The claim published by the New York Times is, like many such stories, based on anonymous intelligence sources. It says Russia paid “Taliban-linked militants” in Afghanistan to kill US military service members, and that President Donald Trump did nothing after learning about it.
The White House has denied that either Trump or Vice President Mike Pence were ever briefed on the alleged situation by US intelligence. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe backed the denial and said the original story and “all other subsequent news reports about such an alleged briefing are inaccurate.”
Statement by DNI Ratcliffe: “I have confirmed that neither the President nor the Vice President were ever briefed on any intelligence alleged by the New York Times in its reporting yesterday.” (1/2)
— Office of the DNI (@ODNIgov) June 28, 2020
The dynamic between the US mainstream media and the Trump administration in this case follows the same pattern seen in a previous bombshell report accusing the president of inaction in the face of a foreign threat.
In April, ABC News claimed Trump had been briefed about a military intelligence report which warned that a catastrophic outbreak of a viral disease was emerging from China. The National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), the service which allegedly produced the report on what is now known the Covid-19 pandemic, denied ever writing such a document.
The Taliban bounties story was instantly picked up by the usual suspects of the #Resistance, who saw it as an opportunity to attack Trump from the right. MSNBC’s senior Russiagate peddler Rachel Maddow gushed that Vladimir Putin paid Taliban for American “scalps” and Trump knew it.
Trump-bashing vehicle the Lincoln Project has released an ad accusing the president of “standing by” Russian troops.
While the bounties twist, with its Wild West vibe, is a new one, attempts to paint Russia as being in cahoots with the Taliban are hardly unprecedented. For example, in 2017, some top US generals claimed that Moscow was running guns for the Afghan militant movement. But when the head of US defense intelligence was asked about it by lawmakers, he said no physical evidence “of weapons or money being transferred” was ever found.
Russia called the NYT story an “unsophisticated” piece of disinformation that calls into question the “intellectual abilities of the propagandists from US intelligence,” who couldn’t come up with something more plausible.
Header: FILE PHOTO. US troops assess the damage to an armored vehicle of NATO-led military coalition after a suicide attack in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. © Reuters / Ahmad Nadeem
Note: the link for the original fake news published in New York Times – Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says