CIA nominee Gina Haspel is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate after two key Democrats announced their support of her historic nomination. (AP)
One of the big puzzles about the Russia Hoax is the role of the CIA in the whole sordid affair. While we now believe that some of the random personalities encountered by such figures as George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, like Stefan Halper, were FBI assets, the “OCONUS lures” FBI attorney Lisa page asked her paramour, Peter “Man of a Thousand Deranged Faces” Strzok about, some of the contact seem to have more of an intelligence flavor. Joseph Mifsud, for instance, was clearly the property of a Western intelligence service, presumably the Italians. Azra Turk, the woman dangled in front of Papadopoulos in what looks likes an attempt at a ‘honey trap’ operation, seems to be intelligence affiliated.
If the CIA were actively involved, then the question becomes one of who was running it? Was it run from Langley? Or CIA’s London Station. This is a critical question because the head of London Station at the time was Gina Haspel, who is currently CIA director, and the implication would be that the head of CIA was actively involved in what can only be called overt interference in Us politics. That is not only bad form it is a federal felony.
A few weeks ago, Haspel was the subject of a Politico piece by Natasha “Fusion Natasha” Bertrand who framed the investigation into the Russia Hoax shenanigans by US Attorney for Connecticut John Durham as a loyalty test for Haspel. Would she protect her agency, its prerogatives, and its operatives from legal scrutiny? Or would she cave to #OrangeManBad?
One of the interesting things we learned in this piece was that there was an attempt to draw Haspel into the plot but she refused to take the bait:
An inspector general report released earlier this month said the embassy’s deputy chief of mission at the time briefed the FBI’s legal attache and another official—whose title is redacted, but is Haspel, according to another person familiar with the matter—on Downer’s outreach. The attache told the inspector general that Haspel, upon being briefed, said the Downer information sounded “like an FBI matter.”
I’m sure this has not gone unnoticed in the White House as a great deal of Trump’s behaviors in foreign policy can be explained by the fact that he’s very concerned that the CIA was out to get him and whatever advice they give him is suspect.
Yesterday, another interesting factoid appeared.
The New York Times ran a fairly lengthy piece on the decision to splatter Qasem Suleimani’s dapper beard along with the rest of his body all over a Baghdad highway. There has been a lot of deliberate misinformation about this operation. One of those was a bizarre assertion by a New York Times reporter, Rukmini Callimachi, that the option of killing Suleimani was a throwaway option that no one believed Trump would choose.
In the more recent NYT offering, headlined 3 Hours From Alert to Attacks: Inside the Race to Protect U.S. Forces From Iran Strikes, there is this vignette from the debate over kill/no-kill on Suleimani:
Appearing on a video screen was Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director, who was monitoring the crisis from the agency’s headquarters in Northern Virginia. In the days before General Suleimani’s death, Ms. Haspel had advised Mr. Trump that the threat the Iranian general presented was greater than the threat of Iran’s response if he was killed, according to current and former American officials. Indeed, Ms. Haspel had predicted the most likely response would be a missile strike from Iran to bases where American troops were deployed, the very situation that appeared to be playing out on Tuesday afternoon.
Though Ms. Haspel took no formal position about whether to kill General Suleimani, officials who listened to her analysis came away with the clear view that the C.I.A. believed that killing him would improve — not weaken — security in the Middle East.
A couple of things strike me about this. First, it is literally the only mention of Haspel in any of the stories about the decision to kill Suleimani, so one has to assume someone in Haspel’s inner circle wanted to raise her profile in the affair and make her a player on par with Mike Pompeo. While there is a degree of weasel-liness about the “took no formal position” her assessment that letting him live was a worse choice than killing him was probably a deal-maker for anyone on the edge.
I think the article pointing out her risk assessment about Iran’s retaliation as being accurate is very significant.
To me this is an open letter from Haspel to President Trump saying, “you can trust me, I give you solid advice, and I’m on your team.”
If this assessment it correct, then we can make some inferences about the Durham investigation. The CIA involvement was orchestrated at Langley and this means that John Brennan’s, as we used to say in the infantry, sh** is weak. It means that CIA HQ is not throwing up roadblocks to Durham. It means that the CIA is dirty enough that the Director felt it necessary to underscore her 100% accurate predictions and great advice in a New York Times article.