That the praying mantis kills and consumes its mate to derive sustenance seems unbelievable and wrong, until it is witnessed time after time; it then becomes expected. The Obama administration accumulated a record of misuse of the powers of government. This it did to minimalize or indict its political foes. Whether it be the prosecution and the incarceration of Dinesh D’Souza for an infraction usually addressed with a fine; the IRS’s use of audits of Tea Party leaders to stifle dissent; the clandestine electronic monitoring of journalists James Rosen and, most probably, Sharyl Attkisson; the interception of communications between members of Congress and Israeli officials; or the ruination of politically unpopular businesses by targeted regulation by the EPA, the tactics were the same. The strategy was to thwart perceived enemies through harnessing and perverting the powers of the state.
Explication of the genesis of the FBI’s Russian-collusion counterintelligence investigation is complicated. The New York Times places the investigation’s beginning with the transfer of information, in July 2016, from Alexander Downer, the High Commissioner of Australia to the United Kingdom, to American authorities, regarding Trump aide George Papadopoulos’s hazy assertion that the Russians had dirt on Hillary ─ an utterance totally unremarkable since the whole world knew of the unsecured nature of Clinton’s email server at that time. Indeed, the unprotected server was the subject of extensive reporting for more than a year before the Downer-Papadopoulos meeting.
Surely, this coverage was enough for any follower of the press or of Kremlin operations to conclude that portions of Clinton’s emails were almost certainly compromised. Therefore, such a content-free statement by Papadopoulos, parroting what was widely speculated about in the press, should have resulted in a yawn by High Commissioner Downer: instead, it resulted in a supercritical reaction and the supposed beginning of an FBI counterintelligence investigation of tremendous moment, for this inquiry led ultimately to the appointment of a special counsel. Downer, however, was not a disinterested party: he was a long-time Clinton Foundation supporter. Downer served as Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1996 through 2007. On February 22, 2006, Mr. Downer stated, “Our partnership with the Clinton Foundation will build on the Foundation’s impressive track record to provide practical assistance with procurement, supply chains and health system strengthening.” At Downer’s direction, the Australian Government donated $25 million to the Clinton Foundation; Australia’s support of the Clinton Foundation stopped on November 28, 2016, days after the 2016 election.
The Sleight of Hand
This narrative regarding the Downer and Papadopoulos exchange was ossified by The New York Times, in a December 30, 2017 story, for the paper engaged in a very subtle, but extremely consequential, sleight of hand, for Australian officials sat on the Papadopoulos information, obtained by Downer, during a night of drinking, until it was revealed publically that the Democratic National Committee’s servers had been hacked. This led The New York Times to conclude, “But two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role.” The professor who supposedly told Papadopoulos about Russia’s having damaging information on Hillary Clinton is Maltese, not Russian; his name is Joseph Mifsud.
Yet the wording of what Professor Mifsud is said to have said to Papadopoulos, as noted in the Stipulation for Papadopoulos to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, filed on October 5, 2017, as signed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Papadopoulos, states, “Defendant PAPADOPOULOS acknowledged that the professor had told him about the Russians possessing ‘dirt’ on then-candidate Hillary Clinton . . . .” The Stipulation signed by Mueller never mentions the Democratic National Committee, nor the DNC, in its fourteen pages of text. This suggests that it was Hillary Clinton’s private emails that were at issue. The New York Times, however, wrote in its December 30, 2017 story that, “Although Russian hackers had been mining data from the Democratic National Committee’s computers for months, that information was not yet public. Even the committee itself did not know.”
By The New York Times’ insertion of language pertaining to the hack of the DNC emails in its article about Papadopoulos, the paper implied very strongly that Papadopoulos had insider information about Russian hacking. It may be conjectured that this sleight of hand may have been engineered by Downer, since the information was not passed to American officials for two months, until after the public disclosure of the DNC hack. This belated transfer of the Papadopoulos information created what appeared to be a causal link between the DNC hack and the Downer-Papadopoulos meeting. This is, of course, risible logic, because something that follows another thing is not necessarily caused by that thing. This sleight of hand seems to have been replicated in some form by virtually every U.S. newspaper or mainstream news source. The ruse is significant, for it is demonstrative of the FBI’s putatively beginning their counterintelligence probe with nothing as their predicate. Only recently, through Downer’s own account of the meeting, given to The Australian, in April 2018, has The Times’ report been refuted by the source. In that interview, Downer stated, “He didn’t say dirt, he said material that could be damaging to her. No, he said it would be damaging. He didn’t say what it was.’’
Other, new, media reports suggest a precursor to this inculcation involved Cambridge Professor Stefan Halper’s querying George Papadopoulos and Carter Page about possible Russian activities. Enticements were accomplished by employing Halper, a Cambridge professor, who, according to reports, doubled as a CIA asset. Although Halper has been cast in the press as an FBI informant ─ that he allegedly served for years as a CIA asset is notable, for the CIA has long been prohibited from spying on American citizens in America. (The New York Times, in a May 18, 2018 story, stated that the FBI informant (who it did not name) was, “a source of information for the CIA in past years . . . .” Halper’s CIA ties were reported by journalist Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept and by a separate article in Mother Jones on May 19, 2018. The CIA background of the FBI informant was asserted publically by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, in a June 25, 2018 Fox News television interview, though Mukasey did not refer to the informant by name.)
Halper reportedly succeeded in accomplishing the equivalent of a proscribed act by meeting with Papadopoulos in London. Halper allegedly offered Papadopoulos airline tickets and a $3,000 honorarium for a meaningless paper as inducements, to spur contact. Such actions would appear to be devised to skirt any boundaries or infractions that may be considered intrinsic to the concept that drove this endeavor. FBI agents and managers may also have taken actions to stimulate the inquest, but the question that hangs above it all is why the FBI, perhaps working with the CIA, and a myriad of other intelligence services, both at home and abroad, would bother investigating George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, nonentities in the world of international relations, who performed almost no function in a campaign that no esteemed pundit gave a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the Presidency ─ that is until 10:00, the night of the election.
The most obvious answer, but not the most complete, is that the extreme contempt with which Peter Strzok (Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division), Lisa Page, (Special Counsel to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe), and other FBI agents held for Donald Trump sparked the initiation of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation. The instigation of this investigation could have been salted by John Brennan, the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, whose publically expressed animus to an American President is singular in the record of former directors of the CIA.
Russian Sergei Millian, the alleged “Source D” for the Christopher Steele dossier, also bears scrutiny. Why would a supposed major source for the salacious Trump dossier exchange emails with Jared Kushner? Why would Millian be listed as a “friend” on George Papadopoulos’s Facebook page? The Washington Post on March 29, 2017 reported, “Millian told several people that during the campaign and presidential transition he was in touch with George Papadopoulos . . . Millian is among Papadopoulos’s nearly 240 Facebook friends.” Reports assert that the Russian tried to insert himself into the Trump campaign. If he is a primary source for the dossier, his intent in this effort appears duplicitous and his actions, orchestrated.
An investigation, therefore, is required as to whether U.S. intelligence agencies initiated directly or worked through allied intelligence services to provide synthetic information to Papadopoulos, Carter Page, or others in the Trump campaign, designed to entrench the suggestion of a relationship between Russia’s intelligence services and Donald Trump. Keys to unraveling what transpired involve consideration of the relations between several known and several obscure participants in this drama.
The initial information concerning Papadopoulos was probably ascertained two ways: first, when President Trump announced Papadopoulos as one of his then five national-security advisors in March 2016, Papadopoulos’s U.K. address, coupled with his inexperience, made him an attractive target for a sting (along with Carter Page). Second, Papadopoulos’s overseas address facilitated Section 702 incidental collection.
Both Mifsud and Papadopoulos were affiliated with the London Centre of International Law Practice, where Papadopoulos was apparently a director for three months. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) targets non-U.S. individuals believed to be situated outside America, for the purpose of acquiring intelligence. This capability does not require an intelligence finding or court order. Thus, Section 702 collection could have been targeted at Professor Mifsud, especially if Mifsud was an asset of U.S. or allied intelligence.
The Professor et al.
On November 1, 2017, Italy’s la Repubblica newspaper published the article, “Russiagate, mystery professor Joseph Mifsud speaks out: ‘Dirt on Hillary Clinton? Nonsense.’” This appears to be the only full interview that Mifsud has given since his name was used publicly. Several sentences from this interview appear not to have been reported by the American mainstream press, though there have been articles in the U.S. that contain other snippets from the Italian interview. The lines omitted by the American press, which were said by Mifsud, are, however, of great consequence, if true. Mifsud is quoted to have said, “I am a member of the European Council on Foreign relations,” adding, “and you know which is the only foundation I am member of? The Clinton Foundation. Between you and me, my thinking is left-leaning.” In addition, on November 1, 2017, the British newspaper, The Sun, published, “’I DISHED NO DIRT!’ Mystery British professor at centre of FBI Trump-Russia probe tracked down in Italy after fleeing his London home.” In the article, Mifsud is quoted as stating, “I am a Democrat and a Hillary Clinton supporter.”
Unlike the American mainstream press, one observer, who did take note of what Mifsud said, is central to the inquiry as to whether Russia colluded with Trump campaign officials. Julian Assange on November 2, 2017 tweeted, “Revealing interview with #Russiagate’s mystery professor Mifsud: ‘the only foundation I am member of? The Clinton Foundation.’”
Of course, these statements by Mifsud might be a diversion to cloak any true ties he might have to Russia’s political establishment. But if his statements are true, if Mifsud has or had any ties to the Clinton Foundation, the whole Russia investigation gives every indication not only to have been instigated by a setup, but that this setup was, itself, instigated by a prior setup, perhaps orchestrated by persons affiliated with the Clinton foundation or with U.S. and allied intelligence services.
To the later possibility, Mifsud’s associations and interactions with persons affiliated with British and Italian intelligence services bear scrutiny. Mifsud was pictured in 2017 in the company of Boris Johnson, Britain’s current Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. This certainly would constitute an unusual honor for an obscure professor. Mifsud is associated with Claire Smith: they were both affiliated with Link Campus University in Rome, a school that confers degrees in strategic and diplomatic studies as well as jurisprudence, and is known to be attended by professionals who are members of Italy’s intelligence and security services. Claire Smith was also associated with the now defunct London Academy of Diplomacy, which formerly was co-directed by the peripatetic Maltese professor. Smith also taught at the University of Sterling, as did Mifsud.
For eight years, Smith was a member of the United Kingdom’s Security Vetting Appeals Panel, which was established in 1997 as a mechanism to examine cases for governmental employees or contractors in which security clearances were revoked or denied. Smith is notable since she was a member of the United Kingdom’s Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), an interagency panel with broad oversight over Britain’s intelligence services, including Defence Intelligence, the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), and GCHQ (signals intelligence; Boris Johnson has ministerial responsibility for this organization as well as MI6). Intriguingly, the CIA’s Chief of Station in the U.K. has, in the past, been a regular participant in the JIC’s weekly assemblies, a status reportedly not conferred to other intelligence representatives from countries that are allied to Britain.
It is almost impossible to conceive of a person who would have attained more experience in the vetting of individuals to be entrusted with state secrets than Claire Smith. Yet, if the narrative of Mifsud’s being a Russian asset is to be believed, Smith was duped by this alleged Maltese spy for many a year.
Mifsud’s ties to those involved with Italy’s intelligence services are, if anything, more conspicuous. The President of Link Campus University, where Mifsud taught, is Vincenzo Scotti, formerly Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. From 1990 through 1992, Scotti was Italy’s Minister of Interior, a position whose responsibilities included the administration of the Servizio per le Informazioni e la Sicurezza Democratica (SISDE [Intelligence and Democratic Security Service], which, in 2007, became the Agenzia Informazioni e Sicurezza Interna (AISI), one of Italy’s preeminent intelligence services).
That Scotti was involved deeply with Italy’s intelligence apparatus has been attested to by a court of law. Italy’s Court of Accounts ordered Scotti to pay €2,995,450 for an operation in which an Italian governmental account was used to purchase a building for an inflated price to create an off-book funding source for the SISDE.
A reported friend and fellow professor of Mifsud’s at Link Campus University is Franco Frattini. The university notes in Frattini’s current online resume that he is “Program leader of the Master Degree in Strategic Studies and Diplomatic Sciences,” and is a full professor at the institution. In addition to twice being Italy’s foreign minister, Frattini, from 1996 to 2001, was chair of Italy’s parliamentary committee charged with oversight of the nation’s intelligence services (COPACO, now named Comitato Parlamentare di Controllo per i Servizi di Informazione e Sicurezza e per il Segreto di Stato [Parliamentary Committee for the Intelligence and Security Services and for State Secret Control]). Such oversight specifically included SISDE and SISMI (Servizio per le Informazioni e la Sicurezza Militare [Military Intelligence and Security Service]). During his tenure and in his subsequent terms as Italy’s foreign minister, Frattini’s power within Italy’s intelligence community may be considered substantial and his associations deep.
Of all the European politicians who enunciated their support for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign, none was more vociferous than Italian politician Gianni Pittella, an elected member of the Italian senate, who served previously as a member of the European Parliament, as leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Group, an important left-wing faction. It was Pittella who was the subject of a July 29, 2016 Time article whose first paragraph reads, “Gianni Pittella, a longtime Italian member of the European Parliament, hit the campaign trail this week. Sitting at the back of the Gran Caffe L’Aquila, he warned a group of local businesspeople and supporters of the evils of fascism. Except Pittella wasn’t touring Italy. He was sitting in Philadelphia, trying to convince American voters to oppose an American candidate: Donald Trump.”
Of note is that the same Gianni Pittella stated to the Italian press that Joseph Mifsud was his “dear friend.” This occurred in a November 2017 interview, which took place after the Papadopoulos story broke. According to Simona Mangiante, it was Gianni Pittella who introduced her to Joseph Mifsud in 2012. On Pittella’s recommendation, Mangiante went on to work for Mifsud at the London Centre of International Law Practice. In a January 2018 interview with The Guardian, Mangiante stated that she “always saw Mifsud with Pittella.” In March 2018, Mangiante married George Papadopoulos. Small world.
In September 2007, the CIA wrote that the Agency’s Global Futures Partnership, in cooperation with the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, concluded a two-year study that “examined the changing global security environment, dramatic scientific and technical changes, and new intelligence collection and analysis needs and encouraged a rethinking of intelligence outreach, national and global collaboration, and organizational frameworks. More than 100 senior intelligence managers with a wide group of prominent academic specialists and consultants from business, academia, the sciences, and IT business and learning firms participated in the five-day event.” Link Campus University is affiliated with this CIA-led initiative and is a known training center for Italy’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies. FBI and CIA agents have reportedly participated publically in Link seminars and have taught sessions at the school.
David Ignatius wrote in the Washington Post that, in 2004, the CIA organized a terrorism conference at Link Campus University. The event was entitled, “New Frontiers of Intelligence Analysis.” According to Ignatius, the conclave was the product of years of planning by the CIA Global Futures Partnership’s founding director, Carol Dumaine, who later served as the Deputy Director for Energy and Environmental Security, Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, at the U.S. Department of Energy. Thus, Link Campus University may be considered a European waypoint for the AISI, the FBI, the CIA, and, most probably, the British intelligence services.
Another connection to Link Campus University warrants consideration: attorney Andrew Bagley has been employed by the private, American, cybersecurity firm, CrowdStrike, since January 2015. According to Bagley’s online résumé, he served as the E-Discovery Technical Advisor to the FBI, conducting legal research, advising on technical issues, and drafting policy for the Discovery Coordination and Policy Unit within the FBI, from 2012 to 2015. As noted in an April 7, 2016 job posting by the U.S. Department of Justice, “The Discovery Coordination and Policy Unit (DCPU) in the Office of General Counsel supports the FBI in administrative investigations, civil lawsuits, criminal cases, and other legal matters. This includes, among other things, providing discovery counsel and advice; responding to discovery requests for electronically stored information (ESI); and issuing litigation holds.”
In 2010, Bagley served as a visiting researcher at the Link Campus University in Rome; while there, his résumé notes that Bagley, “Conducted research and held discussions with Italian and American prosecutors, special agents, and intelligence officials about intelligence analysis, national security, cybersecurity, and counterterrorism policy.” CrowdStrike is the cybersecurity firm to which the DNC reportedly paid $168,000, to examine its servers. It was this examination that led CrowdStrike to conclude that the DNC’s servers were hacked by Russia. President Trump stated in his July 1, 2018 interview with Maria Bartiromo that the FBI never examined the DNC’s servers; this assertion would appear to confirm earlier reports that the FBI never employed the battery of levers at its disposal, so that it could take physical control of these servers. According to USASPENDING.gov, the FBI, in an unrelated transaction, paid CrowdStrike $150,000 on July 8, 2015.
Much has been made of Mifsud’s disappearance shortly after his November 2017 la Repubblica interview. Since Mifsud said publically that the FBI interviewed him in February 2017, his supposed disappearance is suspicious. Would the FBI really lose contact with the purported spark that initiated the entire Russian-collusion investigation? If the FBI, the AISI, or some other allied intelligence or law-enforcement service is holding Mifsud, this fact should be made public. That all the apparatuses of governance, in the United States, in Britain, and in Italy, are silent on this point is telling. Certainly, if Mifsud, indeed, were an accomplished Russian intelligence asset, possessing an unsurpassed record of close fraternization with very senior members of both the British and the Italian foreign and intelligence services, Mifsud should have been in possession of an elaborate exit plan should his true identity and mission become known to the West. Where is it? If the FBI or the AISI has any evidence that Mifsud attempted to flee to Russia, it begs credulity that this supremely incriminating information would not be made known.
A new, self-published book may shed light on Mifsud’s whereabouts. Stephan Roh and Thierry Pastor, former associates of Mifsud, write that Mifsud stated, “the head of the Italian secret services contacted the President of LINK Campus, Vincenzo Scotti,” with the suggestion that the Maltese professor vanish. Most recently, Mifsud had been engaged by the Link Campus as the founding director of the Essam & Dalal Obaid Foundation (EDOF) Centre for War and Peace Studies at Link Campus University in Rome.
The Obaid Foundation established this new interdisciplinary academic hub on May 8, 2017, with Mifsud appointed for a three-year term. The EDOF was founded by Tarek Obaid, who cofounded and is Chief Executive Officer of PetroSaudi International Ltd, a British-Saudi Arabian company. Obaid is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. The CEO of the EDOF is Tarek’s brother, Dr. Nawaf Obaid. Recently, Nawaf Obaid has held the position of Visiting Fellow for Intelligence & Defense Projects at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
Certain PetroSaudi executives are the subject of an ongoing Swiss criminal investigation, for company executives have been implicated by the Swiss Attorney General’s office in what is allegedly one of the largest financial frauds in history. 1MDB, a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, allegedly defrauded the people of Malaysia through criminal mismanagement, bribery, money laundering, and the misuse of government office.
The missing funds amount to $4.5 billion, but could be much more. Xavier Justo, a former PetroSaudi director, took 90 gigabytes of data, containing 227,000 emails, in addition to other documents, when he left the company in 2011. Ultimately, Justo, who was convicted in a Thai court for attempting to blackmail PetroSaudi for $2 million, gave this information to British investigative reporter Clare Rewcastle Brown, founder and editor-in-chief of the Sarawak Report. It was this immense trove of emails and documents that sparked the 1MDB criminal investigations, undertaken by six governments across the globe.
PetroSaudi was a participant in an initial 1MDB enterprise. 1MDB and PetroSaudi formed a joint venture, with the sovereign fund investing $1 billion. Reportedly, just thirty percent of the allocated funds were directed to the joint enterprise, the remainder went to a separate company allegedly controlled by Jho Low, a close friend and associate of the stepson of Malaysia’s Prime Minister at the time, Najib Razak. After several more phases of 1MDB’s endeavors, which did not involve PetroSaudi, $681 million was reportedly routed to the Prime Minister’s private accounts through Middle East sources.
Perhaps best known as the reported financial backer of the film, The Wolf of Wall Street, Low, in a case of life imitating art imitating life, was thanked by Leonardo DiCaprio, the star of the film, in the actor’s acceptance speech for best actor in a comedy at the Golden Globes in 2014. (DiCaprio, however, would later have to relinquish the $600,000 Marlon Brando Oscar statuette that Low had presented to him; this, as part of the billion-dollar asset forfeiture led by the U.S. Department of Justice, which also includes a claim to all future profits from the film.)
Jho Low is a central figure in what former Attorney General Loretta Lynch called “the largest kleptocracy case in U.S. history.” Kleptocracy is defined as “a government or state in which those in power exploit national resources and steal; rule by a thief or thieves.” The United States’ Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative seeks to recover losses due to corrupt actions stemming from foreign officials and their confederates; the Department of Justice’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery section leads this endeavor and is assisted by the FBI, which, in 2015, emplaced International Corruption Squads nationwide.
The FBI and the Department of Justice held a joint press conference in 2016 on this case, where both Attorney General Lynch and Andrew McCabe spoke. Providing details, Chief of the FBI’s International Corruption Unit, Special Agent Darryl Wegner, stated, “At least $1 billion traceable to the conspiracy was laundered through the United States and used to purchase assets here.” PetroSaudi emails and documents had, by the time of the Department of Justice and FBI press conference, fueled criminal investigations worldwide. PetroSaudi, however, was not mentioned in the July 20, 2016 fbi.gov public statement that documented the joint press conference.
Two persons with associations to Low or to 1MDB have been ardent political supporters. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Rapper Pras Michél made political donations of more than $1 million in support of President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. According to The Journal, these contributions were made in a period in which Michél reportedly received $20 million in gifts from Low. Businessman Frank White Jr. cofounded DuSable Capital Management LLC with Michél. The Journal reported that 1MDB purchased DuSable’s share in a Malaysian renewable-energy project for $69 million. Reviews have found that the project has not been completed. Frank White Jr. was a major fundraiser and bundler for President Obama, raising millions; he was a member of Barack Obama’s 2008 national finance committee. The Wall Street Journal, in a July 1, 2018 article, stated that, “Mr. White is listed on Mrs. Clinton’s website as a “Hillblazer” who contributed or raised at least $100,000. He has donated between $1 million and $5 million to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, its website says.” DuSable Capital Management is also listed as a donor on the Clinton Foundation website, having given between $10,001 and $25, 000.
Email: White House
Of particular relevance to Hillary Clinton’s possible intersection with the Essam & Dalal Obaid Foundation, which established the Centre for War and Peace Studies at Link Campus University, with Joseph Mifsud as its director, are two emails from Nawaf Obaid, the CEO of the EDOF and the brother of the CEO of PetroSaudi. The first email was addressed to Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, Michael Froman, a most senior position on President Obama’s National Security Council Staff in the White House (Froman also held a companion position on the National Economic Council and later became the U.S. Trade Representative under President Obama).
That email, first published by the Sarawak Report, is dated October 26, 2010. Its subject is titled, “CONFIDENTIAL Alert.” In it, Obaid notes that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would soon visit South-East Asia, including Malaysia, and that Obaid and Froman have worked for two years on an array of international economic issues, including the “US-Saudi special ‘strategic’ bilateral relationship.” The email’s clear intent was to stop Hillary Clinton from meeting with Anwar Ibrahim, then the leader of the opposition to Prime Minister Najib Razak, who served as Malaysia’s sixth prime minister from 2009 to 2018 (Razak would later become one of the central characters of the 1MDB scandal).
Nawaf Obaid wrote in his email to Froman, “I think I should alert you on a possible deeply embarrassing situation that Secretary Clinton could find herself in. The confidential secret assessment that I had come to see you about two weeks ago is nearly complete and I hope to be able to pass you a copy with a lot of hard supporting intelligence next week when we meet. Basically, this assessment has uncovered beyond any doubt the existing close ties between Malaysian controversial politician Anwar Ibrahim and the Muslim Brotherhood network. More alarmingly, we have found proof of Mr. Ibrahim’s ties with some of the leading brotherhood ideologues and financiers around the globe, such as Youssef Al Qaradawi, Yassin Qadi, Youssef Nada and others.” Obaid added, “But the issue is that he has got himself involved with basically a lot of the names that were investigated by the US government after 9/11 with ‘potential ties to terrorism funding’ and we have a trove of evidence to support this. . . . I am concerned that the substance of the report or most of the report will be made public at some point which could cause embarrassment for Secretary Clinton and other senior US officials who might ask to see him publically.”
In a follow-on email to his brother, Tarek Obaid, the CEO of PetroSaudi, dated, November 11, 2010, Nawaf Obaid notes his success in stopping a Clinton-Anwar meeting, “Secretary Clinton was made aware the weekend before her trip to Malaysia about ‘the assessment’ and was advised NOT to meet him in person. On arriving in KL, she had no plans on seeing him or having the picture taken with him. The issue of conflicts of her agenda was never the reason as she could of met with him if she really had insisted.” Nawaf Obaid concluded this email by noting that Secretary Clinton said, “she would talk to him by phone, which she ended up NOT doing.”
This reference was to a Reuters story from November 2, 2010, which related that, “In what appeared to be a carefully calibrated effort to ensure symmetry, two U.S. officials said Clinton would speak to Anwar on the telephone but would not meet him face to face.” However, according to Nawaf Obaid, not even a call from Secretary Clinton to Anwar took place, which is odd, since the ostensible policy rationale for Secretary Clinton’s not meeting with Anwar, a former deputy prime minister, was Anwar’s association with the Muslim Brotherhood. But Anwar’s association with this Islamist organization was, in fact, tenuous and his views within the context of his country’s politics, moderate.
For example, in a January 26, 2013 Wall Street Journal interview, Anwar stated, “I support all efforts to protect the security of the state of Israel.” He also maintained that homosexuality should be legalized in Malaysia. These are not the views of a devoted supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, but even if they were, Secretary Clinton many times embraced proponents of this belligerent movement. This is demonstrated by her affiliations with Islamist causes in the wake of the Arab Spring, which began in 2010, and her welcoming of the election of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a strident member of the Muslim Brotherhood, who is now imprisoned in Egypt.
The rejection by Hillary Clinton of a meeting or a call to Anwar on the basis of his supposed affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood strains credulity. The importance, however, of PetroSaudi reducing the stature of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar, Najib Razak’s main opposition, may be construed as obvious, considering Razak’s support of 1MDB and their joint venture with PetroSaudi. But, another aspect of this affair bears mentioning.
On May 16, 2018, Malaysia’s king pardoned Anwar Ibrahim, who had been jailed. Anwar, upon his release stated that he believed that former Prime Minister Najib Razak would soon be in prison as a consequence of the alleged 1MDB fraud. Anwar is now considered to be a leading candidate to become Malaysia’s next prime minister.
Why was Anwar in prison? He had been convicted of sodomy, an offense in his Islamic nation, due to a series of trials that date back to Anwar’s initial hearing for sodomy in 1998, which resulted in a prison sentence that was overturned in 2004. Tried again in 2010 and 2011, he was acquitted in 2012, only to have his acquittal overturned two years later, resulting in a five-year sentence.
What was the chief forensic piece of evidence for the crime? It was Anwar’s mattress, carried into the courtroom numerous times: the bed soaked supposedly with Anwar’s bodily fluids, suggestive of the act for which he was charged.
A defiled mattress leading to actions to imprison or to remove a controversial political candidate, where have we heard this before? Is the occurrence of a defiled bed in both the sodomy trial of Anwar Ibrahim and in Christopher Steele’s dossier of Donald Trump’s supposed collusion with Russia just happenstance? Or are these instances evidence of a leitmotif, designed and purveyed to eradicate opposition to the party in power, by employing secret services, well versed in the tradecraft necessary to politically assassinate an opponent without violence.
In March 2015, when it became publicly known that Hillary Clinton used a private email server, the urgent need for a countervailing narrative became paramount, for intelligence professionals at once realized that any foreign nation that hacked this server would possess compromising information on Hillary Clinton. This could not be fixed, for foreign actors who penetrated the server could release information that would potentially expose Clinton to prosecution under the Espionage Act. Thus, the possibility for blackmail was obvious.
The presence of numerous top-secret, compartmented, email trains, stored on Clinton’s private server, underscores the extreme severity of the political threat that anyone schooled in intelligence operations would note when the existence of Clinton’s private server became widely known. Therefore, the option to sully Clinton’s opponent became vital, for there was no other viable countervailing action available. Clinton’s opponent had to be made to look worse in any comparison, even if the worst came out about her, through the exposure of state secrets due to her abrogation of the grave responsibilities with which she was entrusted as Secretary of State.
“Fake it ‘till you make it,” is a trite phrase popular in Hollywood. It may, however, be the core of the Russia- collusion case. By creating the Steele dossier and by lassoing George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, the foundation was built for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) case to permit collection.
Thereafter, the argument was made to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as to the need for a special counsel. Given broad authorities and no publically known specification of the supposed crime to be investigated, the hope of the malefactors may have been that this broad inquiry would yield an economic crime within Trump’s business empire or, at least, aspersions with regard to obstruction of justice, which could be of great use politically.
Extraordinary animus directed at Donald Trump on the part of numerous senior FBI officials and attorneys within the Department of Justice, as attested by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General report concerning Hillary Clinton’s private server, without doubt, was a motivation for the FBI counterintelligence investigation involving Donald Trump and his subordinates. But did this inquiry begin on July 31, 2016, as commonly stated, or did it have a much earlier foundation? Potent circumstantial evidence suggests that the antecedents were nested years earlier by politically motivated operators.
Given the Obama administration’s reliance on the political weaponization of the powers of the state, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation regarding the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to the Kremlin may have as its origin and its initial roots, not the inquiries of Stefan Halper or the musings of Joseph Mifsud, but events that transpired years earlier. The seminal occurrence from which from all else may have sprung might plausibly have been Donald Trump’s advocacy of the birther issue, which questioned whether Barack Obama had, indeed, been born in America. Donald Trump’s irrepressible advocacy of the birther narrative, beginning in March 2011, and only ending on the eve of his 2016 election run, without question agitated Barack Obama and numerous government officials serving in his administration.
Is it then coincidence that Michael Gaeta, the FBI special agent who most recently was posted in Rome and who oversaw dossier author Christopher Steele from our embassy there, was the same agent who, in 2013, ran an organized-crime surveillance operation against a Russian gambling kingpin, Alimzhan Tokhtakhunov, which resulted in 30 indictments? In that operation, Special Agent Gaeta supervised electronic surveillance proximate to the kingpin’s NYC apartment. The kingpin lived at Trump Tower.
As of 2012, according to the FBI, there were 13,778 special agents in the bureau, the odds of the same agent being both Christopher Steele’s handler and the agent in charge of a criminal probe, which required extensive electronic surveillance to be directed at a resident in Trump Tower, must be calculated on the basis of these two events being independent; therefore the odds are 1 in 13,000 or more. The two operations thus do not seem unconnected at all, but rather two chapters of the same saga.
The question that must be asked is whether the surveillance operation directed at Donald Trump, while he was running his campaign from Trump Tower, had a rehearsal in the form of the operation against a Russian crime figure who resided in Trump Tower. The methods employed in the first operation would appear to be consequential for the second: according to a report by the National Research Council, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, “Communications metadata, domestic and foreign, are used to develop contact chains by starting with a target and using metadata records to indicate who has communicated directly with the target (one hop), who has in turn communicated with those people (two hops), and so on.”
Barack Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive on Signals Intelligence Activities, PPD-28, dated January 17, 2014, seemingly restricted bulk collection. But the two-hop search, which has been asserted to have been in effect in the surveillance of Carter Page and his contacts, would open many in the Trump campaign or transition team to scrutiny, unmasking, and leaks to the press.
In the initial case of electronic surveillance involving Trump Tower, which ran from 2011 through 2013, employment of a two-hop search would mean that if the Russian gambling kingpin had 75 contacts on his phone, all these contacts would have been subject to communications collection, and each of their contacts would have been subject to such collection as well. Assuming these individuals also had 75 contacts per phone, a total of 5,625 people could have had data from their phones intercepted. Beginning in 2011, the surveillance of Alimzhan Tokhtakhunov, owner of a multi-million dollar apartment at Trump Tower, would have, most plausibly, resulted in collection against Donald Trump. This is because Tokhtakhunov would probably have had some Trump employees on his phone, to support the maintenance of his apartment, if nothing else. The odds are that several of those employees would have had the owner of the building, Donald Trump, on their phones as well, thus permitting a pathway to collection against the future candidate who became President.
Steele also supposedly reached out first to Gaeta while Gaeta was in Rome and requested that the FBI agent fly to London to meet him. This was on top of Peter Strzok and his boss, Bill Priestap, both making independent and unusual trips to London during the critical period in which both Halper and Mifsud were contacting Papadopoulos, Carter Page, and others. The question that must be asked is whether any FBI agent met with Mifsud during this time. All intelligence contacts with Mifsud must also be documented.
Successful intelligence operatives think and act counterintuitively, in ways contrary to the expectations of ordinary persons: this is the essence of the craft. Many such professionals are damaged human beings, capable of actions or designs that break the bounds of common morality. Such persons manifest the ability to be chimeric, to adjust rapidly to a new situation. They do this to survive. They also think non-linearly, for the past must be made malleable to conform to the needs of the present. The creation of unreal histories seems to be at the heart of the case in question.
Link Campus University in Rome is not Harvard, it is not Oxford, and it is not the University of Bologna. That Link Campus University is so apparently entangled with Professor Mifsud and his associates, and with intelligence and law enforcement services of the United States, Britain, and Italy, is indicative of a web of linkages, which, if properly examined, may explode the Russian-collusion narrative.
There is no evidence that Nawaf Obaid or any other principal of the Essam & Dalal Obaid Foundation or PetroSaudi was responsible for the composition of Christopher Steele’s dossier. However, many of the details of Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trial were well known to foreign policy and intelligence professionals since the inception of the case in 1998. Russian or allied intelligence officials certainly had the opportunity to reconstitute the specifics of the story so that it could become the salacious center of Christopher Steele’s collusion dossier. The congruencies of these two scandalous allegations are patent.
From a Russian perspective, the propagation of the Trump-with-prostitutes-urinating-on-a-bed tale was supremely effective, for it tarnished both American candidates for President: for who could unhear the repulsive charges leveled against Donald Trump, and who could set aside the rapaciousness and the skullduggery of a democratic campaign that alleged collusion with Russia on the part of the Republican candidate, while indulging in the production and in the dispersal of an uncorroborated, miasmic narrative, spun by Russian intelligence sources working through an ex-British spy?
Exposition of this supposed collusion case has thus far not considered possible financial and criminal causes, but the information from the fraud investigations involving 1MDB must be reviewed. Those who may have perpetrated the alleged 1MDB fraud may surely have sought cover through affiliations with politicians, their handlers, and their associates. Did any such outreach extend to the United States and, if so, to which past or present members of our government?
Russia’s attempts to debase America’s democratic process, to enhance Russia’s relative stature, are clear, but are not necessarily synonymous with Russia’s being the first cause of this matter. If, in the end, Russia did hatch the collusion narrative or did attempt to prod members of the Trump campaign into Russia’s orbit, our democracy was endangered. If, however, the origin of this narrative began within our own law enforcement or intelligence communities, the danger is graver still, for it goes to our very existence. Indeed, as the historian Ariel Durant presciently observed, “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.”
Richard B. Levine was Director of Policy Development on the NSC Staff under President Ronald Reagan; after six years at the White House, he became the first Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Technology Transfer and Security Assistance, serving under three Secretaries of the Navy. He is the recipient of two Presidential letters of commendation and the Department of the Navy’s highest civilian decoration, the Distinguished Civilian Service Award. Mr. Levine received his baccalaureate, with honors, from the Johns Hopkins University. He holds an MBA from Harvard.