House Intelligence Committee subpoenas DOJ, FBI for dossier documents

The Washington Post reports: The House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed records from the Justice Department and the FBI pertaining to a salacious but unverified dossier over objections from the committee’s minority members, the panel’s ranking Democrat said Tuesday.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) confirmed the details of the subpoenas, initially reported in the Washington Examiner, during an appearance Tuesday evening on MSNBC. But he also complained that the subpoenas were “uncalled for,” accusing Republicans of attempting to “discredit” the author of the dossier “rather than looking into how many of the allegations he wrote about were true.”

“What we should be most concerned about is whether those sources of the information in the report are true, not in discrediting the author of that report,” Schiff said. [Continue reading…]

John Sipher, former member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service, writes: I spent almost thirty years producing what CIA calls “raw reporting” from human agents. At heart, this is what Orbis did [when compiling what has come to be known as the Steele dossier]. They were not producing finished analysis, but were passing on to a client distilled reporting that they had obtained in response to specific questions. The difference is crucial, for it is the one that American journalists routinely fail to understand. When disseminating a raw intelligence report, an intelligence agency is not vouching for the accuracy of the information provided by the report’s sources and/or subsources. Rather it is claiming that it has made strenuous efforts to validate that it is reporting accurately what the sources/subsources claim has happened. The onus for sorting out the veracity and for putting the reporting in context against other reporting – which may confirm or deny the new report – rests with the intelligence community’s professional analytic cadre. In the case of the dossier, Orbis was not saying that everything that it reported was accurate, but that it had made a good-faith effort to pass along faithfully what its identified insiders said was accurate. This is routine in the intelligence business. And this form of reporting is often a critical product in putting together more final intelligence assessments.

In this sense, the so-called Steele dossier is not a dossier at all. A dossier suggests a summary or case history. Mr. Steele’s product is not a report delivered with a bow at the end of an investigation. Instead, it is a series of contemporaneous raw reports that do not have the benefit of hindsight. Among the unnamed sources are “a senior Russian foreign ministry official,” “a former top-level intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin,” and “a close associate of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump.” Thus, the reports are not an attempt to connect the dots, but instead an effort to uncover new and potentially relevant dots in the first place. [Continue reading…]

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