I have thought from the moment I read the Steele/Trump dossier produced in the service of the Clinton presidential campaign that, assuming it is what it purports to be, it is highly likely to constitute Russian disinformation. Today the Wall Street Journal turns to retired CIA station chief Daniel Hoffman who served in the former Soviet Union for his opinion. Hoffman makes the case that “The Steele dossier fits the Kremlin playbook” (behind the Journal’s paywall). Hoffman distinguishes between “a partisan ploy” and “a Russian espionage disinformation plan,” but in this case they seem to overlap.
In any event, Hoffman argues that “the dossier was part of a Russian espionage disinformation plot targeting both parties and America’s political process. This is what seems most likely to me, having spent much of my 30-year government career, including with the CIA, observing Soviet and then Russian intelligence operations.” He makes three points in support of his argument:
There are three reasons the Kremlin would have detected Mr. Steele’s information gathering and seen an opportunity to intervene. First, Mr. Steele did not travel to Russia to acquire his information and instead relied on intermediaries. That is a weak link, since Russia’s internal police service, the FSB, devotes significant technical and human resources to blanket surveillance of Western private citizens and government officials, with a particular focus on uncovering their Russian contacts.
Second, Mr. Steele was an especially likely target for such surveillance given that he had retired from MI-6, the British spy agency, after serving in Moscow. Russians are fond of saying that there is no such thing as a “former” intelligence officer. The FSB would have had its eye on him.
Third, the Kremlin successfully hacked into the Democratic National Committee. Emails there could have tipped it off that the Clinton campaign was collecting information on Mr. Trump’s dealings in Russia.
Hoffman does not even take up Steele’s disclaimer regarding the substance of the dossier memos in the British defamation lawsuit or Glenn Simpson’s ludicrous tributes to Simpson’s divine power to intuit the bona fides of his informants. Hoffman does not take up the efforts of Steele and Simpson to place the dossier in the hands of the FBI and disseminate it via the Democrats’ media adjunct. It is hard to believe that the Clinton campaign was an unwitting tool of Putin and the Russians. When Clinton’s interests coincided with Putin’s, Hillary Clinton hesitated not for a second to proceed with his handiwork, if that is what it is.