Igor Danchenko, the primary source for the infamous dossier deployed against Donald Trump in 2016, was acquitted Tuesday of lying to the FBI. If the verdict seems surprising, consider the back story. Danchenko, a Russian national, was once on the FBI payroll.
As Julie Kelly explains, that made the Russian part of the bureau’s untouchable “sources and methods,” protecting him and any documents referencing him from congressional and other outside scrutiny. That invites a look at another man on the bureau’s payroll, the FBI agent who spied for Russia and escaped scrutiny for 15 years.
According to the FBI, Robert Phillip Hanssen was “the most damaging spy in Bureau history,” arrested on February 18, 2001, and charged with espionage on behalf of Russia and the former Soviet Union. The FBI man, who swore an oath to enforce the law and protect the nation as an FBI agent, “provided highly classified national security information to the Russians in exchange for more than $1.4 million in cash, bank funds, and diamonds.”
Hanssen held “key counterintelligence positions” and beginning in 1985, he used encrypted communications, ‘dead drops,’ and other clandestine methods to provide information to the KGB and its successor agency, the SVR. The information he delivered compromised numerous human sources, counterintelligence techniques, investigations, dozens of classified U.S. government documents, and technical operations of extraordinary importance and value.”
According to the FBI, Hanssen went undetected for years, “because of his experience and training as a counterintelligence agent.” Hanssen was detailed to the Office of Foreign Missions at the Department of State. There Hanssen enjoyed “full access to the FBI’s Automated Case Support (ACS) system and the State Department’s computer systems.”
The bureau lured Hanssen back to FBI headquarters with a special assignment and monitored his activity. In February, 2001, they caught him at a dead drop in Virginia. On July 6, 2001, Hanssen pleaded guilty to 15 counts of espionage and in 2002 he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Hanssen had committed “the most traitorous actions imaginable against a country governed by the Rule of Law,” said FBI director Louis Freeh in February 20, 2001. Hanssen violated his FBI oath “in the most egregious and reprehensible manner imaginable.” His crimes are “an affront not only to his fellow FBI employees but to the American people” and Hanssen’s own family. “I take solace and satisfaction, however,” Freeh said “that the FBI succeeded in this investigation.” That claim could stand just a bit more detail.
Hanssen succeeded in eluding the FBI for some 15 years, almost as long as the 17 years it took the FBI to catch Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, a real domestic terrorist. The actual span may be longer, since in some accounts Hanssen had been caught spying for the Soviets in 1976, only three years after he joined the FBI. His wife Bonnie found him covering up documents in the basement of their home. Hanssen had recently been assigned to a counterintelligence unit on Soviet activity.
His “unusual activities had aroused suspicion from time to time,” Freeh claimed, but the FBI failed to catch the spy. Maybe bureau bosses weren’t looking hard enough.
Freeh resisted the CIA practice of “fluttering” agents every five years with polygraph tests. Former CIA director James Woolsey wondered why Hanssen wasn’t caught when he regularly ran his own name and particulars through bureau computers. It is possible that someone higher up in the FBI or DOJ was protecting him.
Freeh does not identify the FBI officials who assigned Hanssen to the State Department, the prime target for foreign agents going back to the days of the Stalinist spy Alger Hiss. That explains the big-time money the Soviet KGB and Russian SVR were willing to pay Hanssen. The FBI and State Department would not be eager to reveal the full damage assessment.
Seven months after Freeh’s statement, on September 11, 2001, the nation had more evidence of FBI failure. The nation’s leading counterintelligence agency failed to stop the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor in 1941.
In 2008, the nation elected Democrat Barack Obama, whose major influence was Communist Party stalwart Frank Marshall Davis, disguised as the poet “Frank” in the 1995 Dreams from My Father. The African American Davis spent most of his life defending an all-white Soviet dictatorship. Frank earned a place on the FBI’s security index, but in the run-up to 2008 the bureau kept rather quiet about the candidate who aimed to fundamentally transform the United States of America.
One of President Obama’s first actions was to scrap missile defense for U.S. allies Poland and the Czech republic, which had drawn complaints from Russia. American missile defense was also the subject in 2012, when Obama told Russian President Dimitry Medvedev, “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.”
“Yeah, I understand,” Medvedev responded, “I understand your message about space. Space for you.”
“After my election I have more flexibility,” Obama told the Russian president.
“I understand,” Medvedev said. “I will transmit this information to Vladimir,” a reference to Vladimir Putin, a veteran of the KGB. Putin lamented the demise of the Soviet Union, the dream regime of Frank Marshall Davis. So the composite character president, as David Garrow described him in Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, did his best to give the Russians what they wanted on missile defense.
On Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s watch, Russia paid millions to a U.S. lobbying firm to influence Clinton to ensure the deal’s success. In 2013, the Rosatom company backed by the Russian state, acquired a Canadian company with assets in the United States. That enabled Russia to own about 20 percent of U.S. uranium production capacity.
Both Clinton and the president essentially looked the other way at Russia’s annexation of the Crimea in 2014. Obama headed the most Russia-friendly administration in U.S. history, but in 2016, a new narrative emerged. According to Hillary Clinton, Vladimir Putin wanted her rival, Donald Trump, to win the election.
The outgoing president deployed the upper reaches of the FBI and Department of Justice against candidate and President Trump. One of the key players was Peter Strzok, assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, supposedly arrayed against foreign spies. Strzok and other FBI agents deployed covert operations such as Midyear Exam, designed to keep Clinton in the running, and Crossfire Hurricane, against President Trump.
The infamous Steele dossier was a total fabrication, financed by the Clinton campaign. Confidential source Igor Danchenko, on the FBI payroll, collaborated in the campaign and was also the source for the fake story that Trump engaged in a conspiracy with the Kremlin.
That was the basis for the charge that Trump was a traitor and election cheater, endlessly repeated by congressional Democrats and the establishment media, and still trumpeted by Hillary Clinton. None of it was true, but nobody in the FBI, from James Comey, Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok on down, ever faced criminal charges.
A Hunter Biden laptop found its way to the FBI, but in short order 51 veterans of the intelligence community said the laptop smacked of “Russian disinformation.” The former intel bosses included CIA director John Brennan, who voted for Communist Party candidate Gus Hall in 1976 and never should have been hired in the first place.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is part of the intelligence community, now composing a full 18 members. For more than 15 years, one of their own agents spied for Russia, and the FBI failed to detect him.
As Louis Freeh said in 2001, Robert Hanssen “swore an oath to enforce the law and protect the nation.” He violated his FBI oath “in the most egregious and reprehensible manner imaginable” and his crimes were “an affront not only to his fellow FBI employees but to the American people.” In 2022, the American people could say much the same about the FBI.
As its record confirms, the FBI does not protect America or uphold the rule of law. The struggle of the people against FBI repression is the struggle of memory against forgetting.