7 July 2020 — Moon of Alabama
Within just one week the recent attempt to revive ‘Russiagate’ has failed. It was an embarrassing failure for the media who pushed it. Their ‘journalists’ fell for obvious nonsense. They let their sources abuse them for political purposes.
On June 27 the New York Times and the Washington Post published stories which claimed that Trump was informed about alleged Russian bounty payments to the Taliban for killing U.S. soldiers and did nothing about it:
A Russian military spy unit offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan, including U.S. and British troops, in a striking escalation of the Kremlin’s hostility toward the United States, American intelligence has found.
The Russian operation, first reported by the New York Times, has generated an intense debate within the Trump administration about how best to respond to a troubling new tactic by a nation that most U.S. officials regard as a potential foe but that President Trump has frequently embraced as a friend, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive intelligence matter.
The story ran on page A-1 of the paper version of the NYT.
We immediately called it out as the obvious nonsense that it was:
Now the intelligence services make another claim that fits right into the above [‘Russiagate’] scheme.
Reporters from the New York Times and the Washington Post were called up by unnamed ‘officials’ and told to write that Russia pays some Afghans to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. There is zero evidence that the claim is true. The Taliban spokesman denies it. The numbers of U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan is minimal. The alleged sources of the claims are criminals the U.S. has taken as prisoners in Afghanistan.
All that nonsense is again used to press against Trump’s wish for better relations with Russia. Imagine – Trump was told about these nonsensical claims and he did nothing about it!
Others likewise dumped on the shady reporting:
- In ‘Russian Bounty’ Story, Evidence-Free Claims From Nameless Spies Became Fact Overnight – Alan MacLeod/FAIR
- BOUNTYGATE: Scapegoating Systemic Military Failure in Afghanistan – Scott Ritter/Consortiumnews
- What Does The Russia Bounty Story Really Amount To? – Rivkin, Beebe/The Hill
But that the story was obviously bullshit did not prevent Democrats in Congress, including ‘Russiagate’ swindler Adam Schiff, to bluster about it and to call for immediate briefings and new sanctions on Russia.
Just a day after it was published the main accusation, that Trump was briefed on the ‘intelligence’ died. The Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Advisor and the CIA publicly rejected the claim. Then the rest of the story started to crumble. On June 2, just one week after it was launched, the story was declared dead:
A memo produced in recent days by the office of the nation’s top intelligence official acknowledged that the C.I.A. and top counterterrorism officials have assessed that Russia appears to have offered bounties to kill American and coalition troops in Afghanistan, but emphasized uncertainties and gaps in evidence, according to three officials.
The memo said that the C.I.A. and the National Counterterrorism Center had assessed with medium confidence — meaning credibly sourced and plausible, but falling short of near certainty — that a unit of the Russian military intelligence service, known as the G.R.U., offered the bounties, according to two of the officials briefed on its contents.
But other parts of the intelligence community — including the National Security Agency, which favors electronic surveillance intelligence — said they did not have information to support that conclusion at the same level, therefore expressing lower confidence in the conclusion, according to the two officials.
The NYT buried the above quoted dead corpse of the original story page A-19.
Last week we also learned that Adam Schiff, who had blamed Trump for not reacting to the fake ‘intelligence’ and who used the story to call for more Russia sanctions, had been briefed on the very same ‘intelligence’ months ago:
Top committee staff for Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, were briefed in February on intelligence about Russia offering the Taliban bounties in Afghanistan, but he took no action in response to the briefing, multiple intelligence sources familiar with the briefing told The Federalist.
The revelation raises serious questions that Schiff is once again politicizing, and perhaps even deliberately misrepresenting, key data for partisan gain.
Asked by a reporter Tuesday if he had any knowledge of the Russia story prior to the New York Times report, Schiff said “I can’t comment on specifics.”
Schiff’s recent complaints that Trump took no action against Russia in response to rumors of Russian bounties are curious given that Schiff himself took no action after his top staff were briefed by intelligence officials. As chairman of the intelligence committee, Schiff had the authority to immediately brief the full committee and convene hearings on the matter. Schiff, however, did nothing.
As Schiff and his committee staff knew about the claims they may well have been the ones who pushed it to the reporters.
Consider that both papers, the NYT and the WaPo, attribute their knowledge to ‘officials’. There is a code for anonymous sources in U.S. political reporting that is usual adhered to. Sources are described as ‘White House officials’, ‘administration officials’, ‘Pentagon officials’ or ‘intelligence officials’ when they are working for the government. Congressional sources are usually described as ‘officials’ without any additional attribute.
The original sources also made the false claim that Trump had been briefed on the ‘intelligence’. Source in the White House or the CIA would have likely known that this had not been the case. Sources from Congress had no way of knowing that.
That makes it quite likely that Schiff and/or members of his staff were the original sources of the fake story. Consider that it was Schiff who for two years had claimed again and again that there was ‘direct evidence” that the Trump campaign had colluded with the Russian government. That has turned out to have been a lie. It is certainly not beyond Schiff to sell a dubious ‘intelligence’ report, based on circumstantial evidence, as alarming news that required immediate action.
The purpose of this shabby round of ‘Russiagate’ nonsense was to hinder Trump’s plans to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan before the election, to sabotage the cooperation between Russia and the U.S. on the negotiations with the Taliban and to blame Trump of another ‘collusion’ with the ever hated Russia.
But the short life of the false claims made certain that it failed to achieve this.