The Russian dossier dominating media headlines for the last year is possibly just the product of Russian disinformation, a prominent former intelligence official wrote Sunday in the Wall Street Journal.
Daniel Hoffman was the CIA station chief in Moscow, who served during the Cold War. His contention is the two primary narratives behind the dossier — Democrats pushing it as grounds for impeachment, and Republicans arguing “it was created as opposition research, leading them to see it as an elaborate partisan ploy” — are misguided.
He sees a third option as most likely:
“There is a third possibility, namely that the dossier was part of a Russian espionage disinformation plot targeting both parties and America’s political process. This is what seems most likely to me, having spent much of my 30-year government career, including with the CIA, observing Soviet and then Russian intelligence operations. If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that Vladimir Putin continues in the Soviet tradition of using disinformation and espionage as foreign-policy tools.”
Hoffman theorizes Putin is using the dossier’s author, Christopher Steele, as a pawn to generate turmoil within the United States government and shape an even larger divide between the Republicans and Democrats.
The Russians have meticulously and strategically selected means of distribution that would remove doubt in the claims made in the dossier, he contends. Hoffman suggests Steele was chosen because he is thought to be a credible source as a former MI-6 operative. Additionally, the Russians passed information acquired in the DNC hack along to WikiLeaks, who prides itself on its “self-proclaimed reputation for authenticity,” adding even more perceived legitimacy to their claims. These tactics in conjunction with the Russian model of sprinkling fragments of truth on top of false accusations have made the situation more convoluted and difficult to decipher.
Hoffman maintains, despite the unexpected outcome of the election, the plan is still proving effective. “For more than a year, Democrats and Republicans have traded charges of collusion, obstruction and conspiracy. Rather than serve Russia’s interests with increasingly intense partisan bickering, everyone should focus on the common enemy: Mr. Putin and his nefarious attempt to undermine America’s political system.”
Putin sees The United States as a threat not in a militaristic sense, but rather, our “ideals of liberty, freedom and democracy have the power to break his regime’s grip on the country.”
He concludes “Americans must enhance their understanding of Mr. Putin’s strategy and tactics better to defend against the Kremlin’s relentless propaganda. Otherwise the Steele dossier controversy will continue to be a victory for Mr. Putin and a loss for our democracy.”