Veteran intelligence officials familiar with Russian disinformation campaigns conclude the Trump “dossier” released by BuzzFeed earlier this week is fraudulent and its author violated basic standards for intelligence reporting, the Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.
The dossier purports to provide secret information about President-elect Donald Trump’s links to Russian officials and business interests, as well as his sexual proclivities. The 35-page document reportedly was written by Christopher Steele, a former British MI-6 official who co-owns the London-based Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd. opposition research firm.
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FusionGPS, a similar firm in Washington, D.C., reportedly retained Orbis to write the document. Fusion GPS was founded by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson. Steele reportedly has gone into hiding since BuzzFeed published the dossier.
But multiple intelligence community sources interviewed by TheDCNF said the dossier is almost certainly a clumsily created fake.
“From my personal standpoint and my thorough review of this document, I have deemed it a complete and total fabricated fraud,” said Col. James Waurishuk (Ret.), a 30-year veteran who worked for the CIA’s Assymmetric Warfare Task Force. He also served on the White House National Security Council.
“For me, it is hard to believe how anyone who claims to know anything about intelligence operations, propaganda and disinformation would believe anything in it,” Waurishuk said.
“The devil is in the content and the content is just garbage. I don’t believe a word of it,” said Fred Rustmann, a 24-year veteran of the CIA’s clandestine ranks and the agency’s Senior Intelligence Service.
The dossier doesn’t describe the access and reliability of its sources, a key element that “any reasonable agent would spell that out. I don’t see that here. I think it’s a fabrication. If this guy is who he is reported to be, this is just too sloppy for even a low-level type of officer,” Rustmann said.
D.W. Wilber, a former intelligence officer with the CIA and Department of Defense, and a founder of OPSEC — which represents military and intelligence officials — said “at first glance to me it appears to be a rather ham-handed attempt at fabricating a document.”
Wilber doubted the Russians would release such embarrassing information.
“If indeed the Russians possessed sexually compromising information on Trump, that information would be extremely ‘close-hold,’ with perhaps only a handful or fewer of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s inner circle aware of it, and it would never be given up. It would be kept locked up tightly in the Kremlin’s safe and kept for possible later use” Wilber said.
An American source and long-time St. Petersburg, Russia, resident who knows top Russian political and intelligence officials, said making such information public destroys its usefulness to the holder.
“If some country has the goods on you, it offers no value to make it public,” the American source said. “The point is, they would never leak what is most important to them. No credible intel agency would. You keep the best stuff for when you need that favor.”
He was particularly concerned about numerous references to “overhearing” conversations by top Russian officials.
“There are comments that were reportedly ‘overheard’ or recorded from phone conversations. First off, Russians with secrets never talk about their secrets on the phone or in any area where they don’t have complete control of the people in the room,” he said.
The American also questioned the assertion that the handling of Trump was conducted by Kremlin spokesman Dimitriy Peskov.
“He’s a communications guy, not a spook, as you would expect a handler to be. Peskov has his hands full with communications for the Kremlin and it just stretches credibility he would be given the assignment to recruit and handle Trump – and for five years. It would have gone to an intelligence officer of the FSB or GRU,” he said. The FSB is Russia’s FBI, while the GRU is its military intelligence.
Another factor that raises severe doubts about the dossier’s credibility, according to the American source, is that it alternately uses British English and American English. Both “programme” and “program,” and “organise” and “organize” are used in the document.
Similarly, “the tone of the language is not the way someone from the U.K. would write. The bottom line is I don’t believe these documents were written by a British person,” he said.
Wilber said he believes the dossier was “written by an American, not a Brit. Brits simply talk and write differently.”