‘Bombshell’ alleging Trump oppo against Iran ‘deal’ supporters looks like Fusion GPS work – and maybe a Soros-backed vendetta

‘Bombshell’ alleging Trump oppo against Iran ‘deal’ supporters looks like Fusion GPS work – and maybe a Soros-backed vendetta
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The Guardian alleged in an article in its Observer magazine, on 5 May, that the “Trump camp” contracted in May 2017 with an Israeli intelligence company to “orchestrate a ‘dirty ops’ campaign against key individuals from the Obama administration who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal.”

The individuals in question are alleged to be Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl.  Rhodes is a familiar name to LU readers; Kahl was a national security adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden, and a senior official in the Defense Department from 2009 to 2011.

The allegation here looks silly on its face, in part because the overheated language of the Observer article is inversely proportional to the solidity of its purported sourcing.  We are told that these are “extraordinary revelations” about “dirty ops” and “getting dirt,” with former UK officials quoted as calling them “extraordinary and appalling allegations” and “bloody outrageous,” while “dirty tricks” and “dirty tricks campaign” are repeated in conjunction with the characterization of Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu (because of course) as having a “high level of desperation.”

Take a moment on your fainting couch to recover.  Ready to go again?  Here, verbatim, is the source information the article provides:

Sources said that officials linked to Trump’s team contacted investigators days after Trump visited Tel Aviv a year ago…

A source with details of the “dirty tricks campaign” said…

According to incendiary documents seen by the Observer

Although sources have confirmed that contact and an initial plan of attack was provided to private investigators by representatives of Trump, it is not clear how much work was actually undertaken, for how long or what became of any material unearthed.

At least the Washington Post bothers to cite the number of its sources, if nothing else, to give its most explosive claims an aura of credibility.  (It usually includes some characterization like “current and/or former intelligence/security/government official(s)” as well.)

If you read the Observer article closely, it’s pretty light on the vague references to “sources.”  For the most part, it’s just weaving together a story by deploying a few allusions to sources, and fleshing the narrative out with a lot of unsourced assertions, and information that may seem to corroborate the narrative, but isn’t demonstrably related to this story per se.

This is the opposite of both “journalism” and “analysis” (the latter of which avoids presenting conclusions, opinion, and speculation as if they are assertions of empirical fact).

But it’s a hallmark of the Fusion GPS oeuvre, of which we have seen plenty over the last year and a half.

A weak narrative: Insinuated into being, and flatly denied by the principal

There are more ways, however, to impugn the new allegation about the “Trump camp” and its supposed oppo on Rhodes and Kahl.  We can start by observing that there is manifestly no need for such oppo, nor is there the slightest indication that anyone in the Trump administration might rely on it.  Trump and his officials are making policy cases against the Iran “deal.”  They haven’t shown any disposition to underhandedly defame the Obama officials who pushed it.

But it would also be downright hilarious of anyone who ever supported the Obama administration to object to the methods suggested by the Observer, given the Obama administration’s penchant for using the surveillance tools of the U.S. federal government to spy on Congress, journalists, and political opponents – oh by the way, to impugn their positions in 2015 on the Iran “deal.”

At least the taxpayer wasn’t on the hook this time – if, that is, there is any substance to this essentially unsourced Guardian report.

We could also mention the numerous allegations during the Clinton years that the Clintons used private intelligence firms to snoop on, and even harass, whistleblowers and other makers of inconvenient accusations.

The indignation torch is looking a bit dim and smoky about this sort of thing by now.

But there’s also the point that the original Observer article doesn’t name the Israeli intelligence firm alleged to be involved.  Nevertheless, within hours (moments?), other reports were emerging to name the company Black Cube.  This is a classic Fusion GPS tactic, if you’ve been watching them at work: planting different details with several news outlets, and creating the impression of a crescendo of investigative journalism.  (Lee Smith’s article about Fusion from December is canonical on this.)

Black Cube has categorically denied this alleged connection.  Black Cube asserts that it never discusses its clients with a third party, but it also provided this statement, quoted by the Washington Examiner, after the Guardian article came out:

Black Cube has no relation whatsoever to the Trump administration, to Trump aides, to anyone close to the administration, or to the Iran Nuclear deal. Anyone who claims otherwise is misleading their readers and viewers.

It is thus interesting to compare Black Cube’s response in this case with its behavior during other cases of its contracted work.

As the Washington Examiner mentions, Black Cube is the firm hired by Harvey Weinstein in 2017 to probe the backgrounds of his accusers in the #MeToo scandal.  Black Cube never discussed in public its work for Weinstein, but it ended up thinking better of having taken the job, and issued an apology to “whoever was hurt” by it.  In other words, Black Cube acknowledged what was true: that it had taken a contract.

The Wikipedia entry linked above reads rather like a PR package for Black Cube, and indicates the company isn’t shy about touting its successes when they have attracted notice in media coverage.  Black Cube has a record of publicly acknowledging its involvement, presumably consistent with its promises to clients of confidentiality about the nature and terms of the work.

Similarly, Black Cube has denied its involvement in other cases, in the same categorical terms used to reject the allegation about working for Trump.  That pattern appears to the public eye to be consistent.

Black Cube: Over-accused and under fire?

Regarding denials, it’s interesting to look at a particular case that occurred very recently.  Search engine results on “Black Cube” still bring up Hungarian and other reporting on an allegation from April 2018 that “a private Israeli security company with alleged ties to Mossad” had been conducting “an operation targeting civil organizations and individuals critical of the Orbán government.”  Apparently, the original Hungarian article linked from the Budapest Beacon contained references to Black Cube.

But now, the Hungarian article has the notice “Black Cube is removed” at the bottom, followed by a somewhat elliptical explanation.

That explanation is illuminated for English-speakers by this one, provided at the end of a Robert Mackey article on the same topic at The Intercept, which apparently named Black Cube in its original version as well (punctuation from The Intercept):

Update: April 8, 2018, 5:44 p.m.
This article was revised after publication to report that the Israeli private intelligence firm Black Cube had denied playing any role in the spying on Hungarian aid workers, and that the investigative journalist Andras Dezso had removed all references to Black Cube from the article he published last week in Index.hu.

The Budapest Beacon, meanwhile, while not citing the name “Black Cube,” linked pointedly to an article about Harvey Weinstein and Black Cube in its discussion of who was doing what in the Hungarian drama:

While it is not known who engaged which Israeli company (individuals and companies can engage companies that employ former Israeli intelligence officers), the operation is reportedly targeting civil society organizations singled out by the Hungarian government, including Migration Aid, the Open Society Foundations, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, and the Civil Liberties Union for Europe.

A noteworthy point in this Hungarian case is that the “targeted” organizations read like a Soros parade of usual suspects.  Soros-linked entities, in other words, are said to have been the targets.

Moreover, the Intercept article goes on at length about a connection between the supposed Israeli intelligence firm and Cambridge Analytica, the big-data company contracted for the Trump campaign to do what the Obama and Romney campaigns had done in 2012: gather, sort, and qualify voter information available from social media (and other sources) to better target voting constituencies.

The mainstream media have seemed to succeed in vilifying Cambridge Analytica, to the point that the company was disbanded last week (although it actually reincorporated under a new name).  The whole Cambridge Analytica kerfuffle was a media and Democratic exercise in the rankest hypocrisy, given that the company did no more than what the contractors for Obama and Romney did in 2012 (and reportedly, in some ways, did less, in terms of being given special – unequal – data access by Facebook).

But the point here is that the mainstream media narrative has Cambridge Analytica being thoroughly discredited and turned into a cartoon villain now.  So associating another company with Cambridge Analytica can only blacken the name of that company.

Thus, the attempt to link Black Cube with both Cambridge Analytica and an alleged “dirty ops” contract with Trump (Black Cube denies both allegations) has the aspect of a multi-purpose pile-on, targeting not just Trump, but Black Cube.

If there was a prior attempt to link Black Cube to alleged “dirty ops” against Soros interests in Hungary (and there seems to have been), the central vengeance-figure in this pile-on looks like George Soros.*

Bolstering that appearance is another Black Cube operation in Romania, reportedly done to discredit corruption prosecutor Laura Corduta Kovesi.  Black Cube doesn’t deny this one, and in fact ran afoul of the Romanian courts in the course of it.

Kovesi assuredly has plenty of corruption to prosecute, much of it mapping to Russians.  But she is also reportedly an official operating in the orbit of Soros-linked Romanian politicians (see the entire series here), whose activities Soros backs, and got the Obama State Department to back, to the extent of arguably interfering in the Romanian election in 2012.  (You can read the material at the last link/series and make up your own mind on what’s going on there.  There is no dispute that Soros, the Obama State Department, and Russian influences were all involved; the construction put on them is what is political.)

There’s more than a whiff here of Soros and Russia shadow-boxing each other in Eastern Europe.  The same whiff has been present before, with the curious prominence of places like Estonia, and Prague, Czech Republic, in the allegations about “intelligence” impugning Trump.  All things being equal, we wouldn’t expect an anti-Trump narrative to have quite as much of a tether to locations that have little if any relation to Trump – but are significant as George Soros’ stomping grounds, and Russian security sensitivities.

Time to cut the cord on this

Americans, in any case, can be excused for getting pretty sick of it.  If our domestic politics have been dragged by a political dossier and some carefully placed media themes into a feud between Soros (along with other like-minded dark-money moguls) and Russia, it’s time for that to stop.  For one thing, Russia is enough trouble without having the perception of it distorted through Soros’ lens.  All that does is pollute our national policy dialogue.

For another, real people in America are being hurt by the propagation of these manufactured allegations.  Pumping the media bellows on the Steele dossier has been putting dozens of Americans through legal hell, entirely without any actual underlying crime being uncovered.  It has also paralyzed and transfixed our national politics for more than a year.

The new “dirty ops” theme clearly is intended to keep that going.  The Observer article warns suggestively:

Although sources have confirmed that contact and an initial plan of attack was provided to private investigators by representatives of Trump, it is not clear how much work was actually undertaken, for how long or what became of any material unearthed.

Neither is it known if the black ops constituted only a strand of a wider Trump-Netanyahu collaboration to undermine the deal or if investigators targeted other individuals such as John Kerry, the lead American signatory to the deal.

In other words: Attn: Robert Mueller.  Investigate, investigate, investigate!

This is beyond ridiculous.  It’s time for it to stop.


* The Intercept itself, incidentally, is not a Soros-backed organization (or at least not directly), but rather is backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.  The extremely Soros-friendly tone of Mackey’s piece, however, is characteristic of the site’s attitude toward the billionaire investor.  Omidyar is known to be a vocal opponent of Trump, and to be putting millions into anti-Trump “journalism” and messaging.

Omidyar is also a major contributor, along with Soros’ Open Society Foundation, to the Poynter Institute, one of the key instigators behind the manufactured “fake news” narrative, and a critical node in the coordination of left-wing media narratives in general.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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