Brennan Makes Even Crazier Plausible Deniability Claims about Trump Dossier

As I have laid out, the intelligence community has been making some odd claims about the Trump dossier. First, James Clapper claimed that the IC was the last to learn of the dossier, in spite of the fact that IC member FBI was getting the reports at least by August and probably earlier. Then, Sunday, John Brennan claimed the IC couldn’t be held responsible for leaking the dossier (though without denying that the IC had leaked it), because the dossier had already been out there; except the dossier — released with a report that post-dates all known public versions of the dossier — therefore post-dates what “was already out there.”

Brennan’s back with yet another claim, this in response to Trump’s insinuation that Brennan might have leaked it: Brennan claimed he has never read the dossier.

“Was I a leaker of this? No,” Mr. Brennan said Monday in an interview at CIA headquarters, days before he ends a career that has spanned more than three decades and that took him from entry-level recruit to head of the nation’s most storied spy service.

“First of all, this is not intelligence community information,” Mr. Brennan said. He noted that the dossier had been circulating “many months” and that he first heard about it from inquiring reporters last fall. To date, he hasn’t read the document and gave it no particular credence, he said.

“I would have no interest in trying to give that dossier any additional airtime,” Mr. Brennan said.

I mean, sure, you’re conducting one of the most sensitive briefings of recent history. The briefers here are all principals — along with Brennan and Clapper, Admiral Mike Rogers and Jim Comey. And you don’t even read the stuff that goes into it? You don’t review the underlying dossier that, you claim, you’re briefing just so Trump knows what the Russians have on him?

That may well be true. But if it is, it suggests a very deliberately cultivated plausible deniability, one that the decision to have Comey brief the dossier to Trump by himself only adds to. Most charitably, Brennan cultivated such deniability only to ensure he can claim that the CIA is not engaging in domestic politics (and that may well be enough).

But along with the pointedly false claims about what the IC knew when, the claim raises questions about why CIA would go so far out of its way to be able to claim they didn’t know.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

19 replies
  1. wayoutwest says:

    I think the Donald may have scored a direct hit on the listing ship of Brennan before it could reach safe harbor. Brennan’s response shows a crazy lying man desperate to cover his tracks by tap-dancing all over his dirty  trail.

    It would be satisfying to see this Clintonite stooge perp-walked into justice for this felonious leak. He might have to take refuge from Trump’s justice someplace like Ukraine where he could party with his neo-Nazi friends.

    • JNagarya says:

      “felonious leak”?

      Huh?  Another “legal expert” who has the advantage of no education in law.

      At best, that’s a poor attempt to defend Trump by bashing the intelligence community for him.

       

  2. bevin says:

    There is always Saudi Arabia.
    Actually ‘always’ is not the word. There is a regime that is living on borrowed time, if ever there was one. At any rate, I believe that Brennan had many friends there.

    • JNagarya says:

      Yeah: believing a thing automagically transforms it into fact, into truth.  How about giving the intelligence community the benefit of the doubt, instead of aiding and abetting treasonous Trump by joining him in his smear campaign?

       

       

      • FormerMilitary says:

        LOL!  That’s great!  Give the IC the benefit of doubt?!  Yes, yes, because the IC is definitely a-political… as Cheney, et al have proven.  Thanks for that laugh, I needed that.  I really hope that was satire, for your sake.

  3. Screw obamas intel stooges says:

    I think it’s pretty clear now that even the intel report on “russia helping trump” was at least somewhat politicized or driven by emotions. This is getting absolutely riduculous. They want us to trust the intel report after all this? Lol.

  4. Bob In Portland says:

    Saw something circulating this a.m. that claims that the whole “Russia hacked us” BS began with Alexandra Chalupa in the Clinton campaign when they went out of their way to attack Paul Manafort.

    If someone wants to get to the bottom of this I suggest looking there. Putin’s agenda is probably 99% against everything I stand for, but I’m even more against CIA coups.

  5. J J says:

    Brennan added credibility to the document by the very fact it was presented to Trump by the intel community.  Then he leaked the document and that fact.

  6. bevin says:

    “How about giving the intelligence community the benefit of the doubt,..”
    I know that they lie and have been doing so for decades. And that they are full of neo-con warmongers whose agenda includes mobilising public opinion against Russia and encircling it with military forces. Currently nuclear missiles are 5 minutes flying time away from Moscow. We know how many near misses there were during the last Cold War, occasions on which a nuclear war almost broke out because of a screw up or miscalculation.
    And that was before these missiles were based in countries with fascist governments.
    Putin didn’t intervene in the election. Clinton’s DNC lost it all on their own, just as they lost both houses and dozens State legislatures in the past twenty years or so. Or did Putin do that too?
    Short answer: I don’t trust the CIA and I don’t trust the mad men and women who constitute the very powerful neo-con lobby.
    As to Trump: House Elections are due in less than two years. Anyone who wants to control him should work to fill the House with honest, democratic, representatives of the people. It is something that hasn’t been tried for many years.

    • Procopius says:

      If you think we know how many near misses there were during the Cold War you’re a lot more optimistic than I am. We know of quite a few, and I’m convinced there were a lot more, and probably some that were risky but not quite as bad as during the Cuban missile crisis, when our Navy were dropping depth charges around a Russian boomer “to get him to surface.” Other than that I agree with you.

  7. PG says:

    The two IC reports on alleged Russian hacking and leaking struck me as content marketing white papers padded with pointless, as well as inaccurate, material. Why would they release such “reports?” And why has the msm ignored the questions raised by the release of two such inadequate reports by our supposed “best and brightest”?

    Now, questions about those two bizarre documents have been overshadowed by even stranger events. How does anyone keep up?

    In the midst of all the destabilizing accusations and rumors swirling around the president-elect, one thing is clear – the IC’s behavior throughout this unfolding saga has been absolutely baffling in that it often seems inept.

    • wayoutwest says:

      Clintonite, corrupt and inept seem to go together in producing and distributing  this unbelievable report which you correctly identified as not being anything resembling a dossier.

      • Procopius says:

        Nuts. I’ve been wondering about the ineptitude, too. To sneeringly dismiss it as just a manifestation of Clinton incompetence is to ignore a huge red flag. In the sense of a warning flag, now a Communist flag. These are people who command the shrewdest, most expert propagandists and psyops experts in our country, which probably has the best in the world. The only explanation I can come up with is that there is a civil war of immense proportions going on within the IC, and that we’re being hammered with efforts to sabotage both sides. That answer doesn’t satisfy me, so I just have to admit to a complete failure of imagination. Please understand, I’m not talking only about the “dossier” from the retired MI5 guy, I’m talking about Comey’s statements and then the Grizzly Steppe report and the earlier report, besides the material that Crowdstrike has released. Is this some kind of charade to convince foreign intelligence agencies that ours have completely lost their marbles?

  8. lefty665 says:

    The CIA doesn’t even tell the truth internally to its own employees. Why would anyone think they are forthcoming with the rest of us?

    Although it’s a year old, this Wash Post article on “Eyewash” is a good reminder that CIA doesn’t level with anyone.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/eyewash-how-the-cia-deceives-its-own-workforce-about-operations/2016/01/31/c00f5a78-c53d-11e5-9693-933a4d31bcc8_story.html?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.ccd3b082c946

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