Review: Memoirs of a Russianist, Volumes I & II

Memoirs of a Russianist, Volume II by Gilbert Doctorow

Russia analyst and author Gilbert Doctorow has written a 2-volume memoir that takes the reader on a journey through his years as a Russia specialist.  Starting with college and graduate work in Russian history at two Ivy League universities followed by decades of business management and consulting work, Doctorow provides a rare peek into the last days of the Soviet Union and the chaotic transition of the Russian Federation as someone who had a front row seat.  In the process, he dispels many of the myths that persist among widely-published journalists and Russia watchers today.

Both volumes are structured in a unique manner in that roughly the first half to two-thirds sets out the narrative while the remainder consists of the reproduction of a variety of documents to buttress Doctorow’s account.  These include excerpts of diary entries and correspondence with friends and family members during the relevant periods, as well as summaries of newspaper articles noted as significant at the time. 

The first volume primarily covers Doctorow’s early life and education.  Born and raised in the U.S., Doctorow’s grandparents were Russian emigres.  His family background fostered a curiosity about Russia and he studied the country and its history at both Harvard and Columbia, including taking courses under the notorious Richard Pipes.  Ironically, Doctorow viewed most of the Ivy League professors he encountered as “closed-minded” and “complacent,” but he did at least find Pipes to be a colorful lecturer. 

Upon graduating with a PhD, Doctorow prepared to be a professor himself but fled the profession after suffering “stage fright” in front of a classroom.  Having traveled through Western and Eastern Europe on a fellowship, Doctorow received another fellowship that enabled him to study for a year at the state archives in Leningrad and Moscow from 1971-72.  It was during this time that he met Larisa, a young Russian writer who would become his wife. 

To earn a living, Doctorow got a consultancy job for U.S. companies with major industrial projects at the time in the Soviet Union.  Thus began a career that would span through the 1990’s working in management and consultancy positions for companies, mostly in the food processing, liquor and agribusiness industries, throughout Europe and Russia.  In addition to the business savvy that he would acquire as he went, his knowledge of the language and culture of Russia would serve him well professionally.

Some of the unique obstacles to doing business in general in the Soviet Union included the Jackson-Vanik law which made commerce dependent upon Jewish emigration levels, constant surveillance, “random assaults” on foreigners, bureaucratic conflicts and control, lack of incentive for innovation and focus on quantity rather than quality in production goals.  More specifically, problems in the food processing industry that Doctorow spent a significant amount of time in included poor availability of packaging and refrigeration.  This was despite the fact that Soviet leaders genuinely seemed interested in improving the quality and variety of food products for their citizenry.

From 1989 to 1993, Doctorow helped in the building up of UPS in Russia.  The transportation logistics were greatly improved by the fall of the Berlin Wall not long after he started.  As someone on the ground during this important period of transition to a privatized market economy, Doctorow observed very low levels of competence and ethics in the business community in general.  He specifically mentions the challenge of constantly changing customs and regulations which affected delivery times that were an integral aspect of success for UPS.  This type of problem was a recurring theme during Doctorow’s business life in 1990’s Russia:

“One hears of the mafia and extortion, the racket.  One hears of the rapacious tax authorities.  These are indeed frightening aspects of the Russian business predicament.  But what is more general and more dangerous is the entire legal environment, the welter of contradictory laws, administrative circulars, etc. which makes for a totally confusing situation, where one’s rights and obligations are unclear and where only one thing is certain: you are always in violation of one or another regulation.” (pp. 178-179)

Though admittedly a learning curve in how to conduct business efficiently and honestly was to be expected in a country that had little history of it, these challenges were part of a much larger issue with corruption, major societal instability, and the exploitative mentality of western political leaders and business advisers:

“Those political commentators today who speak with such nostalgia about the democratic Russia of Boris Yeltsin as contrasted with today’s supposedly authoritarian Russia are either shamefully ignorant of the realities of daily life back then or are simply vile propagandists for whom the truth has no relevance to their “end justifies the means” mindset.” (p. x)

Doctorow recounts many episodes that characterize the violence of this era in Russia.  One is a gangland murder on the steps of the Hotel Ukraina in which Doctorow was staying at the time as he often did during a period in Moscow.  Around the same time, a pub up the street was bombed because the owner did not pay protection money.

Doctorow also discusses the 1996 murder of Paul Tatum, an American hotelier who had a stake in the Moscow Radisson and was gunned down outside the building.  His naked body laid across the medical examiner’s table was broadcast on television news that evening in what many interpreted as a part warning/part gloating spectacle.   It was one murder in a larger pattern of business contract disputes being regularly resolved via deadly violence and whether one was a Russian or a westerner didn’t matter.  In this case, Doctorow suggests the perpetrators acted “in the spirit of national assertiveness encouraged by then Moscow mayor [and later candidate as a possible successor to Yeltsin] Yuri Luzhkov.” (p. xiii)

While attending a dinner party to celebrate Victory Day with his in-laws in St. Petersburg in 1995, Doctorow relayed one relative’s experience serving in Chechnya as a pathologist for the military.  His job was to examine and identify the war dead amid the utter devastation of the capital of Grozny.  After completing his service, he and those he served with were all treated for “shell shock” before release.   This young man told Doctorow and the other guests that the war seemed to have been needlessly prolonged for political reasons.

There was also the desperate poverty contrasted with the nouveaux riches elite.  A diary entry from mid-January of 1994 noted during a visit to Moscow that western newspapers were celebrating the accord between Yeltsin and Clinton while prices for food and other necessities continued to increase – at that point by 30% within two months.  Filthy streets lined with beggars and desperate Russians selling items that no one wanted were observed, along with a “malevolence” that permeated the political atmosphere.

This atmosphere was too often exacerbated by the kind of westerner drawn to 90’s Russia who, needless to say, wasn’t going to put in the hard work of building a business infrastructure that would provide stability and integrity.  According to Doctorow, they were typically young men looking for sexual adventure and/or were recent graduates in Slavic language/literature with  the intention of going back home to teach, but ended up drawn into lucrative business opportunities without having the relevant skills or experience. 

In one instance he speaks of a predatorial western journalist who became a pimp and “made a fortune serving the sexual appetite of a Russian business tycoon in St. Petersburg.” (p. xvi)

There are some brighter points as well.  Doctorow mentions some honest western businesses who managed to successfully navigate the scene and provide products and services in the country.  He also regularly speaks of the high quality cultural life he enjoyed in both Moscow and St. Petersburg as a result of his work in the luxury goods industry and his wife’s work as a cultural writer – plays, opera, ballet, etc.  For several years during the 90’s he was involved with the Russian Booker Prize, a sister project of the British literary prize that ran in Russia from 1992 to 2017.  The Booker Prize model used rotating juries to determine winners in order to ensure diversity and openness to different styles and voices.  He has an interesting story to tell about when Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s organization took over as financial sponsor of the prize from 2002 to 2005. 

He also observed the emergence of a fledgling middle class that ate and dressed better and looked healthier, noting that those under the age of 40 seemed to be better able to find ways to adjust to the changing times – however chaotic they were.    

While this memoir is very lengthy, I overall highly recommend it for those interested in getting a close-up look at what occurred in the 1990’s in Russia as well as some insights into the latter days of the Soviet Union by someone who was there and carefully documented his experiences and observations.  The more casual reader can choose what areas he or she wants to focus on in terms of the business aspect of the story or the contextual social and political background. 

Mint Press News: After Years of Propaganda, American Views of Russia and China Hit Historic Lows

St. Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square, Moscow. Photo by Natylie Baldwin, Oct. 2015

By Alan MacLeod, Mint Press News, 3/1/21

…Last year, American military planners advised that the U.S. should step up its campaign of psychological warfare against Beijing, including sponsoring authors and artists to create anti-China propaganda. The Pentagon’s budget request for 2021 makes clear that the United States is retooling for a potential intercontinental war with China or Russia. It asks for $705 billion to “shift focus from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a greater emphasis on the types of weapons that could be used to confront nuclear giants like Russia and China,” noting that it requires “more advanced high-end weapon systems, which provide increased standoff, enhanced lethality and autonomous targeting for employment against near-peer threats in a more contested environment.”

…It appears as if the years of negative publicity against the two countries has had an effect, with Americans’ view of Russia and China even more negative than during the Cold War. Both pro- and anti-war voices have stated that the U.S. is on the cusp of entering a second Cold War. The new Gallup poll suggests that the groundwork for such a conflict has already been laid. 

Read the full article here.

Some Thoughts on Biden Saying He Thinks Putin is “a Killer”

Anyone who follows the news even in a cursory fashion has probably heard about President Biden’s response to what Ben Aris has referred to as a “journalist trap” from George Stephanopoulos during an interview released earlier this week. Stephanopoulos asked Biden if he thought Putin was a killer. Biden said, “Mmhmm. Yes, I do.” The exchange is in the below video:

Needless to say, this – along with the announcement that US intelligence believes that Russia interfered in the 2020 election and more sanctions may consequently be on the way – didn’t go down well in Russia. Moscow has recalled its ambassador from Washington for “consultations.” According to the Wall Street Journal:

A statement by the Russian foreign ministry said the most important thing for Moscow was to identify ways to rectify the relationship, blaming Washington for bringing relations between the two countries to “a blind alley.”

Furthermore, Putin has commented directly on Biden’s remark, suggesting that Biden was engaging in psychological projection. According to an RT report:

Speaking on Thursday, Putin suggested that Biden may be projecting, noting that evaluating other countries “is like looking in a mirror.”

“When I was a kid, when we were arguing with each other in the playground, we used to say, ‘Whatever you say [about others] is what you are yourself,’” Putin added.

Putin also reportedly said he wished Biden “good health.”

Later in the day, it was reported that Putin had offered to have a live public discussion with Biden in the near future. According to ABC News:

“I’ve just thought of this now,” Putin told a Russian state television reporter. “I want to propose to President Biden to continue our discussion, but on the condition that we do it basically live, as it’s called. Without any delays and directly in an open, direct discussion. It seems to me that would be interesting for the people of Russia and for the people of the United States.”

Some are interpreting this as Putin’s way of implying that Biden doesn’t have the cognitive ability to engage in an intellectual exchange with him.

I agree that it is highly unlikely that Biden will agree to this, especially considering the fact that Biden or his handlers are not even willing to subject him to questions from a lapdog DC press corps. The U.S. president has not given a press conference in which he has taken questions since he took office.

I’ll make a couple of points that are just based on thinking aloud more than anything else.

The first is that Biden has a history of not using discretion and running his mouth off. An example is when he bragged at a think tank years ago that he’d gotten Ukraine’s prosecutor fired by using a major financial package as leverage over the Ukrainian government. There were also numerous examples of him saying insulting and/or just off-the-wall things to people during his presidential campaign. If, in fact, this could be characterized as a “journalist trap” as Aris suggested, then Biden is the perfect target for a journalist to pull this on.

Second, there is reporting within the past couple of days that the U.S. will be participating in a Russian-led conference to be held in Moscow on the future of Afghanistan. According to Antiwar.com:

Beginning Thursday, the Moscow Summit is looking to see Russia and the United States trying to sell the interim government peace proposal to both the Afghan government and the Taliban. This summit is the biggest event in awhile in trying to get the peace process revived.

It’s not Russia’s first bid at having influence on post-war Afghanistan. It is, however, the first time the US has acknowledged such a summit as a real thing, and participated in it. Both the US and Russia seem to be united in their proposal.

There was also the renewal of the New START Treaty as soon as Biden took office. Renewal of that treaty may seem like a no-brainer to any rational person, but rationality when it comes to policy vis-a-vis Russia has been in very short supply in DC in recent years. As someone who has been in national politics for decades, Biden may be thinking that in order to have the space to even accomplish these minimal steps that involve cooperation with Moscow, he will need to placate the hawks that pervade Washington. To do this, he may feel he needs to keep the ugly rhetoric toward Putin at maximum volume.

This is not new. During the Kennedy administration, even though the president wanted to tamp down the Cold War with Khrushchev, Kennedy had to throw a bone to the hardliners once in a while. Those bones did not always come cheap and sometimes they caused serious problems with the Kremlin.

So what do you readers think? Am I wishful thinking about what Biden may be up to? Does Biden even still have the cognitive ability to think strategically like this? Feel free to give your opinions on this in the comments.

My 2004 Interview with Rachel Corrie’s Parents

Craig and Cindy Corrie, June 2004

18 years ago today, Rachel Corrie was run over by an Israeli bulldozer while volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian home in Rafah. In June of 2004, I got the opportunity to interview Rachel’s parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie, before a speaking engagement at the local Peace and Justice Center in Walnut Creek, California.

I had been writing for the Peace and Justice Center’s newsletter for about a year or so and had recently branched out from summarizing pre-published material on foreign policy to creating more original content, including interviewing folks who had special knowledge and/or experience about topics we were covering that involved war/peace and international affairs. This was my second major interview and I actually went back and forth in my mind in preparing the questions about whether and how to approach the question about how Rachel had been portrayed in the mainstream American media after her death. On the one hand, I knew it was a legitimate question to ask. On the other hand, it involved a painful personal loss and not just discussion of something in the abstract. My hesitancy about this made Cindy’s answer all the more interesting.

I spoke to both Craig and Cindy, but at one point Craig excused himself to help with the setup for their presentation, so I spoke to Cindy for longer. This was a little over a year since Rachel had been killed and Cindy seemed physically weighed down with the grief. I saw her and Craig a few years later at the performance of a play that had been written about Rachel and adapted from her prolific journal entries from high school through college. She looked much happier and did not have the weighed down look from 2004.

Below is the edited interview. – Natylie

Natylie Baldwin: It sounds like from a young age, Rachel had this sensitivity…

Cindy: Yes, she did. She was our third child and I think that made some difference in [forming] uniquely who she was. Each of our kids is very different. She was also able to be in this school program. It was called the Options Program. It was an alternative elementary program in the public school system in Olympia [Washington state]. It’s a program that I worked with other parents and teachers to begin and part of the emphasis was on connecting to the community and also trying to have a lot of hands-on experiences for children, but also connecting the community to the larger world. So I really feel like that program, during those really young years, did have an impact in making her feel she could have an impact on the real world and that she had some responsibility to find out what was going on in the real world and to ask questions and so forth…

NB: When did Rachel start to become interested in the Israeli-Palestinian issue in particular?

Craig: Rachel’s response to 9/11 was that she wanted to become a peace activist. So, within weeks after that, within the community of Evergreen [state college Rachel attended] and of Olympia, she really melded both of those communities together…she joined a number of peace groups. There were people who had been with ISM. She had met with Simona Sharoni who is an Israeli who grew up in Israel and teaches at Evergreen and she was one of the founders of Women in Black. Simona is a powerful woman and a powerful voice and she had been a teacher to Rachel and some of her friends. So she started to learn about that and as she worked with the peace groups I think she got more and more centered on Israel/Palestine and came to the conclusion that that’s really the linchpin of the strife that the United States centrally finds itself involved in after the Cold War. And I think that she learned about Rafah and realized that that was one of the most forsaken places on the earth, and so it’s really right in the center of the problem…

Craig: [Speaking about the conditions in Gaza]….it’s hard – now I’m a Vietnam veteran and when I was in Vietnam – well, I was out in the jungle, I wasn’t very often in populated areas – but we were individuals walking and you look at someone and they look like a soldier, yes; but down here, particularly at Rafah, they are all in armored vehicles. The children there may never have seen an Israeli as a human being; they see them as somebody sticking their head out of a tank – these incredible war machines. There’s a tremendous difference, I think, in the humanity. It’s kind of awful to talk about those relative levels of humanity, but seeing somebody in a tank [versus a regular vehicle]…

NB: The local newspaper and a local TV news station that covered Rachel’s death had an image that they used. I guess an older image of Rachel burning an American flag. It seemed that people in my community and other communities across the country relying on the mainstream media, got this image of Rachel as angry, unappreciative, America-bashing.

Cindy: I’m so glad you asked me about that because I think some people are refraining from asking me about it. And it’s not that old of an image…On February 15th she was at the Children’s Parliament with the ISM [in Gaza] and they organized this little protest. It was not actually an American flag. It was a paper image where they had drawn with crayon, and they had Israeli flags and American flags. You can’t see it in the photo, but one of Rachel’s friends told me that she had written onto the stripes the names of all the corporations she thought would benefit from a war with Iraq. And the children handed up to her these images of the flags to burn. And I think burning flags is a lot more common there. Anyway, she said she looked at those images and she knew she couldn’t burn anything with the Star of David on it but she thought she could protest by burning the image of her own flag.

She called me because that photo was actually available; it came out that day. Craig and I came home and I think it was on the phone message, “Mom, I just wanted to warn you that there’s a photo I’ve seen out on the wire and it makes me look like a mad woman.” And I don’t know if it was something about the fire or the burning or whatever that just made her look strange and, uh, angry. And that’s not Rachel’s personality. I just wouldn’t describe her as an angry woman; it’s just not at all my image of her, but I can see that she looked that way in that photo…[there] was actually a different image, one where she’s still burning this paper flag, but her eyes are open and her face is kind of lit up with a smile and it conveys something different…

It was such a lesson about the power of photos, and then you always have to wonder about the selection of photos on the part of the media because there are choices…it would just make me feel better if they got the full story behind them, because I think it can really distort a human being and even a situation they were involved in at the time…it was not anti-American or even anti-Israel, for that matter. It was on behalf of these people who are suffering…

A very touching thing happened after she died. Traditionally, people carry the bodies of people who have died through the streets, but we didn’t permit that in Rachel’s case. But they did have mock funerals with a mock coffin for her – one where there was this picture of children with flowers and the coffin is draped in an American flag. I don’t think it was a real American flag, it almost seemed like it was painted on, and people said that that was the first time in years that they could remember seeing the American flag treated in a respectful way.

I don’t think Americans understand how throughout the world we are viewed as being complicit in what is happening with the Palestinian people – and how much anger that creates toward us. And Rachel, I think, showed an image of a different kind of American, who had compassion for what was happening to these people…

Fyodor Lukyanov: EU-Russia Relations: What Went Wrong?

Church on Spilt Blood, St. Petersburg, Russia; Photo by Natylie S. Baldwin, 2015

Fyodor Lukyanov is editor-in-chief of Russia in Global Affairs, chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, and research director of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

Originally Published at Carnegie Moscow Center, 2/26/21, as part of the “Relaunching U.S.-Russia Dialogue on Global Challenges: The Role of the Next Generation” project, implemented in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy to Russia. The opinions, findings, and conclusions stated herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Embassy to Russia

….The evolution of EU-Russia relations from the hopeful dawn of the early 1990s to the despairing sunset of the 2010s is one of the most revealing episodes in the history of the post-Cold War global transformation. Ever since the idea of a formalized community consisting of Europe and Russia lost its relevance (no practical steps have been taken to that end since the late 2000s), the relationship’s original principles have been meaningless.

The attempt at institutional partnership represented the culmination of about 200 years of efforts by a school of thought in Russia to Westernize the country. For the first time, the Westernizers saw an opportunity to qualitatively change the nature of Russia’s relations with the West.

That opportunity turned out to be a treacherous one. Russia’s Westernizers never intended for their country to formally submit to Europe’s rules and regulations, even as they pushed for modernization, active cooperation with Europe, and emulation of its ways. Yet that was precisely what Europe asked of Russia after 1992.

Europe’s experiment with its transformation into a politically consolidated subject, one projecting its normative framework outward, presupposed hierarchical relations between the EU and its direct neighbors. From the start, Russia was expected to not only cooperate with the EU, but also develop joint institutions. In its relations with Russia, Europe countenanced no retreat from its insistence on rule transfer.

Had Moscow resolved to become part of this “wider Europe,” the concessions it was expected to make would have been justified. But Russia’s Westernizers failed to persuade the country of the merits of qualitatively limiting its own sovereignty for the sake of following the European model….

Read the full article here.

Citizen Diplomacy Trip to Russia Now Scheduled for September 2021

Entrance to Red Square, Moscow. Photo by Natylie Baldwin, Oct. 2015

From the Center for Citizen Initiatives:

We are very pleased to announce that CCI’s latest trip to Russia will be co-led by the Honorable Jack Matlock, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia. 

The dates are September 15 through October 1, 2021. It is anticipated by this time that COVID vaccines will permit Americans and Russians to meet, discuss issues and generate solutions to ease tense bi-country relations. We plan to take 100 Americans on this trip.

Never has it been more important for citizens (and leaders) of our two nations to work through the rumors and propaganda that exists at this moment.

We can travel to Russia during this critical time, meet with Russian experts in numerous fields, interview Russians in cities and regions across 11 time zones, get their perspectives on the U.S.-Russia relationship, share our perspectives, discuss innovative ways to get beyond media hype, rumors and propaganda that could … and may yet destroy our Earth … leaving a barren planet orbiting the sun.CCI has a 38-year history of developing Citizen Diplomacy between Russians and Americans. Fearing Nuclear War in 1983, we took a small delegation of citizens to the USSR to investigate the “Enemy.” We found no enemies at home … we found only people like ourselves deeply frightened of Nuclear War and thinking that the U.S. would start the final war! We began taking numerous delegations to the USSR in the ensuing years. They led up to the amazing Gorbachev/Reagan era when the Berlin wall came tumbling down. The USSR collapsed in 1990, but so did Russia ... as Russians struggled to get rid of Communism and find a new way to govern themselves. 

During Russia’s tragic 1990s and painful 2000s, CCI trained young Russian entrepreneurs how to develop their first tiny businesses, we helped their volunteer environmental groups clean up weapons’ dumps, sent tons of vegetable seeds to their first private farmers, started Alcoholics Anonymous across Russia and brought more than 6,000 Russian entrepreneurs from 71 regions to the U.S. for industry-specific business internships mostly set up by Rotary clubs across America. This resulted in Russians seeing the need for their own Rotary clubs. These clubs began to spring up all across Russia. Throughout those years CCI earned the trust of both U.S. and Russian officials. 

We feel it imperative to use CCI’s reputation for the good of both countries during this fateful and dangerous year of 2021. We intend to work toward shifting relations between these two nations that could destroy our world as we know it. We need your help!

Come travel with us on this most comprehensive-ever Citizen Diplomacy Trip to Russia! Trip costs range from $3500 to $8000 depending on which option one takes:  “bare-bones” for students, two levels of economy class or Elite accommodations.

If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, please email Sharon Tennison at sharon [at] ccisf.org.

Medea Benjamin & Nicholas Davies: What Planet is NATO Living On?

NATO

By Medea Benjamin & Nicholas Davies, AntiWar.com, 2/24/21

The February meeting of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Defense Ministers, the first since President Biden took power, revealed an antiquated, 75-year-old alliance that, despite its military failures in Afghanistan and Libya, is now turning its military madness toward two more formidable, nuclear-armed enemies: Russia and China.

This theme was emphasized by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in a Washington Post op-ed in advance of the NATO meeting, insisting that “aggressive and coercive behaviors from emboldened strategic competitors such as China and Russia reinforce our belief in collective security.”

Using Russia and China to justify more Western military buildup is a key element in the alliance’s new “Strategic Concept,” called NATO 2030: United For a New Era, which is intended to define its role in the world for the next ten years….

….As Michael Klare explains in a NATO Watch report on NATO 2030, every step the US is taking with NATO is “intended to integrate it into US plans to fight and defeat China and Russia in all-out warfare.”

The US Army’s plan for an invasion of Russia, which is euphemistically called “The US Army in Multi-Domain Operations,” begins with missile and artillery bombardments of Russian command centers and defensive forces, followed by an invasion by armored forces to occupy key areas and sites until Russia surrenders.

Unsurprisingly, Russia’s defense strategy in the face of such an existential threat would not be to surrender, but to retaliate against the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons.

Read the full article here.

Aaron Mate: Trump Gave Up on Forcing Release of Key Russiagate Files

By Aaron Mate, RealClear Investigations, 2/25/21

After four years of railing against “deep state” actors who, he said, tried to undermine his presidency, Donald Trump relented to U.S. intelligence leaders in his final days in office, allowing them to block the release of critical material in the Russia investigation, according to a former senior congressional investigator who later joined the Trump administration.

Kash Patel, whose work on the House Intelligence Committee helped unearth U.S. intelligence malpractice during the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane probe, said he does not know why Trump did not force the release of documents that would expose further wrongdoing. But he said senior intelligence officials “continuously impeded” their release – usually by slow-walking their reviews of the material. Patel said Trump’s CIA Director, Gina Haspel, was instrumental in blocking one of the most critical documents.

Patel, who has seen the Russia probe’s underlying intelligence and co-wrote critical reports that have yet to be declassified, said new disclosures would expose additional misconduct and evidentiary holes in the CIA and FBI’s work.

“I think there were people within the IC [Intelligence Community], at the heads of certain intelligence agencies, who did not want their tradecraft called out, even though it was during a former administration, because it doesn’t look good on the agency itself,” Patel told RealClearInvestigations in his first in-depth interview since leaving government at the end of Trump’s term last month, having served in several intelligence and defense roles (full interview here).  

Read full article here.