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One of the most galling aspects of the Hunter Biden laptop saga is that the 51 former intelligence officials who played such a critical role in suppressing The Post’s stories and giving Joe Biden cover before the 2020 election have never been brought to account.
The “Dirty 51” lied by painting our stories as Russian disinformation in an Oct. 19, 2020, letter they signed and delivered to Politico five days after The Post exposé and three days before the final presidential debate of the election campaign.
They used the institutional weight of their powerful former roles to legitimize partisan political propaganda designed to smear The Post and everyone associated with the story and dissuade the rest of the media from looking deeper into the laptop.
The letter, titled “Public Statement on the Hunter Biden emails,” and signed by former CIA Directors John Brennan, Leon Panetta and Mike Hayden, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and other ex-spooks, claimed the material on Hunter’s hard drive “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation,” although not one of them had seen it.
Their lie “probably affected the outcome” of the 2020 presidential race, as former Attorney General William Barr has said, describing the letter as “partisan hackery,” “baseless” and signed by “a coterie of retired intelligence officials who had lost their professional bearings.”
Yet they have never apologized or retracted their lie. In fact, when The Post contacted the group in March, after the New York Times belatedly acknowledged the laptop was real, some, like Clapper, doubled down.
One former CIA officer who signed the letter, John Sipher, boasted that he took “special pride in personally swinging the election away from Trump.”
“I lost the election for Trump?” wrote Sipher during a Twitter spat with a former Trump official. “Well then I [feel] pretty good about my influence.”
The arrogance of these Deep Staters tells you that they believe they will get away with lying to influence an election.
But there’s one person with a bee in his bonnet who isn’t going to let the story go: Donald Trump.
The former president has sicced uber-attorney Tim Parlatore on the Dirty 51. On Wednesday, Parlatore launched the first stage of a multi-prong strategy to make those who signed the letter pay for the damage they have wrought to freedom of the press, election integrity and the welfare of the nation.
His goal is to uncover alleged communications between the Dirty 51 and the Biden campaign.
Parlatore began by filing five letters of complaint with the agencies that formerly employed the 51, including the CIA — which counted 43 of its former officials among the group — the National Security Agency, the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Defense.
Each letter complains of “an egregious breach” by former agency employees “that appears to have been overlooked by your agency, as it has gone uninvestigated and certainly unpunished. Specifically, the unauthorized publication and dissemination of an intelligence assessment, purportedly based on classified information, that was used wrongfully to influence the outcome of an election.”
It points out that each of the Dirty 51 was “bound by the lifelong obligation” to submit the letter to their former agencies for pre-publication security review to ensure it didn’t contain classified information, a process that could take several months. The letter then would have been stamped with a disclaimer that the agency was not vouching for its accuracy.
“That would have destroyed the usefulness of the document,” says Parlatore, “plus the process would have delayed it so long, it would not be useful” because the election would have been over.
Letters were sent to John Hoffister Hedley, chairman of the Prepublication Classification Review Board at the CIA; Gen. Paul Nakasone, director of the National Security Agency and commander of United States Cyber Command; Christine Abizaid, director of the National Counterterrorism Center at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; Caroline Krass, general counsel, Department of Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review; and Avril Haines, director of the Information Management Division in the Office of the DNI.
The letters state: “Leading up to the 2020 election, the New York Post published stunning revelations which were lawfully obtained from a laptop that formerly belonged to Hunter Biden, son of then-candidate Joe Biden.
“This information, which raises significant concerns about the financial dealings of a presidential candidate and his potential ties to our nation’s primary adversaries, China and Russia, threatened to undermine his candidacy.
“To undermine these revelations, 51 former intelligence officials … published an intelligence assessment in the form of a letter for dissemination to the American people through the news media. This letter purportedly relied on the combined and established credibility of these intelligence officials, through collective experience and knowledge of intelligence information, including classified material, to assess that the laptop was not authentic and ‘has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.’
“Over a year after the election, it is conceded that the laptop and its contents are authentic, and the judgement espoused by these 51 former intelligence officials is baseless and false. Yet, the implications of this breach continue. Media outlets used this purportedly credible intelligence assessment as a justification to not report on the story. Some polls show that up to 17% of people who voted for President Biden would not have if they knew about the contents of the laptop at the time.”
Parlatore urges each agency to “proceed immediately with legal action to [ensure] that such breaches of vital security provisions do not continue to go unchecked.”
The same standard should be applied to the 51 as has been applied to other agency employees who have breached the prepublication review obligation: They should be stripped of their security clearances and never again allowed to work in the intelligence field.
The next step for Parlatore is to file a letter with the Federal Election Commission, requesting that the Dirty 51 letter be recorded as a campaign “in-kind contribution.”
Then will come litigation against the 51 and the Biden campaign in US District Court, in pursuit of any link between Democratic operatives and the letter.
Biden cited the letter in that final presidential debate of 2020 to dismiss as “garbage” and part of a “Russian plan” emails from the laptop that were published by The Post indicating he had met with Hunter’s Ukrainian paymaster in Washington, DC, when he was veep.
Barr, who was AG at the time, recently told Fox News he was “very disturbed during the debate when candidate Biden lied to the American people about the laptop. He’s squarely confronted with the laptop, and he suggested that it was Russian disinformation and pointed to the letter written by some intelligence people that was baseless — which he knew was a lie …
“When you’re talking about interference in an election, I can’t think of anything more than that kind of thing.”
Justice might be slow, but it is coming.
Reporting from the New York Post.