Monthly Archives: February 2018

Gerry Adams – An Assessment

This was my take on Gerry Adams retirement from the Sinn Fein leadership. It was published in The Daily Mail last Saturday but because the paper does not have a website was not picked up. Hope you can read it. If not, here are links to the pdf versions: eLib_5522931 and eLib_5522921.

 

Trump’s America (continued)

February 13, 2018
By Joe Kloc

Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary, was accused by his first wife of being “physically abusive” during their marriage and was accused by his second wife of pulling her out of a shower and calling her a “fucking bitch” on their honeymoon. “A man of true integrity,” said the chief of staff, hours before a reporter published photos of Porter’s first wife with a black eye. US president Donald Trump, who once said it “doesn’t matter” what journalists write about him if he has a “piece of ass” that is “young,” blamed the press coverage of the abuse allegations on the White House communications director, whom Trump has reportedly called a “piece of tail” and asked to steam a pair of pants he was wearing. Porter submitted his resignation, the press secretary said Porter was not “pressured” to resign, the chief of staff reportedly told White House employees that he fired Porter “forty minutes” after he learned of the allegations, and it was reported that the chief of staff was informed of the abuse by the FBI months earlier. The press secretary said the White House didn’t act on the accusation because the FBI’s investigation into Porter was still “ongoing,” and the FBI director testified to Congress that the agency had submitted to the White House a “partial report” in March, a “completed background investigation” in July, and a “follow-up” in November. The press secretary told reporters that “every day” the White House “can learn from the day before,” and a speechwriter for Trump resigned after he was accused of grabbing his wife by the hair, throwing her into a wall, putting a cigarette out on her hand, and driving a car over her foot. “Is there no such thing any longer as due process?” tweeted Trump, whose former Kentucky campaign manager and Oklahoma campaign chair were each convicted of child sex trafficking, who was himself accused in a divorce filing of pulling his first wife’s hair out and raping her because he was upset about a painful scalp surgery performed to conceal his hair loss, and who has refused to apologize for calling for the execution of five black and Latino teenagers wrongly convicted of rape.

Competition Time Folks – Put Words In Alex Maskey’s Mouth……

The prize is the usual: A life-time subscription to thebrokenelbow.com. Whoever chooses the best thought going through Alex Maskey’s head in this photo taken at Stormont yesterday wins!

Stormont Redux – A Day After The Big Lad Bows Out, What A Coincidence!

Gerry Adams stands down, Mary Lou replaces him, a new dawn is upon us and suddenly talks at Stormont make a breakthrough and it looks like they’ll all be tucking into dinner in their subsidised canteen before you can whisper ‘ceasefire’.

You know, a cynic might suspect that the whole thing, at least the long drawn out attempt to breathe life back into the Stormont arrangement, was staged or timed so that the breakthrough would happen just when Sinn Fein want to present a new, Adams-free image to the electorate down South, one that would enable Leo to start cuddling up to Mary Lou.

But that’s what a cynic would think. And as readers of my blog well know, I am no cynic……

Two IRA Prisoners, Including Cellmate, Confirmed O’Rawe Version Of Morrison Maze Visit

Eamonn McCann has emailed from Derry to remind me of an article he wrote in The Belfast Telegraph in March 2008 describing how two IRA prisoners, one of them Richard O’Rawe’s cellmate, confirmed to him O’Rawe’s version of the conversation he says he had with Brendan McFarlane, OC of the IRA in the Maze prison, in the wake of Danny Morrison’s July 5th, 1981 visit to him in the jail to outline a British offer to settle the 1981 hunger strike.

Danny Morrison, pictured around the time of the hunger strikes

O’Rawe was PRO of the IRA prisoners and in the version of events told by him, McFarlane consulted him in that capacity after he had spoken to Danny Morrison, who had been specially allowed into the Maze prison by the British authorities so he could explain an offer to concede most of the prisoners’ five demands and end a protest which at that stage had claimed the lives of four prisoners.

The Provisional leadership now deny that such a visit took place or that a British offer was communicated to the prisoners and accepted.

Brendan McFarlane, pictured in 1986 during a court appearance in Amsterdam following his escape from Long Kesh

The effort to end the hunger strike was the culmination of secret diplomacy between Derry businessman, Brendan Duddy and the British government, including MI6 officer, Michael Oatley.

A further six men would die when the offer was rejected by, O’Rawe says, the outside leadership, despite both he and McFarlane advocating that it be accepted.

The question of whether Morrison ever visited McFarlane and if so what was said has re-emerged as a controversy following Vincent Browne’s recent two-part profile of Gerry Adams for TV3 in Ireland, which claimed that the visit could not have happened because the British offer was not transmitted until late the following evening, Monday, July 6th.

Richard O’Rawe

Browne cited an entry in Duddy’s diary in support of his claim that Morrison’s visit could not have happened because the British had not yet made an offer at the time that O’Rawe says it was passed on to the prisoners by Morrison. The diary was lodged at Galway University following Duddy’s death.

A fifth prisoner, Joe McDonnell died the following day.

In his account of his exchange with Brendan McFarlane, Richard O’Rawe said they were in separate cells and so to ensure the prison warders could not understand them they spoke in Irish:

“I said, ‘Ta go leor ann’ — there’s enough there.

“He said, ‘Aontaim leat, scriobhfaidh me chun taoibh amuigh agus cuirfidh me fhois orthu’ — I agree with you, I will write to the outside and let them know.”

In his Belfast Telegraph article, Eamon McCann cites two prisoners, one on the same wing as O’Rawe and the other O’Rawe’s cellmate as confirming O’Rawe’s version of events. He reported the cellmate, who is not named, as saying:

“Richard isn’t a liar. He told the truth in his book. I heard what passed between Richard and Bik (McFarlane). I remember Richard saying, ‘Ta go leor ann,’ and the reply, ‘Aontaim leat.’ There’s just no question that that happened.”

Eamonn McCann

In his email to thebrokenelbow.com, McCann added:

On the afternoon of the day this was published, two Provo bigwigs, including DM, arrived at the home of the man who had shared a cell with RO’R. Following the visit, the man made a statement to the BelTel saying that there had been no skullduggery on the Provo side, that Thatcher was to blame for the hunger strike deaths etc. He didn’t identify anything in my piece as wrong.

New light has been shed on reported republican reaction to a British offer which might have ended the 1981 hunger strike after four deaths. Ten men were to die before the strike ended.

Evidence which has now become available helps clarify a dispute sparked three years ago by the assertion of former IRA prisoner Richard O’Rawe that terms for ending the strike, accepted by the prisoners’ leadership in the Maze/Long Kesh, were rejected by IRA commanders outside. The implication is that the lives of six of the hunger strikers might have been saved if the prisoners hadn’t been overruled.

O’Rawe’s account was contained in his book, Blanketmen, published in February 2005. He had been IRA press officer in the H Blocks in 1981.

The Blanketmen version was angrily denounced by leading republicans, including IRA commander in the prison at the time, Brendan McFarlane, senior Sinn Fein strategist Jim Gibney and former Sinn Fein press officer Danny Morrison.

The bitterness of the disagreement was intensified by O’Rawe’s suggestion that the reason IRA leaders rejected the deal was that they’d calculated that republican candidate Owen Carron would have a better chance of retaining Fermanagh-South Tyrone in a by-election if the hunger strike was ongoing on polling day, August 20: in other words, that IRA chiefs, for the sake of electoral advantage, allowed a further six hunger-strikers needlessly to die. The by-election had resulted from the death of Bobby Sands, on May 6, 66 days after he’d launched the hunger strike, a month after he’d been elected a Westminster MP. A second hunger striker, Francis Hughes, died on May 12.

INLA man Patsy O’Hara and Raymond McCreesh died on May 21. Seven weeks then passed before another hunger striker succumbed.

During this period, negotiations being conducted through the Derry man known as ‘the Mountain Climber’ were stepped up.

O’Rawe’s allegation is that an offer from the Foreign Office, conveyed to McFarlane on July 5, two days before the fifth hunger-striker, Joe McDonnell, was to die, conceded three of the prisoners’ five demands and effectively conceded a fourth.

He says that McFarlane pushed a document containing these proposals along a pipe to his cell.

He maintains that it offered that prisoners could wear their own clothes, have remission restored and enjoy more visits and letters — three of the five demands — and that while prison work wouldn’t be eliminated, ‘work’ would be broadly defined so as to include educational and cultural activities. The one demand not covered was free association within the wings.

“It was a fantastic offer. I never expected it,” says O’Rawe. He recalls a shouted conversation between himself and McFarlane, two cells away.

“We spoke in Irish so the screws could not understand. I said, ‘Ta go leor ann’ — there’s enough there.

“He said, ‘Aontaim leat, scriobhfaidh me chun taoibh amuigh agus cuirfidh me fhois orthu’ — I agree with you, I will write to the outside and let them know.”

Despite this, he claims, word came in from outside that the proposals were unacceptable. Joe McDonnell died at 5am on July 7, and negotiations collapsed. McFarlane flatly denies that the exchange between the cells took place.

Jim Gibney wrote in the Irish News — it seemed to many a very strong point — that O’Rawe’s cellmate, who would certainly have been within earshot of the shouted conversation, had not heard any such “vital exchange”. Danny Morrison declared that: “After Richard’s release, he worked in the Republican Press Centre for a year and never mentioned the allegations he now makes.

“He has never explained why he only came up with the allegations 25 years after the events.”

In fact, a number of republicans, including former prisoners, have confirmed that O’Rawe did voice the allegations on more than one occasion before publication of his book.

One ex-prisoner who had been on the same wing as O’Rawe and McFarlane and who also claims to have heard the exchange says that, independently of O’Rawe, he broached the subject of the rejected deal with senior IRA figures during the 1990s. More importantly, the man who was sharing a cell with O’Rawe in July 1981 confirms O’Rawe’s account: “Richard isn’t a liar. He told the truth in his book. I heard what passed between Richard and Bik (McFarlane). I remember Richard saying, ‘Ta go leor ann,’ and the reply, ‘Aontaim leat.’ There’s just no question that that happened.”

O’Rawe’s account of the negotiations as seen from “inside” will not be contradicted by the account from a different perspective contained in the BBC programme to be transmitted tonight focusing on the role of the ‘Mountain Climber’, Brendan Duddy.

However, no independent evidence has emerged to support O’Rawe’s suggestion that the IRA leadership deliberately prolonged the hunger strike for political advantage for the movement outside. O’Rawe’s cell-mate does not believe that hunger strikers were allowed to die in order to maximise electoral support. The suspicions which still surround the events and which have damaged the republican leadership in the eyes of many former activists arise, it seems, not so much from O’Rawe’s narrative of what happened but from an adamant refusal on the part of the IRA leadership of the time to admit to serious and, in the end, fatal errors in their conduct of the hunger strike and from determined efforts to blacken O’Rawe’s name in an attempt to obscure the truth.

 

Gerry Adams: He Hasn’t Gone Away You Know!

I think people are being a little previous in assuming that because he has handed over the keys of the castle to Mary Lou, Gerry Adams will retire quietly to his hideaway in Donegal to prune trees.

He’s not that sort of guy. And when you’ve been living in  the spotlight for decades, it’s difficult to give it up. Human beings like the attention and it can become addictive. In Adams’ case there also that uncompleted journey thing, in his case a journey to recognition (of his achievement in ending the IRA) and for want of a better word, respectability.

I think he would have been happier retiring from the SF leadership having got his party into government in both parts of the island. But that ain’t going to happen now.

We don’t yet know whether Michael D will stand again but I do wonder if there is a contest that he will relish the idea of a long and tiring campaign. All of which add a certain piquancy to Mary Lou’s call yesterday at the special SF ard-fheis that crowned her queen, for a contest this year for the Irish presidency.

Could she mean Gerry Adams should stand? He would need to do a makeover on his image, of course, which might prove difficult, what with outstanding issues connected to the disappeared still unresolved and a Gardai investigation underway into the killing of Tom Oliver, which will focus not least on the identity of the IRA leader who turned down an appeal for clemency from the people who actually killed him.

On the bright side, possibly, Adams plans to sue the BBC in a Dublin court this autumn for libel over the killing of IRA double agent, Denis Donaldson. His lawyer is Paul Tweed, who apparently strikes fear wherever he steps. Should he win that case, the media will be a little more careful about linking him so clearly with the IRA during the hustings.

He might though be better advised waiting till the 2025 presidential election because by then it is possible that the Irish diaspora will have won the right to vote in Irish presidential elections. A referendum has been promised for this year and if successful could come into play in the election after the next. Irish-America could come out as one for Adams.

He will be well into his seventies by then but around the same age as Michael D is now.

If I am right then Gerry Adams most definitely will not go away.

Watch this space. Like the Skibbereen Eagle, this blog will continue to keep an eye on him!

Donald Trump And The Ex-MI6 Man

A lengthy but informative article in The Washington Post on the former MI6 spy whose research into Donald Trump’s Russian connections is now at the centre of the growing scandal surrounding the White House. Enjoy:

February 7, 2018 Wednesday
Suburban Edition
How a British ex-spy became a flash point in Russia probe

By Tom Hamburger;Rosalind S. Helderman

SECTION: A-SECTION; Pg. A01

LENGTH: 4252 words

Christopher Steele struggled to navigate political, public duties

In the fall of 2016, a little more than a month before Donald Trump was elected president, Christopher Steele had the undivided attention of the FBI.

For months, the British former spy had been working to alert the Americans to what he believed were disturbing ties Trump had to Russia. He had grown so worried about what he had learned from his Russia network about the Kremlin’s plans that he told colleagues it was like “sitting on a nuclear weapon.”

He was now being summoned to Rome, where he spent hours in a discreet location telling four American officials – some of whom had flown in from the United States – about his findings.

The Russians had damaging information about Trump’s personal behavior and finances that could be used to pressure the GOP nominee. What’s more, the Kremlin was now carrying out an operation with the Trump campaign’s help to tilt the U.S. election – a plot Steele had been told was ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

The FBI investigators treated Steele as a peer, a Russia expert so well-trusted that he had assisted the Justice Department on past cases and provided briefing material for British prime ministers and at least one U.S. president. During intense questioning that day in Rome, they alluded to some of their own findings of ties between Russia and the Trump campaign and raised the prospect of paying Steele to continue gathering intelligence after Election Day, according to people familiar with the discussion.

But Steele was not one of them. He had left the famed Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, seven years earlier and was now working on behalf of Fusion GPS, a private Washington research firm whose work at the time was funded by Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party.

The meeting in Rome captured the unusual and complicated role of Steele, who wrote memos that came to be known as the dossier and who has become the central point of contention in the political brawl raging around the Russia inquiry by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Those who believe Steele consider him a hero, a latter-day Paul Revere who, at personal risk, tried to provide an early warning about the Kremlin’s unprecedented meddling in a U.S. campaign. Those who distrust him say he is merely a hired gun leading a political attack on Trump.

Steele himself struggled to navigate dual obligations – to his private clients, who were paying him to help Clinton win, and to a sense of public duty born of his previous life.

Sir Andrew Wood, a British former diplomat and friend of Steele, said he urged him in the fall of 2016 to alert the authorities. “The right sort of people” needed to be told, Wood said he told Steele. “My opinion was, ‘You don’t have a choice. At least, you don’t have an honorable choice.’ ”

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a longtime member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, offered a competing argument: “You can be an FBI informant. You can be a political operative. But you can’t be both, particularly at the same time.”

Among Steele’s actions now under scrutiny is his decision to forward to the FBI – along with his own research – a separate report detailing uncorroborated allegations about Trump’s behavior that had been written by a longtime Clinton friend.

An FBI spokesman declined to comment. Steele, who is facing libel lawsuits by people named in the dossier of research he compiled, declined to comment.

This portrait of Steele’s work is drawn from interviews with his friends and associates, former intelligence colleagues, court documents, congressional testimony and people familiar with the ongoing Russia investigations.

More than a year after the dossier’s completion, it remains unclear whether authorities have corroborated Steele’s specific allegations about Trump’s connections to Russia – including titillating claims that the Russians have compromising information about the president. Trump has denied Steele’s charges. However, the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that the Russians engaged in an elaborate operation to swing the election to Trump.

Steele, 53, who sports a graying coif and tailored suits with cuff links, has said little publicly since he was identified more than a year ago as the author of the dossier. Friends and former colleagues said he has been dismayed by the attacks on him, particularly a criminal referral about his actions that two U.S. senators made to the Justice Department, accusing him of lying about his contacts with news organizations. The move was viewed by some British lawmakers and longtime intelligence officials as an affront to the special bond between the United States and Britain.

Last week, House Republicans released a memo alleging that the Justice Department overly relied on Steele’s research in an application to monitor former Trump adviser Carter Page and did not adequately disclose Steele’s partisan ties to the court.

Democratic lawmakers rejected those claims, saying the GOP document inflates the role Steele’s information played in the warrant. And intelligence officials have said the court was told that some of the research in the warrant application was paid for by a political entity.

The president has seized on Steele’s role as evidence that Mueller’s entire investigation is tainted. “This memo totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe,” he tweeted Saturday. “But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on.”

Those who know Steele say he grew increasingly alarmed about the prospect of the election of a U.S. president who he believed could be unduly swayed by Moscow. As his anxiety drove him to reach out to the FBI, he also met with journalists from several news organizations, including The Washington Post.

‘He’s the spy’

Steele had all the right credentials for the job.

He was steeped in Russia early on after being recruited to Britain’s elite spy service from the University of Cambridge. He spent two decades working for the MI6 spy agency, including a stint in his mid-20s in Moscow, where he served undercover in the British Embassy.

When he returned to work for the agency in London, he provided briefing materials on Russia for senior government officials and led the British inquiry into the mysterious 2006 death in London of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB official and Putin critic.

In 2009, after more than two decades in public service, Steele turned to the private sector and founded a London-based consulting firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, drawing on the reputation and network he developed doing intelligence work.

Among those who have continued to seek his expertise is Steele’s former boss Richard Dearlove, who headed MI6 from 1999 to 2004.

In an interview, Dearlove said Steele became the “go-to person on Russia in the commercial sector” following his retirement from the Secret Intelligence Service. He described the reputations of Steele and his business partner, fellow intelligence veteran Christopher Burrows, as “superb.”

In one of his first cases as a private consultant, Steele worked closely with the FBI in its investigation of corruption at FIFA, the powerful worldwide soccer governing body. Steele, who at the time was working for the English Football Association, shared his research with top officials at the Justice Department. U.S. officials eventually charged 14 top soccer executives and their associates with wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering.

Steele and Burrows soon amassed a group of clients that included multinational companies and wealthy business titans, including some Russians, according to people familiar with their work.

Steele continued to feed information to the U.S. government, passing along intelligence he gathered about Ukraine and Russia for corporate clients in 2014 and 2015 to a friend at the State Department, according to former assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland. “He offered us that reporting free, so that we could also benefit from it,” she said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

In June 2016, Steele was contacted by Glenn Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and co-founder of Fusion GPS. Simpson and Steele had been introduced by a mutual friend in 2009 who knew that they shared a near-obsessive interest in Russian organized crime and that they had worked together on previous cases.

Simpson had an intriguing offer: Would Steele’s firm help research Trump’s ties to Russia?

Simpson’s firm had been looking into Trump’s history as a businessman, including his work in Russia, for months – first for the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative publication that is funded in part by GOP hedge fund executive Paul Singer. After that arrangement ended in the spring, the law firm Perkins Coie hired Fusion GPS to continue the work on behalf of Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

By the time Steele signed on as a subcontractor, Fusion GPS’s financing for the project was exclusively Democratic.

Most of Simpson’s research was based on scouring public records, court filings and media reports from around the world.

Steele brought far more: He was able to tap a network of human sources cultivated over decades of Russia work. He moved quickly, reaching out to Russian contacts and others he referred to as “collectors” who had other sources – some of whom had no idea their comments would be passed along to Steele.

His sources included “a close associate of Trump,” as well as “a senior Russian foreign ministry figure” and a “former top-level Russian intelligence officer,” both of whom Steele indicated had revealed their information to a “trusted compatriot,” he later reported to Fusion GPS.

Just weeks after taking the case, Steele told friends that the initial intelligence he had gathered was “hair-raising.”

Trump allegedly had been compromised by video evidence of encounters with prostitutes, Steele’s reports said. And he had been wooed by Russian financial inducements, including opportunities to develop Trump buildings in the former Soviet Union and lucrative real estate deals with Russian buyers of his properties.

Steele wrote up his initial findings in late June in the first of 17 memos that later would be known as the dossier. “U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE DONALD TRUMP’S ACTIVITIES IN RUSSIA AND COMPROMISING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE KREMLIN,” he wrote at the top.

Steele told associates that he was so nervous about the explosive nature of the information that he sent the memo via a commercial courier to Washington, rather than electronically.

In short order, Steele made another fateful decision: that he needed to confide in U.S. law enforcement officials. He contacted a Rome-based FBI official with whom he had worked on the FIFA case and asked him to visit him in London in July, according to people familiar with the matter.

Steele told Simpson of his plan to meet with the FBI, describing it as an obligation rooted in his past work for the British government.

” ‘I’m a former intelligence officer, and we’re your closest ally,’ ” Steele told Simpson, according to testimony Simpson later gave to the House Intelligence Committee. ” ‘You know, I have obligations, professional obligations. If there’s a national security emergency or possible national security issue, I should report it.’ ”

Simpson said he did not question Steele’s judgment: “He’s the spy,” Simpson said. “I’m the ex-journalist.” Simpson declined to comment to The Post.

On July 5, 2016, the Rome-based FBI agent met with Steele and Burrows in Orbis’s London offices, housed in a five-story Georgian-style building in the Victoria neighborhood.

Later that month, Steele reached out to a State Department contact in Washington, according to Nuland, who said officials decided his allegations were best left to the FBI.

In late July, Steele told friends he was rattled when WikiLeaks released thousands of internal Democratic National Committee emails on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, material that U.S. law enforcement officials said was hacked by Russia. Then Trump – who had repeatedly praised Putin on the campaign trail – publicly called on Russia to hack and release a cache of missing Clinton emails.

Steele, who had researched Russian attempts to interfere in European elections for another client, began to fear that the Americans were not taking the Kremlin’s efforts seriously enough, associates said.

In the early fall, he and Burrows turned to Dearlove, their former MI6 boss, for advice. Sitting in winged chairs at the Garrick Club, one of London’s most venerable private establishments, under oil paintings of famed British playwrights, the two men shared their worries about what was happening in the United States. They asked for his guidance about how to handle their obligations to their client and the public, Dearlove recalled.

Dearlove said their situation reminded him of a predicament he had faced years earlier, when he was chief of station for British intelligence in Washington and alerted U.S. authorities to British information that a vice presidential hopeful had once been in communication with the Kremlin.

He said he advised Steele and Burrows to work discreetly with a top British government official to pass along information to the FBI.

At the time of the meeting, Dearlove said he did not know whether Steele had approached the FBI.

Burrows declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Steele sought out Wood, the former British ambassador to Moscow. The two had become friendly after leaving government service. A court filing would later call him an Orbis associate, but Wood said he had no financial relationship with Steele or his company.

Over several hours in Wood’s living room in a stylish London neighborhood, Steele outlined his findings and the two men dissected the credibility of Steele’s information, including whether his sources could be leading him astray on purpose, Wood recalled. The conversation was anguished at times, he said.

“He wanted to share the burden a bit,” Wood said.

They concluded that Steele’s sources were speaking at considerable risk to themselves and had no discernible reason to deceive the small intelligence firm.

“You have to go through the intellectual process of deciding whether it was a complete con,” Wood said. “He was speaking like someone who believed what he was saying was soundly based.”

Dossier goes public

As Steele sat down in a seventh-floor conference room at The Post’s downtown Washington headquarters in late September 2016, he looked out at the bustling newsroom with obvious discomfort.

“Don’t you have any meeting space without glass walls?” the longtime intelligence officer asked.

On that September day, Steele talked for almost two hours – occasionally interrupted by Simpson, who was in attendance. The Post agreed to keep the session off the record because of the sensitivity of the material, but is now reporting the existence of the visit and a subsequent one in October – although not what was discussed – because they have been referenced in court documents.

The Post made efforts to independently confirm Steele’s information at the time, but was unable to corroborate his specific findings and did not publish stories based on the material.

Around the same time, Steele also met with other news organizations including the New York Times, the New Yorker and Yahoo News, according to court filings. In an article published on Sept. 23, 2016, Yahoo chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff reported that U.S. officials had received “intelligence reports” alleging that Page had met with Igor Sechin, executive chairman of the Russian energy corporation Rosneft, while in Moscow in July – a finding of Steele’s research. Page has denied meeting with Sechin but later acknowledged interacting with one of his deputies.

FBI officials did not know Steele had spoken to Yahoo, according to a declassified version of the criminal referral released Tuesday by two Republican U.S. senators, which they suggested meant Steele had lied about his media contacts.

Steele also spoke around that time then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, with whom he had worked on the FIFA case. The British former spy told Ohr that he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president,” House Republicans alleged in their memo released last week. At the time, Ohr’s wife, a Russia expert, was working as a researcher for Fusion GPS.

The GOP memo argued that Steele’s comments to Ohr were “clear evidence of Steele’s bias,” saying they should have been noted in the warrant application that the Justice Department submitted that included his research. The classified warrant application and internal FBI documents cited in the memo have not been released, making it impossible to independently verify the claims made by the memo’s authors.

Friends of Steele said his comment was not driven by political bias, but by his alarm after sifting through months of reports about Trump’s ties to Russia.

Then came the Rome meeting. During his meeting with the four FBI officials, Steele gleaned that the bureau had independently developed information that appeared to match some of his reports – and that the FBI was particularly interested in a young Trump campaign foreign policy adviser named George Papadopoulos, he would later tell associates. Papadopoulos had not surfaced in Steele’s research, according to his memos.

“Essentially what he told me was they had other intelligence about this matter,” Simpson told a Senate committee in August, adding: “My understanding was that they believed Chris at this point – that they believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing.”

Weeks after the Rome meeting, the Justice Department incorporated some of Steele’s research into its secret application for a warrant to surveil Page.

Friends said Steele felt more upbeat after Rome, but his mood quickly turned. Four days after returning to London, WikiLeaks began posting the private emails of Clinton campaign chief John D. Podesta – a slow release of information that would last until Election Day.

Steele kept up his communications with the FBI, which over months included phone calls, emails and Skype exchanges that have been documented in hundreds of pages of internal FBI records reviewed by congressional investigators.

In October, he shared with his contacts at the bureau another report he had received from a State Department employee about Trump and Russia, according to people familiar with the document. It was written by Cody Shearer, a freelance journalist who was friends with Hillary and Bill Clinton. Shearer gave it to author and Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal, who transmitted it to Jonathan Winer, then a State Department official.

The memo claimed that a source inside the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) spy agency alleged that Trump had financial ties to influential Russians and that the FSB had evidence of him engaging in compromising personal behavior, according to a copy obtained by The Post.

Blumenthal declined to comment and Shearer did not respond to requests for comment. An attorney for Winer, Lee Wolosky, said his client “was concerned in 2016 about information that a candidate for the presidency may have been compromised by a hostile foreign power. Any actions he took were grounded in those concerns.”

In a note to the FBI, Steele made clear that he could not vouch for the accuracy of the Shearer memo, but noted that it echoed his own research, which also found that the Russians allegedly held evidence that could be used against Trump.

“We have no means of verifying the sources or the information but note some of their own is remarkably similar to our own, albeit from a completely different sourcing chain,” he wrote, according to people familiar with Steele’s message.

Republican congressional investigators are now exploring whether Steele’s research was shaped by information gathered by Clinton allies or if the Russians may have given him incorrect information, according to people with knowledge of their inquiries.

In a letter to the Justice Department released Monday, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote that the fact that “Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.”

Election Day was rapidly approaching, and Steele appeared increasingly disturbed by what he considered a lack of sufficient media attention to Russia’s activities. He made a second visit to The Post’s newsroom in October, this time visibly agitated.

Meanwhile, the public was unaware that the FBI was investigating Trump associates. Steele understood the reason: Bureau officials repeatedly told him they were extremely cautious about taking actions that could be viewed publicly as influencing an election, associates said.

So he was stunned on Oct. 28 when then-FBI Director James B. Comey announced that he was reopening an inquiry into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. Three days later, the New York Times reported that FBI officials had not turned up evidence that the Trump campaign had links to Russia.

Steele and Simpson were dismayed, Simpson later testified.

“Chris was concerned that something was happening at the FBI that we didn’t understand, and that there may be some political maneuvering or improper influence,” Simpson told the House committee, adding that “we were very concerned that the information that we had about the Russians trying to interfere in the election was going to be covered up.”

He and Steele decided that “it would be fair if the world knew that both candidates were under FBI investigation,” Simpson said.

On Oct. 31, Mother Jones published a story by David Corn headlined, “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump.”

The story did not name Steele, but it was based on information he shared, Corn later reported.

The late October events ruptured Steele’s relationship with his FBI handlers. The former intelligence officer was “suspended and terminated” by the bureau after the Mother Jones story, according to the GOP memo.

Steele told friends a different version: that he had been in talks to work with the FBI after his contract with Fusion GPS lapsed but that he cut off the discussions in frustration. The FBI, which had agreed to fund his trip to Rome, never reimbursed his expenses, according to people familiar with the situation.

Then Trump won.

In the aftermath, Steele quickly provided a full review of his findings for a senior British official, a step he had told the FBI in Rome he would take in the case of a Trump victory, according to people briefed on his decision.

By mid-November, Wood – the former diplomat and Steele friend – said he approached Steele to discuss whether they needed to take further steps to ensure the U.S. government was aware of his information, as well. They were particularly eager to provide the research to Republicans who shared their wariness of Russia.

Wood said he reached out to David Kramer, a former State Department official who was close to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and a Russia expert. Kramer declined to comment.

Kramer arranged for Wood to meet McCain in a small room on the sidelines of the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada in December, Wood said.

There, Wood described Steele’s research and told McCain he could arrange for him to review it.

“I told him, ‘I know there’s a document. I haven’t read it, but it seems to me that it’s reliably set up,’ ” he said.

McCain, he recalled, “was visibly shocked.”

The senator expressed interest in reading the full report, Wood said, recalling that McCain responded, “Thank you for seeing me. You did the right thing and I’m grateful. My first thought has to be for my country.”

A McCain spokeswoman declined to comment.

Ten days later, in a cloak-and-dagger scene, Kramer and Steele arranged to meet at Heathrow Airport in London. Kramer was told that he should look for a man wearing a blue raincoat and carrying a Financial Times under his arm, according to people familiar with the episode.

Kramer accompanied Steele to his home, where he spent a few hours reviewing the Trump research.

Back in Washington, Kramer received a copy of the dossier from Simpson and completed the handoff to McCain.

In a private meeting on Dec. 9, McCain gave Comey the dossier – passing along information that Steele had provided to the FBI earlier in the year.

Shortly before Inauguration Day, Comey briefed Trump on the document, alerting him to what the FBI director would later describe to Congress as a report that contained “salacious, unverified” information that was circulating in the media.

Steele’s role would soon emerge publicly. BuzzFeed published the dossier, and then the Wall Street Journal identified him as the author.

Steele went into hiding, leaving his London home with his family for six weeks.

He reemerged in March, speaking briefly outside his office to thank supporters. “I won’t be making any further statements or comments at this time,” Steele said.

He has not been heard from publicly since. But in September, according to people familiar with his activities, Steele spent two days behind closed doors, talking to Mueller’s investigators.

Brendan Duddy Did Send Danny Morrison Into Long Kesh With British Offer – Video Evidence Shows That

This video of an interview at the West Belfast Festival of hunger strike mediator Brendan Duddy by Belfast journalist Brian Rowan should lay to rest the controversy over whether or not Danny Morrison went into Long Kesh with an offer from the British government to end the 1981 hunger strikes.

Controversy has once again surfaced over this issue in the wake of Vincent Browne’s two-part documentary on Gerry Adams, the first part of which was broadcast by TV3 in Ireland on Wednesday evening.

Duddy tells Rowan on the video that his preference for visiting the IRA prisoners in Long Kesh and showing them the British offer was Gerry Adams but since the British would not allow the Sinn Fein leader into the jail, Danny Morrison went in his place.

Thebrokenelbow.com has not seen the TV3 programme but in an email sent earlier this week to myself, Vincent Browne described what the item would say:

His (Adams’) role in the hunger strike 1981 – I’m in disagreement with you and Richard O Rawe on this as the contemporaneous diary of Brendan Duddy,
which is in the archive of the University of Galway shows that Danny Morrison could not possibly have brought in the specifics of a bridge offer to end a hunger strike on Sunday, 5 July 1981, as the offer did
not arrive to Duddy, until 11.30pm on Monday 6 July.

However in the Rowan interview, Brendan Duddy is quite clear that Danny Morrison went into the jail with the British offer on July 5th, 1981. The offer at this stage was an informal one which Duddy had scribbled down on paper and passed on to the Provisional leadership. Danny Morrison was in the audience and on a couple of occasions Duddy addresses Morrison directly.

It is possible that the offer referred to in Duddy’s diary, which is deposited at Galway University, was the formal version of the Danny Morrison-British offer communicated to him the next day, July 6th, 1981. Browne may therefore be confusing the two documents or may be unaware of the video below. It is on YouTube and has been available for some time.

The brokenelbow.com understands that no mention was made of the YouTube video on the TV3 programme.

The relevant section begins at 4:26 and ends at 5:46:

DUDDY:  …The British made it absolutely clear that any leakage of this situation in any shape, form or fashion would end the dialogue.

ROWAN: So you scribbled the offer down. You then communicated it to the Republican leadership. I think that your test which is to get somebody into the prison on the Sunday…..

DUDDY:   ….(Pointing at someone in the audience) Him.

ROWAN: …into the prison on Sunday to outline…..what has he got to bring into the prison?

DUDDY:  Now I want to say this to you….what I was saying was this here. The republicans do not want these hunger strikes. The notion that they want 20, 10, 5, 8, 16 to die is absolute nonsense. But as long as you won’t talk to them and you won’t dialogue with them….the person that  I wanted to get into them, (turns to audience) with respect to you Mr Morrison, was Gerry Adams and they said ‘No way, is Adams getting in’. (Turning to the audience and evidently addressing Morrison directly) So (indistinct) you were second choice (laughter). So I considered it a positive way forward to get Danny Morrison in and I was also totally happy that you (DM) were well aware of what was being said and what was on offer and so forth. So getting Danny Morrison was a major, major step forward.

Trump Is Actually Bald……And It’s Ickey!

The camera does not lie:

 

A History Of The FBI

The FBI may be winning plaudits in liberal circles for its pursuit of Donald Trump, but the Bureau has a less than progressive track record writes Branko Marcetic in this article for Jacobin magazine:

The FBI Is Not Your Friend

By Branko Marcetic

Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI director James Comey is an alarming, if characteristically incompetent, move by a president who seems to view even the smallest challenge to his power as unacceptable. At best, it’s an attempt to punish someone Trump sees as insufficiently loyal. At worst, it’s a clumsy and self-defeating attempt to cover up a crime.

Given the circumstances, it may be tempting to treat Comey as a saint, and his Bureau as some kind of exalted institution beyond time, space, and politics. Jimmy Kimmel has already printed shirts reading “James Comey is my Homey,” while John McCain has called him “arguably the most respected person in America.” Columnists, politicians, and others have lauded the FBI for its supposed neutrality, independence, and non-political nature. Comey himself, in his farewell letter, described the FBI as a “rock for America” and a “rock of competence, honesty, and independence.”To be sure, the FBI has done some praiseworthy work. It’s investigated white supremacist infiltration of police departments. It’s arrested right-wing terrorists bent on attacking minorities. And even in its worst days, under J. Edgar Hoover, it took on the KKK and investigated the murders of civil rights activists in the South.It’s also true that Comey seemed genuinely interested in making himself and the Bureau neutral arbiters above partisan concerns. His inability to navigate the general election minefield wasn’t for lack of trying.But we shouldn’t allow any of this to cloud our vision: the FBI has a long history as an intensely political organization, often undermining the very values it claims to stand for — and Comey’s leadership didn’t change that.

Part of the reason for Comey’s reputation as an independent straight shooter, even hero, is his time at the Justice Department during the Bush administration.Acting as deputy attorney general, Comey refused to extend Bush’s illegal warrantless domestic spying program and raced to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft’s hospital room to prevent Alberto Gonzales from getting a barely moving Ashcroft to sign onto it over Comey’s head. While admirable, it’s helped contribute to a gilded image of Comey that was only dented by his actions during the election.After his ascension to FBI director in 2013, Comey spent months trying to force Apple to undermine its own encryption so that the FBI — and potentially numerous other law enforcement agencies — could access the content in people’s phones. Although this started with the San Bernardino shooters, it was part of a long-planned campaign to create a civil-liberties-shredding precedent. For years Comey fearmongered about the dangers of encryption, claiming that law enforcement was “going dark” because of it, warning that it “threatens to lead us all to a very, very dark place,” and cautioning that he didn’t know how much longer the FBI could thwart ISIS plots while such privacy protections existed.Comey, like many in the intelligence community, wanted to prosecute WikiLeaks and Julian Assange under the Espionage Act, arguing that their actions were simply “intelligence porn” and distinct from “legitimate” journalists who publish information to educate the public. Assange and WikiLeaks’ shortcomings notwithstanding, this is a dangerous line to take. As Elizabeth Goitein of the Brennan Center has pointed out, it creates a line between “good” and “bad” journalists, the arbiter of which is the Justice Department.

Comey was also a high-profile booster of the “Ferguson effect” or as he called it, the “viral video effect.” He claimed that a spike in murders in 2016 was due to the greater scrutiny police had come under in the wake of shooting scandals, leading officers to shy away from necessary police work lest they end up on YouTube. By his own admission, this wasn’t based on any statistics, but on what some law enforcement officials had told him. Yet an FBI report released two weeks ago, while Comey was still FBI chief, persisted with this narrative, faulting the media and Black Lives Matter for the increase in police killings last year.

The Bureau engaged in still more unseemly activities with Comey at the helm. It surveyed and videotaped various Black Lives Matter protests from the sky and tracked a Black Lives Matter protest in Minnesota in December 2014. It sent agents from its Joint Terrorism Task Force to investigate Standing Rock protesters and paid a visit to left-wing activists in Cleveland prior to the Republican National Convention, which those on the receiving end perceived as an intimidation attempt. It launched a community initiative aimed at preventing “radicalization” that morphed into an intelligence gathering program on Muslims, and, most recently, carried out a nationwide sweep of Muslims in the lead-up to Trump’s election.

The agency’s relationship with Muslims has been no better internally. Muslims in the FBI report a pervasive anti-Islam culture, with one analyst losing his job after a Kafkaesque process where he came under suspicion for following his training and refusing to out himself as an FBI agent at a French airport. And Comey, refusing to bow to critics, maintained the FBI’s policy of continuously scrutinizing foreign born agents.

Yet despite the pervasive anti-Muslim bias, despite the attacks on activists, despite the “Ferguson effect” histrionics, Comey’s tenure was actually tame compared to previous decades. A quick look at the FBI’s history reveals an agency that, far from being a “rock” of honesty and independence, has often gone even further than it did under Comey in trying to stamp out dissent.

The FBI’s obsession with order is ingrained in its DNA.Before the agency’s formation, the Justice Department employed the Pinkerton detective agency to infiltrate, sabotage, and suppress labor activity and generally protect private businesses from the threat posed by calls for fair wages, eight-hour days, and safety standards. The Pinkertons’ work became increasingly violent, with agents shooting protesters and participating in the brutal vigilante murders of labor organizers like Frank Little.Little wasn’t an outlier: indeed, it was Robert Pinkerton, agency founder Allan Pinkerton’s son, who suggested that radicals “should all be marked and kept under constant surveillance” following the assassination of President William McKinley.The FBI took much from the Pinkertons, including its identification methods (fingerprinting) and its centralized national criminal identification database. It also inherited the Pinkertons’ anti-radical bent.

Theodore Roosevelt’s initial attempt to form a national police force under the Justice Department had actually been blocked by Congress, out of a concern that it would be a tsarist-style “secret police force” used to spy on Americans. Congressmen warned of a “system of espionage” and a “central police or spy system in the federal government” that would undermine civil liberties. Roosevelt’s attorney general, Charles Bonaparte, assured Congress that “nothing is more injurious in that line and nothing more open to abuse than the employment of men of that type.”

But Roosevelt and Bonaparte set up the Bureau anyway in June 1908, a month after Congress adjourned.

Initially, the Bureau did focus on relatively mundane interstate crimes. Within a year of its creation, though, the Bureau’s chief directed a special agent to use an informant in a socialist organization to gather more information about a particular socialist figure.

The advent of World War I pushed the repression to new heights. With all levels of the Justice Department mobilized to root out disloyalty, radicalism, and anything else viewed as counter to the war effort, the Bureau was soon going after draft-dodgers, foreigners, pro-German and pro-Irish activists, labor unions, various political radicals, and anyone else who could be construed as “disloyal.” It rounded up people in mass arrests, opened mail, and wiretapped phones (but failed to find any spies).

During this time, the Bureau also teamed up with the American Protective League, a group of vigilante thugs set up by a Chicago advertising executive and funded by various corporations. The APL spied on people (usually recent immigrants), sought out draft-evaders, busted unions, carried out break-ins, and beat up workers. They did all this while wearing badges declaring themselves an “auxiliary to the US Department of Justice.”

Aided by the APL — and cheered on by the New York Times — the Bureau carried out a twenty-four-city raid on IWW headquarters on September 17, 1917. They kicked down the IWW’s office doors, pilfered its documents, and in the subsequent mass trials, secured the convictions of 165 union leaders under the Espionage Act. Some received jail sentences of as long as twenty years.

A year later, they teamed up again for the “slacker raids,” arresting between fifty thousand and sixty-five thousand men across New York and New Jersey, the vast majority of whom weren’t even deserters or draft-dodgers. (The ensuing controversy prompted the dismissals of the attorney general and the Bureau’s chief, but the FBI as an institution survived unscathed.)

While the war ended in 1919, the Bureau’s political repression continued. It was front and center for the first Red Scare in the early 1920s, which was set off by a combination of labor unrest (including a general strike in Seattle) and a series of thirty-six bombings that targeted congressmen, mayors, judges, the secretary of labor, and the attorney general, A. Mitchell Palmer.

The hysteria culminated in the 1920 Palmer Raids, overseen by a young J. Edgar Hoover, head of the Bureau’s General Intelligence Division. Hoover pored over the information gathered by the Bureau to determine who was most likely responsible for the bombings. The raids resulted in the arrest of six thousand people across thirty-three cities. More than one thousand of those were immigrants, hundreds of whom were deported (then–Secretary of Labor Lois Post reversed most of the original deportation orders). Those arrested, of course, had nothing to do with the bombing — their only crimes were things like opposing the war, agitating for better working conditions, and speaking with a foreign accent.

The Palmer Raids were so aggressive that they ended up turning opinion against the government’s actions. Palmer, who had initiated the raids partly out of his desperation to be president, tarnished his public standing — particularly when he predicted a revolution on May 1, 1920 that never ended up happening. (He had been informed by Hoover and the Bureau that it was indeed in the cards.)

“The ‘Palmer Raids’ were certainly not a bright spot for the young Bureau,” the FBI’s website now reads, in one of history’s great understatements. “But it did gain valuable experience in terrorism investigations and intelligence work and learn important lessons about the need to protect civil liberties and constitutional rights.”

The lessons the FBI learned are unclear. Its appetite for order certainly hadn’t been satiated by the Palmer Raids.

Fearful of unrest among black Americans, it began spying on and harassing African-American newspapers and civil rights groups like the NAACP. It was particularly worried about black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey, whose Universal Negro Improvement Association had 2 million members. Garvey was “one of the most prominent negro agitators in New York” according to Hoover. “Unfortunately,” he wrote in 1919, “he has not as yet violated any federal law whereby he could be proceeded against on the grounds of being an undesirable alien, from the point of view of deportation.”

The Bureau was so determined to take down Garvey, it did the unthinkable — it hired its first black agent, to infiltrate Garvey’s organization and get close to him. “[The Bureau] feared the hundreds of thousands, the masses of blacks under his influence,” writes historian Thomas Kornweibel. It ended up finally nailing Garvey on mail fraud and winning his deportation.

The Bureau also spied on Jane Addams, a progressive social worker and the leader of the Women’s International League for Freedom, an antiwar group. The League and its affiliates would continue to be monitored until at least 1942.

During the Teapot Dome scandal of 1923–24, the FBI reached its tentacles into the US Senate. Attorney General Harry Daugherty instructed FBI director William Burns to send Bureau agents to dig up damaging information about the two Montana senators spearheading the corruption investigation. Agents tapped the senators’ phones, read their mail, broke into their offices and homes, and at one point even tried to manufacture a compromising situation with one of the senators and a woman. The information Bureau agents obtained was then used to pursue, unsuccessfully, an indictment of one of the senators (at which point the whole scheme unravelled and Daugherty and Burns were dismissed).

All of this occurred within the Bureau’s first sixteen years — and before Hoover had even become the director.

Hoover’s accession to the director’s seat marked the start of the FBI’s most notorious period, when the Bureau — backed up by the voluminous files Hoover kept on political friends and enemies alike — became a virtual second government unto itself.The Bureau continued to keep tabs on anyone it considered outside the political mainstream: peace activists, civil rights groups like the NAACP, labor organizers, “suspicious minorities,” and the Left more generally. Hoover surveilled potential subversives, then handed information over to congressmen investigating “communist infiltration.” The Bureau kept an eye on folk singers for more than twenty years, including Pete Seeger, who it became particularly interested in after a line in one of his songs declared: “The FBI is worried. The bosses there are scared.” It also rifled through Albert Einstein’s trash and surveilled him until his death in 1955, spooked by such red flags as his pacifism, antiracism, and support for Spanish antifascism.During this era, the Bureau again ventured outside the world of the Left and began investigating officeholders. Ordered by President Roosevelt to start surveilling potential subversives linked to the Soviets and Nazis, Hoover went further and began spying on those who crossed Roosevelt on foreign policy: Charles Lindbergh, the isolationist America First Committee, and four congressmen. It wasn’t the last time the FBI would be mobilized against a president’s political enemies: Lyndon Johnson had the FBI bug both Barry Goldwater’s and Richard Nixon’s planes in 1964 and 1968, respectively.In 1956, the FBI launched the embodiment of its Bad Old Days: COINTELPRO, a set of programs that for decades essentially existed to destroy groups on the broad left, from socialist and communist groups to civil rights activists to the Black Panthers. Here were some of COINTELPRO’s greatest hits:

  • Launching a campaign of anonymous letters that led one leader of the Puerto Rican independence movement to have a heart attack, which the Bureau celebrated.
  • Attempting to incite violence against the Communist Party and the Black Panthers.
  • Planting false gossip about the actress Jean Seberg, who had donated to the Black Panthers, which pushed her into a suicidal spiral that took her life in 1979.
  • Attempting to blackmail Martin Luther King into committing suicide.
  • Facilitating the Chicago police’s assassination of Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Chicago Black Panther Party.
  • Paying provocateurs to infiltrate student protesters and plan and advocate bombings and murders, right down to providing the students weapons, training, and equipment to carry out the attacks.
  • Hobbling the American Indian Movement in the 1960s and 1970s through a barrage of baseless criminal accusations.

When such activities were exposed by the Church Committee in the 1970s, it scandalized the public. But the Bureau was unrepentant. As Hoover’s successor told Congress in 1971: “For the FBI to have done less under the circumstances would have been an abdication of its responsibilities to the American people.”

According to the conventional narrative, the FBI cleaned up its act once Hoover died and the Church Committee exposed its excesses. But the FBI has never entirely abandoned its original mission: to root out and surveil those whose political opinions veer from the Bureau’s own narrow orthodoxy.

You might know Edward Said as the man who coined the concept of “Orientalism.” For the Bureau, Said’s work with Palestinian organizations meant he was a security threat who needed to be spied on for three decades. It was neither the first or last time the Bureau would target pro-Palestinian activists.

Other organizations the FBI saw fit to monitor during the 1980s include: the Livermore Action group, various AIDS advocacy and gay rights groups like ACT UP and the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights, and the Committee in Solidarity With the People of El Salvador, a group opposed to the US’s Central American policy. One freelance journalist was detained by an FBI agent at an airport when returning from Nicaragua, at which point an FBI agent photocopied all of his papers.

Over the last two decades, the Bureau has mostly concerned itself with investigating antiwar activists. Since 2000, the FBI has spied on the Thomas Merton Center, the Catholic Worker, an individual Quaker peace activist, the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Food Not Bombs, and their old friends the IWW, among many others. In 2008, it raided the homes of six activists from the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and the offices of the Anti-War Committee, and spied on the libertarian website Antiwar.com.

Lest you think that only protesting war can attract FBI scrutiny, rest assured that in recent years the Bureau has also infiltrated and spied on Keystone XL protesters and helped coordinate the crackdown on Occupy Wall Street.

The Bureau’s treatment of Muslims deserves special singling out. During the Bush years, the FBI helped spy on five prominent Muslim Americans, one of whom (Agha Saeed) had endorsed Bush for president, and another (Nihad Awad) of whom had met with Bush before he delivered the “Islam is peace” speech many have spent the last few years gushing over.

Until recently, the FBI’s internal documents were rife with Islamophobia. In 2011, Wired reported that FBI counterterrorism agents were being taught that “mainstream Muslims” were terrorist sympathizers, that the more devout they were the more likely they were to be violent, and that Muslim Americans were essentially a population of terrorists ready at a moment’s notice to spring into action. The revelations prompted an internal purge of hundreds of documents, but as recent actions by Bureau agents have shown, it takes a lot more than eliminating such documents to change this mindset.

All of this is on top of the FBI’s most high-profile anti-terrorism work, which has mirrored its COINTELPRO-era use of paid provocateurs to incite violence and entrap protesters. While the Bureau (including Comey) often congratulates itself for preventing terrorist plots, many of these plots are ones wholly manufactured by the FBI, where agents or handsomely paid informants (who receive as much as $100,000 per assignment) give the would-be terrorists the idea for an attack, provide them with the money and contacts to buy the necessary weapons and equipment, and goad the reluctant attackers into carrying it out every step of the way.

According to Mother Jones’ Trevor Aaronson, all but three of the high-profile domestic terror plots in the ten years after September 2001 were FBI stings. In 2012, the FBI arrested five hapless Occupy protesters in Cleveland over a plot to blow up a bridge — one that was entirely conceived of and orchestrated by an FBI informant.

The FBI is not and never has been an apolitical guardian of democracy. From its very inception, it has been an agency that mixed the responsibility of serving as a national police detective force with the relentless — and highly political — task of going after movements that seek to challenge political orthodoxy, no matter how minor.

The FBI may not be committing COINTELPRO-like abuses anymore — at least not to our knowledge — but the Bureau’s recent history shows its authoritarian tendencies have never really gone away. Just because it happens to have crossed Trump does not mean it is worth of veneration. James Comey is not an American hero.

None of this is to say that the Bureau’s investigation of the Trump campaign is all smoke and mirrors, or that we shouldn’t be disturbed by the Comey firing. Trump’s bumbling attempt to potentially shield his administration from investigation is a serious matter. We should all be outraged at his blatant arrogation of power — but let’s not give the Bureau too much credit.