A story put out today that appeared in two places (the NYT and The Intercept) is a good example of Russian deza (disinformation). The ruse was designed to undercut the Steele dossier and the Mueller probe

(THREAD-22 tweets) An important story was put out (planted) late today that appeared in two places: The Intercept (in an article by Pulitzer-prize winning author James Risen) tinyurl.com/ydf9l6qt

1/ and in the New York Times

U.S. Spies, Seeking to Retrieve Cyberweapons, Paid Russian Peddling Trump SecretsAfter months of negotiations, the Russian insisted on including information about the president as part of a deal involving stolen hacking tools.https://tinyurl.com/ydx5xcaf

2/ I would recommend that you read the NYT article first: it has more details, and is more skeptical than the Risen piece.

3/ (The Risen piece is also guilty of the sin of omission: it omits the very incriminating info that one of the demonstrations by the Russian contact took place in the Russian embassy in Berlin!)

4/ There is a great deal of controversy about this story (I call it the “story” to refer to both articles reporting on it),

5/ b/c there is strong evidence that the story was planted by Russia as deza or dezinformatsiya (disinformation) designed to sow confusion and to discredit the Russia probe.

6/ That does seem to fit. First, a quick resume.

7/ The first contact was with a Russian hacker in Vienna called “Carlo.” From what I can see, Carlo might have been the genuine article,

8/ but negotiations with him collapsed when he demanded immunity from prosecution in U.S. (That surely gives him some credibility, right?)

9/ But US intelligence (US IC) persisted. The NSA was particularly determined to recover some of the documents and/or codes it had lost when it had been cyberhacked by the Russian group Shadow Brokers.

10/ (This part of the story is very weird. Why would the NSA have wanted to recover documents that were stolen: was there only one copy?

11/ And why would the NSA have wanted to recover its very powerful computer code, since Shadow Brokers would simply have retained a copy of that, too?)

12/ Anyway: the NSA (and also the CIA, but with mixed feelings about it and perhaps in an on-again/off-again manner) let it be known that they were interested in BUYING the stuff they were looking for.

13/ Through an American businessman in Berlin who was used as an intermediary (& as a cut-out for purposes of plausible deniability), contact was made with a Russian who had brokered deals for the FSB in the past and was known to have contacts with Russian intelligence services.

14/ But this guy (there is no nickname or codename given for him in the articles) never did deliver the codes/documents the US IC wanted,

15/ but seemed more interested in pushing kompromat he claimed that he and Russian intelligence had on Trump (including a sexual escapade in Moscow in 2013 — shades of the “pee tape” allegation in the Trump dossier).

16/ The CIA and the NSA were not interested in this and said so to the contact. In fact, US IC was very uncomfortable at being asked to handle this kind of stuff at all, since it risked making them look like they were looking for “dirt on Trump” etc. etc.

17/ After several meetings in Europe, when the contact failed to deliver any useful intel, US IC broke off relations, and European and American intel told him to return to Russia and never come back.

18/ My take, then, is this: Russia wanted to disseminate dossier-type deza and kompromat on Trump, just to confuse matters and discredit the Steele dossier and the Mueller probe. (The sex tape the contact had looked bogus, and would have been shown to be bogus.)

19/ After the deal with Carlos fell through, Russia dangled an offer to sell the code/documents the US IC was really after as bait for the deza it was really interested in pushing.

20/ So Putin ends up the winner, again. The US intelligence community gets bilked for $100K (not a great amount of money, but it makes them look like stooges), and the story is now out that US intel was negotiating with Russians, who had also offered dirt on Trump.

21/ Finally: as always in these matters, one has never really gotten to the bottom of things unless one knows who planted the story, and how. But that we don’t know. All we know is that the two related stories above appeared late today in The Intercept and the NYT. [END]