The average American has no idea how alarming is the news that former CIA Director John Brennan reportedly created and staffed a CIA Task Force in early 2016 that was named, Trump Task Force, and given the mission of spying on and carrying out covert actions against the campaign of candidate Donald Trump.
This was not a simple gathering of a small number of disgruntled Democrats working at the CIA who got together like a book club to grouse and complain about the brash real estate guy from New York. It was a specially designed covert action to try to destroy Donald Trump.
A "Task Force" is a special bureaucratic creation that provides a vehicle for bring case officers and analysts together, along with admin support, for a limited term project. But it also can be expanded to include personnel from other agencies, such as the FBI, DIA and NSA. Task Forces have been used since the inception of the CIA in 1947. Here's a recently declassified memo outlining the considerations in the creation of a task force in 1958. The author, L.K. White, talks about the need for a coordinating Headquarters element and an Operational unit "in the field", i.e. deployed around the world.
A Task Force operates independent of the CIA "Mission Centers" (that's the jargon for the current CIA organization chart).
So what did John Brennan do? I am told by an knowledgeable source that Brennan created a Trump Task Force in early 2016. It was an invitation only Task Force. Specific case officers (i.e., men and women who recruit and handle spies overseas), analysts and admin personnel were recruited. Not everyone invited accepted the offer. But many did.
This was not a CIA only operation. Personnel from the FBI also were assigned to the Task Force. We have some clues that Christopher Steele's FBi handler, Michael Gaeta, may have been detailed to the Trump Task Force (see here).
So what kind of things would this Task Force do? The case officers would work with foreign intelligence services such as MI-6, the Italians, the Ukrainians and the Australians on identifying intelligence collection priorities. Task Force members could task NSA to do targeted collection. They also would have the ability to engage in covert action, such as targeting George Papadopoulos. Joseph Mifsud may be able to shed light on the CIA officers who met with him, briefed on operational objectives regarding Papadopoulos and helped arrange monitored meetings. I think it is highly likely that the honey pot that met with George Papadopoulos, a woman named Azra Turk, was part of the CIA Trump Task Force.
The Task Force also could carry out other covert actions, such as information operations. A nice sounding euphemism for propaganda, and computer network operations. There has been some informed speculation that Guccifer 2.0 was a creation of this Task Force.
In light of what we have learned about the alleged CIA whistleblower, Eric Ciaramella, there should be a serious investigation to determine if he was a part of this Task Force or, at minimum, reporting to them.
When I described this to one friend, a retired CIA Chief of Station, his first response was, "My God, that's illegal." We then reminisced about another illegal operation carried out under the auspices of the CIA Central American Task Force back in the 1980s. That became known to Americans as the Iran Contra scandal.
I sure hope that John Durham and his team are looking at this angle. If true it marks a new and damning indictment of the corruption of the CIA. Rather than spying on genuine foreign threats, this Task Force played a critical role in creating and feeding the meme that Donald Trump was a tool of the Russians and a puppet of Putin.
Gosh, the Taliban wiped out poppy production in 2000. The Twin Towers were destroyed in 2001. Bush (son of CIA Bush) invaded Afghanistan to… well, to do what? To defeat the Taliban? Why? To restore poppy production? To find bin Laden? Didn’t really do that. After all he was in Pakistan. And what has happened to poppy farming since we invaded? Booming. For 17 years. Those farming families are doing really well under the protection of U.S. troops. Just like the oil families in Syria that are protected by U.S. troops. Now, Trump seems to be throwing a spanner in all this. Of course, “We came, we saw, he died [giggle, giggle]” Clinton would have never committed Trump’s crimes. Trump’s just a loose cannon.
Angleton, quoting Jesus, said “In my Father’s house are many mansions.”
I guess we know which mansion Brennan inhabits.
May 20, 2001
The first American narcotics experts to go to Afghanistan under Taliban rule have concluded that the movement’s ban on opium-poppy cultivation appears to have wiped out the world’s largest crop in less than a year, officials said today.
The American findings confirm earlier reports from the United Nations drug control program that Afghanistan, which supplied about three-quarters of the world’s opium and most of the heroin reaching Europe, had ended poppy planting in one season.
But the eradication of poppies has come at a terrible cost to farming families, [A TERRIBLE COST TO FARMING FAMILIES, OH, THOSE POOR FARMING FAMILIES]and experts say it will not be known until the fall planting season begins whether the Taliban can continue to enforce it.
”It appears that the ban has taken effect,” said Steven Casteel, assistant administrator for intelligence at the Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington.
The findings came in part from a Pakistan-based agent of the administration who was one of the two Americans on the team just returned from eight days in the poppy-growing areas of Afghanistan.
Tue 11 Sep 2001: 9/11
Tue 25 Sep 2001:
In a dramatic and little-noticed reversal of policy, the Taliban have told farmers in Afghanistan that they are free to start planting poppy seeds again if the Americans decide to launch a military attack.
Drug enforcement agencies last night confirmed that they expect to see a massive resumption of opium cultivation inside Afghanistan, previously the world’s biggest supplier of heroin, in the next few weeks.
The Taliban virtually eradicated Afghanistan’s opium crop last season after an edict by Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban leader.
In July last year he said that growing opium was “un-Islamic” and warned that anyone caught planting seeds would be severely punished.
Taliban soldiers enforced the ruling two summers ago and made thousands of villagers across Afghanistan plough up their fields. Earlier this year UN observers agreed that Afghanistan’s opium crop had been completely wiped out.
What a wonderful distraction from Larry’s post.
What ties in the fact Samantha Powers signature was on hundreds of FISA unmasking requests executed during the final days of the Obama administration?
Back to “distraction story” re: poppies and Afghanistan, shortly after Albania opened for western tourists, I planned a trip and was struck by Swiss Air offering what I thought was an odd flight loop from Zurich – Albania – forced overnight in Italy (Naples or Rome?), then on to New York and finally back to Zurich.
Wags on rec.travel.albania claimed the back roads of Albania were riddled with MZB with Swiss license plates dealing with the poppy traffic.
Certainly this curious Swiss Air route would be a perfect puddle jump from the poppy fields to the Italian crime syndicates to New York distribution and cash collections and then back to deposit the drug cash into Swiss banks in Zurich. To start this Albania flight loop all over again.
Crime novel stuff, or was art imitating life? Trip to Albania fell apart due to domestic unrest over the then current Ponzi scheme fraud that captured newly opened Albania. Swiss Air went out of business, Naples can’t get its garbage picked up, and illegal drugs continue to flow into our country from everywhere.
English Outsider says
Mr Johnson – an amateur’s question but it’s a question that was relevant as soon as Mr Steele’s work became public knowledge. Was MI6 aware of Steele’s work investigating Trump’s Russian connections from the start of the time Steele was doing that work?
The Washington Post article contains these assertions –
“In 2009, after more than two decades in public service, Steele turned to the private sector and founded a London-based consulting firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, drawing on the reputation and network he developed doing intelligence work.”
“Steele brought far more: He was able to tap a network of human sources cultivated over decades of Russia work. He moved quickly, reaching out to Russian contacts and others he referred to as “collectors” who had other sources — some of whom had no idea their comments would be passed along to Steele.”
Earlier on SST the question was raised of whether Steele had used contacts made earlier during his official work. The view was that he could not do that as a retired Intelligence Officer – else any such retired Officer could launch into private business using MI6 networks freely for their own profit and possibly putting those networks at risk.
The Washington Post article is carefully written. Possibly to lend credibility to Steele’s work it claims MI6 networks were used in assembling that work. That claim may not be true but if it is not true it throws into doubt the veracity of other claims in the article. If it is true it casts into doubt the veracity of the account of the meeting with Sir Richard Dearlove.
In any case, whether it’s true that Steele used official networks or not, Steele’s former employers must have kept a close eye on what Steele was doing collecting his information. They would not want a former Intelligence Officer working in much the same field without knowing what he was doing. There must therefore have been liaison with UK Intelligence from the start of Steele’s investigation. There was in any case a good deal of contact between Steele and his former colleagues –
“In an interview, Dearlove said Steele became the “go-to person on Russia in the commercial sector” following his retirement from the Secret Intelligence Service.”
Steele was therefore not a private enquiry agent retiring into business on retirement and seeing nothing of his former colleagues. He remained in close contact with them. Very close, one would imagine, if he was still using official networks as the article claims. Close in any case because he was a “go-to person.”
So this section is bogus – “In the early fall, he and Burrows turned to Dearlove, their former MI6 boss, for advice. Sitting in winged chairs at the Garrick Club, one of London’s most venerable private establishments, under oil paintings of famed British playwrights, the two men shared their worries about what was happening in the United States. They asked for his guidance about how to handle their obligations to their client and the public, Dearlove recalled.”
Nonsense. Steele had been liaising with, or at least being supervised by, his former employers as soon as he started this assignment. Any problems or moral issues and those former employers would have been aware of it. To suggest that the meeting with Dearlove was the first time MI6 had heard of the affair is clearly misleading.
So this question – “Was MI6 aware of Steele’s work investigating Trump’s Russian connections from the start of the time Steele was doing that work?” must be answered with a “yes”.
That work was extremely sensitive. It was nothing less than investigating an American Presidential candidate. Therefore some official in MI6 authorised that work from the start. Which leads to the question, at what level would that authorisation have been given?
Distraction in the sense that the point is to dismantle the impeachment case against Trump? Dark tales of conspiracy are not going to “save” Trump. History might.
blue peacock says
“Which leads to the question, at what level would that authorisation have been given?”
If the scheme in the US was run by Brennan, Clapper & Comey, possibly with the knowledge and even at the instruction of Obama, then it would lead to a presumption that it was authorized at the highest level. Of course to also keep it under wraps, Brennan would have been in communication with his counterpart in the UK and maybe even enlisted him in his Trump Task Force.
Trump does not need to be saved; just re-elected.
Did Mueller find “nothing” on Trump and Russia because Mueller and friends did not want anyone else snooping into what had already been going on with the IC and Trump?
Is the Democrat demand for all the Mueller notes including grand jury testimony be based upon their sneaking suspicion (or leaks) something was getting covered up – that there is a pony in there somewhere – and the IC was just trying to cover their own tracks when they let Trump off?
What about Robert Hannigan, Head of GCHQ, at that time? See Elizabeth Vos’s article “All Russiagate Roads Lead to London” http://archive.is/lotlC
Evidence, not history, is what is needed.
Jim Ticehurst says
I think the Horowitz Report will be out next week..The MSM wont be able to Ignore it..and the Deep State will be Deep Scheizniks..of their own making..The Sewers are long over due for Flushing..
The Twisted Genius says
Factotum, perhaps it’s because they believe some damning stuff against Trump is in those note that never made it to the Mueller Report. Judging by the release of some of the Mueller notes through a CNN FOIA request, they may be right.
LJ Best to you and yours.
Just by the available open source and the far reaching shadows it casts I say your spot on.
That the treasonous acts where highly compartmentalized, even though it was multi agency these efforts are rarely done without the POTUS’s approval.
Rep Nunes must have had the reaction your COS had when realizing the scope of this abuse of power.
The are being asked and angle pursued given AG Barr and Mr Durham visiting those countries you mentioned.
It now becomes a question of timing when and what shape this constitutional turd hits the proverbial fan.
Great to see your spleen is still working in fine fashion!
Larry Johnson says
What ridiculous nonsense. If you really think that the Mueller crew were that damn incompetent that they left damning evidence out of their report? Seriously dude? You’re taking straw grasping to new levels. This was a goddamn plot against an American Presidential candidate. If it can be done to Trump and it can be done to your side. Think about that.
The Twisted Genius says
Larry, have you read any of the stuff from the latest CNN FOIA request?
Larry Johnson says
Yes, that is why I wrote grasping at straws. Why would you think that the Mueller team, if there actually was something “damning” they would have ignored it and not raised it in the report? They may be partisan assholes but they are not that incompetent.
The point here is even if there was sufficiently damning (but not fatal) info about Trump, it could have led to exposing their own Insider sinister coup plots against Trump.
So rather than taking the risk, they just tied the whole thing up in a purple bow and washed their hands of the Russia-gate part of the enquiry. But also left that steaming pile of “obstruction” smears just to keep Trump in limbo, and allow the Democrats to continue Trump feeding frenzy.
English Outsider says
That seems more than likely. I take it to be true. I find Larry Johnson’s account of the affair to be the only credible one. Nevertheless it’s still ifs and inference.
The only obvious and indisputable facts – facts that the most sceptical are unable to deny or explain away – are those relating to HMG’s reaction at the time.
All that happened before President Trump’s election can be explained away. If a Presidential candidate was suspected of collusion with the Russians why should that not be investigated, and on both sides of the Atlantic? Whether that suspicion was unfounded or not is irrelevant. Presumably Intelligence Agencies follow up all sorts of false leads. The fact that they turn out to be false does not mean they should not have been checked.
That explanation fails after Trump’s election.
After the election all we see for certain is a UK ex-Intelligence Officer putting forward scandalous claims about a US President.
These claims certainly damaged the Trump Presidency. For the sake of US/UK relations they would normally have been disavowed instantly by the UK authorities. They were not.
Steele’s claims were not walked back or disavowed by the UK authorities. That in spite of the fact that the press were supporting Steele’s claims and those claims were damaging Trump. Steele was instead given protection. His allegations were never rebutted by HMG. They were let lie.
So forget the Mifsuds and the Hannigans and the rest of them. All that can be dismissed as conjecture and inference. What is indisputable is that the UK authorities were supporting the continuation of a smear campaign against a US President. Still are, by the mere fact of their not disavowing that smear campaign.
This while the allegations against the President of collusion with Russia were roaring away in the States and continue to do so to this day.
So what’s Trump up to while all this is going on? He continues to maintain friendly relations with a UK government that is part of a most unfriendly attempt to damage him. Either Steele’s allegations are mostly true – as Dearlove maintained in a post inauguration BBC interview – and Trump is trying to keep those allegations at bay. Or they are not true and Trump is allowing the UK government to get away with continuing to support the attack on him.
That’s unlike Trump. He usually hits back hard when attacked. Why not in this case?
As has been noted by many other examples, waiting for the Horowitz Report is taking on shades of Waiting for Godot.
Thank you for your excellent reporting on this. There is one aspect that I am concerned people are not paying attention to and that is what if they had been successful in their sabotage? What if a minor functionary had taken money or favors on Trumps behalf for what to them seems like a normal business deal, what would then have happened to Trump? The common concern seems to be that blackmail was the end goal but I’m not so sure. Was the purpose to charge Trump and parts of his organization with Treason? We see how far the cabal have gone without any actual evidence by prosecuting his associates mercilessly. If all the plotters really expected Hillary to win and they still went through all this trouble doesn’t it seem someone with an epic level Grudge against Trump planned to destroy him, not just in the political realm but in the financial, social, and criminal as well. I’m afraid if Barr doesn’t root that out, the POTUS will be in danger after leaving office. The fate of our Republic depends on it as well.
Thank you, Mr Johnson. If the former Station Chief is right, and this is illegal, who would bring charges? Barr? Naive question: Do we have a functioning DoJ anymore?
Mimi Mayes says
michael gorga says
Lets not forget who comprised the Mueller team. WALL TO WALL HILLARY DEMOCRATS and the lead attorney was a VIP invited to Hillary’s “victory party”.
blue peacock says
“So what’s Trump up to while all this is going on? He continues to maintain friendly relations with a UK government that is part of a most unfriendly attempt to damage him.”
Trump’s action or lack thereof is very puzzling. It would seem that he would use his ultimate presidential authority around classification to declassify and release to the public all the documents & communications. That would then at least remove some of the speculation and media spinning as folks would be forced to confront the reality.
Larry and others believe that Trump was hampered in this as his opponents would then claim obstruction of justice. But, it seems he should have known they would have used it anyway as we now see with the Ukraine “quid pro quo”. I’m not sure what he expects to accomplish by delegating declassification authority to Bill Barr. He must believe that Barr will have both the motivation and the courage to actually get to the bottom of it all and bring forth a cogent explanation of what actually happened and indict those responsible for criminal behavior. I wouldn’t take that bet if I were him but then I’m not in his shoes.
English Outsider says
Perhaps he’s happy to let them run with the nonsense. There was a hint of that on SST a while ago.
None can operate in the real estate business without engaging in transactions that, no matter how carefully vetted by the lawyers, can be made to look dubious. In fact during the election campaign Trump himself spoke of the practice of making political donations in order to get building licences. Given the custom in the States of using the Government apparatus of law enforcement to pursue political vendettas, and none too scrupulously at that as the Flynn case shows, there’d be plenty to go at if Trump’s opponents decided to go on that tack.
And he does seem to have quite a lot of opponents in and around that Government apparatus of law enforcement. Let them chase Russian hares to their heart’s content instead. Most people of any sense will know that’s nonsense, whereas we’d be prepared to believe anything about the real estate business.
Remember Mueller was head of fbi on 911. He released false identities of the hijackers. 7 of the 19 hijackers were alive after the attacks. Mueller then acknowledged their identities were in doubt but never updated them. He also said he saw the first plane hit the towers on the very day of 911 when that would only be possible if u were in nyc and looking up at the towers.
Hiring mueller to investigate was like when bush wanted to hire Henry Kissinger to head 911 commission.
Also remember not one democrat or republican president has come to the defense of trump.
Having lived in New York City until 1997 I can tell you that every real estate deal ever done by Donald Trump to that point was highly scrutinized (and mostly criticized) by the press. Particularly when he really handed it to their paymasters the banks. There’s no there, there. My belief is that the UK will get its comeuppance once Barr publishes his findings that all Russian roads really do lead to London.
English Outsider says
I’m sure you’re right on the real estate angle. But when was innocence a defence?
Barr, if he’s genuine and really wants to put on record the facts that exculpate Trump, would have to name names. That’d be a lot of comeuppance all in one go and the pressures against must be very great.
Keith Harbaugh says
In a really worthwhile article, Margot Cleveland of The Federalist presents a scoop on the David Iganatius/Stefan Halper, etc. relationship:
“SCOOP: CIA, FBI Informant Was Washington Post Source For Russiagate Smears”
These close connections between the Washington Post’s David Ignatius and people connected to U.S. and U.K. intelligence raise grave concerns about the deep state using media to push propaganda.
by Margot Cleveland, The Federalist, 2019-11-04
Rick Spratley says
Is this what Sy Hersh was referring to in the leaked Berkman audio where he says the President isn’t wrong that they were out to get him and that Sy had a whole narrative how this whole thing was done a Brennan operation?
Link to the Sy Hersh phone call (Sy is a big fan of Mattis -recorded while Mattis was SOD) Seth Rich information exchange.(coarse language)https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2019/07/veteran-reporter-sy-hersch-and-ed-butowsky/
John Brennan’s CIA Trump Task Force
Could it become Obamagate?
Philip Giraldi • November 12, 2019
michael williams says
I feel that Ppadopolous and Carter were mere conduits placed in situ to be used as the opening for which to investigate Trump.
I trust neither one of the two.