Evolution of the Russian-Collusion Narrative ─ Part Three
Portraying the great sculptor, Auguste Rodin, Gerard Depardieu, in the 1988 movie, Camille Claudel, said to his paramour, a remarkable artist in her own right, ”Never think of surfaces, only of depths.” This insight merits broad application. In considering the genesis of the Russian-collusion narrative, we must not be so entranced with the day-to-day revelations concerning this scandal that we give short shrift to what lies beneath.
The explication of the evolution of Russian-collusion narrative is marred by an emphasis on pretextual explanations of the scandal. Such explanations have been superimposed upon the scandal’s true foundations. This miasma was not induced initially by matters involving Russia, but as a riposte to Donald Trump’s expressed views on Muslims and the connection between the Islamic faith and terrorism. It was these views that raised the ire of intelligence, foreign-affairs, and law-enforcement entities in the United States, in the United Kingdom, and in Australia, amongst other countries.
The Commonwealth: During her reign of 66 years, a crowning achievement of Queen Elizabeth II is her role in the enlargement and in the substantiation of the Commonwealth of Nations through her stature as this intergovernmental organization’s head. The Commonwealth of Nations is an association of 53 member states, comprised of former British colonies, as well as countries that were former colonies or parts of other states. (For example, Commonwealth member Mozambique gained its independence from Portugal, Rwanda from Belgium.)
Taken together, the Commonwealth of Nations occupies twenty percent of the world’s landmass and numbers one-third of the planet’s population. Commonwealth nations India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Malaysia are home to hundreds of millions of Muslims ─ millions more live in other Commonwealth countries, such as the United Kingdom.
Sixteen countries of the Commonwealth of Nations are Commonwealth realms. Queen Elizabeth is sovereign to each of these lands, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
The transition of the British Empire into the Commonwealth of Nations and the Commonwealth realm is unmatched in its scope in world history with the possible exception of the transmutation of the Western Roman Empire into the Roman Catholic Church. Saint Augustine wrote The City of God in response to the Roman public’s outcry over the Visigoths’ sacking of Rome in 410 AD; this book is recognized as foundational to Western religious thought. To Augustine, the ruination of Rome as an ephemeral City of Man was surmounted completely by Christianity’s triumph in the form of the establishment of the eternal City of God. The concept of dioceses as administrative domains within the Roman Empire preceded the term’s ecclesiastical use, for after the establishment of Christianity as the official state religion of the empire in the fourth century AD, bishops and priests were emplaced alongside the provincial governors and the bureaucrats of the empire; as the Western empire withered and collapsed, all that was left were the offices of the Church, which were formed as a reduplicate of the Roman administrative state. The expansion and the solidification of the Commonwealth of Nations as a proxy for the British Empire, albeit vastly weakened in terms of British influence, thus had a model.
Administration and intergovernmental duties of the Commonwealth of Nations are the responsibility of the organization’s secretariat, which is directed by a Secretary-General; it is of interest that the former Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Alexander Downer, whose meeting with junior Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos putatively began the FBI’s counterintelligence probe, was unsuccessfully put forward for the position of Commonwealth Secretary-General in 2015 by both British and Australian officials. (Downer’s title at that time was equivalent in rank to that of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary. In Commonwealth nations sharing the same monarch, diplomatic relations, between such states, occur at the cabinet level.)
The Prince of Wales: Though Queen Elizabeth’s successor to the crown is assured to be the constitutional monarch of the Commonwealth realm, such assurance with regard to the Queen’s successor’s status as the head of the Commonwealth of Nations was not certain in 2016 and was to be the subject of a vote. It was only on April 20, 2018 that the leaders of the 53 Commonwealth nations voted that Prince Charles should succeed his mother as head of this organization. Such an outcome was far from certain: Jeremy Corbyn, the British Labour leader, expressed his support for rotational leadership; Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a staunch republican, had voiced his opposition to Prince Charles’s ascension to the position (Turnbull’s stance subsequently changed); and the Commonwealth, itself, had formed a consultative group of seven senior officials from various countries and institutions to consider the future governance of the organization.
The pillars of Prince Charles’s support to succeed his mother were two: Queen Elizabeth’s desire that he do so, and Prince Charles’s support from Muslim communities and governments throughout the Commonwealth. In their Middle East Quarterly article of June 1, 1997, Ronni L. Gordon and David M. Stillman noted the following concerning Prince Charles, “His public advocacy of Islam appears to go back to 1989, when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued an edict (fatwa) against Salman Rushdie, a British citizen, for blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad in his novel The Satanic Verses. Rather than defend Rushdie’s freedom of speech, Charles reacted to the death decree by reflecting on the positive features that Islam has to offer the spiritually empty lives of his countrymen.” An American Islamic cleric might be labeled a radical for saying as much.
In his remarks of October 27, 1993, Prince Charles, in his first public address concerning Islam, noted that, “Islam can teach us today a way of understanding and living in the world which Christianity itself is poorer for having lost. At the heart of Islam is its preservation of an integral view of the Universe. . . . But the West gradually lost this integrated vision of the world with Copernicus and Descartes and the coming of the scientific revolution. A comprehensive philosophy of nature is no longer part of our everyday beliefs.” Prince Charles’s speech was covered extensively throughout the Islamic world and was very well received.
Prince Charles has supported the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies for decades: in 2013, its director, Farhan Nizami, stated, “I don’t think there is another major figure in the western world who has as high a standing as he has in the Muslim world. I would describe him as a friend of Muslims.” Recently, Prince Charles addressed the World Islamic Economic Forum, and after the deadly attack of June 19, 2017 against Muslim worshipers, near the Finsbury Park Mosque, Prince Charles personally delivered a message of solidarity from the Queen.
As perceived throughout 2016, Donald Trump and his enunciated views on Muslims constituted a threat to cohesion within the United Kingdom as well as to its external affairs, for if Trump became President, a continuance of the special relationship between Britain and America could undercut Britain’s position vis-à-vis the nation’s burgeoning Muslim population as well as its relations with Muslim-majority nations. If Britain were to suspend its special relationship with America in the wake of a Trump presidency, the island nation’s economy and security could suffer grievous harm. Further, the next British monarch might be precluded from becoming the head of the Commonwealth of Nations due to friction with Muslim-majority members incensed by Washington. Thus, both courses appeared unacceptable.
Most Americans think that the British monarch, as head of state, has no political power. This is not true. In 1867, British essayist and journalist Walter Bagehot published a book that codified the rights of the crown. He wrote, “To state the matter shortly, the sovereign has, under a constitutional monarchy such as ours, three rights — the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn.”
Of these enumerated rights, the right to warn is paramount. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, the Muslim portion of the United Kingdom’s population may be expected to grow from its present level of 6.3 percent to 16.7 percent by 2050. Given declining rates of church attendance in preference to secularism, British followers of the Islamic faith may within this century outnumber the nation’s practicing Christians. In response to this demographic transformation, which is mirrored across Western Europe, Prince Charles’s statements were trenchant: in his view, the United Kingdom and Europe must never create a bar to immigration or to the acceptance or practice of the Islamic faith.
These precepts were viewed as antithetical to the positions expressed by Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. Alone, the royal family’s positions on these subjects are certainly not determinative. Their worldview on these matters, however, is shared, to varying degrees, by all major British political parties, politicians, and bureaucracies. Though members of the royal family do not direct policy nor manage the bureaucracy ─ and surely had no role in the direct instigation of the Russian-collusion phantasm ─ they are, in William Shakespeare’s words, “the makers of manners.” And in regard to manners, Britain’s political class and establishment found candidate Trump’s behavior, let alone his views, to represent the quintessence of the ugly American: loud, conceited, boorish, and unaccountably rich.
Thus, a primary foundation for what became the Russian-collusion narrative did not involve Russia, but arose due to Britain’s visions for itself. On December 8, 2015, Donald Trump, in the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist attack, called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” At that time, Donald Trump opined on the status of sections of London, which the candidate stated were “so radicalized the police are afraid for their lives.”
Britain was united in its derision. Then Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who has been photographed with Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud (a central figure in the collusion narrative) and who may contend to be Britain’s next prime minister, referred to Trump’s comments as “ill-informed . . . and complete and utter nonsense.” Both candidates who sought to succeed Johnson made sharper remarks; the Conservative candidate, Zac Goldsmith, declared Trump to be “one of the most malignant figures in politics.” Sadiq Khan, Labour’s candidate, who subsequently became mayor, stated, “Trump can’t just be dismissed as a buffoon — his comments are outrageous, divisive and dangerous — I condemn them utterly and hope his campaign dies a death.” Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted that Trump’s remarks constituted “an attack on democratic values.” Finally, Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative, called Trump’s views “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong.” Later, Cameron, addressing Parliament, would state that Trump’s proposed Muslim ban is “divisive, stupid and wrong. If he came to visit our country I think he would unite us all against him.”
Clearly, these British politicians attempted to influence America’s presidential election: their views as amplified by the mainstream media within the United States may have exerted more influence on America’s political process than did all Russia’s actions. However, it was Cameron’s caustic judgments that were critical to the instigation and to the formation of the collusion narrative.
President Obama visited the United Kingdom in 2016. During a joint April 22, 2016 press conference held at 10 Downing Street with President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron was asked what American voters should “do about Donald Trump.” Cameron responded, “As for the American elections, I’ve made some comments in recent weeks and months — I don’t think now is the moment to add to them or subtract from them.”
On May 3, 2016, George Papadopoulos, a junior Trump aide, living in London, called on Prime Minister Cameron to apologize to Donald Trump, stating that such contrition would be “wise” and that the Prime Minister should invite the Republican candidate to the U.K. These remarks were reported by British newspapers and likely constituted the fuse that ignited various elements within the intelligence, policy, and law-enforcement establishments of Britain, Australia, and the United States.
Agents: Actions within the United Kingdom and Australia purposed to subvert the Trump campaign were almost certainly staged by current or former intelligence officials. Christopher Steele, author of the Trump dossier, served within Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) as the agency’s senior analyst for Russian affairs. Retiring from MI6 in 2009, Steele co-founded the private agency Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd. Orbis sought to ape the functions and actions of established private-intelligence firms, headquartered in London. Hakluyt & Company, a far larger strategic intelligence and advisory firm, most probably served as a model for Steele and his partner.
Hakluyt was established in 1994 by Christopher James, a man whose prior governmental service included a career in Britain’s elite Special Air Service (SAS), which is part of the military; the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6); and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Hakluyt has been the subject of past controversies. James Quinn, writing in The Telegraph, noted that the firm “faced controversy when it was alleged to have employed an operative to infiltrate environmental groups on behalf of BP and Shell.” The Scotsman newspaper published an article that may provide needed insight into Hakluyt’s operations. In the story, “Intelligence firm with an air of mystery,” published on January 20, 2003, The Scotsman reported a shocking chain of events concerning a High Court libel trial:
Hakluyt is facing the spotlight as MPs called for its activities, and its connection to MI6, to be investigated following the company’s role in the collapse of a High Court libel trial.
“This is an extraordinary tale which appears to have mushroomed because of the involvement of a secret company, Hakluyt,” said Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes.
“This is not the first time their fingerprints have been on strange matters. It would be helpful if a spotlight could be shone on them to show who they are, what their role was, what connection they have to MI6 and why they won’t answer questions about these particular events.”
Set up by former MI6 executives after the end of the Cold War, Hakluyt has provided intelligence for 26 FTSE 100 companies and a number of US and European clients.
The article then related that a Scottish oil firm, Ramco, had hired Hakluyt to produce an intelligence report on a rival energy enterprise. Hakluyt’s deliverable reportedly, “contained allegations of corruption and murder,” which allegedly implicated principals within the opposing company. The Scotsman continued, “The allegations, described in court as being akin to a James Bond plot, were then passed by Ramco to the British Ambassador in the Czech Republic and later discussed with several high-ranking members of the Czech and British governments, including the then foreign minister, Robin Cook. Later, they found their way into a Czech newspaper and the internet.” The veracity of Hakluyt’s sensational allegations was not tested by the court, and Hakluyt would not comment to the paper as to whether it stood by its claims. The article did note, however, that, “Hakluyt has denied claims by some in the intelligence community that it was started by MI6 officers to carry out ‘deniable’ operations.”
No matter the factualness of Hakluyt’s report for Ramco, the alleged passing of the report to the British ambassador and then to governmental officials in two countries, could have served as a template for Christopher Steel’s creation and transmittal of his dossier concerning Donald Trump and his campaign. More insight on this matter may be gleaned by reviewing the backgrounds of some of those who may have been involved with the creation of the dossier, outreach efforts to George Papadopoulos or Carter Page (a central figure in the Steele dossier), or Hakluyt’s recent operations.
Christopher Steele served under Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6. The Washington Post on February 6, 2018 reported that Dearlove maintained a relationship with Steele after both had left Britain’s spy agency: “Among those who have continued to seek his expertise is Steele’s former boss Richard Dearlove, who headed MI6 from 1999 to 2004.” According to the paper, Dearlove said, “Steele became the ‘go-to person on Russia in the commercial sector’ following his retirement from the Secret Intelligence Service. He described the reputations of Steele and his business partner, fellow intelligence veteran Christopher Burrows, as ‘superb.’”
Dearlove was also connected to Cambridge professor and reported CIA and FBI asset Stefan Halper; both Dearlove and Halper had roles in several, British, national-security seminars or organizations. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board wrote on May 22, 2018 that Carter Page told the paper that he, in fact, first met Stefan Halper in mid-July 2016, “at a symposium at England’s University of Cambridge, where Mr. Halper is an emeritus professor. Mr. Page says the invitation to that event came much earlier — the end of May or early June. Mr. Page declined to say who invited him but says it was someone other than Mr. Halper. Mr. Halper had a central role in the symposium. The event was hosted by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), a Cambridge research institute. . . . Another noteworthy participant was Sir Richard Dearlove.”
Dearlove and Halper also have lead roles in the Cambridge Security Initiative (CSi). According to the CSi website:
The Cambridge Security Initiative (CSi), chaired by Sir Richard Dearlove, former Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, provides a unique link between the worlds of business, government and academia. With unrivalled expertise in security and intelligence issues, the organisation integrates long-term historical trends with the experience of security professionals to deliver prescient analysis of current and future threats to a range of clients and to its signature ‘International Security and Intelligence’ programme.
Commissioned analysis has typically been sought by clients requiring professional, up-to-the minute briefings focussed on specific regions or business sectors on which to base key assessments of future risks, options and opportunities. To achieve this, CSi has brought together bespoke teams of experts who, while varying in age, nationality and profession, share the ability to contribute significant, contemporary and often unique insights to written reports overseen, edited and signed off by the Directors. Recent clients have included UK and US government agencies, management consultants, international accountancy and finance firms.
Of note is that the last sentence of the foregoing quote confirms that Dearlove and Halper, through CSi, counted amongst their clients, “UK and US government agencies.” Halper’s name is listed beneath Dearlove’s on the organization’s website: a short biography notes, “Stefan Halper holds doctorates from both Oxford and Cambridge. He has served four American presidents in the White House and Department of State and is an expert on US foreign policy, national security policy, China and Anglo-American relations.”
Another seminar that both Halper and Dearlove were affiliated with has been the subject of news reports. On December 17, 2016, Journalists Lydia Willgress and Luke Heighton wrote in The Telegraph:
It has been more than 70 years since a ring of Cambridge spies infiltrated British intelligence so they could pass on crucial information to the Soviets. . . .
This time, it is not a spy ring at the centre of intrigue but rather suggestions that Kremlin operatives may be targeting a seminar programme.
The concerns emerged after a number of experts unexpectedly resigned from their positions at the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar (CIS), an academic forum on the Western spy world.
The men ─ former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove, Stefan Halper, a former policy adviser at the White House, and historian Peter Martland ─ are said to have left amid concerns that the Kremlin is behind a newly-established intelligence journal, which provides funding to the group.
Mr Halper told earlier reports that his decision to step down was due to “unacceptable Russian influence” on the group.
It may therefore be contended that former or current operatives, with decades-long associations with American and British intelligence, took part in activities, which one of these individuals alleged was penetrated by Russia. Of course, these persons were not part of the Trump campaign or presidency: rather they are connected to the CIA, the FBI, and MI6.
It is not known publically if Dearlove or Halper has ever been employed or associated directly with Hakluyt. Each did have connections, however, to a principal in the firm. Dearlove certainly knows Sir Iain Lobban, who is a serving member of the CSi advisory board. Lobban is also both an advisory board member of Hakluyt as well as Hakluyt Cyber, an affiliated enterprise, which, in the company’s words, provides, “insight and practical advice to help business leaders understand, and effectively manage, the cyber risks facing their organisations, and to help investors identify and capture opportunities around cyber security.”
GCHQ is Britain’s equivalent of America’s NSA. From its headquarters, known as the “The Doughnut,” whose shape and immense size was later replicated in the construction of the central building in Apple Park, GCHQ monitors signals intelligence (SIGINT), which is composed of communications between persons (COMINT) and electronic signals (ELINT); GCHQ is also charged with information assurance (IA), in order to protect the integrity and the availability of information generated by Britain’s government and military. Lobban’s biography, as relayed by Hakluyt Cyber, notes that he is, “the former Director of GCHQ, where he spearheaded the execution of the UK’s first two national cyber security strategies before moving to the private sector in 2014. In addition to advising our clients on managing cyber risk, he holds a visiting professorship at King’s College London, and was a member of the expert panel for Australia’s 2016 Cyber Security Strategy.” Lobban became a member of the GCHQ Board in 2001: this would have brought him to the attention of Dearlove.
Just as the CIA works closely with the NSA, so does MI6 with GCHQ. It is of note therefore that Lobban’s successor, Robert Hannigan, who assumed office in 2014, served but three years. It has been speculated that his resignation was at least, in part, tied to errancies concerning GCHQ’s role in the inception of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation involving the Trump campaign. An article published by The Guardian on April 13, 2017 asserted that, “According to one account, GCHQ’s then head, Robert Hannigan, passed material in summer 2016 to the CIA chief, John Brennan.”
Luke Harding of The Guardian expounded on this exchange in his November 15, 2017 report, writing, “That summer, GCHQ’s then head, Robert Hannigan, flew to the US to personally brief CIA chief John Brennan. The matter was deemed so important that it was handled at ‘director level’, face-to-face between the two agency chiefs. James Clapper, director of national intelligence, later confirmed the ‘sensitive’ stream of intelligence from Europe. After a slow start, Brennan used the GCHQ information and other tip-offs to launch a major inter-agency investigation. Meanwhile, the FBI was receiving disturbing warnings from Steele.”
This transference seems not to have occurred with the NSA, which is the direct American counterpart to GCHQ. It is, therefore, relevant to note that Clapper and Brennan, a one-time supporter of the communist party, have been conspicuous in their enunciation of a vehement hatred for Donald Trump; in this they have matched former FBI director James Comey, who has also acknowledged a flirtation with communism while in his twenties.
Another acquaintance of Richard Dearlove’s bears mention: Tyler Drumheller was chief of the CIA’s European division for clandestine operations from 2001 through 2005. Michael Isikoff and David Corn note in their 2006 book, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, that on February 4, 2003, the night before U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s ill-reputed address to the UN concerning supposed Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, “The CIA director was already in New York City, helping with the final preparations for Powell’s speech . . . . From his hotel suite at the Waldorf-Astoria, he [George Tenet] called Tyler Drumheller at home and asked for the phone number of Richard Dearlove, the chief of the British intelligence service. He wanted Dearlove’s approval to use British intelligence in the Powell speech.”
After leaving the CIA, Drumheller became involved with longtime Clinton associate Sidney Blumenthal and with Cody Shearer, who was also a factotum of the Clinton machine. (Shearer would later pass a second Trump dossier to attorney Jonathan M. Winer, while Winer served as the special envoy for Libya for the Department of State.) Drumheller, Blumenthal, and Shearer all worked together in Libya. Reportedly, Blumenthal, through a direct channel, would pass intelligence gleaned by Drumheller to Hillary Clinton. Drumheller died of cancer on August 2, 2015. Given Drumheller’s close association with Blumenthal, it would not be surprising if Drumheller, before his death, established a connection for Blumenthal to Dearlove, since Blumenthal traded in intelligence. If such a pathway had, indeed, been established by Drumheller, it may have served Hillary Clinton’s interests at a crucial, future moment.
To this point, Sidney Blumenthal wrote an op-ed that mentions both Drumheller and Dearlove in The Guardian on May 3, 2007. It carried the subtitle, “What CIA director George Tenet told Sir Richard Dearlove in the secret Washington meeting that fixed the intelligence for the invasion of Iraq.” Concerning fabricated intelligence that supported the Iraq war, Blumenthal noted, “Tyler Drumheller, former chief of CIA operations in Europe, has emerged to brand Tenet’s account as false.” Blumenthal then related, “Even more ominously, Dearlove warned that ‘the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy [to go to war].’” In general, Dearlove is presented by Blumenthal as being less bellicose and doctrinaire than his CIA counterpart.
Halper’s world view: It was Stefan Halper who sought contact with three advisors to the Trump campaign: George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, and Sam Clovis (who worked with the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team and acted as Papadopoulos’s and Page’s superior, having recruited Papadopoulos and, possibly, Page). Halper succeeded in meeting with all three ─ first with Page, then with Clovis, and next with Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos has stated that Halper peppered him with leading questions, which seemed to be predicated on the campaign’s supposedly having prior knowledge of Russia’s purported hacking of politically relevant emails.
A probable conduit for Halper to Hakluyt is Jonathan Clarke, a former British diplomat, who co-authored two books with Halper. According to a World Affairs Council biography, Clarke ended his governmental career with the diplomatic rank of counselor, serving at the British Embassy in Washington. The biography further notes that Clarke has been, since 2001, “the US representative of Hakluyt and Company, an international political and economic consulting firm.” Zoominfo gives Clarke’s position as “Director U. S. Operations ─ Hakluyt and Company.”
One of the books Halper co-authored with Clarke is titled America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order. The book was the subject of a symposium broadcast on C-SPAN on June 29, 2004 (https://www.c-span.org/video/?182614-1/america-alone). Remarks made by Halper at this 2004 event provide a window into the professor’s worldview:
Well, I think that as a Republican and a conservative, I’m very concerned about policy which is risky, which is overly adventurous, which assumes relationships which haven’t been clearly demonstrated. I’m very concerned about the cost of these policies. . . . The Republican Party has administered a superb foreign policy, more or less over half a century. It’s been modulated, focused, and careful. At this point, it is not those things. So my sense is that we need to move back. We need to recapture the focus that we have had for so many years, these past decades, and we need to project that on the global community so that ─ so that ─ we can, again, become predictable, so that we can be viewed as a source of stability and not as a source of instability . . . one of the things that struck me in England is that the British are deeply disturbed about Washington, because they feel as if they’ve lost control of their national security policy, which is being made in Washington and that Washington is unpredictable and a possible source of instability, and that kind of emotion is what we need to roll back.
Halper’s national security imperatives according to his statement are risk-aversion, modulation, and predictability. Given these precepts, Donald Trump represented a grave threat to world order and stability, for he is disruptive of established orders.
Professor Clayton M. Christensen of the Harvard Business School conducted seminal research on disruptive innovation decades ago: disruptive innovation is defined as a service or product developed to attract constituents beyond an enterprise’s normal compass of actions and operations. It is this concept, taken from the business world, which undergirds many of Donald Trump’s actions in the political sphere.
President Trump, in his scope of actions involving NATO, terrorism, immigration, trade, North Korea, Israel, China, and the Middle East, has demonstrated his belief that disruptive innovation must be expanded in the description of relevant issues and, most critically, in the governance of our nation and its foreign affairs. Established political entities, such as the British and American intelligence communities, which are fortified by their traditional domains of competence, including knowledge, research, affiliations, and assets, are highly susceptible to constituency erosion if a rival political actor innovates through disruption. This is the paramount threat that Donald Trump posed. It is not too much to state that this threat was met by actions, legal or clandestine, which ironically imperil the political establishments that such actions were designed to defend.
Links: Several other former governmental officials with associations to Hakluyt must be considered. Richard Ledgett serves as a senior advisor to Hakluyt Cyber. According to the company’s website, “Rick served as Deputy Director of the NSA. He was the first National Intelligence Manager for Cyber, serving as principal adviser to the Director of National Intelligence on all cyber matters, and coordinating cyber activities across the intelligence community. From 2012 to 2013 he led the NSA’s threat operations centre, responsible for its activities to discover and counter adversary cyber efforts.”
Given the sensitivity of NSA’s operations, legitimate questions may be asked concerning the wisdom of allowing past senior officials to migrate to positions within foreign firms whose specialty is intelligence. In general, such an exodus of high-ranking personnel increases the potential for the exfiltration of information and methods by other nations.
Louis Susman, President Obama’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, serves on Hakluyt and Hakluyt Cyber’s advisory boards. Finally, the former Minister for Foreign Affairs (1996 to 2007) and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (2014 to 2018) Alexander Downer served on Hakluyt’s advisory board. According to a report by Charles Miranda, published by the news.com.au (News Corp Australia Network) on January 18, 2016:
Australian High Commissioner to the UK Alexander Downer had been on the advisory board of the London-headquartered firm since 2008 when he was a UN special envoy but was forced to give up the position when he was appointed to head the Australian diplomatic post in London in 2014.
But it can be revealed Mr Downer has still been attending client conferences and gatherings of the group, including a client cocktail soiree at the Orangery at Kensington Palace a few months ago.
His attendance at that event is understood to have come days after he also attended a two-day country retreat at the invitation of the group which has been involved in a number of corporate spy scandals in recent times.
The article also noted that, “Britain’s Foreign Office, that has several of its former diplomats working for Hakluyt and also has oversight of the MI6 spy agency that has many of its former operatives on Hakluyt’s books, has noted the attendances.” It continued, “’The group operates in the shadows, it’s not exactly open and transparent and so any serving, and that’s the difference, serving diplomat with access to sensitive information and insight associating with the group raises a worry in Whitehall,’ one diplomatic source told News Corp Australia.” A spokeswoman for Downer, commenting within the text, rejoined that, “Mr Downer has had no commercial relationship with Hakluyt since resigning from its advisory board in May 2014 . . . .”
In sum, a subset of this cast of operatives was instrumental in both the creation of the Steele dossier and in the capture of George Papadopoulos and Carter Page. As part of any comprehensive investigation to be undertaken, the relationships noted should be mapped and examined; such an inquiry should be supported by the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
Turkey: Many pundits assumed that George Papadopoulos would be silent in the aftermath of his sentencing for lying to the FBI. They were wrong. Papadopoulos’s Twitter stream and that of his wife, Simona Mangiante, are alive with important assertions. On September 18, 2018, Papadopoulos wrote, “The BRITISH (Stefan Halper), AUSTRALIAN (Alexander Downer and Erika Thompson) and TURKISH (Azra Turk, spy working for Halper) all spied on an American citizen and campaign. Obama, Brennan and Clapper knew.” On September 19, 2018, he wrote, “The British, Australian and Turkish governments all had an interest in sabotaging Trump,s [sic] campaign. That is why their nationals were the ones that were sent as spies. This is much more complicated than anyone can imagine. Stay tuned.”
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has upended his county’s modern history as a secular state, which was stipulated by a 1928 amendment to the national constitution of 1924. Erdoğan’s regime borders on being a dictatorship. His delusions of grandeur are immense and have been manifested physically in the construction of what is by far the largest presidential palace in the world: at 3,200,000 square feet, it is 58 times larger than the White House.
Though Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952, Erdoğan has set a divergent course for his nation. He has bought Russia’s S-400 surface-to-air missile system (SAM), which is not interoperable with the defense systems of other NATO states. Though Turkey is part of the F-35 stealth fighter consortium, the purchase of the Russian air-defense system places the plane’s superiority at risk. The Commander of US Air Forces in Europe, General Tod Wolters, noted, “Anything that an S-400 can do that affords it the ability to better understand a capability like the F-35 is certainly not to the advantage of the coalition.”
In addition, a number of U.S. senators are worried that Erdoğan might sell or barter F-35 technology directly to the Russians or to the Chinese. According to a June 21, 2018 story in The Hill, “Senate appropriators inserted an amendment into the chamber’s appropriations bill for State Department and foreign aid that would halt the transfer of F-35s to Turkey unless the NATO ally cancels its purchase of the Russian-made S-400 long-range air and anti-missile defense system.”
Turkey is moving away from NATO and the alliance’s security objectives because of Erdoğan’s matchless ambitions. Given these desires, what would Turkey most fear? The answer is a resurgent America that demands that NATO’s nations increase their defense contributions to the alliance. This was Donald Trump’s promise; as President he has spurred many NATO nations, including Germany and France, to commit to increased defense spending. A strong NATO, however, is not in Erdoğan’s interests.
Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Hassan Rouhani of Iran met in Ankara in early April 2018 to formulate Syria’s future. That this meeting came after a Russian Su-24M attack aircraft was shot down by a Turkish F-16 fighter along the country’s border with Syria on November 24, 2015, is indicative of a new comity, marked by reinforcing initiatives.
Natural gas supplies and nuclear power are at the core of this developing relationship, which further undermines Turkey’s role in NATO. Turkey has reason to accommodate Russia, for only Russia can cause Turkey to be without heat in winter and this would imperil the Erdoğan regime. In addition to Russia’s building four nuclear reactors in Turkey, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has noted that 37.8% of the country’s energy is supplied by natural gas ─ all of which must be imported. According to a January 2018 report prepared by The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, Russia provides 53% of Turkey’s gas imports. Russia is thus the leading supplier of natural gas to Turkey; Iran is Turkey’s next largest supplier. Iran and Turkey recently signed an energy agreement in which 9.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas will be supplied per year from Iran. Turkey’s intentions in this domain were crystalized by the nation’s contravention of America’s wishes: according to an August 8, 2018 report by Reuters, “Turkey will continue to buy natural gas from Iran in line with its long-term supply contract, Turkey’s energy minister said on Wednesday, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened that anyone trading with Iran will not do business with America.”
What are Erdoğan’s other imperatives? He certainly wants to eliminate Muhammed Fethullah Gülen, a Pennsylvania-based, educator and imam who created Hizmet, a movement that counts millions of adherents. Gülen has stated that his intentions are to promote education and inter-faith dialogue; his many detractors, however, see far more malevolent objectives, including the indoctrination and the infiltration of elites in several countries, including the United States and Turkey.
Gülen was formerly a staunch ally in Erdoğan’s quest to erect an Islamist Turkey after destroying the country as a secular state; a falling out between these two confederates occurred in 2013. On September 24, 2018, Chuck Ross of The Daily Caller reported that senior Turkish advisor Ibrahim Kalin had stated that Erdoğan has ordered “operations” against his political foes, “even on U.S. soil.” These measures “could include kidnappings of supporters” of Gülen, based in the United States. If this report be true, such Turkish actions would constitute an extreme contravention of established NATO protocols for relations between alliance members. According to multiple news reports, on October 3, 2018, a major police incident occurred at Gülen’s Pennsylvania compound. A guard for Gülen reportedly fired at an armed intruder, driving the intruder away. As of midday, October 4, 2018, it is not known if the armed intruder, who is believed to still be at large, is linked to Erdoğan’s regime.
Gülen’s capture, death, or extradition to Turkey, however, is a second-order priority to Erdoğan’s plan to establish Turkey as the leader of a massive, Islamic, multi-state coalition of armies that would far outstrip NATO in terms of men under arms. In time, this force would constitute the reported “Army of Islam,” intended to destroy Israel and return the land to Islamic rule.
Ahead of a December 2017 Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit, the Turkish newspaper Yeni Şafak, which is closely associated with Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), called for the OIC to be part of a pan-Islamic army comprised of 5,000,000 soldiers, supported by a combined military budget of $175 billion. This force would be by far the largest standing army in the world. It is the objective of Erdoğan’s revanchist regime, which seeks the reestablishment of an Ottoman empire, which was destroyed by World War I, almost one hundred years ago.
This dream is not an idle one. Turkey has established military bases within the last several years in Azerbaijan, Qatar, Somalia, and Syria. These are in addition to its long-established cantonment in Northern Cyprus, and its persistent presence in in Iraq, which, on April 25, 2017, facilitated a Turkish attack on the town of Sinjar in Iraq.
An additional vanguard for Erdoğan is constituted by the private paramilitary entity SADAT, which was conceived by retired Turkish special-forces general Adnan Tanriverdi, who also serves as a military advisor to the regime. According to SADAT’s website, the company provides conventional and unconventional military training, including, “ambush, raid, road cutting / closing, destruction, sabotage and Rescue / Abduction Operations and ‘Counter Tactics and Techniques’ . . . .” The company’s website further states that it “assesses the possible military threats against the countries it serves; identifies the collective defense opportunities with their allies and other countries; and organizes the Armed Forces in compliance with such possible threats.” Also noted is that it can provide, “consultancy to the Armed Forces of the countries it serves regarding Cyber Defense and Assault Software.”
SADAT has recently been accused of aiding Hamas, which has been designated by the U.S. Department of State to be a foreign terrorist organization. The Times of Israel on February 12, 2018 wrote that Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet disclosed that a Turkish operative “revealed in his interrogation that money and materiel was given to Hamas through the SADAT company . . . .”
America’s current tension with Turkey has not arisen overnight, the stillborn 2016 coup d’état laid bare the U.S.-Turkey divide. Electricity was cut to America’s air base at Incirlik by the Erdoğan regime; a no-fly order was issued for American aircraft. Indeed, the Pentagon confirmed at the time that, “U.S. facilities at Incirlik are operating on internal power sources.”
Recently, President Trump has confirmed the scope of contention when he tweeted on August 10, 2018, “I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!”
It is not known if Azra Turk, Stefan Halper’s assistant, who reportedly interacted with George Papadopoulos, is, in fact, a Turkish spy, as Papadopoulos contends. It is probable that Turkey, however, knew that Halper was closely aligned with America’s and Britain’s intelligence establishments. This they could glean from Halper’s history of public service as well as numerous, open-source materials. They would also know that Halper is the son-in-law of Ray Cline, who was acclaimed internationally for his work at the CIA and for his incisive books on intelligence. Cline was the agency’s foremost analyst during the Cuban Missile Crisis. (It was Cline’s Directorate of Intelligence that warned John F. Kennedy that the Soviets had placed nuclear warheads in Cuba. Turkey played a part in the lead-up to this crisis of 1962, because the United States stationed Jupiter medium-range ballistic missiles, armed with nuclear warheads, near İzmir Turkey, beginning in 1961). Thus, Halper would be a collection target for Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization. Turk’s alleged role is undocumented and unsubstantiated by available sources, but her position could have made her subject to intense pressure.
Donald Trump has acted upon his stated intentions to improve America’s defenses, to revamp NATO, and to undo the damage of the Obama years, by steadfastly supporting the State of Israel. On September 28, 2018, the Associated Press reported that the Trump administration is, in addition, pressing ahead with plans “to create an ‘Arab NATO’ that would unite U.S. partners in the Middle East in an anti-Iran alliance. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in New York with foreign ministers from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to advance the project.”
If present trajectories persist, Turkey might become an additional adversary of such an alliance, whose creation would certainly upend Erdoğan’s plan to create a pan-Islamic force under his command. The dimension, therefore, of Turkey’s actions to subvert the Trump candidacy should be the immediate subject of focused investigations, both public and private.
Errors: A number of wounds that Donald Trump has endured were self-inflicted. Further, these wounds served to stimulate deep-state actions that almost toppled Donald Trump’s campaign or his nascent presidency.
During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump’s rhetoric mischaracterized the Muslim world. Many scholars of various faiths or no faith view the text of the Quran as less violent than that of the Old Testament. Many Muslims do not practice Islam; many practicing Muslims do not adhere to Sharia (Islamic law based on the Quran and Hadiths [the record of the words and actions of the Prophet Muhammad]); large numbers of devout Muslims do not believe in Islamism (the imposition of Sharia by nonviolent means); and a significant majority of all Muslims, including those who believe in Islamism, abhor terrorism, for whatever cause. These distinctions are crucially important; thankfully, President Trump’s actions with regard to Muslims and to Muslim-majority nations are infinitely more informed and nuanced than the coarse rhetoric of his campaign.
Another major error was made in articulating the first travel ban, which has been referred to as a “Muslim ban.” Upon taking office, the administration sought to fulfill a campaign promise to impose a ban or pause on entrants to the United States from countries so unstable as to not be able to provide reliable information as to an entrant’s basic history.
The first travel ban was structured by Senior Counselor Stephen Bannon, who served as the White House’s chief strategist for the first few months of the administration. This January 27, 2017 order was subsequently blocked by the courts on the grounds that it was tainted with religious animus, for all the countries barred were Muslim-majority states. A subsequent executive order, issued on March 6, 2017, dropped Iraq from the list and added Venezuela, which is predominately Catholic, and North Korea, which professes no religion. If the President’s intentions had been handled properly by his staff, a correctly formed executive order could have been resilient and thus not instigative of questions concerning its compliance with the First Amendment to the Constitution.
The first executive order should have been based on the Fund for Peace’s comprehensive Fragile States Index (the Fund for Peace is a non-profit research and educational institution). Countries are ranked on the basis of a range of indicators that encompasses overpopulation, human flight, inter-group violence, inequality, poverty, corruption, lack of public services, unchecked martial power, and the evisceration of the rule of law, among other factors. If a county has a very high composite score derived from an analysis of these indicators, it ranks as a fragile state. Such fragile or failed states include in their number many Muslim-majority nations, but also many states in which other religions predominate. Examples include the Republic of South Sudan, in which Christianity or traditional or Animist beliefs are foremost; the Central African Republic, which is overwhelmingly Christian; and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is also overwhelmingly Christian.
These nations rank first, fifth, and sixth on the Fund for Peace’s most recent list. Within these countries, accurate data concerning citizens who may wish to come to the United States is difficult or impossible to find and certify. This situation speaks to Donald Trump’s concern about the need for extreme vetting of those from certain countries who wish to enter America, for as a sovereign state, America should be able to know the true identity and background of those who seek entrance, for security, if nothing more.
Thus, the Trump administration’s original order should have cleaved to an established methodology for considering these matters. If it had, the list would surely have been composed of countries with populations of differing majority faiths.
Conclusion: Powerful elements in many nations had reason to thwart Donald Trump’s candidacy for President. These nations include our closest allies, The United Kingdom and Australia, as well as a country that was once America’s most important ally among all the Muslim-majority nations of the world.
Actors of great position and those who maintained important connections to various national intelligence organizations in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Turkey, all had reasons to subvert America’s presidential election of 2016. With an echoic world press entrenching such covert machinations, they almost succeeded.
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.