WASHINGTON — A former top intelligence official who signed a letter attacking the Post’s 2020 bomb and reports on Hunter Biden’s laptop, as Russian disinformation has now admitted he knew a “significant portion” of the recovered files ” had to be real” – but it doesn’t. I don’t regret discarding the exposé.
Douglas Wise, a former deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was one of 51 former intelligence officials who issued the public letter on October 19, 2020 – five days after The Post began a series of reports on the now first son’s shady foreign dealings .
“We all felt that for Russian disinformation to be credible, a significant amount of this content had to be genuine,” said Wise – who didn’t respond when The Post reached out for an explanation in March last year, but found his voice when he spoke to The Australian spoke.
The Oct. 19 letter — whose signers included former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan — went to great lengths to question the legitimacy of The Post’s information , and devoted five paragraphs to it explaining “factors that make us suspicious of Russian involvement,” while adding the caveat that “we don’t know if the emails are… genuine or not, and… we don’t have any evidence.” for Russian participation”.
The letter was leaked to Politico, who published a story about it with the headline: “Hunter Biden story is Russian disinformation, say dozens of former intelligence officials.”
The letter’s declaration that the recovered laptop “has all the classic hallmarks of a Russian information operation” was used by Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and other media outlets to quell outcry over Facebook and Twitter’s suppression of the story.
Since then, the information recovered from the laptop has been belatedly confirmed by The New York Times, The Washington Post and CBS News, all of which only confirmed last year that the computer’s contents were authentic.
“The letter said it had the hallmarks of Russian deception and we should consider that as a possibility,” Wise told The Australian. “It didn’t say Hunter Biden was a good guy, it didn’t say what he did was right and it wasn’t an apology, it was just a warning letter.”
In fact, the letter referred to “[o]In our view, the Russians are implicated in the Hunter Biden email affair,” and concluded with the message: “It is high time Russia stopped interfering in our democracy.”
Despite the letter’s black-and-white statements, Wise — now retired from government service and listed on his LinkedIn page as the sole owner of New Mexico-based Southwest National Security Consultants LLC — insists his critics “whether they are members of the Conservative journalist community, conservative politicians or just ultra-right extremists, they didn’t care about the content.”
“I don’t regret signing it because context matters,” he added. “Notice [former Mayor and Trump lawyer Rudy] Giuliani had just been to Ukraine trying to find evidence on the Bidens, and he was meeting with a well-known Russian intelligence agent” — an apparent reference to pro-Moscow Ukrainian politician Andriy Derkach.
Wise further added speculation that the laptop’s “chain of custody” was open to change.
“Russians or even malicious conservative elements might have planted stuff in there,” he said.
The laptop was abandoned by Hunter Biden at a Delaware repair shop in April 2019. After store owner John Paul Mac Isaac took possession of the laptop and viewed its contents, he alerted the FBI, who confiscated the computer and hard drive in December.
After not hearing from investigators, Mac Isaac gave a copy of the hard drive to Giuliani’s attorney, Robert Costello. Giuliani himself gave a copy of the laptop to The Post on October 11, 2020 – three days before the first report was published.
Wise made the comments a week after the new Republican-controlled House of Representatives established the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government to investigate the ordeal as part of its mission to investigate inappropriate links between intelligence agencies and social media platforms in the wake of revelations that the FBI pressured Twitter to censor the Hunter Biden story.
It also came after the House Oversight Committee launched an investigation into the Biden family’s business dealings last week — an initiative inspired in part by the Post’s report.