The Cambridge Four: spies who hijacked America (1)
Uncovering the mysteries of Russiagate
by Steven P. Schrage, phD
As a doctoral candidate at Cambridge working under “FBI Informant” Stefan Halper, I had a front-row seat for Russiagate. Global scandals now labeled Russiagate, Spygate, and what President Trump called “Obamagate” shook the political world, but hit me closer to home. I’m the reason the so-called FBI “spy” at the center of Spygate, Stefan Halper, met Carter Page, the alleged “Russian Asset” in Russiagate’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
On May 19, 2018, this realization blindsided me in London as I was about to fly out for my wedding. The New York Times, NBC News and other sources had outed my PhD supervisor, Stefan Halper, as a spy known to the UK’s MI6 intelligence service as “The Walrus.”
It didn’t seem real. Could a former professor I once trusted as a mentor have betrayed his word, profession, and country to start these disasters? I had moved to England to pursue an academic career and leave DC’s politics behind, only to have my PhD supervisor throw me back into the most outrageous political firestorms I could imagine. Just my luck. Then an even worse question began nagging at me. Did I unintentionally light the match that started it all?
As I started to piece together what happened over the next few months, I realized something. The stories that The New York Times, Washington Post, and others were pushing didn’t add up. Many seemed planted to cover up or advance the agendas of several individuals whose tentacles secretly ran through these scandals, and who each had longstanding ties to intelligence services like the FBI, CIA, and MI6. I call these individuals ‘the Cambridge Four.’
Strangely, all four were linked through that sleepy British academic town thousands of miles from the alleged “ground zeroes” of Russiagate’s conspiracies, Moscow and DC. In addition to the central “Spygate” figure Halper, they include the central source of “Russiagate’s” fake conspiracy theories, Christopher Steele; former MI6 Director Sir Richard Dearlove; and Halper’s and Dearlove’s partner in a Cambridge Intelligence Seminar linked to titillating – but false – tales of a “Russian spy” seducing Trump’s top national security advisor. My years of work with Halper provided an inside view of how their four networks interconnected. The more I dug up new pieces of this puzzle, the more I saw how these individuals’ seemingly separate acts might fit together in an absurd picture of how these scandals really started.
Armed with first-hand knowledge and evidence, I quietly sought to help federal investigators uncover these scandals’ mysteries. It wasn’t my first rodeo. After witnessing the plane that hit the Pentagon on 9/11, I led G8 and State Department international crime and terrorism efforts with Department of Justice (DOJ), FBI, and intelligence officials and had worked for decades in White House, Congressional, and presidential campaign roles.
This helped me keep a stiff upper lip when I was falsely accused in 2019 by the House Intelligence Committee’s Ranking Republican and others on television as being part of a secret anti-Trump cabal. As much as I wanted to defend myself, I knew our best shot of exposing the real forces behind these scandals was for me to remain publicly silent and not let those under investigation know what I knew or was willing to say.
Yet in the first part of 2020, I asked to speak to the DOJ lead investigator John Durham to give his team a heads up. I would continue to offer help, but my time for waiting for government to act was over. I had discovered and flagged for Durham disturbing recordings. One involved one of the Cambridge Four, Halper, and raised serious questions about the origins of what has been called the “kill shot” against Trump’s first national security advisor, General Michael Flynn.
On January 12, 2017 a felony leak about phone calls between the Russian Ambassador and General Flynn was published by The Washington Post. This led to Flynn’s downfall and reignited the Trump-Russia investigations still tearing our nation apart. 48 hours before the leak was published, my former supervisor Halper eerily laid out what was about to happen to Flynn, something he had no independent reason to know. Halper described how Flynn’s “so called enemies” would make Flynn “blow up… he’s really fucked.”
The legal hearing on Flynn’s prosecution is on August 11. Yet for four years government officials have withheld key materials and blocked individuals like Halper from testifying about the real genesis of these scandals and the felony leak on Flynn. While I once worked in Republican politics, I know Americans of every affiliation believe citizens deserve a fair trial without the government concealing evidence.
The remaining mysteries of Russiagate are too important to be turned into a game of political football, or buried. Nor should they be used as a cynical, last-minute Republican “October Surprise” to disrupt the election. Nothing excuses foreign meddling in U.S. elections. Yet it is hypocritical and absurd to use that as an excuse to hide abuses by U.S. intelligence, law enforcement, and political officials against our own citizens.
I know the consequences of my speaking out. America is now in a political “UnCivil War” where individuals – even at outlets like The New York Times and Washington Post that profess objective journalism – are personally attacked if their facts don’t fit entrenched narratives.
Key politicians and intelligence figures would like the facts surrounding Russiagate’s origins classified and buried for decades, as with past U.S./MI6 intelligence scandals. I can’t let that happen. After all, I inadvertently helped jump-start it. Even if this story is hidden now, it will ultimately impact Trump, Biden, the 2020 election, and our country for years.
There is far too much to tell in a single article. I plan to reveal what I know, including: the comedy of errors leading to a Cambridge Four member meeting and targeting the FBI’s main surveillance excuse Carter Page; the information given to an FBI source in August 2016 should have immediately ended their investigation alleging Page was a master spy linking top Trump officials to Putin; how a secret anti-Trump source sought one of the world’s most powerful positions that could undermine the president; and how official statements by FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane officials to the DOJ Inspector General were factually inaccurate or wildly inconsistent with other evidence, raising the question of whether those officials risked criminal prosecution to conceal their acts.
This is not a position I ever sought. As I worked with government investigators it seemed inconceivable that key facts could be covered up until now. Whatever the consequences, everyone impacted deserves to know the truth.
Conspiracy of Dunces
People who convince themselves that they’re really smart often do the dumbest things. I’ve fallen prey to this dynamic myself in the past. Yet perhaps no one in history is a better example of this than the Cambridge Four. Their story is both a tragedy and a farce – think Jason Bourne meets Austin Powers – with larger-than-life characters that might be equally at home in a Saturday Night Live skit or a John Le Carré spy thriller. Yet the damage they did is deadly serious.
The Cambridge Four’s most mythical, larger-than-life character – both literally and figuratively – is my former advisor, Stefan Halper. Codenamed “the Walrus,” in person he appears well over 300 pounds, and carries himself with grandiose airs, evoking fictional anti-heroes like Ignatius O’Reilly of Confederacy of Dunces or Shakespeare’s Falstaff.
At first, I was drawn to and respected him for his bold books opposing brain-dead Republican orthodoxies on the Iraq War and China policy. It seemed his real-world government experience eerily mirrored my own. I had yet to discover his checkered past, including: his reported role in organizing ex-CIA operatives to steal Jimmy Carter’s 1980 debate materials; 1990’s crack cocaine arrest; and FBI firing in 2011 for “mercurial” behavior, demanding more “compensation” and “questionable allegiance to [intelligence] targets.”
By the time I organized a major 2016 conference to serve as a capstone of my years of research at Harvard and Cambridge – ironically focused on the national security risks of U.S. presidential campaigns – Halper was a gregarious, opinionated eccentric who struggled to use Cambridge’s basic internet system without help.
He appeared slightly more “mercurial” and rattled after losing his politics professorship in the months before my conference. Yet the idea that any competent FBI or government official would rely on him as a linchpin for world-changing Trump-Russia conspiracy investigations was and is preposterous.
Halper might have faded into retirement – and Spygate likely never would have happened – without my driving forward with the 2016 conference, one that Halper, again ironically, had repeatedly urged me to cancel. An all-star cast of international academics and officials would be there, headlined by Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton’s confidante Madeleine Albright.
But after a 20-something Cambridge administrative official smugly told me “there’s no way Trump can win” and cut our travel funding, it sent me on a mad scramble. I had to find someone, anyone, to fly over on a last-minute economy ticket to represent the Trump campaign. This is the only reason Spygate’s “FBI Spy” Halper and Russiagate’s “Russian Spy” Carter Page ever met, with consequences still shaking politics today. For most of the conference, Halper couldn’t be bothered with Page, about whom he made snarky comments behind Page’s back, while focusing on Albright. That all changed when another one of the Cambridge Four arrived.
Sir Richard Dearlove is a former director of MI6 and Halper’s long-time collaborator. He arrived at the last minute from a billionaire’s Rocky Mountain soiree called the Allen Conference, whose other attendees reportedly included Oprah, Obama confidants, and Hollywood sexual predator Harvey Weinstein. Dearlove was under the cloud of an official UK investigation into the Iraq war rationale, called the Chilcot Report, that was serious even by the Walrus’s or Weinstein’s standards, given the geopolitical consequences.
Sir Richard Dearlove
Among other things, it involved Dearlove’s MI6 allegedly withholding the fact that a key piece of “intelligence” George W. Bush used to launch the attacks – the idea that chemical munitions were kept in “glass beads or spheres” – suspiciously mirrored an erroneous factoid from the plot of the 1996 WMD-heist movie The Rock, starring Nicholas Cage.
At my conference’s last session, Dearlove went far off the script I had discussed with his assistant, lambasting Trump as a national security threat in front of a Trump advisor, and our official guest, Page. My jaw hit the floor in embarrassment, but that, and his discussion with Dearlove, seemed to cause Halper to do a 180-degree shift. Suddenly, he seemed desperately interested in isolating, cornering, and ingratiating himself to Page and promoting himself to the Trump campaign.
Dearlove’s former MI6 agent and the third Cambridge Four member, Christopher Steele, is now as famous as his old boss. According to multiple reports, Steele had been hired by a Clinton campaign contractor a few weeks earlier to compile the infamous “Steele Dossier.” Steele filled his “intelligence” reports with obviously non-intelligent assertions, including that Trump-Russia conspiracies were run out of Russia’s Miami consulate – a consulate an average high schooler with internet access could instantly show did not exist.
Similarly, Steele’s famous allegations that notorious germaphobe Trump paid prostitutes to urinate while Putin recorded him seemed like a teenage boy’s dream after watching too many Austin Powers movies – and with recent news revealing Steele’s highly suspect sub-source, Igor Dyachenko, his story appears just about as based on reality.
The Cambridge’s Four’s final member, Christopher Andrew, seemed the least likely to become involved. He initially called some of Halper’s Russia conspiracy theories “absurd.” Yet by early 2017 he published an article that helped legitimize false allegations against Trump’s team, and even implicated his own student.
I call them – Halper, Steele, Dearlove, and Andrew – the Cambridge Four because of parallels to another British spy story of yore, perhaps the most notorious intelligence scandal in history. That earlier “Cambridge Five“ spy ring, including infamous names like Kim Philby and Guy Burgess, became the basis for John LeCarré’s famous spy thriller and film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The Five were Cold War Soviet spies who escaped virtually unpunished after embarrassed British and American officials essentially covered up the extent of their betrayals. One, Anthony Blunt, was even knighted and served as art curator to the Queen.
These Cambridge men undermined democracy and the U.S.-UK relationship, while making fools of politicians, the media, and officials linked to the FBI, CIA and MI6 for years. The same can be said of our new Cambridge Four.
I have no indication that any of the Cambridge Four were ever on Russia’s payroll or were actual spies for Russia, like their Cambridge Five namesakes. Yet the Cambridge Four, and their media and political enablers, did a miraculous job in pushing fake Trump-Russia conspiracy stories that undermined America’s democratically-elected government and sparked investigations. In this regard, the Cambridge Four were probably the most effective tools for Russia’s disinformation campaign to divide America that Putin could have ever dreamed of.
Flynn’s tag-team take down
Perhaps nothing better illustrates the Cambridge Four’s roles than the takedown of Trump’s national security advisor. Starting in 2016, Halper made odd requests for me to brief him and others on Trump’s team. He even had me research Trump, allegedly as part of my thesis work, even though my thesis was focused on past, not present, presidents.
In these discussions I stressed that Flynn was indispensable. He was perhaps the only campaign advisor who both had Trump’s personal trust and the deep intelligence experience necessary to expose hidden problems in the intelligence community. At one point, I even recall telling Halper that taking Flynn out would be like “beheading” Trump’s team. I had no idea I had been unintentionally aiding a spy preparing the guillotine and helping lead Flynn to exactly such a beheading.
Whether and to what degree the Cambridge Four’s individual acts were formally coordinated can likely only be proven by testimony under oath and reviewing phone records, emails, and documents – things government officials seem to have blocked the Cambridge Four and Halper’s FBI handler, Steve Somma, from for four years. Yet it would seem odd if four interconnected individuals linked to a town thousands of miles from Moscow or DC, randomly took acts that fit together so perfectly to take down Flynn.
My conference ended on July 12, 2016 with a closing session where Halper, Dearlove, and Page had their strange interactions. Almost immediately after that, the sparks of international intelligence interest surrounding Trump-Russia connections caught fire. Seven days after the conference, Steele provided a new report for the Clinton Campaign. In it, for the first time, Steele made Page central to his Trump-Russia conspiracies.
Eleven days after that, the Crossfire Hurricane investigation officially launched, allegedly due to a tip (based on a casual London wine bar conversation two months earlier) by an Australian diplomat named Alexander Downer linked to the Clinton Foundation and to the Cambridge Four through the tight-knit London/Cambridge Five Eyes intelligence community (involving the CIA, FBI, and MI6). Current CIA Director Gina Haspel was the CIA station chief in London when Downer reportedly broke typical protocol by giving his tip directly to that Embassy’s team.
Halper’s long-time FBI handler Steve Somma, who personally saved Halper’s FBI career after Halper’s firing in 2011, was quickly reassigned to Crossfire Hurricane despite Somma telling the DOJ’s Inspector General that he “lacked a basic understanding of simple [campaign] issues.” Shortly after his reassignment, Somma claimed he “couldn’t believe [their] luck” as he “kind of stumbled upon” Halper’s ties to Crossfire Hurricane’s top targets, including from his recently meeting Page at my conference.
Halper quickly agreed to highly questionable, if not illegal, FBI requests to secretly record his own party’s presidential campaign advisers. Two business days after Somma held his meetings with Halper, the Crossfire Razor investigation of Flynn launched on August 16.
In the weeks after my Summer 2016 conference, Halper and Dearlove quit an academic entity, the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar (CIS), they’d put together with Andrew. After these resignations, rumors circulated that Trump’s national security advisor, General Michael Flynn, was seduced by a young blonde “Russian spy” in Cambridge years earlier. This “seduction” allegedly occurred after three of the Cambridge Four – Halper, Dearlove, and Andrew – hosted Flynn for CIS events in 2014. I attended part of their program and found nothing untoward, just typical academic fare. Neither apparently did any of the Cambridge Four find anything wrong, until years later after two of them crossed paths with Page at my conference.
Read the second part of the article
25 november 2020