Well, there you go.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting on the source of the story that was leaked yesterday by Buzzfeed.
While caution dictates that we continue to refer to this information as “unsubstantiated,” at least we have a name, now.
A former British intelligence officer now working for a private security-and-investigations firm produced the dossier of unverified allegations about President-elect Donald Trump’s activities and connections in Russia, people familiar with the matter say.
Christopher Steele, a director of London-based Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd., prepared the dossier, the people said. The document alleges that the Kremlin colluded with Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign and claims that Russian officials have compromising evidence of Mr. Trump’s behavior that could be used to blackmail him. Mr. Trump has dismissed the contents of the dossier as false and Russia has denied the claims.
Steele’s partner in Orbis, Christopher Burrows, was reached by the media and asked to comment on the dossier. He refused to confirm or deny their involvement with the report.
Given this news, it would seem the question now is who is responsible for employing their services?
Orbis Business Intelligence was formed in 2009 by former British intelligence professionals, it says on its website. U.K. corporate records say Orbis is owned by another company that in turn is jointly owned by Messrs. Steele and Burrows. It occupies offices in an ornate building overlooking Grosvenor Gardens in London’s high-end Belgravia neighborhood.
The firm relies on a “global network” of experts and business leaders, provides clients with strategic advice, mounts “intelligence-gathering operations” and conducts “complex, often cross-border investigations,” its website says.
The dossier consists of a series of unsigned memos that appear to have been written between June and December 2016. Beyond creating the document, Mr. Steele also came up with a plan to get the information to law-enforcement officials in the U.S. and Europe, including the F.B.I., according to a person familiar with the matter.
Speaking of what they do, Burrows is quoted:
He said when clients asked a firm like Orbis to investigate something, you “see what’s out there” first and later “stress test” your findings against other evidence.
The report contained a lot of really ridiculous, lewd, nasty accounts, and Trump has condemned it heavily as “fake news,” and a “witch hunt.”
Having a name and company connected will at least remove some of the shadows surrounding the story. Or so you would think.
The author of the report had a good reputation in the intelligence world and was stationed in Russia for years, said John Sipher, who retired in 2014 after 28 years in the CIA’s clandestine service, where he specialized in Russia and counterintelligence. Mr. Sipher is now director of client services at CrossLead Inc., a Washington-based technology company set up by retired U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
Not everyone in the business is convinced, however.
When government intelligence agencies produce clandestine political reports, they often include thick sections about sources, possible motivations behind their information and the methods used to approach them. Such background helps decision makers determine how reliable the information is.
Andrew Wordsworth, co-founder of London-based investigations firm Raedas, who often works on Russian issues, said the memos in the Trump dossier were “not convincing at all.”
“It’s just way too good,” he said. “If the head of the CIA were to declare he got information of this quality, you wouldn’t believe it.”
Mr. Wordsworth said it wouldn’t make sense for Russian intelligence officials to be exposing state secrets to a former MI-6 officer, because “Russians believe once you are an agent, you’re an agent forever.”
So I guess this one will be up to the public to determine several things: One – Is it true? Two – Do they care?
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