31 October 2017

Meet Steve Levine Fusion GPS apologist

Meet Steve Levine, according to Axios.com "eager to hear from you at steve@axios.com."

Not so eager though, when it comes to explaining the kind of work his mates at Fusion GPS have done in Venezuela. In a recent article, LeVine paints a rosy picture of Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, two of the three 'reporters' con artists behind bespoke, and highly lucrative, smear campaigns.

It was this bit of LeVine's hagiography about Fusion GPS that caught my attention:

"They are seriously savvy at finding extremely hard-to-locate — and even more difficult to understand and contextualize — documents and other intelligence on globally powerful people and organizations."

Seriously savy people know that Venezuela is, easily, America's most corrupt country. Seriously savy people know who Hugo Chavez is, and who his succesor (Nicolas Maduro) is. Seriously savy people know the kind of mess Venezuela is in as a result of chavismo's policies. Seriously savy people also know that in Venezuela millions of dollars worth of procurement contracts are, as a matter of course, granted to whoever offers contracting bodies the biggest bribe.

Seriouly savy people, those who know how to use PACER, also know this thing called Google. It is, for seriously, and not so seriously, savy people, the first port of call nowadays when it comes to establishing bona fides.

So what to say about involvement of LeVine's "seriously savy" Fusion GPS friends with Venezuela's Derwick Associates? Mind you, when Fusion GPS started working for Derwick, a simple Google search would have returned results about rampant corruption related to a multibillion dollar swindle in procurement of power plants in Venezuela.

So I confronted LeVine's cretinous arguments on Twitter, to which he replied "Link to evidence that Fusion carried out what you describe."

I must pause here, and explain the evidence I provided. Fusion's Peter Fritsch travelled to Caracas, in July 2014, with Adam Kaufmann. The purpose of the trip was to block further reporting from the Wall Street Journal into Derwick's corruption in Venezuela.

I was told by sources present at the Caracas meeting that Derwick, assisted by Fritsch and Kaufmann, spent an inordinate amount of time smearing me, and my work. Why my work? Because of my investigations into Derwick Associates.

When they could a word in, Derwick Associates were asked by Wall Street Journal reporters whether they would go on record with their allegations against me. Derwick refused. Derwick execs were also asked to provide official evidence proving procurement contracts granted resulted after open, fair and competitive bidding. Derwick failed to do so. It failed then, in July 2014, and it has done ever since whenever questions about their corrupt ways are asked. Since that encounter in Caracas, I have published official evidence of corruption in procurement contracts granted to Derwick.

My apartment, in London, was broken into in November 2014. Coincidence? Fusion GPS knew the kind of information I had about them in August 2014:
From: Thomas Catan <tcatan@fusiongps.com>
Subject: Re: Peter Fritsch
Date: 26 August 2014 at 14:30:31 BST
To: alek boyd <alek.boyd@gmail.com>

This is really creepy, Alek. You conducting surveillance these days or wtf?

On Aug 26, 2014, at 8:25 AM, Alek Boyd <alek.boyd@gmail.com> wrote:

Hi Tom,

further to my recent email about possible work that your company could be doing in Venezuela, have a look below at what I have just received. It would be a surprise that a colleague of yours is working for the type of thugs I have been exposing for many years now, and I would hate to think that you were economical with the truth with me about your company's involvement with such people, to the point of denying involvement.

As you know very well, I have been chronicling chavismo for nearly 12 years now. You know me, you know what I stand for. You also know well that there are no secrets in Venezuela and that in the last decade or so I have developed an extensive network of contacts that keep me up to speed on things. I had heard from different people that Derwick Associates had hired your company for some sort of white wash operation. And now I have gotten evidence that places Peter Fritsch in Caracas just over a month ago.

Needless to say to I am planning to expose this, as I did previously when Al Cardenas and FTI were hired to cleanse the bolichicos "reputation" (perhaps you guys should ask Cardenas how did it go for him). I have already found some rather interesting reports about Glen Simpson, your CEO, that will make for very interesting reading when linked to chavistas.

I would appreciate your frankness in this respect. As I understand, you're a senior partner there and the firm is not that big.

Corrupt operatives involved in Derwick's schemes were arrested last week in Spain on U.S. arrest warrants. Furthermore, I happen to have evidence that links Derwick directly with one of the arrested.

 When I confronted LeVine with Fritsch's trip to Caracas he blocked me on Twitter. That's OK. But his reputation, as that of the thugs he apologises for, will suffer for it. I had a number of further questions for LeVine in store, given that he claims ignorance on how much Fusion GPS charges for their 'work'. Fritsch, for instance, purchased a $2.3 million house in 2016. His partner, Tom Catan, paid in full a $508,000 mortgage on his residence in 2015, and purchased another house, in Lusby, in 2017 for $660,500. Simpson in turn, took a $500,000 mortgage on his house in 2014. Evidently smearing investigative journalists and human rights defenders is a lucrative business.

Fusion GPS' Fritsch record of stay in Caracas, July 2014.

LeVine won't be explaining Fritsch's trip to Caracas or Fusion GPS' involvement with Venezuelan criminals in Georgetown University anytime soon. Flat earth syndrome...

LeVine, though, is a fine example of what's rotten with today's mediocre journalism. "Seriously savy" folks, incapable of exercising a modicum of critical thinking, incapable of running cursory due diligence, unwilling to check claims before risking reputations. These are not "extremely" able professionals uniquely equipped to "understand and contextualize... hard to locate" information. These are wholy amoral people driven by money. It is unthinkable that these "seriously savy" fellows did not know what they were getting into when they decided to service the likes of Derwick Associates. I know Catan, personally. He never struck me as an idiot.

In the criminal underworld, what Fusion GPS has done is called swatting. Fusion GPS basically took money from the Democrats to produce fiction that was then shopped to all and sundry with the intention of criminalising, or swatting, Donald Trump. The FBI, also "seriously savy" I suppose, decided to swallow the whole thing, as did other equally clever folks up and down the American government. No one checked. No one scrutinised sources, nor was the 'intel' questioned. But that's not LeVine you see. He vouches for Fusion GPS 'reporters'. Also a 'reporter', and a 'professor,' LeVine thinks he is equally infallible.

Justice Departments in the U.S., Spain, Andorra, and Switzerland are closing in on Derwick. Facilitators of their corruption are already behind bars. Officials that approved payments of hundreds of millions of dollars to Derwick have already been indicted and have pleaded guilty. Unless they move to Venezuela, or to Russia, is going to be difficult for Fusion GPS to come out of this unscathed.