Devin Nunes Shouldn’t Be Outing Russian Sources

Vladimir Putin would obviously like to know who the sources are who talked to Christopher Steele. For example, the first thing we see in the Steele Dossier is an account of comments Source A (“a senior Russian foreign ministry officer”) made in confidence to Source B (“a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin”). It was Source B who supplied Steele with the information that the Russians had been cultivating Trump for five years and it was Source A that said Putin had personally approved a plan to supply Trump with information on his opponents, including Hillary Clinton.

Now, some people already know the identity of these sources. The first thing the FBI wanted to know from Steele after they saw his earliest memos was how reliable his information was, and Steele supplied his sources to them in an effort the get them to take his intelligence seriously. There’s someone else who claims to know the sources, and that’s a man named David Kramer who works as a senior fellow at the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University.

Kramer traveled to London in late-Novemeber 2016 to meet with Steele in person. He took a copy of the dossier back to the United States where he handed it off to Sen. John McCain. McCain, in turn, gave the dossier directly to FBI Director James Comey. But, of course, the FBI had been receiving Steele’s dispatches since July so they didn’t need McCain’s package.

Kramer testified on December 19th before the House Intelligence Committee. He asserted that he knew Steele’s sources, but he refused to provide their identities. As a result, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has slapped a subpoena on Prof. Kramer in the hope that he will spill what he knows.

Chairman Nunes supposedly recused himself from the Russia investigation but he’s still issuing subpoenas. That’s a concern, but it’s more troubling that he’s asking for information that would help Putin liquidate the people who talked to Steele.

This is lost on Byron York, who is much more concerned with running interference for the president and his congressional enablers than he is in getting to the truth:

Knowing Steele’s sources is a critical part of the congressional dossier investigation, for both sides. If one argues the document is unverified and never will be, it is critical to learn the identity of the sources to support that conclusion. If one argues the document is the whole truth, or largely true, knowing sources is equally critical.

That argument is 151 proof bullshit. Devin Nunes cannot estimate the quality of intelligence provided by Source A or Source B by knowing their identities. He can perhaps prove or disprove some of what they alleged, but that wouldn’t involve knowing their names. What Devin Nunes can do is leak their names and get them killed.

The Kremlin seems to think that FSB Officer Major Gen. Dmitry Dokuchayev was a source to the Americans, and they’ve arrested him for treason. There’s a Russian hacker in prison over there who says he worked for Dokuchayev and that together they’re responsible for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s servers. The Americans want Dokuchayev, too. Along with folks like fellow FSB officer Igor Sushchin and Alexsey Belan, he’s been indicted for hacking into Yahoo’s servers and stealing passwords and committing other identity thefts.

Here’s a fun fact. Igor Sushchin worked undercover for the FSB as the security director for Mikhail Prokhorov’s Renaissance Capital. He was fired the day after he was indicted. Mr. Prokhorov owns the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclay Center they call home. He also owns an island in the Seychelles which served as a convenient place for former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince to meet an emissary from Vladimir Putin named Kirill Dmitriev.

In any case, it’s interesting that there’s a hacker is Russian custody who is saying that he was ordered to break into the DNC headquarters by Dmitry Dokuchayev. Mr. Dokuchayev served under Sergei Mikhailov, who was the deputy chief of the FSB security agency’s Centre for Information Security. Mr. Mikhailov has been arrested for treason, too.

Two of Moscow’s top cybersecurity officials are facing treason charges for cooperating with the CIA, according to a Russian news report.

The accusations add further intrigue to a mysterious scandal that has had the Moscow rumour mill working in overdrive for the past week, and come not long after US intelligence accused Russia of interfering in the US election and hacking the Democratic party’s servers.

Sergei Mikhailov was deputy head of the FSB security agency’s Centre for Information Security. His arrest was reported in a series of leaks over the past week, along with that of his deputy and several civilians, but Tuesday’s news went much further.

“Sergei Mikhailov and his deputy, Dmitry Dokuchayev, are accused of betraying their oath and working with the CIA,” Interfax said, quoting a source familiar with the investigation.

If this all seems like a hopeless web of criminality and espionage, perhaps there is still hope for getting to the bottom of it.

In written answers from jail made public Wednesday by RAIN TV, a Moscow-based independent TV station that has repeatedly run afoul of the Kremlin, [Konstantin] Kozlovsky said he feared his minders might turn on him and planted a “poison pill” during the DNC hack. He placed a string of numbers that are his Russian passport number and the number of his visa to visit the Caribbean island of St. Martin in a hidden .dat file, which is a generic data file.

That allegation is difficult to prove, partly because of the limited universe of people who have seen the details of the hack. The DNC initially did not share information with the FBI, instead hiring a tech firm called CrowdStrike, run by a former FBI cyber leader. That company has said it discovered the Russian hand in the hacking, but had no immediate comment on the claim by Kozlovsky that he planted an identifier.

Maybe Devin Nunes could run down that lead. It’s a better use of his time than trying to out Steele’s sources and it won’t obviously get anyone killed or help Putin and Trump cover their tracks.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.