icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

There they go again: NYT serves up spy fantasy about Russian ‘bounties’ on US troops in Afghanistan

Nebojsa Malic
Nebojsa Malic

is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for Antiwar.com from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Twitter @NebojsaMalic

is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for Antiwar.com from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Twitter @NebojsaMalic

There they go again: NYT serves up spy fantasy about Russian ‘bounties’ on US troops in Afghanistan
Brace yourselves for another breathless Russia bombshell: The New York Times says US spies think Moscow may have offered Taliban bounty money to kill US troops in Afghanistan and Trump was told but did nothing about it! Impeach!

“American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan,” begins the story, published on Friday afternoon, and citing “officials briefed on the matter.” 

This “intelligence finding” was briefed to President Donald Trump in late March, but the White House “has yet to authorize” any of the proposed responses, according to the Times.

Within minutes, a former FBI official (now working at NBC) was declaring Trump “Putin’s puppet,” while Congressman Ted Lieu (D-California) said the lack of response “suggests [Trump] may be beholden to Putin.”

The story itself – hidden behind the Times’s paywall, of course, so the commoners not subscribed to their unmatched wisdom can only go on the clickbaity headline – is that the unnamed US intelligence officials “concluded” that a Russian unit “linked to” a massive conspiracy against the West secretly offered money to the Taliban, and “Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have collected” some of it at some point, maybe.

This assessment is “said to be based at least in part on interrogations of captured Afghan militants and criminals,” who are totally trustworthy and would not at all ever say anything to try and avoid torture in Afghan prisons, globally known as bastions of human rights and democracy. 

Also on rt.com US claims that Russia is arming Taliban are smokescreen for own mistakes in Afghanistan - Moscow

You’re not supposed to notice all the qualifiers and weasel words, however, but focus on the razzle-dazzle “facts” such as the entirely baseless claim that Russia is conducting a “so-called hybrid war against the United States, a strategy of destabilizing adversaries through a combination of such tactics as cyberattacks, the spread of fake news and covert and deniable military operations.” This assertion, by the way, is mentioned in passing as an established and unquestionable fact, a favorite tactic of propaganda-peddlers anywhere.

But wait, there’s more. The anonymous officials said the spies had “assessed” the operation to be the work of “Unit 29155” of the “GRU,” which is “linked to the March 2018 nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury” – the infamous Skripal incident that the UK “highly likely” declared the work of Russia and then treated that assertion as fact. Supposedly, there is “uncertainty” among US spies whether this is a rogue operation or one authorized from the very top of the Kremlin.

If you can’t trust anonymous intelligence officials, after all, who can you trust? It’s not as if the US “intelligence community” had accused Russia of “hacking our democracy” based on a dodgy dossier written by a British spy and paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, in order to get the FBI to spy on President Donald Trump’s campaign before and after the 2016 election, right? All based on “assessments” and beliefs, no less! We should totally trust them when they talk about rogue spy operations – in Russia, obviously, what did you think I was suggesting?

Besides, it’s not as if the New York Times – that bastion of truth-telling that earned numerous Pulitzers for ‘Russiagate’ coverage – could ever print something that wasn’t thoroughly vetted and properly sourced, right? I mean, the story has four – four – bylines, and the newsroom did not revolt the way they had over the recent op-ed by Senator Tom Cotton, so it must be unimpeachably true! 

Also on rt.com Russian Embassy ridicules Pulitzer Board for awarding prize to NYT’s ‘undiluted fabrications’

Buried deep inside the story is the admission that the Taliban “have not attacked American positions” since February, after the US signed an agreement with the militants to withdraw from Afghanistan. That, by the way, was greeted with wailing and gnashing of the teeth by the US political establishment – including the Times – which has been committed to having other people fight and die in Afghanistan forever in the name of democracy, human rights or... something. Clearly, Trump is only pulling out of there not because he disapproves of Americans dying in endless foreign wars but because of Russia!

By all means, go ahead and take at face value the evidence-free assertions of a newspaper whose mendacious 1619 Project is in great part responsible for setting US race relations on fire, and the country with them – and sourced to anonymous spies who have been consistently and terrifyingly wrong on just about everything. Enough of you have done it enough of the time so far, and look how well it has worked out!

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Podcasts