Less there than meets the eye, and so much more.
Apparently, Christopher Steele — the former SIS (MI6) officer and author (in part) of the salacious dossier on Donald Trump — is in hiding somewhere. The only people who know where that is are Britain’s SIS (MI6) and Security Service (MI5), the FBI and CIA, the FSB (former KGB) and the managers of his secret Swiss bank account and the Swiss federal finance police. It’s a good guess that his trusted neighbor who is taking care of his cat is actually out of the loop. The cat may know, but isn’t meowing the info.
In the meanwhile, Chris should be renting his 1.5 million pound home to someone who will be sending monthly checks to that Swiss bank. Of course the bank doesn’t talk — except to the Swiss investigators. At any rate, Chris and his three children are most likely hunkered down somewhere trying to avoid the press — in its many forms — to say nothing of the various political operatives who might have their own obscure, and perhaps nefarious, agendas.
Neutral observers are trying to decipher the meaning of Chris Steele’s admission in a court filing that the Trump dossier was unverified. (Washington Times, 4/25/17). This statement was in defense of a defamation suit in a London court brought by one Aleksej Gubarev, the CEO of XBT Holdings. How did he get into the act you may ask? The quick answer is that Mr. Gubarev was identified as a “rogue hacker” in Steele’s 35-page dossier. Obviously, Aleksej Gubarev believed he was “defamed,” for he insisted he was neither a “rogue” nor a “hacker”.
In a rather weak defense, the supposedly clever “spy” Steele stated he was a “victim” of Fusion GPS, the firm that hired him with money from a “Clinton backer.” At least that’s what the press report covering the defamation proceedings stated. Chris appears to believe that Fusion GPS was under the obligation not to disclose “confidential information” provided by Steele and his firm, Orbis. MI6 training must be severely lacking if they never instructed dear, innocent Christopher not to trust bad American partisan political operatives!
The next step in this intriguing story is a voluntary effort by Steele to provide an FBI special agent he knows in Rome with the collection of exciting — if prurient — information on Donald Trump’s sexual adventures in Russia. This juicy stuff is so valuable that the FBI supposedly decides to send over a three-man team to debrief Steele on his “hot” info on Trump. According to Luke Harding, the author of a recently published book on Chris Steele, the FBI guys were “shocked and appalled” at what they learned. Wait a minute. Since when do FBI agents become “shocked and appalled” over rich guy politicians’ sexual adventures? That’s right, never! And why are three FBI guys needed for this little confab? Right — it never happens.
Somewhere down the line, someone is going to have to figure out how a chap with only one stint of two and a half years under diplomatic cover in the British Embassy in Moscow, and a bit less than that in the British Embassy in Paris, acquired the exceptional skills required to be head of an MI6 principal Russian section. Seems a bit odd. Oh yes, he spent several months later on in Afghanistan purportedly bringing his outstanding operational experience to the “undertrained” British and U.S. special forces. One wonders what these hard cases thought of the lessons learned from a London “desk wallah,” as the British Army would call him.
It seems inescapable that Christopher Steele had what New York City cops call a “rabbi” who helped his career. The real question is for which country was Steele playing all these years? It’s important to remember at this juncture, however, the lines that every intelligence officer hears numerous times in training: “Remember, there is often less there than what appears so obvious.” It appears that this might be the best way to think of Christopher Steele! But then again maybe not!
George H. Wittman is a veteran of forty-five years in international security operations and analysis.
Tobias Klüpfel/Flickr-Creative Commons