The Conspiracy Beliefs Leading People to Leak

Just weeks before he provided someone he believed to be a Russian official medical records from five people who had received medical care at Fort Bragg, Jamie Lee Henry told the undercover FBI employee he was speaking to that the Biden Administration hates Russia, in part, because Obama is an effeminate man intimidated by Vladimir Putin. (Henry came out as trans in 2015, but court filings, including from his own lawyer, refer to him with male pronouns, as did his spouse, Anna Gabrielian, in recorded conversations.)

Dr. Henry: We have an ideology too that is very rigid, black and white – a lot of Islamists are, and Christians as well – it creates a lot of violence, and potential violence. And um, you know the way that I am viewing what is going on right now in Ukraine is that the United States is using Ukrainians as a proxy for their own hatred towards Russia. I think the current administration has hatred toward Russia because Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 and I think Obama was offended by Putin because Obama is an effeminate man and he is intimidated by the values that Putin has just as many Americans are offended by Trump when he presents himself um and I think it is personality driven partly and a lot of people are dying as a result of people’s arrogance and personality.

Dr. Gabrielian: A lot more people died than needed to. Because of what we…. Um, America has done is prolong the bloodbath.

Dr. Henry: Not only that, you look at what we have done in Libya for instance. Hillary Clinton is very proud of what she has accomplished in Libya which is basically creating anarchy, there is slave trades going on in Libya now. Talk about oil being wasted. Oil being used to support terrorism. It is insane. And she is proud of it. And it is uh . . .

Dr. Gabrielian: I do think we are on the same page

Dr. Henry: At least George W Bush in his recent speech in Texas he had this Freudian slip – “oh and that too”– you know UC: yeah, I heard that too Dr. Henry: It’s like he actually feels guilt. I don’t think Dick Cheney feels any guilt for what he has done. It is very clear from his daughter when given a chance.

Lawyers for Henry and his spouse, Gabrielian, want to prevent the government from introducing these statements at trial.

To be sure, Henry’s statements to the FBI employee recording his alleged motivations for sharing non-public information with Russia included more than stupid hoaxes sustained by right wingers. He’s right about Hillary’s stupid glee about Libya, and he’s right about Iraq. His views on the damage US hegemony can do on the states itself is reasonable (though it lacks the consequent consideration of how much America’s hegemonic position makes American life cheap and easy).

I think the United States… My experience, having been in the military for 22 years, is we instigate a lot. And we are very arrogant and what we think we know and what we can do with the tools that we have. You know, and it has hurt many, many people across the globe. And I don’t see how constitutionally, you know, reading the American constitution and what I’ve sworn to defend, how this hegemony can persist, you know, without dire consequences to our own United States, you know, being suffering.

But as many self-imagined anti-imperialists have — and likely with the help of his spouse, who (Henry told the undercover FBI agent) had had him read Victor Suvorov’s Inside the Aquarium: The Making of a Top Soviet Spy — Henry adopted facially ridiculous claims to justify siding with Russia on its unjustified invasion of Ukraine.

A separate motion from the government, seeking to prevent an entrapment defense, provides far more details on the extent to which Gabrielian, especially, sought out the contact with the person she believed to be a representative of Russia who told her, “My job is to collect information and to pass it on.” If the portrayal of those recordings is accurate, the government likely won’t need the reference to Obama’s imagined effeminacy.

While we don’t yet have Jack Teixeira’s description of his motivation for throwing his life away so he could share classified documents with a bunch of Discord kids, we’re seeing an increasing number of people, possibly including Jareh Dalke (who was arrested the same day as Gabrielian and Henry) decide to leak based on conspiracy theories sown by Trump and others.

That’s not surprising. After all, 1,000 people and counting similarly threw their lives away in response to other conspiracy theories Trump told, conspiracy theories that are, at least, adjacent to the ones claiming that the anger at Russia for 2016 was entirely about Hillary losing the election and not about an effort to protect democracy.

But as the government grapples with the case of Teixeira, it needs to similarly grapple with the salience that conspiracy theories fed by Russia have had on at least a handful of alleged leakers.

14 replies
  1. Troutwaxer says:

    While I kind of hate to take sides on a national security arrest, the right is clearly more dangerous than the left right now.

  2. Spank Flaps says:

    When you think all the time and money wasted on paranormal woo like MK Ultra, when all that’s needed to compromise and penetrate the enemy is some farfetched paranoid mythology, and a side order of racism.

  3. Tom Marney says:

    I think there’s too little attention given throughout society to Trump’s raw power as a demagogue to induce people to believe absurdities. I’ve said this numerous times in other fora, though I don’t remember doing so here: when Putin decided to put the weight of the Russian state behind the Trump campaign in 2016, he had to have known that the odds against him actually becoming president were great. Clearly, Putin and his minions made the calculation that the damage Trump could do to the US *even as a failed presidential candidate* would be worth enduring whatever an enraged Hillary Clinton administration might do in response. Everything that’s happened since then has confirmed Putin’s correctness on this. No wonder Putin was arrogant enough to undertake his appallingly wrongheaded and grossly incompetent invasion of Ukraine.

    While I’m pouring my little heart out, I’ll also offer that I had a bad feeling about the Mueller investigation from the moment I first heard about it for the simple reason that, by 2016, Trump had a well-deserved reputation as a fuckup and that the Russians most likely wouldn’t try to execute a plan that depended on Donald Trump not fucking up (as it happened, it now seems likely that Trump did conspire with the Russians, though the specifics still aren’t known). The Russians didn’t see Trump as a Manchurian Candidate. They wanted him for what he could and would do of his own volition. Once again, Putin and his minions were right.

    • emptywheel says:

      I agree. I wrote this back in 2020.

      Yes, Russia preferred Trump and yes, few people believed Trump could win. But the Russians stood to optimize the chances that Trump would defy expectations by preventing the FBI from thwarting their ongoing operation. And sowing chaos was a goal independent of the hope that Trump might win. Indeed, while Trump would have been preferable for Russia based on policy stances alone, Russia would prefer a weak Trump they could manipulate over a strong Trump any day. By the time of the 2016 operation, Vladimir Putin had already exhibited a willingness to take huge risks to pursue Russian resurgence. Given that audacity, Trump was more useful to Putin not as an equal partner with whom he could negotiate, but as a venal incompetent who could be pushed to dismantle the American security apparatus by playing on his sense of victimhood. Putin likely believed Russia benefitted whether a President Trump voluntarily agreed to Russia’s policy goals or whether Putin took them by immobilizing the US with chaos, and the dossier protected parts of the ongoing Russian operation while making Trump easier to manipulate.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Putin created a situation in which he would not have bet the wrong horse. Had Hillary won, Trump exhibited a clear plan to “challenge” the results (Roger Stone’s original Stop The Steal). Republicans would have had the best of both worlds: Trump, unelected, serving as their wrecking ball to discredit a HRC presidency and help foment sham investigations.

      In many ways this would have worked out better for Putin than an actual Trump win. The horse racing analogue is a DQ or win by disqualification; disqualifying Clinton might have been Putin’s true goal. Look at what he actually got out of Trump: no reversal of Magnitsky, no free gift of Ukraine. His main win was the disinformation/division campaign that proved so successful here. That might have gained even more momentum under the “horrors” of a Clinton administration. We’ll never know.

  4. Rayne says:

    Wow. Henry is messed up and they’re going to do considerable harm to other trans persons by virtue of their own fucked-up-edness.

    They don’t really have a firm grip on their own identity but they can be relied upon as a reliable narrator? Yeesh. Their value is in their ability to sow doubt and increase volatility.

    (I’m using they/them pronouns as The Advocate did because the flip-flopping of identity may serve a malign purpose and they/them is neutral.)

    • Troutwaxer says:

      Any trans (or other LGBTQ person, or Black, Brown, or Asian) who wants to align with the MAGAs should study the lives of Ernst Rohm and Edmund Heines. That is all.

      • pH unbalanced says:

        Or Jessica Watkins.

        So many heroic transfolk out there and we always get tarred with the actions of the traitors. (Just like happens with every other minority group, of course.)

      • Rayne says:

        As a multi-racial woman that’s really nice to ask but if they’ve signed up with fascists — like Enrique Tarrio in the Proud Boys — there’s really not a lot of hope for them. Marginalized people who haven’t compromised themselves with internalized oppression need to spend their time on their own behinds.

        One of my social media timelines is filled with trans people begging for help to flee red states along with women quietly looking for help with reproductive issues. I don’t have time or resources to spend on “you oughta” with marginalized folks, save that for the well-meaning liberals who sit on their hands doing nothing, or in many cases look the other way to avoid being confronted with their transphobia, misogyny, racism.

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