During the confirmation hearings for President Trump's nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, Republican Senator Rand Paul dropped a bombshell, in the form of a letter he sent to the nominee on May 15. While some in the Senate meekly opposed Haspel on the grounds that she directly participated in torture of suspects as a CIA Counterintelligence operator in a prison in Thailand after the attacks on September 11, 2001, Paul hit the nominee on a different flank, demanding to know what she knows about whether the CIA conducted surveillance against any of the presidential candidates in 2016, including himself, and Donald Trump.
Under what circumstances, he asked Haspel, who served as Deputy Director under John Brennan, would the CIA "trail, monitor, or otherwise conduct information on the communications and movements of U.S. presidential candidates?" Further, he inquired whether she "or anyone else at the CIA ever cooperated with any foreign intelligence services", to surveil, monitor or collect communications information about Donald Trump over the last five years, including during his travels to Europe, and during a trip to Great Britain.
The Kentucky Senator then honed in on a subject which has emerged as a central theme for those opposing the "Russiagate" assault against Trump, which is based on charges that he colluded with Russian intelligence to win the 2016 election. "I'm concerned," he wrote,
"there are reports that John Brennan, the former head of the CIA under President Obama...was cooperating with British intelligence to spy on the Trump campaign. This is a big deal."
Later that day, he elaborated in an interview with NBC-TV news.
"It is supposed to be illegal for the CIA to spy on Americans—so the question is did John Brennan ask the British intelligence to spy on Americans for him? Did he ask them to spy on President Trump's campaign?"
In another interview, with FOX News, Paul emphasized that his concern stems from the fact that Haspel is a "close acolyte" of Brennan, whom he characterized as being violently partisan against Trump. Brennan not only supported the Haspel nomination, he engaged in what the Washington Post characterized as "last-minute arm-twisting" of five Senators to get their votes to confirm Haspel. In this high-powered lobbying effort, Brennan was joined by other former CIA Directors, Leon Panetta and Mike Morrell, and Obama's former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, all of whom have played a role in the anti-Trump Russiagate operations.
It does not appear that Haspel has answered Paul, at least publicly. She was confirmed as CIA Director by a Senate vote on May 17.
THE CASE OF JOHN BRENNAN
Brennan's lobbying for Haspel was not the first time he twisted arms of Congressmen. The New York Times reported, in an April 6, 2017 review of the intelligence agencies' investigation into Russian "meddling", that in August 2016, he conducted "individual urgent briefings" with eight Democratic and Republican leaders of the Congress, informing them that there was evidence of Russian interference in the U.S. election. An example of this "urgent briefing" was provided by an aide to Senator Harry Reid, who said Brennan told him that "unnamed advisers to Mr. Trump might be working with the Russians to interfere in the election."
He also delivered a report on these charges to President Obama, in early August 2016, alleging Russian President Putin's "direct involvement" in a campaign to "disrupt and discredit U.S. elections," while defeating or damaging Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton. The Times article said that when Obama was briefed, "he was deeply concerned." An aide told reporters that Obama "wanted the entire intelligence community all over this."
When this occurred, Trump had just secured the Republican Party nomination for President.
But by then, the intelligence community was already "all over this." According to the BBC, Brennan was first alerted to Russian operations in April 2016, in an intelligence report produced by agents from a Baltic state. In the early summer, he was visited by Robert Hannigan, the head of Britain's GCHQ, the Signals Intelligence center, who told him they had been monitoring contacts between Trump team officials and Russian intelligence operatives since the early summer of 2015. By June 2016, Brennan created a task force, to investigate the Russian intervention, around the time that the Washington Post falsely reported on June 14 that Russia had "hacked" into the Democratic National Committee's e-mail system.
On July 5, Christopher Steele, the "former" MI6 operative now infamous for the discredited "dodgy dossier" he compiled against Trump, under a contract financed by the Clinton campaign through Fusion GPS, had his first meeting in London, with an FBI official. By late July, an FBI counterintelligence operation was set up under Peter Strzok, an anti-Trump FBI Counterintelligence official. Strzok's team set out to prove the allegations in Steele's dossier, in order to provide what he described in a text message to his FBI mistress an "insurance policy", should Trump win.
As this brief chronology demonstrates, British intelligence fingerprints are all over the Russiagate affair, from the beginning. Luke Harding, a Guardian correspondent who authored a paean to Steele, "Collusion", which portrays him as a great hero, wrote a piece on April 13, 2017, boasting that "Britain's spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington" of the devious Russian operations. Brennan acknowledged this in an interview on NBC's Meet the Press on February 4, 2018. While ducking the question of whether the CIA received intelligence on the alleged Russian efforts to manipulate Trump through George Papdapoulos—who was indicted by special counsel Mueller for "lying to the FBI"—Brennan admitted that "the FBI has a very close relationship with its British counterparts."
BRENNAN'S GOAL: DISRUPT TRUMP-PUTIN COOPERATION
As the real story of Russiagate is emerging, that it is a case of collusion between the highest levels of British intelligence and Obama's intelligence team, out to conduct a "regime change" against Trump and the American voters, it has been LaRouchePAC (LPAC) and its networks which have provided the explanation of "why" it was launched. LPAC's Special Report, "Robert Mueller is an Amoral Legal Assassin", released on September 27, 2017, drew on the unique experience of the LaRouche organization in combating the British Empire, to get beyond the usual partisan explanations, for example, that it is revenge for his defeat of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. Such simplistic explanations may satisfy partisan sensitivities, but offer no competent battle plan to defeat the anti-Trump coup.
For example, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes correctly identified the Steele dossier, in a May 16 interview, as the leading edge of the investigation. Steele's charges have now been thoroughly discredited, he said—as a result, "we have yet to see any credible evidence or intelligence that led to the opening of this investigation." He then asks, "If they never had any evidence of colluding with the Russians, you have to ask yourself, why did they open this investigation?" While Nunes and a few colleagues have done a commendable job in following the trail of the operation back to Steele and the corrupt networks centered around Brennan, Clapper, former FBI Director Comey and others in intelligence and the Justice Department, they are still missing the big picture.
Brennan and Clapper, like their British counterparts, are driven by an hysterical fear that Donald Trump's pledge to work together, in collaboration especially with Russia's Putin, would put an end to the geopolitical paradigm of war and confrontation on which the post-Cold War order has been constructed, and on which their careers have been based. They and their neocon allies believe in the doctrine of unilateralism, that the financial and military elite of the Trans-Atlantic world alone have the right to dictate policy, to launch wars and coups against governments which do not fall in line. The emergence of China, with its Belt and Road Initiative, in alliance with a sovereign Russia, is seen by the likes of Brennan and Clapper as an existential threat to their existence.
Take, for example, a speech given by Trump in Washington, D.C., on April 27, 2016—precisely when Brennan first began pulling together his anti-Trump task force. He said, "I believe an easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia—from a position of strength only—is possible, absolutely possible." Trump's assertion that collaboration with Putin is possible is a direct attack on Brennan's approach at the CIA, which is based on his view that Russia is engaged in an ongoing campaign to subvert America and its allies, in which Russia acts as a "malign actor" in the world.
Two examples make this clear. In April 2014, Brennan flew into Kiev, Ukraine, shortly after a violent regime change coup overthrew the democratically elected president, Yanukovic. This coup had the full support of U.S. operatives, from neocons at the State Department—for example Victoria Nuland—and NGOs, to the CIA. What was Brennan doing in Kiev? It is believed that he was meeting with Ukrainian security officials, prominent among whom were neo-Nazi militia leaders, to coordinate an assault against ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, including training of the military and providing weapons. It was Putin's actions in support of those in the east facing deadly attacks from the coup regime which, for Putin haters like Brennan, confirmed the need for NATO's eastward expansion, as well as sanctions against Russia.
Trump, during his campaign, spoke out against Obama's expansion of NATO to Russia's borders, and against providing weapons to the Poroshenko government.
Clapper, for his part, expressed his views during a 2017 trip to Australia, that the U.S. could never work with Russia. He insisted that, whatever Trump's intentions, the U.S. and Russia could never be allies, because Russia is "opposed to our democracy and values, and sees us, particularly the United States, as the cause of all their problems and frustrations." He told the Canberra Press Club that there are "irreconcilable differences" between the two nations, asserting it is in Russia's "genes to be opposed, diametrically opposed, to the United States and western democracies."
A second example is Brennan's support for arming and training jihadists in Syria to overthrow the Assad government. During a March 2016 trip to Moscow, as Russian support for Assad had turned the tide against Brennan's "rebels," he demanded that Russia drop its backing of Assad. At the height of the battle of Aleppo, in December 2016, Brennan defended the terrorists, calling them "oppositionists", who were only "trying to reclaim their country" from Assad.
Again, this put him at odds with Trump, who campaigned for collaborating with the Russians to crush the ISIS-Al Qaeda forces, and then getting U.S. forces out of Syria and disengaging with the "rebels.".
The Russiagate attacks on Trump have, in many ways, constrained him from making a full break with the geopolitical doctrines of the British-Obama imperial establishment. In this context, Rand Paul's questions of the new CIA director serve a real purpose. Haspel presented herself before the Senate as a hard-liner against Russia. She testified that she argued for a forceful response against Russia in the fraudulent Skripal affair, advising Trump to make a strong demonstration against Russia, and to stand with the British. The U.S. subsequently joined with U.K. and French forces in launching missile strikes against Syria.
Given that Trump knows that John Brennan is one of the primary "colluders" against his presidency, one would hope that he would not only appreciate Senator Paul's intervention, but move ahead with his plans to meet with Putin, while taking actions to put an end, once and for all, to the British-directed coup against his administration.