We Know What We Don’t Know

grid-of-death

The words of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, come to mind as I ponder the steady albeit untimely demise of Russian diplomats or their contacts around the world. Since the election of Donald Trump seven prominent Russian diplomats have died unexpectedly and under questionable circumstances.  Add to that list the death by blunt force trauma of Mikhail Lesin in 2015, and the mysterious fatal shooting last summer of Seth Rich in Bloomingdale, a D.C. neighborhood and a rather obvious pattern begins to emerge. Any connection to Vladimir Putin can be hazardous to your health.

This is not exactly “Breaking News” for anyone who even casually follows world events. One can google almost any of the names above and expect to find a detailed account of how and in many cases why the person managed to draw the attention of the Vladiator. In most cases, we know what we know. That’s what makes the case of Sergei Krivov so unusual. We know only a very few details for sure about the man and how he died and what we do know prompts more questions than answers. Who, what, when, where, and why; of all these, the question of when seems to be the most intriguing. Mr. Krivov was found unconscious and unresponsive just before 7:00 AM on November 8, 2016. That is to say, just moments after the polls opened in New York City, the duty commander for the Russian Consulate General, turned up dead. The initial first responder described him as exhibiting signs of blunt force trauma, but since even this fact is among the unknowable fact of this case, for now, let’s ask if there is anything significant about the time of death.

In NYC, one person dies roughly every 9 minutes, so we would expect that between 6:00 when the polls open and 7:00 when the body was discovered, about 7 people would have died. Can we say that the odds of Mr. Krivov’s death within that time window at the time were roughly one in 64 million? So his death was substantially less likely that a Trump victory that day, but certainly enough of an outlier to describe the death at that time as unexpected, and enough to prompt questions as to why he died at all much less when he did.

Of course, we know that merely by being within the category of Russian Diplomats substantially increases the likelihood of sudden death, but is there anything about his specific job that might provide a clue? Buzzfeed reports that

“According to other public Russian-language descriptions of the duty commander position, Krivov would have been in charge of, among other things, ‘prevention of sabotage’ and suppression of ‘attempts of secret intrusion’ into the consulate. “In other words, it was Krivov’s job to make sure US intelligence agencies didn’t have ears in the building.”

If Krivov was doing a bang-up job on that front, then he had nothing to worry about, right? But was he?  On Oct. 7, the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued the following joint statement on behalf of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

“The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”

The USIC is composed of the following agencies.

Air Force Intelligence

Army Intelligence

Central Intelligence Agency

Coast Guard Intelligence

Department of the Treasury

Drug Enforcement Administration

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Marine Corps Intelligence

Defense Intelligence Agency

Department of Energy

Department of Homeland Security

Department of State

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

National Reconnaissance Office

National Security Agency

Navy Intelligence

Snowden is holed up in Moscow along with lots of information about US Intelligence operations. It seems plausible that among that trove of information, the identity of various double agents might be found. A double agent only survives because he is useful to both sides. Once the voting was in process had his usefulness to the Kremlin fallen to the point where he was more of a liability than an asset? Or was it the other way around and his usefulness to someone in the USA had fallen to zero or below? Per his own advice, I won’t assume that Trump is so naive that such a strategy is off limits for him.Getting agreement among the 16 agencies plus the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is no small feat and would require extraordinarily convincing evidence to coax this sort of consensus. A mole in the consulate is just one example of the type of irrefutable evidence that might tip the scales. The mere possibility that Krivov might be such a mole would lead one to safely assume that Krivov was not likely to get a glowing employee evaluation anytime soon, but wouldn’t Kremlin HR frown on the sort of disciplinary action he seems to have received. Why did he need to die and more specifically why just as the first polls opened in NYC and the USA? Here is one tin foil hat theory.

For the most comprehensive reporting on this incident, please refer to Buzzfeed’s’ excellent article. In it, they document not only how much we don’t know but all the entities that are doing their level best to make certain that we never learn the truth. Thanks to their reporting, we know what we don’t know, and that one data point, the clear understanding that we are not intended to ever know this information, allows us to know one more piece of the puzzle. When all is said and done, and we know all the facts about the Russian’s role in our recent election, the name Sergei Krivov will figure prominently in the story. So, set a Google Alert for his name. This is a thread that, when pulled on, could unravel the entire cloak of deception.

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