Friday, 23 February, 2018

United States spies, seeking to retrieve cyberweapons, paid Russian peddling dirt on Trump

US spies reportedly paid $100K to Russian operative who claimed to have dirt on Trump Modal Trigger Donald Trump AFP Getty Images
Doris Mccormick | 11 February, 2018, 01:58

United States intelligence officials desperate to get back stolen cyberweapons reportedly paid $100,000 to a Russian operative who claimed he was not only in possession of the hacking tools but had compromising information on President Donald Trump.

USA intelligence wanted to buy back the secret NSA tools so they could do inventory, the story goes, and in the meantime - unsolicited - the Russian promised to give them the Trump kompromat - which the spies insisted they had no interest in whatsoever. He claimed the information would link the president and his associates to Russian Federation. He never provided the NSA hacking weapons, and instead "produced unverified and possibly fabricated information" about Trump that included "bank records, emails and purported Russian intelligence data". However, the N.S.A. told the NYT that "all N.S.A. employees have a lifetime obligation to protect classified information". According to the NYT, the Trump-related material turned out to be "stuff of tabloid gossip pages, not intelligence collection".

The spy saga, unravelling somewhere in Germany, dragged for months, during which the NSA even allegedly used its official Twitter account to send coded messages to arrange numerous secret meetings. And this time the American operatives agreed, though with serious reservations, since it was obvious the Russian was connected to the Federal Security Department (FSB), the successor to the KGB. The alleged Trump material was left with the American, who has secured it in Europe.

No sound could be actually heard on it, which ultimately diminished its importance, although originally it was promised the video would show Trump hanging out with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room back in 2013 - something Mr. President emphatically denied outright. There remains no evidence that such a video exists.

The CIA and NSA have not yet comment on the reports of their "secret operation".

Intriguing as it is, but for fear of obtaining false information, which could potentially cause discord in the White House, the American operatives had to cut ties with the Russian and...let him go.

"Asking price was $10 million, brought down to $1 million to be paid over time".

The negotiations abruptly ended early this year, after USA spies seemingly figured out they wouldn't be getting anything useful from the man and threatened him to go back to Russian Federation and never return.

At the same time, there were questions about the Russian's reliability.

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He'd been busted for money laundering and his only business ties were to a almost bankrupt company that sold grills to streetside sausage peddlers, according to British incorporation papers cited by the Times.

"The distinction between an organized criminal and a Russian intelligence officer and a Russian who knows some Russian Intel guys - it all blurs together", said Steven L. Hall, former chief of Russia operations at the CIA.

US intelligence officials were also wary of the purported kompromat the Russian wanted to sell. "And the politics in Washington being what they are right now, you can understand why somebody at the Central Intelligence Agency or the NSA would say, 'No, thank you, we want no part in this'".

But the Americans desperately wanted the hacking tools.

Trump has also said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he denies Russian interference in the election.

Trump's tweet on Saturday said, "It is all starting to come out".

With 20/20 hindsight, USA intelligence was driven by desperation to recover the hacking tools which have been used to wreak havoc on millions of computers across the world, one veteran spy said.

US officials suspect that at least some of the sellers are working for Russia's spy services. Carter Page, the former campaign adviser who has been the focus of FBI investigators, features in one; Robert and Rebekah Mercer, the billionaire Republican donors, in another.

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