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April 16, 2019

CIA Director Used Fake Skripal Incident Photos To Manipulate Trump

CIA Director Used Fake Skripal Incident Photos To Manipulate Trump

An ass kissing portrait of Gina Haspel, torture queen and director of the CIA, reveals that she lied to Trump to push for more aggression against Russia.

In March 2018 the British government asserted, without providing any evidence, that the alleged 'Novichok' poisoning of Sergej and Yulia Skripal was the fault of Russia. It urged its allies to expel Russian officials from their countries.

The U.S. alone expelled 60 Russian officials. Trump was furious when he learned that EU countries expelled less than 60 in total. A year ago the Washington Post described the scene:

President Trump seemed distracted in March as his aides briefed him at his Mar-a-Lago resort on the administration’s plan to expel 60 Russian diplomats and suspected spies.

The United States, they explained, would be ousting roughly the same number of Russians as its European allies — part of a coordinated move to punish Moscow for the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil.

“We’ll match their numbers,” Trump instructed, according to a senior administration official. “We’re not taking the lead. We’re matching.”

The next day, when the expulsions were announced publicly, Trump erupted, officials said. To his shock and dismay, France and Germany were each expelling only four Russian officials — far fewer than the 60 his administration had decided on.

The president, who seemed to believe that other individual countries would largely equal the United States, was furious that his administration was being portrayed in the media as taking by far the toughest stance on Russia.

The expulsion marked a turn in the Trump administration's relation with Russia:

The incident reflects a tension at the core of the Trump administration’s increasingly hard-nosed stance on Russia: The president instinctually opposes many of the punitive measures pushed by his Cabinet that have crippled his ability to forge a close relationship with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin.

The past month, in particular, has marked a major turning point in the administration’s stance, according to senior administration officials. There have been mass expulsions of Russian diplomats, sanctions on oligarchs that have bled billions of dollars from Russia’s already weak economy and, for the first time, a presidential tweet that criticized Putin by name for backing Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

Today the New York Times portraits Gina Haspel's relation with Trump. The writers seem sympathetic to her and the CIA's position. They include an anecdote of the Skripal expulsion decision that is supposed to let her shine in a good light. But it only proves that the CIA manipulated the president for its own purpose:

Last March, top national security officials gathered inside the White House to discuss with Mr. Trump how to respond to the nerve agent attack in Britain on Sergei V. Skripal, the former Russian intelligence agent.

London was pushing for the White House to expel dozens of suspected Russian operatives, but Mr. Trump was skeptical.
During the discussion, Ms. Haspel, then deputy C.I.A. director, turned toward Mr. Trump. She outlined possible responses in a quiet but firm voice, then leaned forward and told the president that the “strong option” was to expel 60 diplomats.

To persuade Mr. Trump, according to people briefed on the conversation, officials including Ms. Haspel also tried to show him that Mr. Skripal and his daughter were not the only victims of Russia’s attack.

Ms. Haspel showed pictures the British government had supplied her of young children hospitalized after being sickened by the Novichok nerve agent that poisoned the Skripals. She then showed a photograph of ducks that British officials said were inadvertently killed by the sloppy work of the Russian operatives.

Ms Haspel was not the first to use emotional images to appeal to the president, but pairing it with her hard-nosed realism proved effective: Mr. Trump fixated on the pictures of the sickened children and the dead ducks. At the end of the briefing, he embraced the strong option.

The Skripal case was widely covered and we followed it diligently (scroll down). There were no reports of any children affected by 'Novichok' nor were their any reports of dead ducks. In the official storyline the Skripals, before visiting a restaurant, fed bread to ducks at a pond in the Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury. They also gave duck-bread to three children to do the same. The children were examined and their blood was tested. No poison was found and none of them fell ill. No duck died. (The duck feeding episode also disproves the claim that the Skripals were poisoned by touching a door handle.)

If the NYT piece is correct, the CIA director, in cooperation with the British government, lied to Trump about the incident. Their aim was to sabotage Trump's announced policy of better relations with Russia. The ruse worked.

The NYT piece does not mention that the pictures Gina Haspel showed Trump were fake. It pretends that her lies were "new information" and that she was not out to manipulate him:

The outcome was an example, officials said, of how Ms. Haspel is one of the few people who can get Mr. Trump to shift position based on new information.

Co-workers and friends of Ms. Haspel push back on any notion that she is manipulating the president. She is instead trying to get him to listen and to protect the agency, according to former intelligence officials who know her.

The job of the CIA director is to serve the president, not to protect the agencies own policies. Hopefully Trump will hear about the anecdote, recognize how he was had, and fire Haspel. He should not stop there but also get rid of her protector who likely had a role in the game:

Ms. Haspel won the trust of Mr. Pompeo, however, and has stayed loyal to him. As a result, Mr. Trump sees Ms. Haspel as an extension of Mr. Pompeo, a view that has helped protect her, current and former intelligence officials said.

Posted by b on April 16, 2019 at 12:37 UTC | Permalink

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Posted by: c1ue | Apr 17, 2019 11:17:28 AM | 93

"Indeed, William Jennings Bryan and his "Cross of Gold" speech is completely forgotten except for the Wizard of Oz - both literally and figuratively."

Unfortunately Bryan and the Democrats already had "Third Way triangulation" down by heart, in this case touting a silver standard as the alleged reasonable middle between the allegedly equally bad extremes of a gold standard and greenbackerism, what the real core Populist movement demanded. Sure enough, the silver "fusion" position (fusing Democrats and candidates of the People's Party, many of them new interlopers) successfully split Populist energies and votes and sank the true Populist agenda.

I don't know if that was the first big-time hijacking, co-optation, and destruction of a radical grassroots movement on the part of the Democrats, but it shows how indelibly toxic and destructive toward any grassroots movement the Democrats have been since at least the 1890s.

Posted by: Russ | Apr 17 2019 17:27 utc | 101

You guys at the CIA are using fraudulent sources and illegal methods! Um, sorry but - NO ONE can ever know or say anything about our sources and methods, including the President.

Posted by: Johnny Doh | Apr 17 2019 17:50 utc | 102

@ TJ #99

Thanks for that link. I downloaded a copy, and after merely glancing through it could see why certain people would want it to be suppressed.

Posted by: Zachary Smith | Apr 17 2019 17:52 utc | 103

I am not sure if it is clear for folks on the far side of NYT paywall that NYT reported on "children and ducks" not merely as a quote of CIA director, but as a straight fact. This is the caption of one of the photos illustrating the article: "A former Russian intelligence officer, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter were poisoned last year in Britain in a slipshod attack that also sickened children, killed ducks and required careful cleanup.CreditWill Oliver/EPA, via Shutterstock"

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Apr 17 2019 17:53 utc | 104

@ Grieved #74

I'm willing to believe a lot of things about the Brits and Haspel, but "stupid" isn't one of them. That they tried the Skripal stunt demonstrates they had great confidence in their control of the UK and US press, and I'll concede that confidence was justified.

Posted by: Zachary Smith | Apr 17 2019 17:59 utc | 105

@Russ #101
You are correct in the sense that William Jennings Bryan "split the vote" for the Democrats, but you are glossing over the fact that Democrats in that era were very much like Clinton Democrats today: fiscal conservatives.
Bryan was very much a Populist candidate - it wasn't like Grover Cleveland, the then leader of the Democrat party - was in favor of loose monetary policy. It was Bryan and "Cross of Gold" which switched the Democrat presidential candidate from Cleveland (Clinton) to a populist one.
Thus I am quite unclear as to what Bryan should have advocated instead of bimetallism? A Federal Reserve 20 years before it actually formed?

Posted by: c1ue | Apr 17 2019 18:39 utc | 106

Has anyone discussed the possibility that the NYT was just making this shit up for a "good story"?

It's not like they haven't done this before.

Also, I think there's some gray in between the black/white binary continuum on which a President either does exactly what he wants to do all the time and a situation where he is completely manipulated by his cabinet (or other people close to him).

In this case, if it's indeed true that Haspel produced fake news to push Trump toward expelling the diplomats and enacting other sanctions, maybe Trump was leaning away from taking any action - or toward expelling just one or two with no new sanctions, but the combined total of his cabinet and the Russophobes/Neocons it contains led him to make a slightly different decision?

Posted by: KC | Apr 17 2019 19:51 utc | 107

The Telegraph is reporting its sources in British intelligence don't know about and didn't pass on any duck pics.

Posted by: Gailstorm | Apr 17 2019 20:03 utc | 108

@108 Gailstorm

These are people who have worked against the UK since their inception, remember Churchill had to set up SOE because SIS were all treasonous scum even back then, they said Iraq had WMD, they backed UBL and were happy to have his office in London, even backing the terrorists at Finsbury Park mosque who carried out the 7/7 attack in London, so whatever they say the opposite is guarenteed to be true.

Posted by: TJ | Apr 17 2019 20:50 utc | 109

c1ue 106

I'm not glossing over what the Democrats indelibly are. On the contrary I often refer back to the cross of silver as proof that the Democrats always have been the same death trap they are today, and the likes of Bryan/Sanders always play the same sheep-herding role.

Bryan had the option to do what the Populists were urging and support direct government issue of greenbacks. (Which is not the Wall Street-controlled Fed twenty years ahead of time; the whole point of the movement was to break the stranglehold of the banksters. That was the point of the subtreasury plan, the movement's core policy goal.) That was a clear option, Bryan just didn't want to do it.

Instead Bryan disdainfully rejected it. If I recall right he made a point of refusing even the most minor concessions in return for a People's Party endorsement, instead insisting they give it to him unconditionally while indicating he really couldn't care less if they endorsed him or not. The Democrat establishment had the same open contempt for grassroots movements then which they do now.

Posted by: Russ | Apr 17 2019 21:00 utc | 110

KC @107--

Note Haspel hasn't denied any aspect of the news item.

Why perpetrate a hoax like the Skripal Saga, which was all too real for the one confirmed dead.

Taregt: Russia

Why? Previous sanctions not performing as anticipated--indeed, they are actually backfiring.

But if that policy line's already a proven failure, why double-down?
When faced with failure, Neocons always double-down.

Meanwhile, sanctions employed for almost 4 years when Skripal Act 1 begins clearly aren't working, which brings up the question of how Russia is actually perceived by the genuine International Community--did the provocations and sanctions diminish Russia's standing in the world prior to March 2018?

Given ever growing attendance to Russian sponsored and located symposiums, Russia's reputation seems to be growing at the expense of the smearing nations.

Motive for Skripal Hoax: To do what sanctions couldn't.

Outcome of Skripal Hoax: Russian reputation higher than ever. Indeed, the two hoaxes have had the opposite affect on Russia's international standing and the entire sanctions regime helped to make Russia stronger than it otherwise would be without their imposition.

Posted by: karlof1 | Apr 17 2019 21:44 utc | 111

Best TV with Congresswoman Gaggard (who is Democratic Presidential candidate) stating " we must get rid of the regime wars with are so destructive". A breath of fresh air!

Posted by: col from OZ | Apr 17 2019 22:38 utc | 112

@Russ #110
I understand better what you refer to.
Still, the analogy is quite strained in a number of ways:
1) Bryan was the Democrat (and Populist and other) candidate. Sanders was not even his own party's candidate.
2) Going fiat by issuing greenbacks was very much revolutionary. Fed issues or not doesn't materially affect the outcome as the 1st and 2nd Bank of US clearly showed.

You may well be correct in that Bryan wasn't a radical, but that's hardly a condemnation - he never promised to be and did publicly embrace a path which presumably he believed was more realistic.

Not clear to me that this is comparable to to outright selling out of constituencies which we see today.

Posted by: C1ue | Apr 18 2019 1:46 utc | 113

C1ue @113--

The relationship between Bryan and the Populists was contentious for numerous reasons, and the decision to fuse with the Democrat Party was hotly debated by Populists. The #1 issue was the Money Power and all relevant to it. They advocated public/state banking so operations would conform to public demand within states--remember, the Populists were farmers for the most part, not citified industrial workers. The Federal Reserve is the perverted spawn from their idea.

Racism and the urban/rural divide defeated the Populists, not Bryan's deficiencies. The seminal work on the Populist Era is Lawrence Goodwyn's Democratic Promise: The Populist Moment in America; it tells a story seldom told within the "usual" works on US History--the political saga of commonfolk banding together to defeat or at least control their common oppressor: The Money Power. Here's the Introduction to the abridged version I'm sure you'll find interesting.

Posted by: karlof1 | Apr 18 2019 6:03 utc | 114

Posted by: karlof1 | Apr 17, 2019 5:44:31 PM | 111

I think the target of this NYT article was Gina Haspel.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 18 2019 8:53 utc | 115

The spin on Gina Haspel is quite funny.

Here in 2018 she is described as Russia specialist.

In other news Fiona Hill went to Moscow last week.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 18 2019 9:31 utc | 116

somebody @115

The NYT tightly coordinates with the CIA. They are not an overt subsidiary like RFE/RL or VOA, or a covert subsidiary like CNN, but they certainly keep each other informed so that the narratives they manufacture for the unwashed masses synergize rather than interfere with one another. Unless there is a substantial rift in the ruling class with the CIA and the NYT on opposing sides of that rift I cannot see the NYT publishing anything to deliberately harm the CIA or any of its principals.

Unless Haspel is being positioned for expulsion by some rupture within the CIA itself? This, however, is highly unlikely as anyone at Haspel's level being fired from the CIA is usually bad for their health. Marshaling public sentiment behind her public removal is thus counterproductive for the normal court intrigue employed for ousting a mafia boss who has fallen out of favor with the oligarchy. The normal method for getting rid of such individuals would be to get them on a plane and crash it, though serving them polonium tea would work too if they want to also create another incident to tar Russia with. But you cannot just push a boss-level player out of the CIA and leave them with hurt feelings as the things they could reveal about the organization if they were inclined to revenge would be... embarrassing.

Posted by: William Gruff | Apr 18 2019 13:49 utc | 117

Posted by: C1ue | Apr 17, 2019 9:46:11 PM | 113

"Bryan wasn't a radical...and did publicly embrace a path which presumably he believed was more realistic."

Offhand I can't think of an example from US politics where a proposal was unrealistic other than from the point of view that the leaders didn't want to do it. Certainly a currency not impaled on any specie was realistic, as proven by the fact that just a few years later Wall Street decided fiat money was necessary after all, just as long as it was kept firmly under their control. Ergo the Fed.

But if the Democrats had wanted to go to public money and public banking in the 1890s, they could've done it with lots of support. It was totally realistic. They just didn't want to do it, on principle.

Same as how today's Democrats and their Dembot partisans oppose things like single payer on principle. There's never anything remotely "impractical", either financially or politically, about it.

Posted by: Russ | Apr 18 2019 15:02 utc | 118

I think Somebody may be on to something. (LOL)

Gina Haspel is the low man on the totem pole if you believe that Halper, Dearlove, Brennan, Mueller ran the 'op' to initiate a new McCarthyism (with some help from friends like Comey, Clapper, and Barr) as approved by McCain, Hillary, and Kissinger.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Apr 18 2019 15:43 utc | 119

Posted by: William Gruff | Apr 18, 2019 9:49:10 AM | 117

Looks to me like the CIA is partisan. Or how would you explain John Brennan?

Posted by: somebody | Apr 18 2019 16:41 utc | 120

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Apr 18, 2019 11:43:25 AM | 119

Sure. But why use the New York Times? Because it is already decided and it is now a matter of reputation and further career?

Posted by: somebody | Apr 18 2019 16:55 utc | 121

somebody @120

Brennan is not partisan. He just reacted with his gut to the establishment plans in 2016 going FUBAR unexpectedly and stupidly blamed one of the actors in the "Democracy Show" for the audience revolt that happened then. As if it was Trump's fault that he won despite his best efforts to be repulsive.

Posted by: William Gruff | Apr 18 2019 17:57 utc | 122

karlof1 @111

I think this post by karlof1 highlights a really important point. Why are the plans of the establishment/business elites in the US backfiring so badly? And when those plans fail miserably why do those elites not change strategies but instead just double down on the plans that already failed?

I think first we must realize that these "elites" are no smarter than any of the customers here at b's virtual whiskey bar. I think we tend to assume there must be some degree of meritocracy in their ascension to positions of power, but ruthless loyalty to the oligarchy is a trait far more in demand among the oligarchs than is intelligence or competence.

Next realize that these "elites" are operating with a deeply flawed understanding of how the real world works. Their social sciences and economic theories are built more around what they want to hear and believe that the world is about rather than rigorous science. For instance, according to their social paradigms so-called "deplorables" are a dying demographic so attacking them should have resulted in a boost in support among supposed non-deplorables. The problem is that this understanding of social dynamics is based upon identity, while identity takes a back seat to economic factors in powering the dynamics of society.

The simple fact of the matter is that these people don't have any better ideas, which is why they double down on failed ones.

Posted by: William Gruff | Apr 18 2019 18:35 utc | 123

somebody @115--

When I read b's report, that was one of my first thoughts. Haspel's been DCI for 13 months and doesn't seem to have accomplished much to forward the interest of the Money Power, which is the CIA's #1 benefactor. All the recent CIA regime change successes in South America were the results of plans laid and implemented before her tenure began. Even the attack on Venezuela was initiated before her ascension, but the op's been very poorly run, and that's on her. Elsewhere, it appears CIA terrorists are on the retreat most everywhere, mostly in Africa. The Syria/Iraq op was lost prior, but the inability to sow further chaos in the Pak/India/Afghan/Kashmir region is on her as is the ineffectiveness of the anti-Iran op. Of greater concern to the Money Power is what's happening with EU-EAEU-BRI interactions and the inadvisability of Trump's Trade War--what did CIA opine about that: did she okay it? If so, that's another demerit. The Arc of Resistance was in place prior but has continued to grow and gain strength, much of it fueled by the aggressive rhetoric of her predecessor Pompeo, who DPRK just asked to be removed from any further talks as he lacks "maturity." Then there're relations with RoK, Taiwan and Japan that aren't good from the Money Power's POV.

All of that's dirty laundry neither CIA nor Trump want aired, but why undermine MI6's anti-Russian op and further complicate life for May's regime? Payback for Steele and MI6 collusion with DNC and Mueller? Maybe Trump will fire Pompeo and promote Haspel to his place?

Posted by: karlof1 | Apr 18 2019 18:44 utc | 124

William Gruff @123--

Yeah, the "alternative reality" Rove crowed about the Neocons fostering has bitten them bigtime as most everything they've done has backfired, although they certainly created massive chaos, killed many innocents, and mangled the foundations of the International Security Regime as both Putin and Lavrov have patiently and tactfully observed. About the only win for them I would count is the restoration of Latin American reactionaries into positions of power, although that won't last forever. The rebound by/from Venezuela will be quite strong, and Latin America will finally undock itself from the Outlaw US Empire's orbit. Also take note of my above reply to somebody.

Given the Outlaw US Empire's standing in global opinion is at its lowest ever with many giving it Rogue State status, the pursuit/persecution of Assange will be a major own goal that will only provide further evidence that it's truly a Rogue State and must be treated accordingly. I'm almost 100% certain that analysis won't be presented by CIA to Trump.

Posted by: karlof1 | Apr 18 2019 19:05 utc | 125

The Guardian actually reported this:

No children or ducks harmed by novichok, say health officials
Wiltshire council clarification follows claims Donald Trump was shown images to contrary
Asked by the Guardian to comment on the New York Times report, Tracy Daszkiewicz, the director of public health at Wiltshire council, said: “There were no other casualties other than those previously stated. No wildlife were impacted by the incident and no children were exposed to or became ill as a result of either incident.”

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Apr 19 2019 12:40 utc | 126

Posted by: karlof1 | Apr 18, 2019 2:44:18 PM | 124

Gina Haspel is a career person whilst Pompeo seems to be funded by the Koch Brothers.

Somehow the story imitates reporting from the 2017 Syria attack

"Trump's team asked for his intelligence briefings to include graphics and pictures in lieu of large blocks of texts, saying the president was a 'visual and auditory learner'.

And when images of children being doused with water in an attempt to save them from what is believed to be the banned nerve agent Sarin, along with a father holding each of his poisoned twins in each arm, Trump was moved to act.

And when he delivered his statements on Thursday night, Trump said: 'It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack.

'No child of god should ever suffer such horror.' "

We know that there were no dead ducks and no ill children in Salisbury, so quite possibly the Syrian attack was fake, too.

But if - a big if - these leaks are from Trump's team - they intend to make Trump look like a moron. Maybe they found out that Trump's voters don't care.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 19 2019 14:03 utc | 127

Somehow, busloads of Yemeni children expertly shredded with advanced "smart weapons" does not elicit such reactions. Is it because Trump's sensitivity is easily dulled, or because his news intake is from his staff only?

In any case, any day we should expect Gina Haskell to be indicted for "lying to government officials", it is a crime even if it is not under oath -- I guess the lie should interfere with the performance of the duties, and here it arguably happened.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Apr 19 2019 15:15 utc | 128

@128 piotr.. good point.. perhaps this is more manufactured crap from the nyt? that is mostly all they manufacture..

Posted by: james | Apr 19 2019 15:38 utc | 129

somebody @127--

Yeah, but wasn't it one of the Trump women--the daughter--that was fooled by the Syrian False Flag and convinced daddy to do the missile attack. As far as I can recall, Trump has said very little about the Skripal Saga Hoax.

Posted by: karlof1 | Apr 19 2019 15:44 utc | 130

Somehow I doubt it. But here is Gina Haspel saying that the CIA will concentrate on Russia and Iran.

When Fiona Hill has just been to Moscow for "talks".

I guess it is Trump's idea of negotiating.

The Real News Network has a good discussion series with Stephen Cohen on Trump and Russia

"Trump’s stated aim is to reduce tensions with Russia, but is it motivated by peaceful objectives or is it preparations for aggression towards Iran and China " ....

Posted by: somebody | Apr 19 2019 16:32 utc | 131

131 related

Deripaska "accidentally" sanctioned

“There’s a civil war inside the administration over Russia policy.”— Sen. Chris Murphy

In other news Deripaska sues the US about the sanctions and launches $600K Journalist Prize.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 19 2019 17:00 utc | 132

@karlof1 #114
Thank you for the reference. It is something I will put on my list to look into further.
Your comment does seem to support that William Jennings Bryan was not a 3rd way type nor a self-destructive interloper.

Posted by: c1ue | Apr 19 2019 20:35 utc | 133

@Russ #118
I'm still unclear on what you're saying.
You agree that the "old line" Democrats didn't have any interest in fiat money. William Jennings Bryan's bimetallism was a half step - increase liquidity without going full fiat - and thus very much closer to the goals of the farmers/populists than the status quo.
Yes, the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, but let's not forget that the US was still on the gold standard. The fact that the Federal Reserve created does not equate to full fiat - it was not until 1933 that the US officially went off the gold standard, and 1970s when all links between dollar and fixed amount of gold ended.
As for "public" money and public banking - I would ask that you clarify what this means in the context of a gold standard, or else discuss how a conversion to fiat could be considered anything but revolutionary (i.e. radical).

Posted by: c1ue | Apr 19 2019 20:43 utc | 134

** The president instinctually opposes many of the punitive measures pushed by his Cabinet **

This kind of assertion is not unique. Trump acts like he's a mere visitor to the Oval Office. If the president opposes something that should be the end of it but, no, people who want to cut their own way through the woods seem to determine the policy. It's absurd that Trump does not punish this kind of behavior. When he found out he'd been blindsided, he should have cancelled his expulsion order in its entirety. But, true to his passive, detached thinking, he accepted what others decided for him.

Posted by: Richard Ong | Apr 19 2019 22:25 utc | 135

Posted by: Richard Ong | Apr 19, 2019 6:25:25 PM | 135

I think you are on to something. Trump faking a president?

Posted by: somebody | Apr 20 2019 5:33 utc | 136

If the CIA tells Trump that Huns are impaling Belgian babies on bayonets he will declare war on the Kaiser.

Posted by: eclecticmn | Apr 20 2019 20:56 utc | 137

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