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Christopher Steele the ex MI6 officer at the center of the story.

My old mother, bless her, was a terrible one for taking things at face value and believing whatever tall tales people told her.  She was always an instant soft touch for whatever Urban Myth was on the go or whatever hair had got up the arse of the Daily Express that morning.  She lived in a state of inherited anxiety about the woes of the world, which sadly did little for her state of mind.

I studied first History and then Law, two disciplines which like the Police and Secret Services teach one never to take anything at face value.  The first rule of History, when presented with a new document, and the first thoughts when meeting a new witness in a case, should always be “Who is this bastard and why is he lying to me?”

In the old days before the big corporations took them over and sacked them, old fashioned newspapers employed old fashioned journalists, who asked the same question.  If it was too good to be true it probably wasn’t.

And so it is with this monumental kerfuffle over the Trump report.  “Watersportgate” as some wag has termed it.

“So “M”, do you think Trump’s inauguration will be a live stream event?”

So how do we tell?  Well let’s apply the tests that Historians, Lawyers, Police and Spooks all apply to the sources and their disclosures.

One  Is the Source Credible?

By this we need to know if the source is in a position to know what they are talking about.  The original source for these reports seems to be one Christopher Steele (52) who lived in Surrey just outside London until earlier this week when we are told he ran off smartish leaving the lights on and the cat with his neighbour.  Christopher is an ex MI6 officer (note that he was not “an agent”) and spent twenty years as a Russian “expert” but only two years actually in Moscow and he hasn’t been back for two decades.  When there he was probably running others who were his sources of information.  Essentially, he was an office wallah.  He now runs an intelligence business, (like they all do), called Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd and he was tapped to do a report for someone.  This should ring bells immediately.

It might be helpful to know who the commissioning clients were.   If the clients were American why turn to the British to do this report?  Why not use one of their own?  Unless of course it is because Christopher can be expediently dropped in it should the need arise.  And Christopher doesn’t seem to have spotted the trap.

And what of Christopher himself?  Was he in anyway “showy” was he always “grounded” or given to little flights of fancy?  Is he gullible and how good are his sources anyway?  Because as an officer we can be sure Christopher has little field experience.  How did he get this information – as it is all second hand and from whom?  How good are his sources and why are they feeding him? What was in it for them?  Because no one ever just gives information without wanting something.

How close could he get?  No one ever “leaves” the Secret Services and we should doubt how easy it would be for him to travel easily in Moscow even if he could get to go in the first place.

The report itself (which can be viewed here) is rather tatty looking and nowhere nearly as salacious as suggested by the likes of the gutter press.  Given the wonderfully glossy and professional website for Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd I would have thought their reports would be equally attractively presented, perhaps on watermarked paper or at least on headed paper.  If I had paid good money for this pathetic offering I would have been less than happy.  So the question has to be…how big is Orbis?  Can it support a big enquiry like this?  Where is the analysis?  Apart from the glossy web site how good are these guys?

There is no way to weight the evidence given.  On the report there are no indications as to what bit is strong or medium or just for noting.  I find that strange and uncomfortable.  As an omission in what I would feel I was paying for, it makes me worried.

On top of all the above there is little here that anyone might not already know or guess.  What we see could be knocked up by anyone fresh out of University with an International Relations degree, and perhaps was.  It seems rather heavy on big names.  I was surprised also that it included elementary spelling mistakes e.g. Alpha for Alfa throughout one section at pages 25 and 26.  Could that imply that elements have been replaced or inserted by others after delivery to spice up the document?  Trouble is without proper pagination and there isn’t, this is a distinct possibility.  We cannot be certain that the report being shown is the one Steele prepared.  With Christopher Steele off the scene, at least temporarily, we may not know for sure.  His business partner is certainly not advancing any comments.  Has this poor sap been hung out to dry?

Two.  Are his sources good?

This is a bit like asking the above question again but actually asks if the people Steele spoke to were in a position to know of what they spoke, or are they just passing on gossip?  Do they have direct access to the people they talk about and meetings they claim took place?  Are they high enough up the food-chain or are they making it up?  There is a plethora of big names here!  How could he check from back here in Britain?  Otherwise we should be very sceptical.  The further away the source is from the story the more the obligation is to back it up.  The report seems a bit thin on this.

The more one thinks about this the deeper Steele seems to have been sinking with this commission.

Three.  What are the agendas of the sources?

Any source is at risk for speaking out.  They tell you things at personal risk.  It might be risk of losing their job as whistle-blower, or going to jail, or being found face down in the Moskva river.  If we do not know the source we cannot guess his agenda, or the level of his personal risk, and that means you are playing poker blind.

Four.  Do you know more than them? 

Is what you are being leaked consistent with other information you already have?  Have they given you good gup before?  From what we have here we simply cannot tell.

No one seems the least bit interested in even checking the document for what we can check.  Who is Mr Cohen for instance?  Can we be certain that he is, or was, Trump’s attorney?  Has anyone checked his movements as given in the document?  Was he in Prague on the dates cited?  Thought not.

As far as I know there are no accompanying films of the bedroom urine shower scene and no audio tape either.  Even if there were it should be subjected to a full forensic examination to check it is not just made up.

All of which means we should turn now to the agenda of those who leaked the report into the mainstream.  And all the above questions apply again.  In whose interests does disclosure lie?

The Democrats, the Trump hating Republicans, the Oligarchy and the elite establishment, all of whom I suspect set the whole thing up from the start.

Copyright David Macadam 2017