The Steele Dossier isn't "infamous." There is nothing about it that bestows infamy upon it. The conduct of everyone around it is a different story.
The Steele Dossier was prepared by former British MI6 intelligence officer Christopher Steele in association with Fusion GPS, a research and strategic intelligence firm in Washington, DC. The report was reportedly funded initially by an "unnamed Republican presidential candidate" and later, according to The Washington Post, the Clinton campaign. Why any of that should surprise anyone is perhaps the biggest mystery of all.
The dossier was one thing at the time it was created. It is something entirely different at this point. Steele's dossier as he created it was a confidential report constructed from communications with confidential sources by a private investigator for a private party.
It was never intended for public viewing and was absolutely not constructed for legal presentation. As such it contains very little documentary evidence. The method of construction is quite common in reports created by intelligence agencies around the world and is in no way exceptional in that regard. Given the dossier was never intended to be presented as legal evidence in a court of law, it likely never will be.
The first public rumbles of the dossier came on Monday, October 31, 2016, three days after FBI Director James Comey roiled the front-running Clinton campaign with his October surprise and little more than a week before the November 8th presidential election. David Corn, writing for Mother Jones, dropped a bombshell of his own.
Corn's piece was titled A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump. The veteran spy now appears to have been Christopher Steele. Corn had met with Steele earlier in October to discuss the material. In the story that would result, Corn was professionally guarded in terms of what he revealed. He laid out the parameters without revealing enough to endanger lives. BuzzFeed.com wouldn't be nearly as careful.
On January 10, 2017, 10 days before Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States, the U.S. entertainment and clickbait website BuzzFeed.com published the Steele dossier in its entirety, unredacted. Within weeks, reports began to surface of high-level Russian intelligence officers linked to election hacking being arrested in Moscow. In another instance, The Telegraph UK linked the mysterious death of "ex-KGB chief" Oleg Erovinkin directly to the release of the Steele dossier. The pattern of apparent purging and retribution within the intelligence community in Russia after the release of the dossier was an ominous testament to the veracity of Steele's sources.
Christopher Steele's dossier now has a second life and purpose, that as political instrument for Donald Trump's loyalists on Capitol Hill. Once in the public domain, the dossier became the subject of wide debate. As it was not intended to include documentary evidence, it accordingly had none. That makes it the perfect red herring argument for Trump's enablers. Everyone is talking about the dossier and it contains no evidence -- perfect, put the dossier on trial.
For the U.S. mainstream media, the dossier is a guaranteed ratings booster, so they are along for the ride. Another profitable distraction from far more important but less popular stories. One example would be the ongoing effort by Donald Trump to provoke war, perhaps nuclear, with North Korea. Another would be the utter abandonment of the people of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria as a very real human catastrophe unfolds.
The entire Steele dossier flap is a well-orchestrated sideshow intended to distract from issues of far greater importance to the nation. Time to relegate it to the entertainment pages where it belongs.
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