Wikileaks and The Importance of Intelligence Analysis
WikiLeaks cables: Russia ‘was tracking killers of Alexander Litvinenko but UK warned it off’
Claim that British intelligence was incompetent will deepen diplomatic row sparked by move to deport MP’s Russian researcher
From the Guardian
Russia was tracking the assassins of dissident spy Alexander Litvinenkobefore he was poisoned but was warned off by Britain, which said the situation was “under control”, according to claims made in a leaked US diplomatic cable.
The secret memo, recording a 2006 meeting between an ex-CIA bureau chief and a former KGB officer, is set to reignite the diplomatic row surrounding Litvinenko’s unsolved murder that year, which many espionage experts have linked directly to the Kremlin.
The latest WikiLeaks release comes after relations between Moscow and London soured as a result of Britain’s decision to expel a Russian parliamentary researcher suspected of being a spy.
The memo, written by staff at the US embassy in Paris, records “an amicable 7 December dinner meeting with ambassador-at-large Henry Crumpton [and] Russian special presidential representative Anatoliy Safonov”, two weeks after Litvinenko’s death from polonium poisoning had triggered an international hunt for his killers.
During the dinner, Crumpton, who ran the CIA’s Afghanistan operations before becoming the US ambassador for counter-terrorism, and Safonov, an ex-KGB colonel-general, discussed ways the two countries could work together to tackle terrorism. The memo records that “Safonov opened the meeting by expressing his appreciation for US/Russian co-operative efforts thus far. He cited the recent events in London – specifically the murder of a former Russian spy by exposure to radioactive agents – as evidence of how great the threat remained and how much more there was to do on the co-operative front.”
The memo contains an observation from US embassy officials that Safonov’s comments suggested Russia “was not involved in the killing, although Safonov did not offer any further explanation”.
The rest HERE:
With all of the raw data dumps from Wikileaks and the furor surrounding them in the press around the globe something important has been rarely pointed out. The important point is this: All intelligence, even observations in state cables like the ones Wikileaks is putting out there, need to be read by individuals trained to “analyze” what is said. This is often performed by any of the intelligence organs of the state and likely did get done when these were secret. Now of course, they are off of the reservation and in the open for everyone to read and make poor conclusions on.
In the above cable release we have what seems to be data that says our man in the UK Crumpton, met with and believed that the Russians had nothing to do with the murder of Alex Litvinenko. In fact, the information says that MI5 fucked the pooch and told the Russians to back off because they had it all in hand. While this may sound reasonable to some, it is of course not so much the assessment I would make after reading this cable, I mean, look at the source. A “former” KGB operations man is telling the Ambassador that the Russians had nothing to do with the killing of an ex KGB agent who poked his finger in the eye of not only the KGB, but also Putin? You mean to say that “nothing” is going to happen to someone who does that and then defects to the West?
Taken at face value, this cable may read to many out there as others did Litvinenko in and the Russians (who are always open and honest with us) had in no way anything to do with it either state sponsored or even Russian Mob related. In short, Pooty Poot was a huggy bear and we, the US and Russia were the best of friends. Perhaps though, it was just the stance at the time to blindly accept such data as the straight dope (Bush Era cooperation with Russia in the War on Terror) Or, perhaps the ambassador just put what “could” be said in this cable and then made a full and frank report in a more secure fashion back to Langley (which is what I lean toward)
Here’s the analysis as I see it from this cable:
1) The US and Russia were on better terms by 01 with Bush looking into Putin’s soul via his eyes. Why rock the boat here huh?
2) The turf of MI5 has been the equivalent of the “Year of the Spy” (1985) It has not been so active of a playing field since the cold war.
3) Politically, this was a hot potato. If the US pushed the issue and sided with Britain, it would cause more friction that the US did not want. This kind of killing had not been seen in the UK since 1978 and the Markov Affair.
The summary analysis per this cable: “There are doubts that the Russians did this, lets not push it” and if you remember now, the US did nothing really to push on the Litvinenko affair. There was no stern call out nor any back room dealing to get anyone on UK soil that they really wanted to talk to (Lugovoi) So, it went the way of the cold case really. Litvinenko’s wife is still trying to get the truth out but no one seems really interested in poking the “bear” to get the truth to be told.
So, the net result of this cable’s release? Well, I am sure that many people will read it and not be able to analyze it properly to see the truth of the matter. The same should be said about all of the cables being released by Wikileaks, an alleged news organization that fails to provide any context on the “reporting” they claim to be doing. Without analysis, you really don’t get the whole picture.