Turning Trump: Our Muscovian President

Following up on my posts nearly a year ago about The Muscovian Candidate, here are my recent “musings” on the possibility that Donald Trump is one of the “active measures,” активные мероприятия, cultivated by Russian intelligence agents to subvert US government policy. Much of the information about how Trump has been “played” or, if you prefer, “worked” by Russian agents since the 1980s has been gleaned from Luke Harding’s Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. Harding digs up a lot of evidence that supports the dossier on Donald Trump compiled by former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele.

If you don’t read Collusion, you might want to catch Terry Gross’ NPR interview with Harding: https://www.npr.org/2017/11/21/565654507/journalist-investigating-trump-and-russia-says-full-picture-is-one-of-collusion.

The Steele dossier is here: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3259984/Trump-Intelligence-Allegations.pdf

Доверительная связь

Vladimir Kryuchkov.jpg

Vladimir Kryuchkov

Gen. Vladimir Alexandrovich Kryuchkov was head of foreign-intelligence gathering (1974-1988) and then under Mikhail Gorbachev, KGB chairman (1988–1991). Kryuchkov is credited with expanding Soviet foreign intelligence and bringing greater professionalism to Russian spycraft. He called for better use of special, unofficial and confidential contacts. “These should be acquired chiefly among prominent figures in politics and society, and important representatives of business and science.” These “special, unofficial and confidential contacts,” Доверительная связь, should supply valuable information but also “actively influence” their country’s foreign policy “in a direction of advantage to the USSR.”

Espionage depends on various levels of recruitment: Intelligence-gathering involves not only “agents” but also contacts who can be groomed to provide increasingly more valuable types of information. Over time, the ideal candidates can be cultivated to use their status to move information in the other direction, actively influencing opinion and policy in their own country that is favorable to Russia.

In 1984, Kryuchkov was concerned that, in spite of having expanded the cadre of foreign-intelligence agents four-fold to 12,000, the KGB was having little success in the US. He issued a series of classified memos suggesting creative ways to improve recruitment of “prominent figures in the West” who might be drawn “into some form of collaboration with us, as an agent, or confidential, special or unofficial contact.” He urged wider use of friendly (and more disciplined) intelligence services, like the Czech StBStátní bezpečnost, and East German Stasi, Staatssicherheitsdienst.

Kryuchkov developed a secret personality profile listing qualities case officers should look for: What was the likelihood that the “subject would come to power (occupy the post of president or prime minister)?” “Are pride, arrogance, egoism, ambition or vanity among subject’s natural characteristics?” “Compromising information about subject, including illegal acts in financial and commercial affairs, intrigues, speculation, bribes, graft…and exploitation of his position to enrich himself’” and any other information that would compromise the subject in his country.

Do these character traits seem familiar?

Donald Trump first came to the attention of Soviet agents in the late 1970s when he dated, then married Ivana Marie Zelníčková, a smart, good-looking, 28-year-old Czech skier and model. The StB had been keeping an eye on Ivana since as a teenager she left Zlin, her hometown in Moravia, with her ski instructor, George Syrovatka, with whom she was living when Trump met her in Montreal. In the early ’70s, Syrovatka had arranged Ivana’s marriage to Austrian real estate agent Alfred Winklemayr so she could get a Western passport to leave her homeland.

By the mid-’80s Trump was a sufficiently promising object of study to warrant an all-expenses-paid trip to Moscow arranged by Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin ostensibly to explore a joint hotel venture.

The Muscovian Candidate

“When truth is gone, nothing is stable, and no one is safe.”
For several weeks, I’ve been toying with the notion of a wealthy international real estate tycoon coming under the influence of, say, a beautiful eastern-European model, whom he marries. She becomes integral to the magnate’s empire, an expert in the operations of his business…& his mind. As both a child of Stalinist Soviet society and a fashion model, she is familiar with manipulation of appearances and other stimuli to produce a programmed response. She teaches the tycoon well, & he rises to the highest levels of prominence in the land. After they divorce, she remains a trusted, invisible power behind the throne….

Then, recently, I came across this “Slate” article which explores “the psychology of the nationalized lie.” Here are a few excerpts:

“Trump shares several important traits with his ally Vladimir Putin—foremost among them, the deployment of outrageous lies as a political tool.”

“When falsehood invades the highest offices in the land, it forces the population into a surreal doubleness where there are two sets of memories, two account books, two realities that must be contended with. This chokes those who want to operate through a legal framework, according to the rules, since the rules now apply to a fantasy; a complicated strategic triangulation is always necessary to produce a real result. Opponents have to struggle continually with cognitive dissonance.”

“A regime can work a population so that they don’t object to even the most bald-faced lie. There is no safety in numbers, even vast numbers, if no one speaks up.”

“This gives some idea of the costs that can be incurred when truth is inundated by falsehood. The parallels are useful both for understanding the psychology of the nationalized lie and for glimpsing a worst-case scenario. But the worst-case scenario is exactly that, as we should remember before plunging ourselves into sensationalist panic. Trump seems most interested in kleptocratic plundering, a model of misgovernment very different than the mass murder of Stalinism. On the other hand, it’s hard to precisely calibrate an appropriate sense of disaster when the president-elect’s campaign promises (soft truths, to be sure) include locking up and inciting violence against his opponents, and rounding up and deporting millions of Americans based on national origin or religion. In the barrage of untruths, no one can tell which whoppers Trump plans to make good on. His unreliability is for this reason seen as a plus by his most humane followers, who tell themselves he has lied about the bad parts. It is also one of the things that destabilizes resistance to him—either by the left or the right.”

The mainstream media and a sizable chunk of the general populace have been sucked in by Mr. Trump mind-fucking techniques. I’m glad, finally, to see some analysis of the psycho-social aspects of the Trump phenomenon.

Donald Trump shares several important traits with his ally Vladimir Putin—foremost among them, the deployment of outrageous lies as a political tool. P …
SLATE.COM
Caitlin Gibson has done a Washington Post piece about Trump’s “Gaslighting”: a deliberate attempt to deceive someone into questioning their own perception of reality, i.e., mind-fucking.
The Post’s Michael Kranish & Marc Fisher have published Trump Revealed: The Definitive Biography of the 45th President. Kranish did an insightful Trump’s backgrounder, “A fierce will to win pushed Donald Trump to the top” & “Trump says he has ‘nothing to do with Russia.’ The past 30 years show otherwise.” Another Post article examines Trump’s various Russian connections in more detail: Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin.
On the advice of my financial advisor, with whom I raised an eyebrow about The Donald’s East European entanglements, I am reading Bill Browder’s Red Notice, which promises to detail how Putin and a few dozen oligarchs control Russia. Browder ran a very successful hedge fund that prospered by investing in the privatization of former Soviet economies. I’m hoping for insight into how Trump may have dealt with that system. Perhaps his tax returns, which rumor says will soon be (Wiki?)leaked, will have clues.

Jon Stewart does it again!

Following up on comments about Secretary of State John Kerry’s “hypotheticals”:

John Stewart and I must have been on the same wavelength:

Kerry-Magoo-Stewart

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-september-10-2013/middle-eastern-promises—blue-bombs

I’m not sure I buy the bungling Mr. Magoo caricaturization of Kerry. I like my fly-fishing image. Putin has confirmed that, as both Kerry and President Obama have suggested, Obama and Putin discussed Syria’s handing over its chemical weapons to avoid attack during the G20 summit last week at St. Petersburg. Kerry’s tossing the notion out at a London news conference Tuesday morning seemed like the skillful cast of a carefully-tied attractor pattern:

“Is there anything at this point that [Assad’s] government could do or offer that would stop an attack?” Kerry was asked, apparently by a reporter.

Sure. He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow a full and total accounting for that. But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done.

Sounds like a nice, concise statement of an acceptable alternative to an act of war. Almost immediately, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov rose to the bait, followed shortly later by Syria’s foreign minister and an assent from Iran. That’s some pretty fine fishing in my opinion. What the catch looks like and who lands it (to distort the metaphor somewhat) may be another matter. But do we really care if the Russians work out the details of ridding Syria of those weapons so long as it gets done? In the meantime, the president and Congress can get back to trying to run this country.

 

 

Snowden, Through the Eyes of a Spy Novelist

For a look at Edward Joseph Snowden’s predicament through the eyes of spy novelist Alex Berenson, check out his guest-op in the New York Times: “Snowden, through the Eyes of a Spy Novelist”

I mention Snowden’s middle name, because it has come out that the extradition papers the US filed with HK misidentified him as Edward James Snowden, which was proper grounds for refusing the request, thus enabling Snowden’s escape. Hmmm, they’re going after this guy for telling the world how the US government is violating its constitution and who knows how many other nations’ laws; and they can’t even get the extradition request right.

Spy-novelist Berenson suggests what would have been the adult response to the Snowden affair:

We have treated a whistle-blower like a traitor — and thus made him a traitor. Great job. Did anyone in the White House or the N.S.A or the C.I.A. consider flying to Hong Kong and treating Mr. Snowden like a human being, offering him a chance to testify before Congress and a fair trial? Maybe he would have gone with President Vladimir V. Putin anyway, but at least he would have had another option. The secret keepers would have won too: a Congressional hearing would have been a small price to bring Mr. Snowden and those precious hard drives back to American soil.

Alas, truth is stranger than fiction—and often much less satisfying in the end; it’s beginning to appear that Mr. Snowden may be stuck in something closely approaching modern purgatory—the “transit area” of a 21st century Russian airport, or any airport, for that matter. We have it on no less an authority than Russia’s Alpha Male and former Chief Spook, Vladimir Putin, that Snowden is holed up “in the transit hall as a transit passenger.”

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Putin said Russia would not extradite Snowden to the US with whom Russia has no extradition treaty. He called US accusations against Russia “ravings and rubbish.” Putin, in so many words, wished Snowden godspeed: “Mr. Snowden is a free man. [Only a Russian czar could view Snowden’s being “free”—ever again.] The sooner he chooses his final destination the better it would be for us and for himself.”

Snowden may be there a long while according to extradition lawer Douglas McNabb, who conducted an online Q&A at the London Guardian website in which I participated on Wednesday afternoon. Shortly before McNabb went online, we learned that Ecuador had not issued refugee documents for Snowden as had widely been reported since he left HK.

“If he had the document he would be free to travel assuming the airline accepted it as a valid travel document, which most do,” McNabb said. “It is now being reported that Ecuador has not issued refugee travel documents for Snowden. If accurate, Snowden may be pulling an Assange but at a transit area in the airport with a hotel.”

McNabb noted that the US Supreme Court has ruled that even while breaking local laws federal agents may kidnap someone in another country and bring him back to stand trial in the US. The kidnapping is not grounds for having the charges dismissed.