Within today’s reporting from the New York Times and NBC, a key aspect is how CIA analysts are worried about explaining and/or justifying the 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA). As such it is well worth remembering information about John Durham’s originating focus from June, 2019:
Against the backdrop of the DOJ admitting FBI investigators never had access to the DNC servers to verify a Russian hack; and with new information about the FBI receiving partial and redacted analysis from Crowdstrike; the review by U.S. Attorney John Durham toward the downstream assessment/claims of the CIA takes on new meaning.
CTH has previously outlined how the December 29th, 2016, Joint Analysis Report (JAR) on Russia Cyber Activity was a quickly compiled bunch of nonsense about Russian hacking.
The JAR was followed a week later by the January 7th, 2017, Intelligence Community Assessment. The ICA took the ridiculous construct of the JAR and then overlaid a political narrative that Russia was trying to help Donald Trump.
The ICA was the brain-trust of John Brennan, James Clapper and James Comey. While the majority of content was from the CIA, some of the content within the ICA was written by FBI Agent Peter Strzok who held a unique “insurance policy” interest in how the report could be utilized in 2017. NSA Director Mike Rogers would not sign up to the “high confidence” claims, likely because he saw through the political motives of the report.
(JUNE 2019 – New York Times) […] Mr. Barr wants to know more about the C.I.A. sources who helped inform its understanding of the details of the Russian interference campaign, an official has said. He also wants to better understand the intelligence that flowed from the C.I.A. to the F.B.I. in the summer of 2016.
During the final weeks of the Obama administration, the intelligence community released a declassified assessment that concluded that Mr. Putin ordered an influence campaign that “aspired to help” Mr. Trump’s electoral chances by damaging Mrs. Clinton’s. The C.I.A. and the F.B.I. reported they had high confidence in the conclusion. The National Security Agency, which conducts electronic surveillance, had a moderate degree of confidence. (read more)
Questioning the construct of the ICA is a smart direction to take for a review or investigation. By looking at the intelligence community work-product, it’s likely Durham will cut through a lot of the chatter and get to the heart of the intelligence motives.
Apparently John Durham is looking into just this aspect: Was the ICA document a politically engineered report stemming from within a corrupt intelligence network?
The importance of that question is rather large. All of the downstream claims about Russian activity, including the Russian indictments promoted by Rosenstein and the Mueller team, are centered around origination claims of illicit Russian activity outlined in the ICA.
If the ICA is a false political document…. then guess what?
Information available as of 29 December 2016 was used in the preparation of this product.
Scope: This report includes an analytic assessment drafted and coordinated among The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and The National Security Agency (NSA), which draws on intelligence information collected and disseminated by those three agencies. It covers the motivation and scope of Moscow’s intentions regarding US elections and Moscow’s use of cyber tools and media campaigns to influence US public opinion. The assessment focuses on activities aimed at the 2016 US presidential election and draws on our understanding of previous Russian influence operations. When we use the term “we” it refers to an assessment by all three agencies.