, but seeing how they roll.
Grizzly, can you give us the gist of what you find useful in that video?
"It seems to be what we have now is a political system which has essentially become, for the last thirty or forty years, a war on the human imagination." (David Graeber)
Grizzly » Sat Aug 15, 2020 6:46 am wrote:Many of you like burning the messenger, I was always taught you can learn a whole hell of a lot, by listening to the people you really don't agree with. Mostly, not what they want you to get, but seeing how they roll. But, you know, just because I post stuff you don't agree with feel free to keep your lighter handy.
This isn't a first rodeo for any of us. This comment may be good generic advice for patriotic high school students who need to broaden their education. On this board, it comes across as unnecessarily and pre-emptively aggressive, a touch condescending. Why do you assume we will want to burn the messenger? I don't have 1:22 for this today. Why don't you give a summary of what it's about, and what main points interest you? On a quick sampling it looks like it's got interesting parts (oh god this Brittney Kaiser official "whistleblower" again), although stylistically it's cheesy as fuck. (PS - I missed the part where the transcript got scrubbed, though I always trust Elvis!)
We meet at the borders of our being, we dream something of each others reality. - Harvey of R.I.
To Justice my maker from on high did incline: I am by virtue of its might divine, The highest Wisdom and the first Love.
And it's a lamb, and he's the lion. But he is kind. And quiet.
He's a uniquely disciplined interviewer and debater. No nonsense, no personal shit, avoids the sidetracks (important though they may be), goes straight to each point. I love one part where he could hit on 14 different points but knows to focus on asking if failing to ship missiles to Ukraine endangers national security, why did Obama refuse to do the same thing, rather than merely delaying it by two weeks?
Only thing wrong with this performance is that there should be three more digits in the view number.
Dem impeachment attorney on Mueller, Ukrainegate, and the case vs. Trump
In his new book "A Case for the American People," former House Judiciary Committee attorney Norman Eisen tells the inside story of the Democrats' impeachment efforts against President Trump. Eisen joins Aaron Maté to debate and discuss the Mueller probe, Ukrainegate, and Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Guest: Norman Eisen, former special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, including for the impeachment and trial of President Trump. Previously served under President Obama as ethics czar and ambassador to the Czech Republic. His new book is "A Case for the American People: The United States v. Donald J. Trump."