Showing posts with label intelligence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label intelligence. Show all posts

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

An insider has finally admitted what any digital native would be well aware of - your personal health information entered into a national database will be no safer that having it up on Facebook


Remembering that a federal government national screening program, working with with a private entity, has already accessed personal information from Medicare without consent of registered individuals and entered these persons into a research program - again without consent - and these individuals apparently could not easily opt out of being listed as a research subject but were often only verbally offered  the option of declining to take part in testing, which presumably meant that health data from other sources was still capable of being collected about them by the program. One has to wonder what the Turnbull Government and medical establishment actually consider patient rights to be in practice when it comes to "My Health Record".

Healthcare IT News, 4 May 2018:

Weeks before the anticipated announcement of the My Health Record opt out period, an insider’s leak has claimed the Australian Digital Health Agency has decided associated risks for consumers “will not be explicitly discussed on the website”.

As the ADHA heads towards the imminent announcement of the three-month window in which Australians will be able to opt out of My Health Record before being signed up to the online health information repository, the agency was caught by surprise today when details emerged in a blog post by GP and member of the steering group for the national expansion of MHR, Dr Edwin Kruys.

Kruys wrote that MHR offers “clear benefits” to healthcare through providing clinicians with greater access to discharge summaries, pathology and diagnostic reports, prescription records and more, but said “every digital solution has its pros and cons” and behind-the-scenes risk mitigation has been one of the priorities of the ADHA. However, he claimed Australians may not be made aware of the risks involved in allowing their private medical information to be shared via the Federal Government’s system.

“It has been decided that the risks associated with the MyHR will not be explicitly discussed on the website,” Kruys wrote.

“This obviously includes the risk of cyber attacks and public confidence in the security of the data.”

The most contentious contribution in the post related to the secondary use of Australians’ health information, the framework of which has yet to be announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt.

Contacted by HITNA, the agency moved swiftly to have Kruys delete the paragraph relating to secondary use.

In the comment that has since been removed, Kruys wrote, “Many consumers and clinicians regard secondary use of the MyHR data as a risk. The MyHR will contain a ‘toggle’, giving consumers the option to switch secondary use of their own data on or off.”

Under the My Health Records Act 2012, health information in MHR may be collected, used and disclosed “for any purpose” with the consent of the healthcare recipient. One of the functions of the system operator is “to prepare and provide de-identified data for research and public health purposes”. 

Before these provisions of the act will be implemented, a framework for secondary use of MHR systems data must be established. 

HealthConsult was engaged to assist the Federal Government in developing a draft framework and implementation plan for the process and within its public consultation process in 2017 received supportive submissions from the Australasian College of Health Informatics, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and numerous research institutes, universities, and clinicians’ groups.

Computerworld, 14 May 2018:

Use of both de-identified data and, in some circumstances, identifiable data will be permitted under a new government framework for so-called “secondary use” of data derived from the national eHealth record system. Linking data from the My Health Record system to other datasets is also allowed under some circumstances.

The Department of Health last year commissioned the development of the framework for using My Health Record data for purposes other than its primary purpose of providing healthcare to an individual.

Secondary use can include research, policy analysis and work on improving health services.

Under the new framework, individuals who don’t want their data used for secondary purposes will be required to opt-out. The opt-out process is separate from the procedure necessary for individuals who don’t want an eHealth record automatically created for them (the government last year decided to shift to an opt-out approach for My Health Record)……

Access to the data will be overseen by an MHR Secondary Use of Data Governance Board, which will approve applications to access the system.

Any Australian-based entity with the exception of insurance agencies will be permitted to apply for access the MHR data. Overseas-based applicants “must be working in collaboration with an Australian applicant” for a project and will not have direct access to MHR data.

The data drawn from the records may not leave Australia, but under the framework there is scope for data analyses and reports produced using the data to be shared internationally……

The Department of Health came under fire in 2016 after it released for download supposedly anonymised health data. Melbourne University researchers were able to successfully re-identify a range of data.

Last month the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner revealed that health service providers accounted for almost a quarter of the breaches reported in the first six weeks of operation of the Notifiable Data Breach (NDB) scheme.


Australians who don't want a personal electronic health record will have from July 16 to October 15 to opt-out of the national scheme the federal government announced on Monday.

Every Australian will have a My Health Record unless they choose to opt-out during the three-month period, according to the Australian Digital Health Agency.

The announcement follows the release of the government’s secondary use of data rules earlier this month that inflamed concerns of patient privacy and data use.


Under the framework, medical information would be made available to third parties from 2020 - including some identifying data for public health and research purposes - unless individuals opted out.

In other news....... 


A cyber attack on Family Planning NSW's website has exposed the personal information of up to 8000 clients, including women who have booked appointments or sought advice about abortion, contraception and other services.

Clients received an email from FPNSW on Monday alerting them that their website had been hacked on Anzac Day.

The compromised data contained information from roughly 8000 clients who had contacted FPNSW via its website in the past 2½ years to make appointments or give feedback.

It included the personal details clients entered via an online form, including names, contact details, dates of birth and the reason for their enquiries….

The website was secured by 10am on April 26, 2018 and all web database information has been secure since that time

SBS News, 14 May 2018:

Clients were told Family Planning NSW was one of several agencies targeted by cybercriminals who requested a bitcoin ransom on April 25…..
The not-for-profit has five clinics in NSW, with more than 28,000 people visiting every year.

The most recent Digital Rights Watch State of Digital Rights (May 2018) report can be found here.

The report’s 8 recommendations include:

Repeal of the mandatory metadata retention scheme

Introduction of a Commonwealth statutory civil cause of action for serious invasions of privacy

A complete cessation of commercial espionage conducted by the Australian Signals Directorate

Changes to copyright laws so they are flexible, transparent and provide due process to users

Support for nation states to uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in the digital age

Expand the definition of sensitive information under the Privacy Act to specifically include behavioural biometrics

Increase measures to educate private businesses and other entities of their responsibilities under the Privacy Act regarding behavioural biometrics, and the right to pseudonymity

Introduce a compulsory register of entities that collect static and behavioural biometric data, to provide the public with information about the entities that are collecting biometric data and for what purpose

The loopholes opened with the 2011 reform of the FOI laws should be closed by returning ASD, ASIO, ASIS and other intelligence agencies to the ambit of the FOI Act, with the interpretation of national security as a ground for refusal of FOI requests being reviewed and narrowed

Telecommunications providers and internet platforms must develop processes to increase transparency in content moderation and, make known what content was removed or triggered an account suspension.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

The man who would be prime minister


“In terms of ministerial oversight, the portfolio has the following ministers: the Minister for Home Affairs, who sits in the cabinet and who is also separately sworn as the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection; the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs; the Minister for Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity; and the Assistant Minister for Home Affairs. The core functions of the department are policy, strategy, planning and coordination in relation to the domestic security and law enforcement functions of the Commonwealth as well as managed migration and the movement of goods across our borders…..four portfolio agencies that sit alongside the department, which are statutorily independent, but they are within the portfolio. They all, like me, report to the cabinet minister. The Australian Federal Police, ACIC, AUSTRAC and Australian Border Force. That is four. Then, with the passage of relevant legislation that is currently before the parliament, ASIO will move across soon.  [Secretary Dept. of Home Affairs Michael Pezullo at Senate Estimates Hearing, Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, 26 February 2018]

The worry about concentration of political power per se and that power in inappropriate hands…….

The Saturday Paper, 28 April 2018:

Peter Dutton is arguably the most powerful person in the country. In his new ministry he has oversight for national security, for the Federal Police, Border Force and ASIO, for the law enforcement and emergency management functions of the Attorney-General’s Department, the transport security functions of the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, the counterterrorism and cybersecurity functions of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the multicultural affairs functions of the Department of Social Services, and the entire Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

It is hard to imagine any member of federal parliament less suited to exercise the sort of powers now held by Dutton. It is easy to argue that no minister should be entrusted with such vast powers. But the fact that those powers are in Dutton’s hands is seriously alarming.

Ministerial powers are subject to limits. The rule of law means that the limits are subject to supervision by the judicial system. Most ministers understand that. Dutton apparently does not…..

On April 7, 2018, Dutton called for “like-minded” countries to come together and review the relevance of the 1951 Refugee Convention.

So, here it is: Australia’s most powerful minister is wilfully mistreating innocent people at vast public expense. He is waging a propaganda war against refugees and against the people who try to help them. And he is trying to persuade other countries to back away from international human rights protection.

He tries to make it seem tolerable by hiding it all away in other countries, so that we can’t see the facts for ourselves. [my yellow highlighting]

Evidence that the community concern is justified…….

MSM News, 29 April 2018:

Ministers are planning to make it easier for the government to spy on its own citizens, a leaked document has revealed.

As it stands, the Australian Federal Police and Australian Security Intelligence Organisation need a warrant from The Attorney-General to access Australians' emails, bank records and text messages.

But ministers are reportedly planning to amend the Intelligence Services Act of 2001 to allow Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Defence Minister Marise Payne to give the orders without the country's top lawyer knowing

The intelligence - which could include financial transactions, health data and phone records - would be collected by a government spy agency called the Australian Signals Directorate. 

The plan was revealed by a leaked letter from Home Affairs Secretary Mike Pezzullo to Defence Secretary Greg Moriarty.

The top secret letter, written in February and seen by The Sunday Telegraph, details a plan to 'hack into critical infrastructure' to 'proactively disrupt and covertly remove' cyber-enabled criminals including child exploitation and terror networks. 
In March, the plan was outlined in a ministerial submission signed by Mike Burgess, the chief of the Australian Signals Directorate.

It states: 'The Department of Home Affairs advises that it is briefing the Minister for Home Affairs to write to you (Ms Payne) seeking your support for a further tranche of legislative reform to enable ASD to better support a range of Home Affairs priorities.'
But a proposal to change the law has not yet been made.

A spokesman for the Defence Minister Ms Payne said: 'There has been no request to the Minister for Defence to allow ASD to counter or disrupt cyber-­enabled criminals onshore.' 
      
An intelligence source told The Sunday Telegraph that the proposals could spell danger for Australians.

'It would give the most powerful cyber spies the power to turn on their own citizens,' the source said.

The letter also outlines 'step-in' powers which could force companies to hand over citizens' data, the source added.

The submission says the powers would help keep Australian businesses and individuals safe. [my yellow highlighting]

The inherent dishonesty of the Dept. of Home Affairs…..

Secretary of Department of Home Affairs Michael Pezullo, Senate Estimates, Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, 26 February 2018, denying the possibility of by-passing the judiciary and “the country's top lawyer”:

As I said at the last estimates meeting of this committee, all executive power is subject to the sovereignty of this parliament and to the supremacy of the law. In bringing the security powers, capabilities and capacities of the Commonwealth together into a single portfolio, these fundamentals will remain in place. All of them are crucial attributes of liberty. I repeat what I said last year to this committee: any contrary suggestion that the establishment of Home Affairs will somehow create an extra judicial apparatus of power bears no relationship to the facts or to how our system of government works, and any suggestion that we in the portfolio are somehow embarked on the secret deconstruction of the supervisory controls which envelop and check executive power are nothing more than flights of conspiratorial fancy that read into all relevant utterances the master blueprint of a new ideology of undemocratic surveillance and social control. [my yellow highting]

Ministerial denial - of sorts....

When confronted by the mainstream media Dutton supported government spying on its citizens, saying he believes there is a case to be made for giving the Australian Signals Directorate more powers to investigate domestic cyber threats, with appropriate safeguards in place and "If we were to make any changes ... I would want to see judicial oversight or the first law officer (attorney-general) with the power to sign off on those warrants".

Hands up everyone in Australia who will sleep well knowing that the tsar has spoken. *crickets*

Monday, 19 March 2018

Trump brings out the knives in his effort to derail the FBI-Mueller investigation into Russian involvment in his presidential campaign


What occurred.....

Andrew McCabe became acting head of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after the sudden firing of James B. Comey on 9 May 2017 and, as acting head gave evidence before a US Senate committee in which he contradicted the WhiteHouse’s assertion that James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director fired by PresidentTrump...had lost the support of rank-and-file F.B.I. agents.

US President Donald Trump's reaction was hostile across multiple tweets over the following months and he implied that McCabe might be fired before he could retire.  



On 15 March 2018 The New York Times reported:

WASHINGTON — The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has subpoenaed the Trump Organization in recent weeks to turn over documents, including some related to Russia, according to two people briefed on the matter. The order is the first known instance of the special counsel demanding records directly related to President Trump’s businesses, bringing the investigation closer to the president.

Following hard on the heels of the Comey firing Mueller had been appointed to conduct an investigation into Russian links to Trump's 2015- 2016 presidential campaign.

The following day, 16 March, U.S. ABC News reported:

Former FBI deputy director Andy McCabe was fired Friday from the federal government, just two days before he was set to retire, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in a statement late Friday night.

Nearly 24 hours earlier, McCabe was inside the Justice Department making the case to keep his job until Sunday when he officially qualifies for retirement benefits. His firing means his full pension — built after nearly 22 years in government — is in jeopardy.

After formal announcement of the McCabe sacking Trump tweeted this:


That Trump's move against McCabe is a step on the road to firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller might be inferred from the Dowd quote below. 

According to The Daily Beast  on 17 March 2018:

“I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier,” Dowd then wrote.
He told The Daily Beast he was speaking on behalf of the president, in his capacity as the president’s attorney.

McCabe's response.....

Statement released by Andrew McCabe's lawyer - sourced from Twitter

A year ago the Turnbull Cabinet decided to elevate "a fascist like Peter Dutton"



This is Peter Craig Dutton, Australian Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, millionaire property speculator, alleged closet racist and former Queensland police officer.

Twelve months ago government and national intelligence circles were unhappy about his elevation to powerful Tsar


Dutton's portfolios are now under audit and review as they merge and grow.


BuzzFeed, 12 March 2018:

The new super agency created by home affairs minister Peter Dutton is facing unprecedented government scrutiny, amid a series of audits and reviews into visa arrangements and anti-corruption measures.

The federal government merged a large number of Australian government agencies into one super agency headed by Dutton earlier this year.

In an unprecedented government initiative, Dutton is overseeing more than 13,000 staff across the immigration department, Australian Border Force (ABF), Australian Federal Police, Australian Crime and Intelligence Commission, Austrac and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

The agency is absorbing a range of functions from the attorney-general's department, the department of infrastructure and the prime minister's department, and will have a total budget of more than $2 billion.

The arrangement was particularly controversial because there was no recommendation to actually create the agency; its establishment rests on the contested assumption that centralising these government agencies will ensure greater efficiency across immigration, law enforcement and other government areas.

But the new agency is now facing unprecedented scrutiny as home affairs secretary Michael Pezzullo grapples with how to bring disparate government entities under the umbrella of a single agency.

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) is currently undertaking three separate audits into the integration of the immigration department and customs, the efficiency of visa processing and personnel security risks.

It is currently considering an additional six audits into staff integrity measures, payment standards, cape class patron vessel support, intelligence operations, collection of visa revenue and the tourist refund scheme.

Previous ANAO reports have scrutinised the immigration department's detention contracting arrangements and found them to have serious flaws. One review into contracting on Nauru and Manus found it spent more than $1 billion without proper approvals, and another found it failed to oversee healthcare arrangements in onshore detention centres.

Watch this space.

* Photograph found at The Guardian.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

When it comes to human rights and civil liberties is it ever safe to trust the junkyard dog or its political masters?



On 18 July 2017, Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull announced the establishment of a Home Affairs portfolio that would comprise immigration, border protection, domestic security and law enforcement agencies, as well as reforms to the Attorney-General’s oversight of Australia’s intelligence community and agencies in the Home Affairs portfolio.

 On 7 December 2017, the Prime Minister introduced the Home Affairs and Integrity Agencies Legislation Amendment Bill2017 into the House of Representatives.

This bill amends the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006, the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Act 2010, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act 1986 and the Intelligence Services Act 2001.

The bill was referred to Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security which tabled its report and recommendations on 26 February 2018.

This new government department on steroids will be headed by millionaire former Queensland Police detective and far-right Liberal MP for Dickson, Peter Craig Dutton.

His 'front man' selling this change is Abbott protégéformer Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and current Secretary of the new Department of Home Affairs, Michael Pezzullo. 

The question every Australian needs to ask themselves is, can this current federal government, the ministers responsible for and department heads managing this extremely powerful department, be trusted not to dismantle a raft of human and civil rights during the full departmental implementation.

It looks suspiciously as though former Australian attorney-general George Brandis does not think so - he is said to fear political overreach.

The Saturday Paper, 3-9 March 2018:

On Friday last week, former attorney-general George Brandis went to see Michael Pezzullo, the secretary of the new Department of Home Affairs.

The meeting was a scheduled consultation ahead of Brandis’s departure for London to take up his post as Australia’s new high commissioner. It was cordial, even friendly. But what the soon-to-be diplomat Brandis did not tell Pezzullo during the pre-posting briefing was that he had singled him out in a private farewell speech he had given to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation on the eve of his retirement from parliament two weeks earlier.

As revealed in The Saturday Paper last week, the then senator Brandis used the ASIO speech to raise concerns about the power and scope of the new department and the ambitions of its secretary. Brandis effectively endorsed the private concerns of some within ASIO that the new security structure could expose the domestic spy agency to ministerial or bureaucratic pressure.

In a regular Senate estimates committee hearing this week, Pezzullo described his meeting with Brandis – on the day before The Saturday Paper article appeared – as Opposition senators asked him for assurances that ASIO would retain its statutory independence once it moves from the attorney-general’s portfolio to become part of Home Affairs.

“I had a very good discussion on Friday,” Pezzullo told the committee, of his meeting with Brandis.

“He’s seeking instructions and guidance on performing the role of high commissioner. None of those issues came up, so I find that of interest. If he has concerns, I’m sure that he would himself raise those publicly.”

Labor senator Murray Watt pressed: “So he raised them with ASIO but not with you?”
“I don’t know what he raised with ASIO,” Pezzullo responded. “… You should ask the former attorney-general if he’s willing to state any of those concerns … He’s a high commissioner now, so he may not choose to edify your question with a response, but that’s a matter for him. As I said, he didn’t raise any of those concerns with me when we met on Friday.”

The Saturday Paper contacted George Brandis but he had no comment.

“ANY SUGGESTION THAT WE IN THE PORTFOLIO ARE SOMEHOW EMBARKED ON THE SECRET DECONSTRUCTION OF THE SUPERVISORY CONTROLS WHICH ENVELOP AND CHECK EXECUTIVE POWER ARE NOTHING MORE THAN FLIGHTS OF CONSPIRATORIAL FANCY…”

Watt asked Pezzullo for assurance there would be no change to the longstanding provisions in the ASIO Act that kept the agency under its director-general’s control and not subject to instruction from the departmental secretary. The minister representing Home Affairs in the Senate, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, said: “It is not proposed that there be a change to that effect.”

The new Department of Home Affairs takes in Immigration and Border Protection, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, known as AUSTRAC, and ASIO.
ASIO does not move until legislation is passed to authorise the shift, and will retain its status as a statutory agency.

Pezzullo addressed the fears of those questioning his department’s reach. He said some commentary mischaracterised the arrangements as “being either a layer of overly bureaucratic oversight of otherwise well-functioning operational arrangements or, worse, a sinister concentration of executive power that will not be able to be supervised and checked”.

“Both of these criticisms are completely wrong,” he said.

Pezzullo had already described his plans, both to the committee and in a speech he made in October last year, in which he spoke of exploiting the in-built capabilities in digital technology to expand Australia’s capacity to detect criminal and terrorist activity in daily life online and on the so-called “dark web”.

But the language he used, referring to embedding “the state” invisibly in global networks “increasingly at super scale and at very high volumes”, left his audiences uncertain about exactly what he meant.

Watt asked if there would be increased surveillance of the Australian people. “Any surveillance of citizens is always strictly done in accordance with the laws passed by this parliament,” Pezzullo replied.

In his February 7 speech to ASIO, George Brandis described Pezzullo’s October remarks as an “urtext”, or blueprint, for a manifesto that would rewrite how Australia’s security apparatus operates.

Pezzullo hit back on Monday. “Any suggestion that we in the portfolio are somehow embarked on the secret deconstruction of the supervisory controls which envelop and check executive power are nothing more than flights of conspiratorial fancy that read into all relevant utterances the master blueprint of a new ideology of undemocratic surveillance and social control,” Pezzullo said.

As for day to day human resources, financial management and transparent accountable governance, media reports are not inspiring confidence in Messrs. Turnbull, Dutton and Pezzullo.

The Canberra Times, 2 March 2018:

Home Affairs head Mike Pezzullo was one of the first to front Senate estimates on Monday.

It's been up and running for only weeks, but his new department is part of one of the largest government portfolios.

Having brought several security agencies into its fold, and if legislation passes letting ASIO join, the Home Affairs portfolio will be home to 23,000 public servants. 
Mr Pezzullo was also quizzed on the investigation into Roman Quaedvlieg, the head of the Australian Border Force who has been on leave since May last year, following claims he helped his girlfriend - an ABF staff member - get a job at Sydney Airport.

It was revealed the Prime Minister's department has had a corruption watchdog's report into abuse of power allegations for at least five months while Mr Quaedvlieg has been on full pay earning hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

U.S. Political Retrospective: those first investigations into presidential candidate Donald J Trump


Sometime in September or October 2015 Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS began a broad investigation of then Republican presidential candidate nominee Donald J Trump under contact for an unspecified client and later commenced another investigation of Trump as official Republican presidential candidate for a different client in the first half of 2016.

Simpson later confirmed the clients to be in the first instance The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website funded by a major Republican donor and in the second instance the Democratic National Committee and Clinton presidential campaign.

Excerpts from Christopher Steele’s 35-page ‘dossier’ created under contract for research company Fusion GPS:


U.S. SENATE, WASHINGTON, D.C., SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE, excerpts from a partial transcipt of INTERVIEW OF: GLENN SIMPSON, 22 August 2017 (released 9 January 2018 in response to his request) , in which he explains how and where he looked for initial information about Donald Trump:

“In the early -- the very first weekend that I
started boning up on Donald Trump, you know, I
found various references to him having connections
to Italian organized crime and later to a Russian
organized crime figure named Felix Sater,
S-A-T-E-R. It wasn't hard to find, it wasn't any
great achievement, it was in the New York Times,
but as someone who has done a lot of Russian
organized crime investigations as a journalist
originally that caught my attention and became
something that, you know, I focused on while other
people looked at other things.
So from the very beginning of this organized
crime was -- Russian organized crime was a focus of
interest. I guess I should just repeat, you know,
this is a subject that I covered extensively at the
Wall Street Journal. I wrote a series of front-
page articles about various corrupt politicians
from Russia, oligarchs, and one of the things that
I wrote about was the connections between western
politicians and Russian business figures. So, you
know, I was sort of an amateur student of the
subject and I had written about some of these same
Russian crime figures, you know, years earlier in
the U.S. and various frauds and things they were
involved in……

You know, we also conducted a much broader
sort of look at his entire career and his overseas
investments in places like Europe and Latin
America. You know, it wasn't really a Russia
focused investigation for the first half of it.
That was just one component of a broader look at
his business career, his finances. We spent a lot
of time trying to figure out whether he's really as
rich as he says he is because that was the subject
of a libel case that he filed against a journalist
named Tim O'Brien for which there was quite a lot
of discovery and litigation filings detailing
O'Brien's allegation that he was worth, you know,
maybe a fifth to a third of what he claims and
Trump's angry retort that he was worth far more
than that.
So we did things like we looked at the golf
courses and whether they actually ever made any
money and how much debt they had. We looked at the
bankruptcies, how could somebody go through so many
bankruptcies, you know, and still have a billion
dollars in personal assets. So those are the kinds
of things. We looked at a lot of things like his
tax bills. Tax bills are useful because you can
figure out how much money someone is making or how
much they're worth or how much their properties are
worth based on how much they have to pay in taxes.
One of the things we found out was that, you
know, when it comes to paying taxes, Donald Trump
claims to not have much stuff. At least the Trump
organization. So they would make filings with
various state and local authorities saying that
their buildings weren't worth much……

For instance, in the early stage of an
investigation, you know, particularly of Donald
Trump you want to get every lawsuit the guy's ever
been in. So, you know, we collected lawsuits from
around the country and the world. And I do
remember one of the earlier things we did was we
collected a lot of documents from Scotland because
he'd been in a big controversy there about land
use. There had been another one in Ireland. There
was a lot of Freedom of Information Act requests
and that sort of thing.
So in the early phases of something you're
collecting lots of paper on every subject
imaginable. So in the course of reading that
litigation we would follow up on things that were
interesting, such as a libel case against a
journalist that he settled, which, in other words,
he didn't prevail in his attempts to prove that he
was a billionaire.”……

It was, broadly speaking, a kind of
holistic examination of Donald Trump's business
record and his associations, his bankruptcies, his
suppliers, you know, offshore or third-world
suppliers of products that he was selling. You
know, it evolved somewhat quickly into issues of
his relationships to organized crime figures but,
you know, really the gamut of Donald Trump.
What we generally do at the beginning of a
case if it's possible is to order all the books
about the subject from Amazon so we're not
reinventing the wheel and we know what's been
written and said before. So this was typical. We
ordered every Donald Trump book and, to my
surprise, that's a lot of books. I was never very
interested in Donald Trump. He was not a serious
political figure that I'd ever had any exposure to.
He's a New York figure really.
So anyway, we read everything we could read
about Donald Trump. Those books cover his
divorces, his casinos, his early years dealings
with labor unions and mafia figures. I'm trying to
think what else. His taxes certainly have always
been a big issue. Again, it was sort of an
unlimited look at his -- you know, his business and
finances and that sort of thing……

That calls for a somewhat long answer. We
had done an enormous amount of work on Donald Trump
generally at this point in the project and we began
to drill down on specific areas. He [Christopher Steele] was not the
only subcontractor that we engaged. Other parts of
the world required other people. For example, we
were interested in the fact that the Trump family
was selling merchandise under the Trump brand in
the United States that was made in sweat shops in
Asia and South America -- or Latin America. So we
needed someone else for that. So there were other
things. We were not totally focused on Russia at
that time, but we were at a point where we were --
you know, we'd done a lot of reading and research
and we were drilling down on specific areas.
Scotland was another one
So that's the answer. What happens when you
get to this point in an investigation when you've
gathered all of the public record information and
you've begun to exhaust your open source, you know,
resources is that you tend to find specialists who
can take you further into a subject and I had known
Chris since I left the Wall Street Journal. He was
the lead Russianist at MI6 prior to leaving the
government and an extremely well-regarded
investigator, researcher, and, as I say, we're
friends and share interest in Russian kleptocracy
and organized crime issues. I would say that's
broadly why I asked him to see what he could find
out about Donald Trump's business activities in
Russia……

I mean, one of the key lines here in the
second paragraph says "However, he and his inner
circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence
from the Kremlin, including on his democratic and
other political rivals."
So the issue with the Trump Tower meeting, as
I understand it, is that the Trump people were
eager to accept intelligence from a foreign
government about their political rivals and that
is, you know, I would say, a form of interference.
If you're getting help from a foreign government
and your help is intelligence, then the foreign
government's interfering. I mean, you know, I
think that also -- of course, in retrospect we now
know this was pretty right on target in terms on
what it says. So anyway --
I mean, it clearly refers to, you know,
them being interested in and willing to -- it
depicts them as accepting information. What we
have seen to date with the disclosures this year is
they were at a minimum super interested in getting
Information……

We've seen hacking in politics before, but this
kind of, you know, mass theft of e-mail and then to
dump it all into, you know, the public sphere was
extraordinary and it was criminal.
So the question by now of whether this was
Russia and whether this might have something to do
with the other information that we'd received was,
you know, the immediate question, and I think this
is also -- by the time this memo was written Chris
had already met with the FBI about the first memo.
So he's -- if I can interpret a little bit here.
In his mind this is already a criminal matter,
there's already a potential national security
matter here.
I mean, this is basically about a month later
and there's a lot of events that occurred in
between. You know, after the first memo, you know,
Chris said he was very concerned about whether this
represented a national security threat and said he
wanted to -- he said he thought we were obligated
to tell someone in government, in our government
about this information. He thought from his
perspective there was an issue -- a security issue
about whether a presidential candidate was being
blackmailed. From my perspective there was a law
enforcement issue about whether there was an
illegal conspiracy to violate the campaign laws,
and then somewhere in this time the whole issue of
hacking has also surfaced.
So he proposed to -- he said we should tell
the FBI, it's a national security issue. I didn't
originally agree or disagree, I just put it off and
said I needed to think about it. Then he raised it
again with me. I don't remember the exact sequence
of these events, but my recollection is that I
questioned how we would do that because I don't
know anyone there that I could report something
like this to and be believed and I didn't really
think it was necessarily appropriate for me to do
that. In any event, he said don't worry about
that, I know the perfect person, I have a contact
there, they'll listen to me, they know who I am,
I'll take care of it. I said okay. You know, I
agreed, it's potentially a crime in progress. So,
you know, if we can do that in the most appropriate
way, I said it was okay for him to do that……

A second and complete interview transcript is available:
Trump's wild and inappropriate response to the release of Glenn Simpson interview transcript: