From the editor

February 2017




There is never a dull day in the intelligence world. December 2016 through January 2017, was a particularly difficult time for many of the world's services. There were more deadly ISIS/Daesh attacks in Europe and the Middle East; Russian-sponsored hackers were identified resulting in the expulsion of over 30 spies from Washington DC; GCHQ chief Robert Hannigan announced he is stepping down; there's all change too at the top of the US intelligence and defence community. And of course, the controversy of the so-called Trump Dossier which we have named as the Skeleton Brief, continues to rumble on.

Some of our editors know the author of the dossier - former MI6 officer Christopher Steele - who during part of his service, was based at MI6 Field Station Moscow. He's well regarded and an experienced intelligence man. His business intelligence company was asked to prepare a file on Donald Trump's supposed links to Moscow - and secure 'tittle tattle' on a wide range of unproven incidents. Naturally the file surfaced in the media - it was an intentional act by his opponents to trip Trump during the US General Election. Initially the President blamed the CIA for the leak, but this wasn't the case. Several copies have been in circulation since October last year, but they proved too hot to handle, even for the likes of the anti-Trump New York Times.

When the dossier emerged there was an eruption of emotions and accusations. For his part, Mr Steele quietly slipped away and hasn't been seen or heard of since. Was he wrong to produce such a report? Perhaps - knowing his former employer - MI6, might be drawn into the case.

This was all about raw intelligence (RI) - and 'skeleton briefs' are produced every day. They are known as gateways - stepping stones which can be used by intelligence analysts and investigators to secure additional information of high regard. This is missing from Steele's findings... truth backed by references, credible sources and the backbone to any proper investigation - hard evidence. Without any of the supporting criteria - the file remains RI. Had the word allegation been used a little more in some of its 16 sections, then Steele may well have been forgiven.

What I am absolutely certain of, is that some media houses will have despatched investigators to trace the unidentified sources and more materialistic evidence, such as the alleged sex tapes. They will also be seeking some of the characters who Steele spoke with. And so will President Putin's FSB. I understand they believe a number of testimonies could only have come from intelligence sources.

A murky business indeed, and one that I am convinced may yet come back to haunt a few figures. In Eye Spy 107, our editorial examines the affair and all its implications. For more, download the contents of issue 107 here.

Mark Birdsall - Editor