FBI Court Order to Monitor ex-Trump Adviser

WP via Reuters: FBI got court order to monitor ex-Trump adviser in Russia probe: Washington Post. Quoting,

The judge was convinced there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of Russia, the Post said.

Since this is now a “spy case”, let’s review the meanings and definitions of espionage. Many of us are familiar with the atomic spies, particularly Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted under the Espionage Act of 1917, and sentenced to death. Others charged under the 1917 Act were the 80’s spies, Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen.

The “illegals” of the Illegals Program, of whom Anna Chapman is the most famous, were charged instead under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which covers anyone acting in a “political or quasi-political capacity” for a foreign government. As far as FARA is concerned, Anna Chapman could have been no more than a lobbyist, or an influencer of any kind. If she was in the pay of a foreign government, she was obliged to register under FARA.

Most of the above illegals had fictitious identities. They communicated with Russia using the advanced tools of spy tradecraft, such as secret radios, steganography (messages hidden in pictures), etc. Yet they were not charged under the Espionage Act, because prosecution under the Act, which is disturbingly vague in some ways, has been mostly reserved for transfer of classified information, of military value, to a foreign power.

Suppose you’re a digger, and you have a source. One question you should ask is whether the suspected violations are in the category of espionage, as defined by the 1917 Act, or covered by FARA?

  • A FARA case requires proof that the accused was paid by a foreign government, not a private company. In Russia, there is no practical difference, except where the money trail leads.
  • The 1917 Act, which has been abused with prosecution failures, requires the passage of classified information.  The case of James Rosen  would be an interesting digression, but it has the taint of cross-party animus. That particular form of abuse is not relevant here because the administration is investigating itself.

We think of the “illegals” as spies, because that was their ultimate intent.  Inserted into American society with false identities, their ultimate purpose was to get close to the centers of power, close to individuals who could be blackmailed, or simply co-opted to provide “sensitive”, if not classified information. After the process of development matured,  an illegal could even influence  policy by direct personal persuasion. This is classic subversion.

The illegals  were spies in the incubator. Had they hatched, Espionage Act prosecutions might have resulted. Had suspected violations of FARA continued into the current administration, they might have transitioned to classic espionage, or subversion of the decision process. It’s the gleam in the eye of every spymaster. It’s what they live for.

 So if you live to dig, this is your question: What was going on?  FARA, Espionage Act, or both?  The FBI is trying to figure this out. Nothing has been disclosed in open source save for a few names, a computer server, a payments book in Kiev, and the quote of the Post article.

But now you have these points to guide your search:

  • It is said that the discovery of Anna Chapman’s ring was unusual in the extreme. The most accepted explanation, that given by Chapman herself, is betrayal by the ring’s spymaster, Colonel Poteyev. So there’s a good chance there is another undiscovered or un-busted ring.
  • Ring, no ring, or ring yet-to be, there was a Russian spymaster. To not have one would be too unusual. Russians have spymasters like we have Wawas.
  • The ultimate goal of a spymaster who runs an illegals network is to infiltrate sleepers into centers of power and secrets.
  • The spymaster had leaks, from the Hillary Clinton campaign, as trading material. The popular assumption is that the leaking was basically unilateral, to derail the Clinton campaign.
  •  But there is something the spymaster desperately wants for his network,  something to motivate a trade.

What was it?

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