You can see Part 1 Stasis of Modern Purgatory here,
To enter the stasis of modern purgatory it is not necessary to be charged with an actual crime. It is enough that you are implicated in events that touch on news cycles or impact power relationships. Igor Danchenko was not accused of committing a crime to begin with. Later the allegations that he was a spy linked him to potential charges of espionage and put his life at risk. But at first his life was destroyed because he had voluntarily spoken to the FBI about his work. He spoke on the condition of anonymity and because he felt it was his duty. Of the many questions and implications of his case one should cause even shallowest of Trump’s cheer leaders to pause for thought.
Why would anyone help the FBI investigate a potential threat to national security ever again?
A fear of helping investigations, will be just one of the consequences that the looking glass world of Donald Trump’s Presidency will have on the real world. The implications of a basic fear of law enforcement and the many other implications of the last four years will play out for a generation. There are many entirely innocent victims of this President, over 220,000 dead from the virus. There are also those in the grey zone. They are the foot soldiers in policy institutes and political parties. Once the system of checks and balances, the operation of the rule of law, a responsible media which was clearly delineated from propaganda, might have given these people a chance if they innocently strayed into the line of fire. They might once have been able to survive getting caught in the full spotlights of a political dog fight. Those days are gone. Perhaps forever. Within the looking glass world there is another deeper looking glass world, and it will be decades before we can unravel truth from illusion in the inner sanctum of Trump’s mendacity: his twitter account.
Jean Baudrillard predicted Trump’s relationship with truth and the Presidency with remarkable accuracy in his essay on the first gulf war: The gulf war did not take place. Baudrillard did not say that the war did not take place. He said that our experience of the war was different to the reality of the war. All that we experienced was mediated through communications and framed by media. In that sense it did not happen as we experienced it, our experience of it was the only way it happened for us. The war was real and real people died. But it was a hyperreality. We did not see the dead bodies. We saw the graphics of those buildings being destroyed. But inside those bunkers were people. We also saw Saddam’s attempt to end the conflict by creating a mega event, the retreat from Kuwait. The retreat took place. Those cars and vans and trucks had people In Them.
Then we were still dealing with leaders who dealt in temporal reality. But imagine if we had leaders who did not know the difference between truth and fiction. In what could we ground ourselves then? That is the inner sanctum of Trump’s world – there is no truth, no reality, only what he tweets and retweets. The age of Baudrillard has come.
In Trump’s first term political reality was grounded in nothing more than the subjective perception of one man and the projection of that perception via social media. And there are people at the heart of the experience who have suffered because of the lies that have become the American system of operating executive power. There are many millions who have suffered more than Igor Danchenko but his story has nuances that matter in understanding the bigger story. Lying as a system of government in the executive branch could not have taken place and taken root unless it was supported by lying in the judiciary and the legislature. The collapse of the rule of law in the United States is personified in the story of what happened to Igor Danchenko.
It is important to remember that we now live in an age in which a tweet has constitutional consequences and consequences in the lives of others in the same way that the executive order once had. In the hopefully temporary alliance between the Republican establishment and the mob, the reality that there are victims sometimes gets lost. Those victims are people but they are also institutions.
Igor Danchenko looks from his photos intense and smart and comes across from his work as an effective researcher. His world entered stasis in July 2020 when Trump’s allies leaked a redacted copy of a dossier to websites and Senator Lindsey Graham who was given a redacted copy of the document by US attorney general William Barr immediately released the document.
Danchenko was what has become known as the primary sub-source of the Steele dossier that chronicles Russian interference in the US Presidential election. The findings of the dossier have been broadly endorsed by work by independent journalists like Luke Harding and by Congressional committees. As part of one of the first probes into Russian interference Danchenko was interviewed by the FBI and offered that he had been the researcher who had supplied the raw intelligence of the Steele dossier. He spoke to the FBI on the condition that his identity would be kept secret. Lindsey Graham and others were desperate to discredit the dossier and the allegations of Russian collusion. In July 2020 Attorney General William Barr ordered the FBI to release a redacted version of the witness statement. Graham then made that public. It took two days from the moment Graham released the document to the appearance of a web site entitled, “I found the primary subsource”, appearing online supported by an anonymous twitter account. This was followed by articles in Russia Today and the Wall Street Journal.
This was the moment of stasis.
The separation of powers has not protected him. The first amendment worked against him. He was placed in that purgatory of our modern world. There is no indication in any document related to the case that he had committed any crime, but he was placed under the equivalent of a physical and virtual house arrest. He could not work. He could not travel. Nor could he come out swinging. This is the major difference between those on the inside of the political circle and those working on the periphery. They are expendable. His lawyer issued a statement and when the next wave hit, issued cease, and desist letters. But by then the information machine both directed and spontaneous had defined who and what he was. This varied at different times and on different platforms. He was Ukrainian and therefore an enemy of Russia. He was a drunk and his sources were friends he drank with. He was a fantasist. A tool of the Democratic Party because he had worked for Brookings. None of these things are true. But the news cycle was moving on and the Russian story was not sticking to the Democrats in the way Trump had hoped. It was time to hit Igor again. This time he was a Russian spy. Remember this is the middle of a Presidential election campaign, that the incumbent is struggling in. The President of the United States begins to retweet stories about you being a spy. Imagine the feeling. This is the President of the United States retweeting not one but a series of times that you are a Russian spy guilty of treason. Ironically, Danchenko had actually been responsible for exposing the fact that Vladimir Putin have plagiarised his dissertation: not a clever move for a career as a Russian spy.
This second wave of incoming provoked a good fight back. Lawyers letters, interviews with the Guardian and the New York Times. So, then the third wave came. A story broke in the Wall Street Journal naming and seeking to destroy the reputation of a childhood friend. Presenting as seamless and established fact that she was one of the sources of the content of the dossier.
The law is fairly useless in the context of this kind of assault. The separation of powers having broken down there was little or no protection. Danchenko’s attempts to break free of the stasis are ongoing but he remains, at the time of writing, in his modern Purgatory.
He has started a gofundme campaign – click on the link to support him..