Dereliction of Duty?
June 27, 2020 7:03 PM   Subscribe

American intelligence officials determined “months ago” that “last year,” Russia’s GRU offered bounties to the Taliban to kill US and UK troops in Afghanistan; while President Trump and the NSC were briefed in late March, the White House did not authorize a response, and now denies only that Trump or Pence was ever briefed on the matter. (NYT; WSJ; CNN; WaPo). The U.S. War in Afghanistan began in 2001 and is the longest war in U.S. history. 22 U.S. soldiers died in combat there last year and at least six so far in 2020. (AP).
posted by sallybrown (161 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Lincoln Project already have their absolutely brutal ad up and going.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:10 PM on June 27 [27 favorites]




@dwdavison:
Assuming this Russian bounty story is true, and fwiw the sourcing seems very thin at this point, I for one am shocked at the notion that a nation would arm and incentivize Afghan extremists to kill the soldiers of a rival nation. Such depravity has never before been seen, surely.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:52 PM on June 27 [40 favorites]


Space Coyote: remain calm. Help is on the way help you remove your tongue from your cheek.
posted by mule98J at 8:02 PM on June 27 [18 favorites]


America is never so outraged as when another nation dares to play by her rules, eh?
posted by klanawa at 8:04 PM on June 27 [13 favorites]


(I use the word "rules" advisedly.)
posted by klanawa at 8:05 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


Biden says he's "outraged." Trump and Pence say they were not briefed.

You've got to cut Trump some slack on this one. What possible mechanism exists by which he could have received a briefing? I mean there is literally no avenue available for him to learn what US intelligence agencies are writing in reports. I can't even imagine how such a process could be set up.
posted by mark k at 8:08 PM on June 27 [20 favorites]


This thread is, sadly, so, so long. But so important.
posted by nushustu at 8:09 PM on June 27 [13 favorites]


It's ridiculous that this would drawing any outrage, or, tbh, if it really is drawing any. Weird propaganda.
posted by fleacircus at 8:11 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


To be fair, the bounty stuff was in the connect-the-dots part of the briefing placemat, and that day Trump was too busy coloring in the picture of himself.
posted by zompist at 8:16 PM on June 27 [27 favorites]


And to think he had the gall to give a speech at West Point itself, all the while knowing full well his buddy Putin had been not just offering but apparently paying out bounties on American soldiers. And he's even since pushed for Russia to be allowed back into the G7 despite still occupying Crimea, and declared we'd unilaterally pull our NATO troops out of Germany.

I know the word treason gets thrown around rather a lot whenever Herr Trump comes up, but dear God this is insane.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 8:31 PM on June 27 [28 favorites]


America is never so outraged as when another nation dares to play by her rules, eh?

Surely the most important thing we can do with this bit of news is to flex our own moral superiority.

...rather than, say, beat an opponent about the head and shoulders for violating his own claimed moral code and accuse him of a mortal crime that he himself frequently flings against opponents both real and imagined, and which holds special pseudo-mystical relevance to his supporters, no matter how moronic that may be to the rest of us?

I mean, surely it is more important to be Right than to actually Win, yes? Better to be Theoretically Moral in Hell than to enjoy Heaven? Yes, yes, surely it is better to flex than to win, regardless of who may die as a consequence.

Incidentally, some of your extended forebears were assholes during the Emergency, and some of my equally-or-moreso-extended forebears suffered during the Emergency, so you are not qualified to critique my remarks; you must only accept them as being true, lest we accuse you of inconsistency. This is also why I am substantially more correct and right about all things; your only role is to accept the failings of people you have never met.

Thank you for your agreement in advance.
posted by aramaic at 8:47 PM on June 27 [33 favorites]


This is too recent to be the unknown super-dense neutron star at the center of the trans-national crime syndicate of which Trump is a part. But man, the sheer fucked-upedness of each fresh horror just ratchets up the requisite mass ratio of whatever that thing is.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:49 PM on June 27 [9 favorites]


This thread is, sadly, so, so long. But so important.

Here's the ThreadReader wrap up. The twitter thread is a summary of many of the slights and wrongs (and if Putin ordered them treasons) Trump has inflicted on the military. That we know of.
He fired Vindman's brother for being Vindman's brother
I'd forgotten about that insane to 11 bit.

What possible mechanism exists by which he could have received a briefing?

I can't remember whose been indicted lately. Is there anyone even responsible for this sort of thing who isn't an acting assistant deputy under secretary (who got his appointment because he gave $1000 to Trumps inauguration)?

Can you be a double agent if you aren't at least pretending to act in the interests of your first country? Or is just having the job title sufficient?
posted by Mitheral at 9:04 PM on June 27 [7 favorites]


I hadn't noticed before that Trump doesn't try his super alpha power handshake with Putin. I wonder why...
posted by DowBits at 9:08 PM on June 27 [2 favorites]


America is never so outraged as when another nation dares to play by her rules, eh?

Anyone here outraged by what Russia did? I'm not. I'm outraged by Trump not trying to do anything about it.
posted by Jpfed at 9:10 PM on June 27 [41 favorites]


Let's not forget that American intelligence agencies repeatedly lie to the press when it serves their purpose, and the credulous American media buys it every time. Ever wonder why "senior officials" never face decades in jail for leaks, as whistleblowers do?
posted by mikek at 9:33 PM on June 27 [4 favorites]


? Whistleblowers are protected by law? What’s your point?
posted by mr_roboto at 9:39 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


I remember my first treasonous president.
posted by valkane at 9:42 PM on June 27 [3 favorites]


TRE45ON.
posted by carmicha at 9:42 PM on June 27 [22 favorites]


Everything I've seen about this story is so incredibly thin, and so designed to raise ire. Is this a direction from the Kremlin and Putin? Or is this two drunk guys on the border offering 10 rubles for a dogtag?

Unless there is more concrete evidence this seems entirely like warmongering, which the NYT loves to do.
posted by graventy at 9:53 PM on June 27 [3 favorites]


Ain't nobody going to (a new) war no matter how much the NYT beats the drum. I don't think anyone who gives the slightest shit about this would consider that an appropriate response anyway.
posted by wierdo at 10:02 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


Unless there is more concrete evidence
posted by valkane at 10:03 PM on June 27 [3 favorites]


Am amazed at the pushback that raising this issue is bad, given what we assume about the Trump-Putin relationship, and three months of no mention by the POTUS. Yea, our intelligence/military does this shit, but, it's no big deal that the administration hasn't mentioned/responded to it? WTF MF?
posted by Windopaene at 10:35 PM on June 27 [16 favorites]


Let's not forget that American intelligence agencies repeatedly lie to the press when it serves their purpose, and the credulous American media buys it every time.

Seems like you're not the only skeptic, mikek.

Russia Today (RT.com): It is the US intelligence’s job to lie to you. NYT’s Afghan bounty story is CIA press release disguised as news
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 10:42 PM on June 27 [3 favorites]


But, but, 'the deep state ate my briefing!'
posted by jamjam at 10:47 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


Seriously, citing Russia Today?

Whether or not the story is true or not the Trump administration believed it enough to debate what to do about it for months. Then they did nothing. Oh and "supposedly" the president wasn't briefed on it. Too busy golfing and winning I guess.
posted by rdr at 10:54 PM on June 27 [13 favorites]


(I cited RT only to demonstrate that the current Russian talking points seem to have already gained some traction here. I would not recommend folks use them as a credible source of news; quite the opposite.)
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 10:56 PM on June 27 [26 favorites]


Lincoln project also had the pithiest tweet about this news story: "Donald Trump will defend a Confederate statue but not an American soldier."
posted by bearwife at 11:02 PM on June 27 [22 favorites]


America is never so outraged as when another nation dares to play by her rules, eh?

The what-aboutism is about as toxic as Trump. Probably more so, given the stakes of looking the other way.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:23 PM on June 27 [23 favorites]


Anyone here outraged by what Russia did? I'm not. I'm outraged by Trump not trying to do anything about it.

Making mouth-noises about tossing Russia out of Crimea would have been a good start. He can use the old, "in two weeks..." qualifier, and not actually do anything. But the posturing would have been nice.
posted by mikelieman at 11:44 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


At CNN link: Last month, Trump said he wished to invite Russia to the G7 summit

CNN knows that's an annual tradition.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:01 AM on June 28


Donald Trump will defend a Confederate statue but not an American soldier.

That one will play. And regardless of the accuracy of this particular story, as all those bullets in @JohnFugelsang Twitter thread show, it's on the nose. The Lincoln Project folks are certainly strange bedfellows, and NeverTrumpers shouldn't be trusted, but no reason not to use a well-crafted phrase like that over and over till November.
posted by bcd at 12:24 AM on June 28 [9 favorites]


The dirt that Putin has on Trump must be *really* bad, to justify this level of asshattery...
posted by armoir from antproof case at 12:59 AM on June 28 [3 favorites]


surely this
posted by From Bklyn at 1:11 AM on June 28 [10 favorites]


Are there any news agencies pushing against this other than Russian propaganda houses? Is it really thinly sourced?
posted by mr_roboto at 1:17 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Is this a direction from the Kremlin and Putin? Or is this two drunk guys on the border offering 10 rubles for a dogtag?

Well, if it made its way up the intelligence pipeline to a Presidential briefing i would assume more like the former than the latter? But WTF do I know, I am just some guy reading this shit on the Internet...
posted by Meatbomb at 1:18 AM on June 28 [4 favorites]


If the White House didn’t know that a foreign government was successfully paying out bounties to its enemy to kill American troops that is still a massive problem.

Even finding out now and not addressing this in a major way is still a massive problem.

But knowing for months and not confirming and addressing it? And continuing and advancing friendly relations with that foreign government, against the will of the people and allied governments?

What’s more treasonous than that?
posted by iamkimiam at 1:33 AM on June 28 [10 favorites]


What possible mechanism exists by which he could have received a briefing?

They could set up a secure version of FOXNews that gets classified reports in it and is only available in the Oval Office, I suppose.
posted by acb at 2:52 AM on June 28 [4 favorites]


My guess is Trump just doesn’t care, and that’s why he hasn’t done anything. Remember, he likes soldiers who aren’t captured, so he probably likes soldiers who aren’t killed either.
posted by sallybrown at 3:22 AM on June 28 [8 favorites]


Are there any news agencies pushing against this other than Russian propaganda houses? Is it really thinly sourced?

In the OP is a little patch of links that look like (NYT; WSJ; CNN; WaPo). Did you completely miss that, or are you attempting irony?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:46 AM on June 28 [8 favorites]


This is the Observer write-up (quoting NYTimes)
I've been thinking of making a post about this book, by Catherine Belton, but hesitated because I haven't read the book, and a review and an interview is perhaps a bit thin for an FPP. But the Russians are here already. We need to figure out what to do about it.
posted by mumimor at 5:20 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Sky News has also confirmed this story and that Boris Johnson has “now been briefed,” and reports the British government only learned about the bounties “recently”—
Sky has been told that the group responsible for the plan is the 29155 unit of the GRU, the same Russian intelligence outfit behind the Skripal poisonings, and the failed 2016 coup in Montenegro.

News of this Russian plan, and the direct targeting of British troops, will again raise the question of when the long overdue report into Russian interference by parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) will be published.

The report, which examined claims of Russian interference in Britain, was sent to Downing Street on 17 October last year for sign-off. That process usually takes no more than 10 days, but the report is still yet to be published and the ISC hasn't been reconvened after December's general election.
posted by sallybrown at 5:21 AM on June 28 [5 favorites]


The what-aboutism is about as toxic as Trump. Probably more so, given the stakes of looking the other way.

This toxicity amounts to nothing compared to the American military's legacy of white supremacy, most recently with millions of dead, displaced, and mutilated Iraqi and Afghani civilians.

The American military is the most powerful and accomplished white supremacist force on the planet. And its "greatest" accomplishments against people of color happened before Trump. Trump just pardoned the war criminals Obama didn't get a chance to rescue from accountability.

This veneration of the military by liberals who otherwise identify as anti-racist is mystifying for me. Maybe it will take another million dead brown bodies (or some high definition smartphone footage of a particularly brutal war crime) before a reckoning begins as it has with policing.
posted by Ouverture at 5:22 AM on June 28 [16 favorites]


I think it is possible to be outraged by American imperialism and be outraged by Russian bounties on soldiers and Trump's and Johnson's indifference.
To the day I die, I will never cease to be outraged by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (and all the other groundless wars, but these are the main ones in my lifetime). I'm outraged by the war in Yemen, sponsored by the Trump administration. I'm a flaming hot fire of outrage.
But Russia manipulating events all over the globe to undermine the basic structures of the UN, NATO, the EU and several larger countries is no less outrageous.
posted by mumimor at 5:31 AM on June 28 [63 favorites]


Why the hell are we still in Afghanistan at all?
posted by drivingmenuts at 5:31 AM on June 28 [9 favorites]


It seems reasonable to me to be concerned about the increasing provocations by the Russian government under Putin seeking destabilization, whether or not you venerate the U.S. military or are concerned about US/UK hegemony. Putin seeks destabilization to benefit from it; many people who know Putin’s history are rightly concerned about any increase in his power, especially at this moment when the U.S. is negotiating to end the war and withdraw troops. You can feel this way without cheerleading for U.S. wars.

Personally, I remind myself when I post here that people reading could just as easily be connected to the service members with the Russian bounties on their heads as they could be to the civilians killed or driven out of their homes in Afghanistan by the war (or both).

This story is still significant.
posted by sallybrown at 5:34 AM on June 28 [24 favorites]


Why the hell are we still in Afghanistan at all?

I think the overextended metaphor at this point goes something like: we've already shit the bed in Afghanistan, but we haven't figured out how to get out of the shitty bed and into the bathroom without getting shit all over the bedroom and the hallway.
posted by notsnot at 5:38 AM on June 28 [12 favorites]


Overture, I remember the sixties, so I'm bewildered at people on the left using draft dodger as an insult.

This being said, a lot of American soldiers are brown. Russians paying Afghans bounties to kill American soldiers is presumably also putting Afghans at risk, since they're incentivized to do more killing than they would otherwise do.

Do Russians count as white for purposes of thinking about white supremacy?
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 6:15 AM on June 28 [7 favorites]


hey everyone look at that bad thing over there!
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 6:40 AM on June 28 [7 favorites]


Surprised to see folks here complaining the story seems thinly sourced. In addition to the linked NYT, WSJ. CNN, WaPo articles there's also Fox News reporting it as truth (a handy link to share with that right wing asshole you're still "friends" with on Facebook.). Crucially, all five reports are independently researched articles using each journalist's own sourcing. This isn't CNN reporting that NYT says something; CNN independently verified it.

Here's how a story like this gets written. Months ago, US or European intelligence discovers evidence that the GRU is paying to have American soldiers killed. They send it through appropriate channels, in to US intelligence and briefed up to the president (*). Then they wait. Months pass with no action.

So the intelligence source gets mad. They think Trump is a traitor, or incompetent. So they take the story to the press. This bit is ugly, and maybe illegal depending on the details, but it is a reliable source of how classified intelligence ends up in the newspapers. Journalists know they have to be careful with this kind of sourcing. They are being manipulated, used as a tool of the intelligence agent's agenda. They evaluate that agenda, along with verification of the intelligence. In this case the agenda seems pretty clear; Russia is helping kill American soldiers and the source would like that to stop. Presumably some details of the intelligence were verified and the story is reported as true. Five independent news agencies, two of them quite Trump friendly, all went through this process and reported the story. Short of Putin himself chortling in public about this what more do you need to think it's true?

(*) One wrinkle here is Trump and Pence both pinky-swear they were never briefed. I think they're probably just lying, and I kind of hope so because that's a lie they can get caught in. But let's pretend it's true for a minute. Why do you suppose US intelligence would choose not to brief President Trump about a Russian campaign to murder US soldiers. Did they figure he just wouldn't do anything, given his incompetence and chumminess with Putin? Do they think he's literally compromised, a Russian puppet?
posted by Nelson at 6:42 AM on June 28 [27 favorites]


Do Russians count as white for purposes of thinking about white supremacy?
One of the things the Russians do in Europe is fund racist demagogues, based on the concept that white, Christian people need to stick together to fight against the upcoming Muslim invasion. Sounds crazy but it is everyday life here.
posted by mumimor at 6:45 AM on June 28 [21 favorites]


Overture, I remember the sixties, so I'm bewildered at people on the left using draft dodger as an insult.

It's not because we consider "draft dodger" an insult but to highlight a piece of shit being a hypocrite about their values while using the military as a gd prop.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:49 AM on June 28 [32 favorites]


the White House did not authorize a response

Good. It's really, really fucking stupid to want the Trump White House doing anything. Please do get that through your skulls. Okay, okay, we get it, Trump failed!!!! He's the worst!!!!! This is treason!!!!

Fine. Now stop encouraging this completely sociopathic and incredibly powerful person to "do something." He should NOT "do something." He should STFU and busy himself with golf as much as possible.

We are not in charge of Russia. We can't make them do things. They are a soverign country. What "do[ing] something" looks like in this context typically means is a lot of death. Of, yes, brown people overseas, and poor US servicemembers (many of whom are also "brown.")

(FWIW, since the whole "what is actually colonialism/racism is not being sufficiently supportive of US military action" take is hot one, I suggest that people think it through a bit more.)
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:51 AM on June 28 [5 favorites]


Like if I was running for office (god forbid) my attitude would be "support the troops by keeping them home and not using them as much as possible". If I dodged the draft it would be irrelevant because it's consistent with my values of not sending people out in to harm's way.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:53 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]


OK, but at this point people do have to start realizing that the value of things like "pointing out Trump's hypocrisy" is incredibly low, whereas the value of avoiding providing rhetorical support for US military adventurism is fairly high.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:54 AM on June 28


We are not in charge of Russia. We can't make them do things. They are a soverign country. What "do[ing] something" looks like in this context typically means is a lot of death. Of, yes, brown people overseas, and poor US servicemembers (many of whom are also "brown.")

There is quite a lot between “do nothing” and bomb or wage war, and those other solutions are often implemented to incentivize other countries to, if not act in the U.S.’s interest, at least refrain from actively attempting to harm it. It’s what diplomacy is all about. There are scores of career federal employees who spend their lives working on non-interventionist, non-violent measures.
posted by sallybrown at 6:55 AM on June 28 [22 favorites]


What "do[ing] something" looks like in this context typically means is a lot of death. Of, yes, brown people overseas, and poor US servicemembers (many of whom are also "brown.")

Doing something in a "normal" world would probably mean international sanctions on Russia and particularly on Russian assets in the West. Of which there are many, specially in the US and UK and Malta. No killing of any people.
I would not shed a single tear if some Putin ally lost access to his mansion in Belgravia and apartment in Trump Tower.
posted by mumimor at 6:57 AM on June 28 [21 favorites]


There is quite a lot between “do nothing” and bomb or wage war, and those other solutions are often implemented to incentivize other countries to, if not act in the U.S.’s interest, at least refrain from actively attempting to harm it. It’s what diplomacy is all about. There are scores of career federal employees who spend their lives working on non-interventionist, non-violent measures.

So they're not interventionist, and they're not violent, but they're definitely going to work to "punish" Russia? That's an interesting take but one that I don't really see supported by evidence. Russia seems to do what Russia wants. We're seven years into the Syrian proxy war, not 3.5. I think much of this "do something" attitude is, frankly, a sort of fantasy about American hegemonic power. It's not one we (meaning, the world) can afford.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:57 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


I would not shed a single tear if some Putin ally lost access to his mansion in Belgravia and apartment in Trump Tower.

Fair point, thanks. I do agree about this. But again, with Trump in office (or any American president, frankly), it seems much much more likely that "doing something" will involve sanctions that do effectively kill people and/or some kind of ill-advised military action. Agree?
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:00 AM on June 28


Russia seems to do what Russia wants.

To me that’s a failure of the elected leadership in both parties, and one of the reasons Putin keeps pushing and pushing, because he senses the weakness.

I wouldn’t say a solution has to be “punish” as much as “change Putin’s calculations.” This is definitely not my skill set, but there are lots of experts out there who probably have more creative ideas, and a bunch of them would be there to advise the U.S. President if he weren’t all the things he is.
posted by sallybrown at 7:02 AM on June 28 [5 favorites]


Doing something in a "normal" world would probably mean international sanctions on Russia and particularly on Russian assets in the West. Of which there are many, specially in the US and UK and Malta. No killing of any people.
I would not shed a single tear if some Putin ally lost access to his mansion in Belgravia and apartment in Trump Tower.


This. Administrations need to hound the leaders and power brokers of to the ends of the Earth, not the people. They have unlimited visibility into the world financial system. Watch them like hawks and throw up every roadblock in using their wealth and power to enjoy the highest standard of living. They journey to a Greek island on their yacht? Impound the fucker. Lock down their credit cards. Send them home on an economy class flight and send them the bill.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:03 AM on June 28 [8 favorites]


I can't guess what Trump would do, if he would do anything. One thing I find interesting about Trump is that he has actually kept a lot of his promises. He hates the entire concept of America going to war in faraway places, and he really does want to take American troops home.
He loves military parades, not military action.
He said from the outset that he loves Putin, it was never a secret. So basically, I guess he will try to avoid doing anything, and since McConnell doesn't want the Senate to meet before what, late August, doing nothing is probably going to work just fine.
He is a racist, and he does everything he possibly can to make life worse for POC. And he really, really loves police violence, and has done what he can to incite it. No surprise either.

The problem with both the US and the UK government is that several individuals in both governments have vested interests in Russian money laundering projects. They are in a double bind here, and Putin must be laughing his ass off.
posted by mumimor at 7:09 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]


More than 10,000 civilian Afghani

PSA Afghan is the demonym for the people, Afghani is the currency.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:14 AM on June 28 [16 favorites]


But again, with Trump in office (or any American president, frankly), it seems much much more likely that "doing something" will involve sanctions that do effectively kill people and/or some kind of ill-advised military action. Agree?

Theoretically, there could be a US politician supportive of strong diplomatic tools and strongly against interventionist military solutions but I don’t know of any. Like...probably the smartest non-military action against Russia recently was the Magnitsky Act, but if the politician most associated with that (McCain) had been a US President, we might have also plunged into more ill-advised military actions because he was also a hawk. Obama was lukewarm on both muscular diplomatic solutions and ill-advised military action. Trump doesn’t have a coherent pattern because he isn’t taking any of this seriously. Biden voted for the Iraq War, and I have no sense that he has changed much since then. (He seems to care more about pretending he was tricked into his vote than showing how he’s changed.)

So maybe you’re right and there’s something in the culture of the US that’s keeping politicians with that doctrine from emerging, or there’s truth to the idea that diplomacy without military violence doesn’t effect change. But again, there are a lot of people with expertise in this area who think non-military solutions can be effective...maybe we will see a better example in the next generation of politicians.

But I also don’t think most people in this post are wishing Trump would use his shitty judgment to do something, as much as seeing the lack of action here as another sign that we have a vacuum of leadership in the U.S., which is snowballing as Putin continues to push to further destabilize.
posted by sallybrown at 7:24 AM on June 28 [5 favorites]


This veneration of the military by liberals who otherwise identify as anti-racist is mystifying for me.

I'm not a liberal, and I'm not celebrating the military. I am reminding you that Trump is looking the other way, while Russia uses proxies to kill Americans, some who are not white. Trump and Republicans look the other way while Russia hacks our elections. He was installed because Russia interfered with our elections, in the first place.

This story is about an escalation of war against this country and its citizens. The buried lede is that Republicans are conspiring with Russians in that war, where choosing silence and inaction are acts of complicity.

The what-aboutism is absolutely toxic, because it ignores the larger story for the purposes of scolding.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 7:34 AM on June 28 [41 favorites]


[Comment and a reply removed. I know this is a discussion with a lot of charge but please don't let it descend into crappy sarcastic jabs.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:40 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Quick reminder that being anti-imperialist means interrogating the motives of state power, and that the US is hardly the only major international power whose motives need interrogating.

For some people the mark of a True Leftist is found only in interrogating American power--wariness of other major international powers is a mark of craven neoconservative (or worse yet, neoliberal) militarism.
posted by sugar and confetti at 7:47 AM on June 28 [17 favorites]


Stripes has short bios of the U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan last year. I wasn’t able to find whether any UK service members were killed or wounded. I don’t believe any reporting on the bounties has yet connected the effort to any specific attacks last year or this year.
posted by sallybrown at 7:50 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


One wrinkle here is Trump and Pence both pinky-swear they were never briefed. I think they're probably just lying, and I kind of hope so because that's a lie they can get caught in.

One suggestion I've seen floated by people who seem to know (like staff in previous administrations) is that they're trying to weasel-word their way around this - Trump & etc. are claiming " briefed" in the sense of "given a specific presentation about solely this specific issue" and folks are pointing out that there's no way this info wasn't included as an item in a larger daily/weekly intelligence report, which is the normal use of "briefed."
posted by soundguy99 at 8:24 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]


Even FOX News reported that he was briefed. It's going to tough to spin that lie.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:32 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Fair point, thanks. I do agree about this. But again, with Trump in office (or any American president, frankly), it seems much much more likely that "doing something" will involve sanctions that do effectively kill people and/or some kind of ill-advised military action. Agree?

Trump's a loose cannon in the pocket of Putin so doing something will probably be exactly what he did. IE: Lobby for Russia to return to the G7 and withdraw some troops Russia isn't happy being deployed. I 50% expect Trump to throw a tantrum and order a withdraw of all American troops from Afganistan. If nothing else it'll get his immense failure in response to COVID to drop off the front page for a cycle.
posted by Mitheral at 8:40 AM on June 28


Of course he was briefed. It's the usual trump gaslighting. He's saying he wasn't briefed because, as always, it's what he needs to be true. He hasn't actually developed any new tactics for dealing with problems.

Of course, now that he's responded to the news stories, he can't credibly claim not to know what they're talking about. His continued inaction looks way more suspicious.
posted by mrgoat at 8:45 AM on June 28 [14 favorites]


But again, with Trump in office (or any American president, frankly), it seems much much more likely that "doing something" will involve sanctions that do effectively kill people and/or some kind of ill-advised military action. Agree?

We all know Trump isn't going to do anything that would harm Putin's interests. This story just further emphasizes the point that Trump - for whatever reason - support's Putin's interests over and above those of the United States. Including the military, which his supporters claim to revere. He refuses to enact sanctions, he supports Russia rejoining the G7 despite its actions in Ukraine, he meets with Putin off-the-record, and generally acts against American interests.

Now we have evidence that he looks the other way while Putin actively seeks to have American service people killed.

This is not an opportunity to snark about "gee, when have we seen this before?" or score points about how we shouldn't be there at all. (We shouldn't, take it as read.) Allowing another country to put a bounty on the heads of U.S. soldiers and doing nothing - not even the weakest diplomatic objection - is dereliction of duty, at best.

Trump, and his enablers, need to be removed from office. Preferably followed by prosecution and spending the remainder of their years in jail, but I would settle for them being removed from power at this point before the country is beyond repair.

The next president should absolutely get us out of Afghanistan, close Gitmo, and so forth - but the fact that U.S. soldiers shouldn't be in Afghanistan does not mean it's OK for a sitting president to look the other way while Putin helps endanger them.
posted by jzb at 9:21 AM on June 28 [16 favorites]


Trump, and his enablers, need to be removed from office. Preferably followed by prosecution and spending the remainder of their years in jail, but I would settle for them being removed from power at this point before the country is beyond repair.

Great comment jzb, but this time round there needs to be a reckoning. I think one of the reasons we have Trump now is that the Obama administration let Bush and his people get off with war crimes. Trump ran for president because he needed to. He was and is so deeply into economic criminality (including money laundering for Russians) that the only way to avoid jail was to become a politician so he could claim "political prosecution" when he was investigated. If he is let off, there will be no end to criminal politicians in America. Just look around in the rest of the world.
posted by mumimor at 9:40 AM on June 28 [11 favorites]


Trump ran for president because he needed to. He was and is so deeply into economic criminality (including money laundering for Russians) that the only way to avoid jail was to become a politician so he could claim "political prosecution" when he was investigated.

Please tell me you're not serious.
posted by rdr at 9:56 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Juan Cole seems a little baffled about this. Seems like there are reasons to be skeptical about it.
posted by dopeypanda at 9:58 AM on June 28


Do Russians count as white for purposes of thinking about white supremacy?

American white supremacists certainly seem to think so. I ran across the website for some supposed American white nationalist group that had a whole section translated into Russian. They see Putin's Russia as a model.

Seems like there are reasons to be skeptical about it.

His conclusion is "The most plausible thing in the story is that Trump would have been told that the Russians had harmed US troops, and that Trump should have ignored it and gone on pursuing his creepy friendship with Vladimir Putin." which seems like the much more important story here. Russia maybe probably fucking around in Afghanistan is not great, but Trump appearing to ignore it is awful.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:11 AM on June 28


Please tell me you're not serious.

What part of this shouldn't I be serious about? Was Trump not laundering money before he was elected president? Has he not abused his power to stop investigations into his "business"? Was he not close to bankruptcy? Is he not using his position to pressure foreign powers to get him reelected? Didn't his son say openly that most of their ressources came from Russia?
Maybe we all need to go back to who Trump was before 2016, and what he did.

I get that what got Trump elected was playing to the insane racial resentment among too many white people in the USA. But I am pretty sure that a strong element in his personal motivation to run for president (along with vanity and a deep longing for recognition) was that he was at the end of his lifelong game of fraud. No American bank or private investor would lend him money. Deutsche Bank, his main lender, was at the brink of huge international investigations for money laundering and tax evasion that haven't ended yet. His Russian backers were under extreme pressure because of the sanctions, which were working as intended.
Getting elected to the presidency was a wild and probably unexpected win. But running for the presidency (based on his popularity as a reality star, a birther and a disruptor) got Trump into a space where he could claim that all investigations were politically motivated, and that would have worked wether the president had been a Republican or a Democratic leader.
posted by mumimor at 10:23 AM on June 28 [15 favorites]


Also, I really admire Juan Cole and listen to what he says. But he sort of misses the point here.
Putin's ambition is to undermine and ultimately destroy all Western alliances and specifically the US which is at its foundation also a Western alliance, one that has grown into the most powerful country in the world. The president's inaction is enough to tell the US armed forces, and the allies' armed forces that he doesn't care. It doesn't matter if it makes sense or not. Or if it happened or not.
posted by mumimor at 10:34 AM on June 28 [6 favorites]


OK. I should have been more explicit about why the idea that Trump ran for president to get out from under criminal charges doesn't make any sense.

Trump had been doing illegal stuff for years. The chances of him getting prosecuted for his crimes were tiny. The tax fraud, lying to investors, whatever. It wasn't being investigated and it certainly being prosecuted. That is one of the benefits of being a rich, sort of, white guy committing financial crimes. On the rare occasion that it looked like something might actually make it into court he made some campaign contributions and the problem went away.

Trump running a campaign for president increases the scrutiny that he is subject to. His political opponents, if they're competent, should have been combing through his record looking for dirt. In a sane nation what should have happened to Trump in 2016 is that he's laughed out of the Republican primaries and then the various bits of criminal dirt that have been dug up on him start to haunt him. The only way that doesn't happen is if he wins the race for the presidency and the Republican party is so corrupt that they refuse to investigate his criming while he's in office. You probably could have predicted the level of corruption in the Republican party but you could not have predicted that he would actually win the presidency. Running for the presidency and losing doesn't get him any traction with the political prosecution angle. He would have been a birther who'd run a quixotic campaign for the presidency without any political background. Sadly this is America and saying the racist and misogynist shit that he did out loud excited enough white people to get him elected.

Even now, if he loses in 2020, Trump is probably in for years of eager prosecutors going after him for financial crimes. Maybe federal prosecutors will lay off him but state prosecutors, say out of New York, have every incentive to go after him for his criminal behavior.

If you still think it's a good idea to put yourself on the national stage with so many skeletons in your closet, you might want to talk with Paul Manafort. He'd been money laundering, and not in a very sophisticated way, for years and getting away with it.

The idea that Trump buys four years of immunity by running for president only make sense in hindsight.
posted by rdr at 11:00 AM on June 28 [6 favorites]


OK the Juan Cole article doesn't challenge the likelihood that Trump was briefed and refused to respond and someone in the intelligence services leaked the information: he is questioning the idea that the GRU did it. His thesis is that Putin (at least until recently) wants the US to stay in Afghanistan because otherwise ISIL will sweep through central Asia, and will bring more opium into Russia. (Or at least that is how he describes Putin's position.)

So his question is: is this GRU at all, and if so, why would they?

He's pretty respectable, and it's a legit question.

As for the briefing, my theory is that it was included in a PDB but not discussed verbally because they knew that Trump would blow up at any derogatory statements about Putin.
posted by suelac at 11:13 AM on June 28


rdr, I love your optimism and belief in the American values.
posted by mumimor at 11:21 AM on June 28 [3 favorites]


[Friendly mod update: tossing the word "insane" around has ableist implications that, while maybe not implied, can easily be inferred. Please be a little more creative/compassionate with word choice moving forward. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:33 AM on June 28 [6 favorites]


The Lincoln Project folks are certainly strange bedfellows, and NeverTrumpers shouldn't be trusted.

I love the ads being put out there by The Lincoln Project, Republican Voters Against Trump, etc. However, I'm fully prepared to discover that these groups' primary goal is to influence the GOP to run a different candidate. Needling Trump until he makes a gaff that forces him off the ticket or decides to bale out to prevent the narcissistic injury losing would inflict serves that goal. Electing Biden is the runner-up prize. If Trump is off the ticket (my bet is Paul Ryan/Nikki Haley), expect a quick about face from the NeverTrumpers.
posted by carmicha at 11:43 AM on June 28 [7 favorites]


However, I'm fully prepared to discover that these groups' primary goal is to influence the GOP to run a different candidate.

Their goal is to get GOP voters who are now put off by Trump and have decided to vote for Biden to still vote for down ballot GOP candidates.
posted by PenDevil at 12:52 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]


New reporting in the NYT says intelligence officials have known about the bounties since at least January, in part due to “the recovery of a large amount of American cash from a raid on a Taliban outpost that prompted suspicions” that the bounties were not only offered, but also paid. Despite the bounty offer, “the Taliban have not attacked American positions since a February agreement to end the long-running war in Afghanistan.”

“In addition to saying he was never ‘briefed or told’ about the intelligence report — a formulation that went beyond the White House denial of any formal briefing — Mr. Trump also cast doubt on the assessment’s credibility, which statements from his subordinates had not.”

This piece seems to imply we found out about the bounties through the Taliban side of the offer, not through sources on the Russian side. I’m curious about that...
posted by sallybrown at 12:54 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Too busy golfing

trumpgolfcount.com: 257 times. Cost to Taxpayer: About $136,000,000
posted by gwint at 1:19 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


This piece seems to imply we found out about the bounties through the Taliban side of the offer, not through sources on the Russian side. I’m curious about that...

The first NYT article said (and implied) the same: "The intelligence assessment is said to be based at least in part on interrogations of captured Afghan militants and criminals. The officials did not describe the mechanics of the Russian operation, such as how targets were picked or how money changed hands. It is also not clear whether Russian operatives had deployed inside Afghanistan or met with their Taliban counterparts elsewhere."
posted by BungaDunga at 1:23 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


So maybe you’re right and there’s something in the culture of the US that’s keeping politicians with that doctrine from emerging, or there’s truth to the idea that diplomacy without military violence doesn’t effect change. But again, there are a lot of people with expertise in this area who think non-military solutions can be effective...maybe we will see a better example in the next generation of politicians.

But I also don’t think most people in this post are wishing Trump would use his shitty judgment to do something, as much as seeing the lack of action here as another sign that we have a vacuum of leadership in the U.S., which is snowballing as Putin continues to push to further destabilize.

I think you're right that my issue is with the culture of the US when it comes to foreign policy. The US default of "action" and "leadership" is extremely violent and dangerous for all of us ("us" again, meaning everyone in the world.)

I think at this point, anyone who is paying attention is aware that Trump makes stupid decisions (when he bothers to make them). So the main result of critiquing him for failing to take "action" is that we sit around and repeat various imperialist/violent myths about the effectiveness of standard/traditional US diplomatic and military action over and over as what someone "should" be doing.

Realistically, our troops are in a foreign country. They're military. They're targets of violence. This is a shame for a number of reasons.

At the same time, the idea that the US should take Russia's proxy involvement in a military involvement that the US is also in as a justification of "action" without a serious critical understanding of what "action" means when you're discussing US foreign policy is deeply disturbing to me. The idea that "action" really means some kind of effective US diplomacy or something that will genuinely harm the monied Russian oligarch classes is, I think, a fantasy, and all the while, the rhetoric feeds the violent reality.

Calling for amorphous "action" is the US foreign policy equivalent of demanding that a politician get "tough on crime." Who likes crime? But "tough on crime" doesn't mean "reasonable and human efforts to reduce crime," as we all know. Similarly, in the US context, "action" against a foreign entity does not mean excellent high-level diplomatic action that only harms the three Russian oligarchs who we like the least. It means something else.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:38 PM on June 28 [5 favorites]


For some people the mark of a True Leftist is found only in interrogating American power--wariness of other major international powers is a mark of craven neoconservative (or worse yet, neoliberal) militarism.

Who are these people? Are they here? We could do without this kind of insulting strawman.

Most American leftists focus on American foreign policy because the American government is important, powerful and, you know, our fucking government.

It's also, frankly, the case that Americans tend to be completely ignorant of everything about our own foreign policy except what the party line is, so Americans will be aghast, aghast, at the unprecedented [insert two minutes' hate here], can you believe those foreigners are at it again! In this case, it is worth being clear about the fact that American troops, rather than being aggressed upon in an unprecedented and shocking way, are basically experiencing bog-standard proxy warfare tactics. You can still be mad, sure. I'm mad at a lot of things about the situation. But let's also have a realistic understanding about the context.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:45 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


Ah, another detail from the new NYT article: "Though the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, claimed on Saturday that Mr. Trump had not been briefed about the intelligence report, one American official had told The Times that the report was briefed to the highest levels of the White House. Another said it was included in the President’s Daily Brief, a compendium of foreign policy and national security intelligence compiled for Mr. Trump to read."
posted by BungaDunga at 1:51 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


compiled for Mr. Trump to read

Well, there's your problem. Draw it in crayon next time.
posted by mrgoat at 1:55 PM on June 28 [6 favorites]


We are this close to their spoxcritters from making exactly this argument. "Everyone knows Trump doesn't read the PDB, if they thought it was serious they needed to send a large crying General to tell him."
posted by BungaDunga at 2:01 PM on June 28 [10 favorites]


Maybe there could be two or three White House cartoonists who would prepare Trump's daily briefings in a form he could process and remember.

I shudder to think how much power they would end up wielding, though.
posted by jamjam at 2:11 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Weird that the president supposedly wasn't briefed but Britain and Australia were.
posted by srboisvert at 2:28 PM on June 28 [4 favorites]


But again, with Trump in office (or any American president, frankly), it seems much much more likely that "doing something" will involve sanctions that do effectively kill people and/or some kind of ill-advised military action. Agree?

Disagree. Obama quite successfully targeted Russian oligarch's financials, espionage companies and expelled Russian spies when confronted with a similar situation.
posted by srboisvert at 2:34 PM on June 28 [18 favorites]


Нет марионетка.
Вы марионетка.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:53 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]


Trump plans to withdraw over 4,000 troops from Afghanistan by the fall so he can have fewer troops there since Obama left office.

"The move would reduce the number of troops from 8,600 to 4,500 and would be the lowest number since the very earliest days of the war in Afghanistan, which began in 2001." As a consequence, "the US military will likely struggle to carry out the missions it is currently tasked with in the country."
posted by kirkaracha at 3:18 PM on June 28


And there's always, always, always a tweet:
Why are we continuing to train these Afghanis who then shoot our soldiers in the back? Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!
posted by kirkaracha at 3:19 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


t is worth being clear about the fact that American troops, rather than being aggressed upon in an unprecedented and shocking way

I've read through the whole thread and while I can be kinda dumb I don't remember anyone saying that it was shocking or unprecedented or surprising?

The problem isn't that an adversary is trying to more-or-less deniably get US troops whacked. The problem is that Trump won't take Putin's boot out of his mouth long enough to even just say "Hey, maybe that guy whose government is trying to kill our troops is kind of a dick."

We expect an adversary to try to kill US troops. We expect the GRU to use dirty tricks to do this; that's their job. But we also expect the American President to at the least verbally oppose doing so.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 3:30 PM on June 28 [12 favorites]


OK, even if we accept Trump's "wasn't briefed" bullshit, what's he going to do about it now?
posted by kirkaracha at 3:35 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]


afaict the only sources are unnamed US intelligence officials, and John Bolton. Are there any credible sources or corroborating evidence, or am I just supposed to take their word for it?
posted by thedamnbees at 4:54 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


I didn't think John "In the Room Where I Took Meticulous Notes" Bolton confirmed anything; he just seems to be musing about Trump's 'nobody told me' response? (John Bolton: It's ‘Remarkable’ Trump Says He Wasn’t Briefed About Russia's Reported U.S. Troop Bounties - Time Magazine, June 28, 2020; CNN, too.)

Possibly to cover himself? This bounty info was available to the intelligence community sometime last year, and Bolton left the administration in September 2019. His exit was attributed to, variously, his reservations about Trump's Venezuela dealings (Politico, Sept. 12, 2019), or that proposed Camp David invitation to the Taliban (NBC, Sept. 10, 2019), or Trump's China approach (in the book), or -- I vaguely remember some Bolton criticism w/r/t Syrian policy in that time frame but can't find it now. Anyway, the firing/resignation was also some 2 weeks after Bolton's Ukraine trip and subsequent squabbling with Trump over Russia & Ukraine. (U.S. adviser Bolton visits Ukraine, touts Trump meeting with Zelenskiy, Reuters, Aug. 27, 2019; Trump Adviser Bolton Tells Ukraine: Beware Chinese Influence, US News & World Report, Aug. 29, 2019; Trump and Bolton Out of Sync on Ukraine and Russia, Time, Aug. 30, 2019)
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:27 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


Ah, my mistake. So, just unnamed US intelligence sources then?
posted by thedamnbees at 5:29 PM on June 28


afaict the only sources are unnamed US intelligence officials, and John Bolton. Are there any credible sources or corroborating evidence, or am I just supposed to take their word for it?

The White House has de facto admitted this is the assessment, by claiming "we were never briefed" rather than pushing back on the claim that the intelligence assessment said this. Britain and (according to some on this thread) Australia have also corroborated that this is the intelligence.

So characterizing it as "unnamed" officials and Bolton when it's the consensus assessment is wrong. Multiple credible reporters have tweeted things along the lines of "I asked my sources what the extenuating circumstances are and they said none."

Obviously not all intelligence sources are correct, but the reporting that agencies say this is solid, meaning the parts of the thread criticizing Trump for not paying attention to this and continuing to normalize Russian international behavior is on a solid basis.
posted by mark k at 5:32 PM on June 28 [6 favorites]


what's he going to do about it now?
I was thinking the same. Like we can ignore their bullshit and pretend to believe it, but it still leaves the question. Fine, you know now, so what are you going to do about it?

But he'll just start questioning the intel. I mean last time around he was all "Putin himself told me this was not true, and he was very convincing!"
posted by p3t3 at 5:46 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


This being said, a lot of American soldiers are brown. Russians paying Afghans bounties to kill American soldiers is presumably also putting Afghans at risk, since they're incentivized to do more killing than they would otherwise do.

America making things so materially dire at home in order to coerce black, brown, and poor people into becoming the direct perpetrators of imperial violence does not somehow change the fact that the empire is a white supremacist one. It just makes it an even more tragic and horrible thing.

But Russia manipulating events all over the globe to undermine the basic structures of the UN, NATO, the EU and several larger countries is no less outrageous.

The "basic structures" of the UN, NATO, the EU, the United States, and Russia are the basis for modern imperialism.
posted by Ouverture at 5:56 PM on June 28 [6 favorites]




Are there any credible sources or corroborating evidence, or am I just supposed to take their word for it?

Why would they lie? More specifically, why would these particular people tell this particular lie? Why now? Who benefits?

Case 1: unnamed US intelligence officials are lying. Russia isn't actually paying Taliban soldiers to kill American soldiers.
  • The extent of Russian aggression toward the West (already known) is exaggerated.
  • The extent of Trump's treason and incompetence (already known) is exaggerated.
  • The US is made to look weak and foolish on the world stage, undeservedly more so than it already does.
  • A handful of hawks on both sides of the aisle call for further action against Russia, undeservedly more than they already do (but any meaningful response, military or otherwise, remains highly unlikely in the near term).
  • Democrats in general and Biden in particular gain political advantage, Republicans lose advantage, undeservedly accelerating a trend that's already present.
Case 2: US intelligence is telling the truth. Russia is paying bounties on American soldiers.
  • The extent of Russian aggression toward the West, already known, is further illustrated.
  • The extent of Trump's treason and incompetence, already known, is further illustrated
  • The US is made to look weak and foolish on the world stage, arguably deservedly so.
  • A handful of hawks on both sides of the aisle call for further action against Russia, now shown as more warranted than previously understood (but any meaningful response, military or otherwise, remains highly unlikely in the near term).
  • Democrats in general and Biden in particular gain political advantage, Republicans lose advantage, accelerating for good reason a trend that's already present.
True or not, this event does not significantly tip the scales in either direction. We already know Russia is duplicitous and aggressive. We already know Trump is treasonous and incompetent. We already have people calling for action against Russia, and the administration has already made it clear that no meaningful action against Russia will take place while Trump is in office.

All this does is throw more fuel on the fire currently burning down whatever remains of this administration's support and credibility among those few people who were not already firmly decided one way or the other. It maybe accelerates a Democratic momentum that has already been building over the last couple of months, but beyond that very little changes.

So: is it more likely that a group of US intelligence officials lied about this, to make both Russia and Trump look worse than they already do and further inflame international tensions but not otherwise substantially change anything? Other than maybe contributing to Democratic momentum going into November (i.e. Trump's "the deep state is against me" argument)? If we were already on the verge of military action, sure, a lie like this might put us over the top (see also WMD, yellowcake, &c). But we're not on the verge of military action. Trump won't even enforce sanctions against Russia. So what does US intelligence gain from promoting this lie, right now?

Or is it instead more likely that a group of US intelligence officials rightly made clear the extent of a foreign aggressor's actions against the US (i.e., they did their job), when that information had already been shared with a White House apparently under Russian influence who did not appear to have responded to it in any way?

I'm not arguing that the story is 100% true in every particular. I'm saying that a lie like this, from these people, right now -- that scenario doesn't make a lot of sense.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 6:11 PM on June 28 [10 favorites]


I think the motivation to lie (or exaggerate) could just be to prevent a withdrawal from Afghanistan. And really, after the Iraqi wmd bullshit, I don’t trust these people at all.
posted by thedamnbees at 7:10 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Of all the people to want to speed the US departure out of Afghanistan, the CIA and US Special Forces are not the first groups who come to mind....
posted by BungaDunga at 7:32 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


FWIW the Iraqi WMD bullshit was top-down. There were reports within the agencies saying "we have doubts" and assertive signalling from higher ranks that this was the wrong conclusion resulted in these being filed away. The whole Valerie Plame scandal was one aspect of that fight, for example (career CIA and State vs. political appointees.) This is the opposite.

It is certain that many in the intelligence bureaucracy dislike Trump, given both his public disdain for the agencies and indifference to what they perceive as the national welfare. Doesn't mean this is incorrect (let alone a lie) but that probably contributed to the leak. I'm certainly not thinking "Oh the bounties happened for sure," but it's the Trumpian indifference to the truth of these reports that I'm mostly responding to.

I honestly don't see "Afghanistan hawks are trying to keep us in Afghanistan" as being a likely reason, for many reasons, not least because no one is saying "this is why we need to stay in Afghanistan!" If you were fabricating evidence to do that, it would be of vast increases in terrorist chatter.
posted by mark k at 7:38 PM on June 28 [8 favorites]


Crucially, all five reports are independently researched articles using each journalist's own sourcing.

Surely you must realize that one leaker telling the same story to five different reporters is not "multiple sources."

We don't yet know if there are multiple sources for this story. The fact that five reporters are all reporting the same thing proves nothing without more information on their source or sources.
posted by JackFlash at 8:46 PM on June 28 [5 favorites]


The old way of handling this would be to issue a statement that “We don’t discuss matters of national security or ongoing interests that may cost American lives.” Trump’s handling of this is probably honest, the president receives a lot of information and I can completely see him not remembering it. It doesn’t really matter, he’s not shown any will to act on it. Most likely there’s a high ranking disgruntled intelligence official frustrated Trump doesn’t care or doesn’t read briefings, they’re leaking this to the media for purposes we may not even know about.
posted by geoff. at 11:12 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the point of questioning press reporting, when no agency is denying the allegations? For example, the DNI came out and strenuously denied reports that the president was briefed on the intelligence, but not that the intelligence do not exist.

I mean skepticism about assertions by unnamed intelligence officials is a good thing, don't see why people are skeptical that they are asserting this thing.
posted by mark k at 11:15 PM on June 28 [10 favorites]


Reluctance to entertain ideas that don't fit with one's worldview is a universal phenomenon.
posted by wierdo at 11:44 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


The "basic structures" of the UN, NATO, the EU, the United States, and Russia are the basis for modern imperialism.
I don't disagree with you on that. But I also believe the world is a safer place because of some of them, specially the UN and EU and to some extent also NATO.

FWIW the Iraqi WMD bullshit was top-down. There were reports within the agencies saying "we have doubts" and assertive signalling from higher ranks that this was the wrong conclusion resulted in these being filed away.
This!! I understand how people lost all confidence in intelligence agencies after the whole Iraq disaster, but remember they had to set up a whole new special agency to get the fake intelligence they wanted.
Intelligence is always hard to get right, and there will be mistakes, but the run-up to the Iraq war wasn't a mistake, it was a plan. This is not that.

I don't see why this should not be true. It's a given that the Russians support militants who are against the US and NATO all sorts of places. The term "bounty" is what sets this apart from the more normal "Russia supports Assad's Syrian army", but the end result is the same. And indeed, in this particular case, they are mirroring what US and several NATO countries did in Afghanistan back when it was the Sovjet Union who were mired down in an everlasting war there. This is a picture of a later Danish PM with some Mujahadin in Afghanistan in 1988, pretending to fight the Russians.
posted by mumimor at 11:50 PM on June 28 [4 favorites]


Maybe there could be two or three White House cartoonists who would prepare Trump's daily briefings in a form he could process and remember

Close. Per In the Room Where It Happened, Bolton's most successful "briefings" were short films, with clips showing, for example, how earlier Presidents claimed great deals with North Korea, then how North Korea cheated. Apparently Trump not only reduced the usual daily intelligence briefings from daily to two times a week, but at those routinely drowned out briefers with his own monologues.

In short, Trump's impervious to information and Pence says whatever backs him up. I think he was told and didn't listen at all. Not that that makes ignoring bounties on troops sent into harm's way even faintly excusable.
posted by bearwife at 1:13 AM on June 29 [7 favorites]


On sourcing, I thought it might be useful to collect what we know from the various reports so far:

Source of the information for intelligence officials:

- NYT (6/26): “The intelligence assessment is said to be based at least in part on interrogations of captured Afghan militants and criminals.“

- NYT (6/28): “The crucial information that led the spies and commandos to focus on the bounties included the recovery of a large amount of American cash from a raid on a Taliban outpost that prompted suspicions. Interrogations of captured militants and criminals played a central role in making the intelligence community confident in its assessment” but also “interrogations and surveillance data — resulted in some differences among agencies in how much confidence to put in each type.”

- WaPo (6/28): “intelligence gleaned from U.S. military interrogations of captured militants in recent months”

- AP (6/29): “In early 2020, members of the elite Naval Special Warfare Development Group, known to the public as SEAL Team Six, raided a Taliban outpost and recovered roughly $500,000.”

Source of the information to the media:

- NYT (6/26): “officials briefed on the matter”

- WaPo (6/27): “officials”

- Fox/WSJ (6/27): “people familiar with” a “classified American intelligence assessment”

- NYT (6/28): “officials briefed on the matter” as well as “a senior administration official” and “an American official” and “government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity”

- CNN (6/28): “a European intelligence official”

- WaPo (6/28): “ Several people familiar with the matter” including “a senior U.S. official”

- Sky News (6/29): “British security officials”

- AP (6/29): “The assessment was first reported by The New York Times, then confirmed to The Associated Press by American intelligence officials and two others with knowledge of the matter.”

A bunch of these reports mention that British officials were briefed shortly before the NYT broke the story on Friday.
posted by sallybrown at 6:00 AM on June 29 [12 favorites]


I think at this point, anyone who is paying attention is aware that Trump makes stupid decisions (when he bothers to make them). So the main result of critiquing him for failing to take "action" is that we sit around and repeat various imperialist/violent myths about the effectiveness of standard/traditional US diplomatic and military action over and over as what someone "should" be doing.

This is only half a step away from saying that nobody should criticise Trump, lest he heed the criticism by doing something even more stupid than the status quo. That's... not a tenable position.

...and if your argument's crux is that "take action" necessarily means military, that's not hugely tenable either. Even with Trump, we ask for what we want, not what he'll give. Otherwise, your position is to shrug and just let him do whatever without comment. That is not wise, if for no other reason then because he won't be around forever, and setting the tone of political discourse matters still, and will matter when he's gone.
posted by Dysk at 6:27 AM on June 29 [9 favorites]


We already know Trump is treasonous and incompetent.

Don't underestimate the important of crumbling support for Trump in the military and their families. For various reasons, they're resistant to changing away from supporting both Trump and the presidency itself. Losing the support of a few percent of them would have been enough to swing the 2016 election. It's also critical if Trump tries to use the military against the populace - we saw a step towards that during the protests and the military shut it down relatively hard, within the context of the military's relationship with the presidency. Making sure that support stays down is important.

Pure conjecture on my part, but I would not be surprised if there's a stream of things like this leaked over the course of the summer. People sitting on secrets knew that the Republican Senate would not impeach pretty much no matter what, so a series of demoralizing releases leading up to the election is their best shot.
posted by Candleman at 7:34 AM on June 29 [7 favorites]


Trump claimed yesterday "Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP. Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!"

The second half of the tweet makes no sense, but the first part essentially confirms the rest of the media's reporting. Nobody is making this up- a large chunk of the national security apparatus believes it. Trump's inner circle (DNI Ratcliffe is a hack) might have decided to dismiss it, but in order to dismiss it it has to have been reported up to them, and for that to happen, the rest of the national security apparatus must have taken it seriously.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:35 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


This is only half a step away from saying that nobody should criticise Trump, lest he heed the criticism by doing something even more stupid than the status quo. That's... not a tenable position.

It's an important half step. We shouldn't criticize Trump for nebulous things like "not taking action" when that action might end up with a lot of people dead. Also, frankly, it sounds like you agree with me when you say this:

...and if your argument's crux is that "take action" necessarily means military, that's not hugely tenable either. Even with Trump, we ask for what we want, not what he'll give. Otherwise, your position is to shrug and just let him do whatever without comment. That is not wise, if for no other reason then because he won't be around forever, and setting the tone of political discourse matters still, and will matter when he's gone.

Yes, I agree, and the content (not tone) of political discourse is what matters here. The hawkish drumbeating is unnecessary and it gets people killed and this matters on a bigger level than taking one (of about a billion) opportunities to criticize Trump.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:51 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]


There are actions that Trump could have taken other than dropping bombs. Maybe don't push to get Russia back into the G8? Maybe impose some sanctions? Sanctions seem to really hurt Putin and his cronies. Coordinate some plan with our NATO allies? Send the Russians a strongly worded letter? There's lot of possibilities if you're not a traitor.
posted by rdr at 9:47 AM on June 29 [6 favorites]


Yes, I agree, and the content (not tone) of political discourse is what matters here. The hawkish drumbeating is unnecessary and it gets people killed and this matters on a bigger level than taking one (of about a billion) opportunities to criticize Trump.

The likelihood of Trump attacking Russia directly is about the same as King Friday attacking Mr. Rogers.
posted by benzenedream at 10:05 AM on June 29 [22 favorites]


I think any kind of violence as the response to Putin would be playing into his hands, creating more chaos, and further puffing up his standing as a world player, helping solidify his power at home. Where he’s vulnerable is money (the Russian economy and his personal wealth).
posted by sallybrown at 10:14 AM on June 29 [5 favorites]


Carlos Lozada’s review in WaPo of RIGGED: America, Russia, and One Hundred Years of Covert Electoral Interference by David Shimer is an interesting hindsight look at the Obama Admin’s missteps:
Anticipating that Trump would shout rigged in defeat, Obama wanted the election to appear as un-rigged as possible,” Shimer writes. So he settled for a policy of “managed interference,” the author concludes: As long as Putin didn’t mess with our election infrastructure, Russia’s social media campaign was tolerable; Obama and president-elect Clinton could deal with Putin later. Obama would therefore “win both ways,” Jon Finer, the State Department chief of staff under Secretary John Kerry, tells Shimer, recalling a prevalent attitude inside the administration. He would win by having Trump lose but also by “staying above the fray” of electoral politics. (There is a great book to be written on all the decisions that were made or avoided just because so many people assumed Clinton would win.)
To Rock ‘em Sock ‘em’s point, note that the harshest critics (albeit not the only ones) quoted in that piece are the military leaders (Petraeus, Panetta).
posted by sallybrown at 10:21 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]


Trump in ‘fragile’ mood and may drop out of 2020 race if poll numbers don’t improve, GOP insiders tell Fox News (two hours ago at The Independent, June 29, 2020)
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:47 AM on June 29 [2 favorites]


Personally, in this particular case, I think we should bring back the gibbet.
posted by corvikate at 11:52 AM on June 29 [2 favorites]


[One comment deleted. This is not a generalized politics thread. Let's stay on topic.]
posted by loup (staff) at 12:33 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


Congress demands answers from Trump administration on Russia bounty intelligence (CNN, June 29, 2020) A bipartisan group of congressional leaders is demanding the Trump administration explain what it knew about reports US intelligence concluded Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters to kill US troops. Timeline: What we know about Russia’s bounties on U.S. troops — and Trump’s response (WaPo). Biden criticizes Trump for inaction over reported Russian bounties (Reuters, June 27, 2020) “If I’m elected president, make no mistake about it, Vladimir Putin will be confronted and we’ll impose serious costs on Russia,” Biden said.

As usual, it's all in the timing: Iran seeks Interpol help to arrest US President Donald Trump and dozens of his aides over Qassem Soleimani killing (Al Jazeera, June 29, 2020, overview); Iran issues arrest warrant for Trump that Interpol rejects (AP, June 29, 2020) Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said Trump and 35 others whom Iran accuses of involvement in the Jan. 3 strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad face “murder and terrorism charges,” the state-run IRNA news agency reported. Alqasimehr did not identify anyone else sought other than Trump, but stressed that Iran would continue to pursue his prosecution even after his presidency ends.

Alqasimehr also was quoted as saying that Iran requested a “red notice” be put out for Trump and the others, which represents the highest-level arrest request issued by Interpol. Local authorities generally make the arrests on behalf of the country that requests it. The notices cannot force countries to arrest or extradite suspects, but can put government leaders on the spot and limit suspects’ travel. [...] [After rejecting the request] Interpol later issued a statement saying its guidelines for notices forbids it from “any intervention or activities of a political” nature.

[Previously: How Pompeo convinced Trump to kill Soleimani and fulfilled a decade-long goal (CNN, January 11, 2020); Iran Lawmaker Promises $3 Million Bounty To ‘Whoever Kills Trump’ (Forbes, January 21, 2020); Soleimani attack: What does international law say? (BBC, January 7, 2020); Are some countries abusing Interpol? (CNN, July 18, 2011) with more on Interpol's "Red Notice" policy, the "international wanted notice put out by Interpol on behalf of a country seeking a fugitive," which Iran asked be applied to Trump & his aides.]
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:00 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


Trump also knows that if he loses the Whitehouse, it's all over for him. If he were to drop out, it probably would involve making a run for it to somewhere with no extradition treaty before the Secret Service can serve him an arrest warrant.

It could be amusing if he makes a diplomatic visit to, say, Estonia or Uzbekistan in October, gives his aides the slip and crosses the border to seek asylum, only for Putin to say something to the effect of “I prefer my assets to win elections” and decide to honour Iran's arrest warrant.
posted by acb at 2:57 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


Russia intel mystery: How strong is the case that Russia bribed the Taliban to kill Americans? by Ken Dilanian, Carol E. Lee, Courtney Kube and Kristen Welker of NBC: “One official familiar with the intelligence told NBC News it shows that American service members and Afghan civilians died as a result of Russian payments to the Taliban, but other officials said the intelligence has not been corroborated.”
posted by sallybrown at 4:19 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


It can be true that Russian assets bribed the Taliban to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan and that there is no hard evidence linking any individual soldier's death to the bribery scheme.

That isn't to say that the bribery scheme certainly happened, only that the lack of corroboration of the scheme directly resulting in the death of a service member is not evidence against the existence of the underlying plot.
posted by wierdo at 7:02 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


...Top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russia was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans, a full year earlier than has been previously reported, according to U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the intelligence.

The assessment was included in at least one of President Donald Trump’s written daily intelligence briefings at the time, according to the officials. Then-national security adviser John Bolton also told colleagues he briefed Trump on the intelligence assessment in March 2019.
AP sources: White House aware of Russian bounties in 2019
posted by y2karl at 10:25 PM on June 29 [7 favorites]


I read this as a confirmation from Bolton that he did brief Trump face-to-face, not just through the PDB, on some piece of this bounty story: “Asked whether he briefed Trump on Russian bounties in 2019, Bolton tells @DomShow1210 this morning: "The AP called and asked me about that last night, and I said 'no comment' on that. And I think that's important because I don't want to talk about classified information." (tweet)

Don’t think it will surprise anyone that Trump or Pence flat out lied about being briefed...
posted by sallybrown at 7:11 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Trump Got Written Briefing in February on Possible Russian Bounties, Officials Say. Super detailed timeline of all the ways this intelligence has been communicated to Trump, etc.
The investigation into the suspected Russian covert operation to incentivize such killings has focused in part on an April 2019 car bombing that killed three Marines as one such potential attack

the intelligence was included months ago in Mr. Trump’s President’s Daily Brief document ... Feb. 27, specifically

a description of the intelligence assessment ... [was sent] broadly across the intelligence community in a May 4 article in the C.I.A.’s World Intelligence Review
Now the hair-splitting is on whether the assessment was correct. Perhaps Trump will soon be sharing his detailed analysis on that question instead of just pretending he never heard the briefing in the first place.

Nah, who am I kidding. Trump will just keep cozying up to Putin as his pal and co-conspirator. Meanwhile he and the GOP have done absolutely zero to secure our elections from Russian meddling this year. In fact, they've undermined efforts to do that. Gosh, I wonder why?
posted by Nelson at 7:31 AM on June 30 [4 favorites]


Trump also knows that if he loses the Whitehouse, it's all over for him. If he were to drop out, it probably would involve making a run for it to somewhere with no extradition treaty before the Secret Service can serve him an arrest warrant.
That would be too satisfying. They’re probably identifying a third person so he can resign and receive a full pardon, followed by Pence doing the same.
posted by adamsc at 9:59 AM on June 30


They’re probably identifying a third person so he can resign and receive a full pardon, followed by Pence doing the same.

I know you're just joking, but if Trump resigns the replacement VP needs to be confirmed by a majority of both houses. Pence would be left hanging -- there's no way the House would confirm a VP under those circumstances and, if Pence-as-President resigns, Speaker Pelosi is next in line for the presidency.
posted by nathan_teske at 10:50 AM on June 30


They’re probably identifying a third person so he can resign and receive a full pardon, followed by Pence doing the same.

Trump can probably pardon Pence, and then resign. Pence can then pardon Trump.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:57 AM on June 30


NBC confirms the AP’s story that the White House has known about the possibility of Russian bounties since early 2019, “at least a month before an April 2019 car bomb attack in Afghanistan that killed three U.S. Marines.... Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told NBC News that top officials told lawmakers in the Situation Room on Monday that “no one had been killed” as a result of Russia’s bounty offer. But other U.S. officials have said it’s unclear or that the Russian effort may indeed have led to deaths.”
posted by sallybrown at 11:19 AM on June 30


A big addition from the NYT to this story. Part of the evidence here is financial data: “electronic data showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account...according to three officials familiar with the intelligence.” They added this to information “detainees described during interrogations” and name IDs of “numerous Afghans in a network linked to the suspected Russian operation, the officials said — including, two of them added, a man believed to have served as an intermediary for distributing some of the funds and who is now thought to be in Russia. The intercepts bolstered the findings gleaned from the interrogations, helping reduce an earlier disagreement among intelligence analysts and agencies over the reliability of the detainees.”

The Times reports that this week’s briefing to lawmakers omitted information about evidence other than the detainee questionings, which made the facts look more in dispute than they are.

More on the “freelancers”:
Afghan officials...said that several businessmen who transfer money through the informal “hawala” system were arrested in Afghanistan over the past six months and are suspected of being part of a ring of middlemen who operated between the Russian intelligence agency, known as the G.R.U., and Taliban-linked militants. The businessmen were arrested in what the officials described as sweeping raids in the north of Afghanistan, as well as in Kabul....

Two former Afghan officials said Monday that members of local criminal networks have carried out attacks for the Taliban in the past — not because they share the Taliban’s ideology or goals, but in exchange for money.

In Parwan Province, where Bagram Airfield is, the Taliban are known to have hired local criminals as freelancers, said Gen. Zaman Mamozai, the former police chief of the province....And Haseeba Efat, a former member of Parwan’s provincial council, also said the Taliban have hired freelancers in Bagram district — including one of his own distant relatives in one case.

Twenty American service members were killed in combat-related operations in Afghanistan last year, the most since 2014.
posted by sallybrown at 11:37 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


And, this:
Both people said the intent of the briefing seemed to be to make the point that the intelligence on the suspected Russian bounty plot was not clear cut. For example, one of the people said, the White House also cited some interrogations by Afghan intelligence officials of other detainees, downplaying their credibility by describing them as low-level.

The administration officials did not mention anything in the House Republican briefing about intercepted data tracking financial transfers, both of the people familiar with it said.The administration officials did not mention anything in the House Republican briefing about intercepted data tracking financial transfers, both of the people familiar with it said.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:30 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Lincoln Project: Betrayed.
Mr. Trump, you're either a coward who can't stand up to an ex-KGB goon. Or you're complicit. Which is it?
posted by Nelson at 3:39 PM on June 30 [6 favorites]


Blast from the past: House majority leader to colleagues in 2016: ‘I think Putin pays’ Trump
“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post.
...
Some of the lawmakers laughed at McCarthy’s comment. Then McCarthy quickly added: “Swear to God.”

Ryan instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”
posted by kirkaracha at 3:48 PM on June 30 [8 favorites]


i managed to forget about paul ryan's existence for over a year goddamnit this is the new The Game
posted by lazaruslong at 4:09 PM on June 30 [8 favorites]


I had the exact same reaction, lol/ugh.
posted by sallybrown at 4:19 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


there's no way the House would confirm a VP under those circumstances

I wouldn’t bet the farm on that.
posted by MrBadExample at 8:44 AM on July 1




Why Does Trump Put Russia First?
Susan Rice in the NYTimes.
Here’s what should have happened. Had I, as national security adviser, received even “raw” reporting that Russia was paying to kill U.S. service members, I would have walked straight into the Oval Office to brief the president.

Contrary to the spin-masters in the White House today, I would not have waited until we had absolute certainty. I would have said, “Mr. President, I want to make sure you are aware that we have troubling reporting that Russia is paying the Taliban to kill our forces in Afghanistan. I will work with the intelligence community to ensure the information is solid. In the meantime, I will convene the national security team to get you some options for how to respond to this apparent major escalation in Russia’s hostile actions.”

If later the president decided, as Mr. Trump did, that he wanted to talk with President Vladimir Putin of Russia at least six times over the next several weeks and invite him to join the Group of 7 summit over the objections of our allies, I would have thrown a red flag: “Mr. President, I want to remind you that we believe the Russians are killing American soldiers. This is not the time to hand Putin an olive branch. It’s the time to punish him.”

This is what would have happened in any prior administration of either political party.
posted by mumimor at 10:23 AM on July 1 [9 favorites]


Trump decries Russian bounty reports as ‘fake news’ as his national security adviser says response options were prepared: "President Trump continued to insist Wednesday that reports of Russia offering bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan were “fake news,” as his national security adviser disclosed that options had been drawn up to present to Trump on how to respond if the allegations were corroborated."
posted by BungaDunga at 10:31 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]




Trump's resistance led intel agencies to brief him less and less on Russia (CNN)

“Early in his term, Trump's briefers discovered that when his oral briefing included intelligence related to Russia's malign activities against the United States, including evidence of its interference in US politics, Trump would often blow up at them, demanding to know why they kept focusing on Russia and often questioning the intelligence itself, multiple former administration officials said...."It creates a self-fulfilling prophecy where he hears less and less of what he doesn't want to hear and therefore starts to believe more and more that the Russians aren't doing anything bad," the former senior NSC official said, explaining that when Trump later claimed in public that he hadn't seen evidence of Russian aggression, he was sometimes telling the truth -- but the reason he hadn't seen it was that they hadn't shown it to him fearing it would provoke a negative reaction.”

A lot of people neglecting their duties here...
posted by sallybrown at 2:32 PM on July 1 [6 favorites]


i managed to forget about paul ryan's existence for over a year goddamnit this is the new The Game

You think that's weird, here's a name for you: John Boehner.
posted by sugar and confetti at 4:41 PM on July 1


Lincoln Project: Betrayed.

Yikes, I just took a look at that ad. A good case of "the enemy of my enemy isn't my friend, even if we temporarily have aligned interests."
posted by sugar and confetti at 4:44 PM on July 1 [1 favorite]


WaPo: “The White House is not planning an immediate response to intelligence reports of Russian bounties given to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan because President Trump does not believe the reports are true or “actionable,” according to two senior administration officials.”
posted by sallybrown at 5:32 PM on July 1 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, the intelligence continues to spill into public view, as the NYT identifies the suspected middleman who traveled between Russia and Afghanistan collecting and paying out the bounty fees: “Details of Mr. Azizi’s role in the bounty scheme were confirmed through a dozen interviews that included U.S. and Afghan officials aware of the intelligence and the raids that led to it; his neighbors and friends; and business associates of the middle men arrested on suspicion of involvement. All spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation.”

“Afghan officials said prizes of as much as $100,000 per killed soldier were offered for American and coalition targets.”
posted by sallybrown at 6:09 PM on July 1 [4 favorites]


Huh....so the same amount as the death gratuity paid out by the U.S. Military to eligible survivors for an active duty death.

So Russia, the Taliban and the United States all agree on the approx. value of an American soldier's life.
posted by srboisvert at 7:53 PM on July 1 [1 favorite]


So Russia, the Taliban and the United States all agree on the approx. value of an American soldier's life

Strong EMH validated again
posted by PMdixon at 8:41 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]


Only verified intelligence? A look at presidents’ briefings (AP at MilitaryTimes.com, July 2, 2020) The White House says President Donald Trump was never briefed on intelligence that Russia had put a bounty on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan because there wasn’t corroborating evidence. But former intelligence officials say presidents are routinely informed about intelligence even when it’s not definitively confirmed. Intelligence that may be on shaky ground today may foreshadow tomorrow’s calamity. [...] subhead: DO PRESIDENTS RECEIVE INTELLIGENCE ONLY WHEN IT'S CONFIRMED?

Absolutely not. If that were the case, the PDB [President’s Daily Brief] would be both brief — since intelligence deals more often with uncertainty than fact — but also boring, restricted to observations that are obvious and likely already known to the president, Priess said. [David Priess is a former CIA intelligence briefer and author of “The President’s Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America’s Presidents.”] “Because it’s intelligence, that means it deals with the unknown, things that are uncertain — but things that are of grave importance to U.S. national security and worthy of the president’s attention,” he said. “Nothing in there says that it has to be fully verified or certain because intelligence is rarely certain.”

Modern history is loaded with examples of briefings to presidents that contained warnings, or informed suppositions, but not certifiable facts. One month before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, President George W. Bush was famously warned in a PDB that Osama bin Laden was determined to strike the U.S. The intelligence, including chatter picked up by counterterrorism analysts, was seen as urgent and credible enough to bring to the president’s attention though it lacked details about date, location and method. Nearly a decade later, President Barack Obama’s advisers alerted him to their belief that bin Laden was in a compound in Pakistan — despite disagreement over the strength of that intelligence. Obama still approved the operation that killed bin Laden.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:26 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


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