Isn’t 51 an interesting number? 51 is one short of a full deck of cards. The mysterious “Area”, is where the top-secret U.S. Military installation linked to UFOs can be found. This is exactly three times as many intelligence agencies that confirmed Russia attempted to interfere with the 2016 elections. This is a big number, and even impressive. When 51 former and current intelligence officials sign a public letter, they are trying to grab your attention. They will also convince you that the message is important.
For many Americans, it was true — the description of the Hunter Biden emails on the laptop by dozens of intelligence officials as “all the classic signs of a Russian propaganda operation” (who could surely be trusted, right?) They were able to dismiss the New York Post story, and Tony Bobulinski’s corroboration as being not only false but also likely Russian work.
But just as Hunter’s abandoned laptop eventually proved to be legit, recent testimony from former acting CIA Director Mike Morrell before the House Judiciary Committee highlighted a direct line between Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign and the letter’s genesis. (You don’t say?!)
Since Matt Taibbi, Michael Shellenberger, and others testified in front of Congress in March, Taibbi has been a regular listener to Walter Kirn’s “America This Week” podcast. In the episode that aired last week, they discussed the role of the famous 51. They also noted that, rather than looking at intelligence officials as authorities, it is important that we be suspicious of their messages since their job is literally not to tell the truth. They also asked if there were any other intelligence officials that didn’t sign the document (given how many people signed it).
I wondered if anyone else had signed the letter if 51 former and current intelligence officials did. This reminded me of the scene in “In & Out”, where Joan Cusack’s bride who was dumped at the altar screams to her night, “Is everyone gay?” !”
It’s a legitimate question. If 51 officials signed it (only at Morrell’s behest and without independently investigating this situation), was there anyone who refused to sign? If so, why haven’t we heard anything from them?
Dan Hoffman is a former CIA station head. Dan Hoffman, former CIA station chief, wrote an OpEd for the Washington Times on Thursday titled “Why I did not sign the Hunter Biden Laptop Letter.” He explained that he was uncomfortable signing his name off something he hadn’t independently verified and he didn’t feel comfortable doing so. In his OpEd, Hoffman wrote:
When I was at the CIA, and we didn’t know the answer to a policymaker’s question, we asked for additional information so that we could make better executive decisions. While Mr. Morell circulated the letter, John Ratcliffe, the then Director of National Intelligence at the time, publicly stated that the Hunter Biden Laptop was “not a part of any Russian disinformation campaign.”
The letter that I was asked to sign stated clearly: “We have no evidence of Russian involvement – just that our experiences make us deeply suspicious that the Russian government played an important role in this case.”
The FBI needed to finish its investigation, and the U.S. Intelligence analysts required more time to perform forensics and uncover the details. This was especially true for the confusing part of the story about the computer being found in a Delaware repair shop.
The email that I received from Mr. Morell was not conducive to further discussion. The letter was already written. The letter was passed around to get signatures and not for editing.
I have never signed off on someone else’s words written in my name. At the time, I had other priorities. My wife Kim was in her third year of cancer treatment and would die within a few short months. She entered hospice care just a few weeks after the election.
So, I never signed the letter or responded to the email.
Now that we know at least one, Hoffman is sure there were more. He appeared on Fox News Friday afternoon with John Roberts to discuss his OpEd, and why he didn’t sign the letter.
Hoffman said that he had received the letter in October 2020. At first, it appeared natural to blame the Kremlin for the laptop. The letter did not mention any evidence of Russian involvement, but the media and Joe Biden seemed to feel comfortable insinuating otherwise. Hoffman felt that a forensic examination of the laptop’s contents and its contents was needed to determine the laptop’s origins.
He reiterated his concern about the convoluted way the laptop was brought to the public’s notice and said that he just needed more information. He noted that “there were many others” who did not sign the letter, but he did not name them. (Perhaps someone could follow up with Hoffman to see if he has the email/communication that Morrell sent him inviting him to sign the letter. Other officials were cc-ed in that correspondence? Has he talked to others who have declined the invitation? Does he base his decision on the actual number of people who signed the invitation versus those who received it?
He explained that when he worked at the CIA he would often sit in Mike Morrell’s office to discuss difficult issues. Here, however, no debate was allowed. Hoffman, who has spent years studying Russia, was surprised that he and other people with similar backgrounds were not invited to participate in the discussion before being asked to sign this letter.
Hoffman also stressed the importance of distinguishing retired from active officials. He noted that while those who are currently serving can vote, they still serve and perform their duties regardless of the president and do not (or shouldn’t) let politics determine what they do. Retired officers, on the other hand, can participate in politics, provided they do not reveal classified information.
Hoffman said that he didn’t know that Morrell and Antony Blinken, who was then working for the Biden campaign, had discussed the letter. He agreed that the communication between Morrell and Blinken led directly to the publication of the letter as well as Joe Biden using it in the debate.
Roberts then asked Hoffman, “Why did you wait for two years?” Hoffman replied that Morrell’s testimonies changed his mind. He felt compelled, then, to speak up when he realized Morrell had written the letter on Blinken’s/the campaign’s behalf.
In the end, I think it’s a good thing that Mr. Hoffman spoke out. I hope his actions will encourage others who didn’t sign the letter to also do so. This has left me a little bewildered. I’m a former lawyer, now an editor/writer, and follow politics. It didn’t even take Morrell’s recent testimony to make me see the connection. This just confirmed what I had long suspected. It’s hard to believe that it took intelligence officers until now to recognize what happened and decide it was worth saying.