Attorney General William Barr's investigation into the origins of the FBI’s 2016 Trump-Russia "collusion" probe has prompted deep concerns among US intelligence officials, especially given the US president's decision to grant AG Barr sweeping powers.
Some former US spooks argue that the probe may thwart US counterintelligence efforts aimed against Russia, citing Moscow's alleged interference in the US 2016 elections, something that the Russian leadership resolutely denies.
"If Barr discloses the identities of CIA and CI sources providing information on Russia he is disabling our intelligence capacities to Russia’s advantage", claimed former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa on 24 May via Twitter.
Make no mistake: If Barr discloses the identities of CIA and CI sources providing information on Russia he is disabling our intelligence capacities *to Russia’s advantage*. It puts sources providing intelligence in danger and cripples the ICs ability to recruit new sources 1/— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) 24 мая 2019 г.
However, according to Charles Ortel, a Wall Street analyst who has been conducting a private inquiry into the Clinton Foundation's alleged fraud for the last three years, what is really concerning former and current intelligence officials and their backers in the previous administration are their possibly illegal actions which may soon come to light.
Sputnik: On 17 June, Fox News host Sean Hannity said that AG William Barr's "spygate" investigation caused panic among "deep state" actors. Hannity highlighted that at least three Trump campaign aides had actively been spied upon abroad by allied countries allegedly "subcontracted" by US top intelligence officials to circumvent US laws. Have there ever been any precedents of engaging US allies in an effort to undermine an American presidential candidate? What countries were supposedly involved in the "spygate"? Why did they agree to participate in those potentially illegal activities?
Charles Ortel: I am not aware of incidents in the past where elements loyal to an existing presidential administration have encouraged foreign powers to train their security forces to spy on a presidential campaign and/or upon the victor in a hotly contested election after the results became known, through the inauguration and then during the newly-elected president’s first term.
So far, one prime culprit seems to be elements within the government of the United Kingdom. Other culprits seemingly include the government of Australia, while there is also speculation that the government of Canada may have been involved. In time, perhaps we may learn that governments of other, supposed allies of the United States may also have been involved, perhaps Italy, France, and Germany, to name three.
What makes this story particularly galling is that nations named are among the staunchest long-term allies of America. Did no one in these nations, in positions of authority, question the wisdom of potentially interfering, especially given the ham-handed ways in which it seems the interference ultimately took place?
Sputnik: Hannity suggested that US State Department officials including Barack Obama knew about the dirty dossier and spying activities against the Trump campaign. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton echoed Hannity's assumption citing newly obtained State Department emails at Fox News' "Deep Dive" on 17 June. If it is proved that Obama and his associates were aware of the "spygate" effort how could this affect the ex-president and his team?
Charles Ortel: As a guess, Obama administration insiders likely did what they could do to insulate the former president from potential culpability in any scheme that might implicate actors in actual crimes. A review of public records suggests that Presidential counsellor Valerie Jarrett was one person who may have been the ultimate shield. But, other reports suggest that Barack Obama himself was keenly interested in political campaigns of all types, particularly key races of which the 2016 presidential contest was clearly most important.
Obama loyalists, even now try to argue that the eight years from 20 January 2009 through 20 January 2017 were “scandal free”. I beg to differ – someone high up in the Obama administration had to bless the use by Hillary Clinton and her team of secret servers, unprotected electronic devices, alias emails, and the fact that Team Hillary was allowed to hold onto all of her government records through early December 2014, some 22 months after she departed her role as Secretary of State. One suspects that President Obama himself had to learn, early on, of the Clinton approach and had to know that it fell well afoul of applicable laws and regulations.
Moreover, Barack Obama likely communicated with Hillary Clinton using email and he was sold to the public as someone who was in tune with technology, even “wedded to his Blackberry” - how could Obama have failed to notice he was sending emails to Hillary Clinton on a non-government email address?
All of which raises larger questions. Did Barack Obama use non-government email addresses to send or receive classified information? Did members of his close circle do so? Did any of these people use aliases in their communications? Do we really know whether all of the “presidential records” of the Obama administration were archived securely for posterity? With these latest revelations, and with each passing day, storm clouds darken over what remains of the Obama “legacy”.
Sputnik: Meanwhile, the US State Department has revealed that at least 15 State Department employees were responsible for 23 violations and seven security infractions related to Clinton’s server under the Obama administration. According to Hannity, Clinton's activities presumably amount to violating the Espionage Act (18 USC 793 (F) and 18 USC 793 (D) and (E)). Conservative pundits presume that the effort against Trump was prompted by Obama administration officials who sought to conceal their crimes. Do you agree with this assumption? Will all the employees involved in the emailgate case be interrogated and probed given the latest revelations? Will it result in criminal proceedings against them and how will this affect Hillary Clinton?
Charles Ortel: As we consider these questions and issues, the timeline from June 2008 to present comes under much closer scrutiny. In early June 2008, when it became evident that Barack Obama would be the Democrat nominee, and that he would likely defeat John McCain, I suspect the Clintons (and the Obamas) hatched a plan to employ Hillary’s considerable resources to cement victory in the November 2008 presidential election.
What candidate Obama likely did not know back then was how dire the position of the Clinton Foundation had become - it was out of compliance with key laws and regulations around the world and millions of dollars in funding had "gone missing".
Real investigations of mishandling classified information by many persons including Hillary Clinton will likely extend and intertwine with long overdue deep dives into the network of Clinton "charities" that seem, to me, to have been used as conduits to trade cash for contracts and favours, and certainly not for their intended and authorised tax-exempt purposes.
SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 23, 2018
Hannity and others are correct to call this unfolding scandal, the biggest in American history. When it grows to consider all contours of charity frauds and corruption during the period from 1988 forward, as unregulated globalism became the norm, we will be shocked to discover just how badly so many US presidents and other leaders behaved.
We cannot move forward productively until the public is shown what actually happened. Only with real investigations, indictments, prosecutions, convictions, and incarcerations can we prove that no American stands above our laws. With reason, many once powerful persons should be afraid – they are finally being called to account for lives in crime, pretending falsely to serve the people, even as they served themselves.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker and contributor do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.