Former NSA counterspy on Epstein spy links
NEWS AND ANALYSIS:
John R. Schindler, a former National Security Agency counterintelligence official, recently disclosed new information linking deceased pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein to Russian intelligence.
Mr. Schindler wrote a detailed counterintelligence analysis of Epstein, who died under mysterious circumstances in a New York jail in August 2019.
Since his death, Epstein has been linked to an array of high-profile figures including CIA Director William Burns, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and America’s largest bank, JPMorgan Chase.
The bank’s CEO Jamie Dimon, was deposed last month in an Epstein-related sex-trafficking lawsuit and said he had no relationship with the deceased.
Mr. Schindler, who writes the intelligence newsletter Top Secret Umbra, quoted a favorite expression of counterintelligence officials from “Goldfinger,” the book by spy novelist Ian Fleming: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.”
Epstein faced charges of sexually abusing girls in 2006 and pleaded guilty in 2008 to soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution. He was jailed in Florida and registered as a sex offender. He was being held on sex trafficking charges when he died.
Epstein also operated a posh resort in the U.S. Virgin Islands that was visited by numerous powerful and wealthy people.
In April, The Wall Street Journal reported that documents from Epstein show that Mr. Burns, who has been CIA director since early 2021, was scheduled for three meetings with Epstein in 2014 to obtain career advice.
Mr. Schindler weighed in on the report, writing “this is a strange story, to put it mildly.”
“Burns was a well-regarded top diplomat (and the first career diplomat to head CIA),” he wrote. “We don’t know what career advice Epstein shared with Burns, nor if Epstein had anything to do with Burns getting his plum gig at the Carnegie Endowment. But that also misses the point.”
Mr. Schindler asked why the highly connected senior diplomat, considered one of Washington’s most distinguished officials, would turn to a registered sex offender for career advice.
“Did Burns not know any financial matchers who weren’t pedophiles?” he asked.
Mr. Schindler said there are two possibilities. One is Mr. Burns knew who Epstein was and did not care that he was a criminal sex offender, something that “hardly speaks well for Burns’ judgement or moral compass.”
A second possibility is Mr. Burns never bothered to inquire about Epstein.
“Such willfully careless ignorance fails Spook School 101 and stands as an instant disqualifier to lead the CIA,” Mr. Schindler wrote, noting that he has called for the CIA director to step down as a result.
CIA spokeswoman Tammy Thorp told Inside the Ring that Mr. Burns met Epstein at the recommendation of a friend.
“As Director Burns has emphasized before, he deeply regrets ever having met [Epstein] and wishes he had done his homework first,” she said. “He recalls being introduced by a mutual friend in Washington, D.C., and then met with him once briefly in New York City, about a decade ago.”
Mr. Schindler’s assessment cast doubt on that explanation. If Mr. Burns had no idea who Epstein was, then why would he solicit career advice from a person he knew nothing about?
Aside from the CIA director, Mr. Schindler expertly connected the dots of Epstein’s relations with Mr. Gates, the most interesting of which involved the tech leader’s affair with a Russian national named Mila Antonova, who was half his age.
“The Gates-Antonova story includes a big dollop of Jeffrey Epstein, because of course it does,” Mr. Schindler wrote. “She was seeking funds for an online bridge venture called BridgePlanet and Antonova was introduced to Epstein by Boris Nikolic, a top adviser to Gates.”
Ms. Antonova, according to The Wall Street Journal, met Epstein at his New York City residence in late 2013 and asked for $500,000 in startup funds. In 2014, she stayed at an apartment provided by Epstein, and she claimed to have no idea about his criminal past.
Then in 2017, Epstein asked Mr. Gates for a donation for a multimillion-dollar charity he started with JPMorgan Chase, and Mr. Gates declined.
Epstein then emailed Mr. Gates asking for a reimbursement of the money he gave to Ms. Antonova’s online startup that included a veiled threat to expose Mr. Gate’s affair with her.
According to Mr. Schindler, it appeared Epstein “was running a kind of kompromat operation on his super-wealthy pals.”
Kompromat is a Russian intelligence term for blackmail operation.
Mr. Schindler wrote that Epstein got a lenient deal from the Justice Department in 2008 after prosecutors were told he “belonged to intelligence,” an indication he was not a source for American intelligence agencies, but foreign ones.
Mr. Schindler asserted the link to Russian intelligence includes a photograph showing Ms. Antonova in the late 2000s – around the time she met Mr. Gates – on a New York street with Ana Kushchenko, also known as Ana Chapman.
Ms. Chapman was among the 10 Russian intelligence deep cover “illegal” agents arrested by the FBI in 2010. The Russians were quickly traded to Moscow in a spy swap.
“What was Chapman’s relationship with Mila Antonova? Who knew about that relationship? Was Jeffrey Epstein aware of this? Did Antonova meet Bill Gates purely by chance? It’s possible that two young Russian women just happened to meet in New York during the brief period circa 2009-10 when Chapman, the model-esque SVR Illegal, was in living in Manhattan, which was the same period that Antonova’s relationship with Gates just happened to commence, which Epstein just happened to know about?” Mr. Schindler notes.
SVR is the acronym for Russia’s foreign spy agency.
Epstein “was clandestinely involved with multiple intelligence agencies” with substantial assistance from the Israelis and the Russians, Mr. Schindler concluded.
Former State official on U.S., China war of words
David Stilwell, a former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, weighed in on the recent verbal sparring between Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and China’s Defense Minister Li Shangfu.
The two defense leaders criticized each other’s militaries during the Shangri-La defense conference in Singapore last weekend.
“Since the U.S. first took off the kid gloves at the Shangri-La Dialogue in 2014, the open elevating of shared concerns of the U.S. and the region has put the People’s Republic of China on notice that the days of unopposed goals is over,” Mr. Stilwell, who held the State post during the Trump administration, told Inside the Ring.
“Kudos to the Defense Department for demonstrating both the freedom of navigation and for publicizing what DoD has kept secret for too long: PRC dangerous maneuvering in international waters against U.S. and allied/partner professionalism,” he added.
The Pentagon now needs to release photos of the surveillance gear recovered from the February shootdown of a Chinese balloon off the Carolina coast, he said.
The photos “would make a mockery of PRC complaints about [U.S.] reconnaissance operations 100 miles from their shores,” he said.
On complaints about a lack of meetings with Chinese defense and military officials, Mr. Stilwell, a former Air Force attaché in China, said the Pentagon has been accepting meetings with low-level Ministry of Defense and Central Military Commission officials.
The People’s Liberation Army would never accept a meeting with an acting assistant defense secretary, “but that’s who Beijing puts up against the defense secretary,” Mr. Stilwell said.
“U.S. interlocutors need to understand that when negotiating with the Chinese Communist Party, you always have to be ready to walk away to show you’re serious,” he said. “We don’t teach these people how to negotiate and it’s really hurting us.”
As for those calling for lifting sanctions on Chinese Defense Minister Li so he could travel and meet with U.S. counterparts, Mr. Stilwell noted that he is among more than 10 former U.S. officials, including himself and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who have been sanctioned by Beijing.
“If Beijing really wants to talk, they know how to get a hold of us, and we’ve always picked up the phone,” he said. “The sanctions thing is just an excuse.”
HASC chair to seek more China funding
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers wants Congress to provide more money to the Pentagon to deal with China.
Mr. Rogers, Alabama Republican, told reporters this week that a supplemental spending bill may be needed for China, while spending for Ukraine may be curbed.
The chairman said after Congress finished the fiscal 2024 defense authorization and appropriations bills, “then it’s time for us to look and see if we actually address China. If we did, fine. If we didn’t, we’ll go ahead and drop more funding. It’s all about China for me.”
“It is premature to be talking about a supplemental right now,” Mr. Rogers said Tuesday. “But we will need a supplemental later this year, for China specifically.”
The comments were reported by Politico and Defense News.
The additional China spending would need to circumvent the $886 billion limit on military spending in the debt ceiling deal recently signed into law.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Monday that the Pentagon budget request is enough, and that the Pentagon needs to find money elsewhere.
“What we really need to do, we need to get the efficiencies in the Pentagon,” Mr. McCarthy said. “Think about it, $886 billion. You don’t think there’s waste? They failed the last five audits. I consider myself a hawk, but I don’t want to waste money. So, I think we’ve got to find efficiencies.”