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Is Christopher Steele Still a Thing?

The ex-spy and infamous “dossier” author posits yet
another elaborate theory of foreign infiltration

By Matt Taibbi

FromThe Guardian,
Monday, November 4th

Fresh evidence has also emerged
of attempts by the Kremlin to infiltrate
the Conservatives
by a senior Russian diplomat suspected
of espionage, who spent five years in
London cultivating leading Tories
including Johnson himself….

The committee’s report is based
on analysis from Britain’s intelligence
agencies, as well as third-party experts
such as the former MI6 officer
Christopher Steele….

Christopher Steele became famous in the United
States as the author of a “dossier” that claimed
Russians had been “cultivating, supporting, and

Donald Trump
“for at least 5 years.”

Now Steele is back, claiming that the Russians
have been cultivating the Tories and Boris Johnson
for . . . five years.

You can’t make this stuff up. The only thing
comparable would be Iraqi defector Ahmed Chalabi
lobbying for a sequel invasion after the WMD
hunt came up empty, and having the same
humiliated media figures and politicians reach
for pompoms all over again.

Steele first appeared in connection with the
Trump story as a “well-placed
Western intelligence source
” in a 2016 Yahoo
News article by Michael Isikoff. The piece claimed a
Trump aide named Carter Page was discussing the
lifting of sanctions with Igor Sechin, chief of the
major Russian oil company Rosneft.

Steele, in fact, was a private opposition
researcher hired by the “premium research” firm

, on behalf of the Hillary Clinton
campaign. The Yahoo story came out on September 23th,
2016; it would be

more than a year
before Steele’s status as a
paid Clinton researcher would be made public.

After Isikoff’s piece came out, the Clinton

released a statement
about how it was “chilling”
to learn that “U.S. intelligence officials” were
“conducting a probe into suspected meetings between
Trump’s foreign policy adviser Carter Page and
members of Putin’s inner circle.”

If the merry-go-round trick of commenting gravely
about a story you yourself planted sounds familiar,
that’s because it’s the tactic used by Vice
President Dick Cheney in the early 2000s,

when he went onMeet the Pressto comment
about “a story inTheNew York Times
this morning
” regarding Saddam Hussein’s
aluminum tubes. Press figures denounced such
chicanery then.

Steele’s report came out in full
during the transition, in a sleazy
series of maneuvers by outgoing
intelligence officials, who presented
the incoming president with a synopsis
of Steele’s work.

When details of this meeting leaked, news outlets
that previously had been sitting on Steele’s report
because it was unverifiable suddenly had a “hook” to
release news about the briefing: Intelligence chiefs
relayed “allegations that Russian operatives claim
to have compromising personal and financial
information about Mr. Trump.”

The resulting viral furor spurred Buzzfeed to
publish the

entire dossier
, so Americans could “make up
their own minds.”

In this way, the dossier was published without
ever going through a vetting process. For all the
talk of hacking, this was a true Trojan-horse
penetration of the American news media system (not
that most media companies minded, of course).

Enthusiasts now cling to the idea that the
“dossier” was merely a “starting
,” and re

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