This Russia-Afghanistan Story is Western Disinformation

Caitlin Johnstone says influential news outlets are parroting  something nameless spooks want the public to believe, which is the same as just publishing a CIA press release free of charge. 

By Caitlin Johnstone

All Western mass media outlets are now shrieking about the story The New York Times first reported, citing zero evidence and naming zero sources, claiming intelligence says Russia paid out bounties to Taliban-linked fighters in Afghanistan for attacking the occupying forces of the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan. As of this writing, and probably forevermore, there have still been zero intelligence sources named and zero evidence provided for this claim.

As we discussed yesterday, the only correct response to unsubstantiated claims by anonymous spooks in a post-Iraq invasion world is to assume that they are lying until you’ve been provided with a mountain of hard, independently verifiable evidence to the contrary. The fact that The New York Times instead chose to uncritically parrot these evidence-free claims made by operatives within intelligence agencies with a known track record of lying about exactly these things is nothing short of journalistic malpractice. The fact that western media outlets are now unanimously regurgitating these still 100percent baseless assertions is nothing short of state propaganda.

The consensus-manufacturing, Overton window-shrinking Western propaganda apparatus has been in full swing with mass media outlets claiming on literally no basis whatsoever that they have confirmed one another’s “great reporting” on this completely unsubstantiated story.

All three of these men are lying.

John Hudson’s claim that the Washington Post article he co-authored “confirmed The New York Times’ scoop” twice uses the words “if confirmed” with regard to his central claim, saying “Russian involvement in operations targeting Americans, if confirmed,” and “The attempt to stoke violence against Americans, if confirmed.” This is of course an acknowledgement that these things have not, in fact, been confirmed.

The Wall Street Journal article co-authored by Gordon Lubold cites only anonymous “people,” who we have no reason to believe are different people from the NYT’s sources, repeating the same unsubstantiated assertions about an intelligence report. The article cites no evidence that Lubold’s “stunning development” actually occurred beyond “people familiar with the report said” and “a person familiar with it said.”

The fact that both Hudson and Lubold were lying about having confirmed The New York Times’ reporting means that Savage was also lying when he said they did. When they say the report has been “confirmed,” what they really mean is that it has been agreed upon. All the three of them actually did was use their profoundly influential outlets to uncritically parrot something nameless spooks want the public to believe, which is the same as just publishing a CIA press release free of charge. It is unprincipled stenography for opaque and unaccountable intelligence agencies, and it is disgusting.

None of this should be happening. The New York Times has admitted itself that it was wrong for uncritically parroting the unsubstantiated spook claims which led to the Iraq invasion, as has The Washington Post. There is no reason to believe Taliban fighters would require any bounty to attack an illegitimate occupying force. The Russian government has denied these allegations. The Taliban has denied these allegations. The Trump administration has denied that the president or the vice president had any knowledge of the spook report in question, denouncing the central allegation that liberals who are promoting this story have been fixated on.

Yet this story is being magically transmuted into an established fact, despite its being based on literally zero factual evidence.

Outlets like CNN are running the story with the headline “Russia offered bounties to Afghan militants to kill US troops,” deceitfully presenting this as a verified fact. Such dishonest headlines are joined by U.K. outlets like The Guardian, whichinforms headline-skimmers that “Russia offered bounty to kill UK soldiers,” and the Murdoch-owned Sky News which went with “Russia paid Taliban fighters to attack British troops in Afghanistan” after “confirming” the story with anonymous British spooks.

Western propagandists are turning this completely empty story into the mainstream consensus, not with facts, not with evidence, and certainly not with journalism, but with sheer brute force of narrative control. And now you’ve got former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee, once again attacking Trump for being insufficiently warlike, this time because “he failed to sanction or impose any kind of consequences on Russia for this egregious violation of international law.”

You’ve also got President George W. Bush’s former lackey Richard Haas promoting “a proportionate response” to these baseless allegations.

“Russia is carrying out covert wars vs US troops in Afghanistan and our democracy here at home,” Haas tweeted with a link to The New York Times story. “A proportionate response would increase the costs to Russia of its military presence in Ukraine and Syria and, using sanctions and cyber, to challenge Putin at home.”

Haas is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, a wildly influential think tank with its fingers in most major U.S. news outlets.

And indeed, the unified campaign to shove this story down people’s throats in stark defiance of everything one learns in journalism school does appear to be geared toward advancing pre-existing foreign policy agendas which have nothing to do with any concern for the safety of U.S. troops. Analysts have pointed out that this new development arises just in time to sabotage the last of the nuclear treaties between the US and Russia, the scaling down of US military presence in Afghanistan, and, as Haas already openly admitted, any possibility of peace in Syria.

“This story is published just in time to sabotage US-Russia arms control talks,” Antiwar‘s Dave DeCamp noted on Twitter. “As the US is preparing for a new arms race — and possibly even live nuclear tests — The New York Times provides a great excuse to let the New START lapse, making the world a much more dangerous place. Russiagate has provided the cover for Trump to pull out of arms control agreements. First the INF, then the Open Skies, and now possibly the New START. Any talks or negotiations with Russia are discouraged in this atmosphere, and this Times story will make things even worse.”

“US ‘intelligence’ agencies (ie, organized crime networks run by the state) want to sabotage the (admittedly very inadequate) peace talks in Afghanistan,” tweeted journalist Ben Norton. “So they get best of both worlds: blame the Russian bogeyman, fueling the new cold war, while prolonging the military occupation. It’s not a coincidence these dubious Western intelligence agency claims about Russia came just days after a breakthrough in peace talks. Afghanistan’s geostrategic location (and trillions worth of minerals) is too important to them.”

All parties involved in spreading this malignant psyop are absolutely vile, but a special disdain should be reserved for the media class who have been entrusted by the public with the essential task of creating an informed populace and holding power to account. How much of an unprincipled whore do you have to be to call yourself a journalist and uncritically parrot the completely unsubstantiated assertions of spooks while protecting their anonymity? How much work did these empire fluffers put into killing off every last shred of their dignity? It boggles the mind.

It really is funny how the most influential news outlets in the western world will uncritically parrot whatever they’re told to say by the most powerful and depraved intelligence agencies on the planet, and then turn around and tell you without a hint of self-awareness that Russia and China are bad because they have state media.

Sometimes all you can do is laugh.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularlat Medium.   Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books “Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and “Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.”

This article was re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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26 comments for “This Russia-Afghanistan Story is Western Disinformation

  1. Tarus77
    June 30, 2020 at 14:19

    I think it is fairly commonly accepted that the main propagandist “news” papers, NYT and WaPo, are under complete control of the CIA.
    Nothing of consequence gets out without the cia approval and it should be accepted that these types of anti-russian propaganda are actually prob written by the cia. Some of the nyt/wapo stenographers are prob on speed dial with their cia conrollers.

    It then becomes utterly astonishing that this garbage gets major play and attention (wll, maybe no so astonishing, considering the current environment).

  2. Christian J. Chuba
    June 30, 2020 at 11:33

    Feedback loop: 1. Anon govt manipulators leak snake oil to MSM contacts, 2. MSM contacts print and defend it with their lives, 3. sadly most in U.S. public believe it as long as it is against the usual suspects (enemies of the west). I believe 3 based on the responses I see on these articles.

    I don’t know what to make of Gordon Duff’s Veterans Today, publishes interesting things but I’d call it fringe, makes sensationalistic claims. Anyway he’s giving this story oxygen by quoting Gen. Petraeus of all people. Petraeus’ argument, it’s a solid source because prisoners led to a safe house loaded w/bounty cash QED. Now he didn’t review the raw intelligence, he’s making an inference.

    Okay but these prisoners might have a grudge against another faction, gave a story that they knew would definitely provoke a U.S. raid on a sensitive location. Is it really all that unusual to find $500,000 every now and again in Afghanistan with all of the Opium trafficking and the money we throw around?

    • Tarus77
      June 30, 2020 at 14:43

      Excellent comment as to fringe!

      Agree both on duff and petraeus.

    • Christian J. Chuba
      July 2, 2020 at 09:19

      The newer info makes the intel even more sketchy, we found cash during a raid, took prisoners, and then the prisoners claimed it came from Russia, so Petraeus’s version of prisoners leading to a hoard of cash doesn’t even hold up.

      BTW heard a read a phrase in a post that I have not heard for a long time, probably from a book I should have read … ‘To manufacture consent discussing the story, not its credibility, is important. The more the discussion, the more the reaction and the more it reinforces the narrative.’

      Not claiming this is original but well stated.

  3. Randal Marlin
    June 30, 2020 at 10:20

    Here’s a new word, one that I think will actually catch on: PSYPOOP

  4. June 30, 2020 at 09:54

    “Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction.” “Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction.” “Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction.”

    How many Iraqi civilians have been starved and slaughtered since 2001?

  5. Duckandcover
    June 30, 2020 at 09:19

    Another false rumor Adam Schiff can run with. He’s good at that. It will keep him occupied for the next four years.

  6. Francis Lee
    June 30, 2020 at 05:18

    I’m just wondering. Is the US deep state and its media accomplices preparing its population for a kinetic war against Russia, or is the whole thing just a bluff to get Russia to surrender without a fight. The Russians, however, will not back down in face of this increasing intimidation. So what next for the Americans? The problem with the big bluff play is that the Americans may well have talked their way into war and won’t have an exit strategy. Congratulations must go in particular to the MSM for pushing the world toward the edge of extinction and possibly over.

    • Homer Jay
      June 30, 2020 at 21:39

      I was actually laughing from Caitlin’s last paragraph. Then I read this and stopped. This is the sober reality. One would think with so much at stake, there would be a bit more care taken before fanning the radioactive flames of Russophobia. This I suppose is too much to ask of monkeys flinging shit.

    • Richard Coleman
      July 1, 2020 at 06:16

      Good point, I think you’ve nailed it.

  7. Atul Thakker
    June 30, 2020 at 00:39

    Even if it was all true, were we this outraged after watching Charlie Wilson’s War?

  8. David S Hall
    June 29, 2020 at 21:29

    Obviously a CIA campaign to get a more willing stooge into the Whitelivesmatter House. My American memory is famously short, can’t quite recall who it was created and funded the Taliban and supplied them with advanced weapons and training to attack the Soviet Army of Occupation. I imagine the current Taliban would much prefer Verbas to Rubles.

  9. Jean
    June 29, 2020 at 19:58

    I am totally a Bernie Girl but am being inundated with pitiful pleas to vote for the Bumpkin, the senile old Neoliberal Bumpkin, because…..Trump. I was almost persuaded until reading this. The Cheeto is a horror and a whore and has a lot of blood on his hands. But Byebyedon is worse. He’ll lay this country at the feet of the war profiteers and say thank you for letting me be your whore. I’m not voting for him. Nor for any other neoliberal warmongering Hillary loving ass wipe the DNC can vomit up. I’m writing in Buddha. Seems to me a good dead guy could do a better job than all these ass wipes put together. You go Caitlyn!!!

    • Homer Jay
      June 30, 2020 at 21:54

      I just laughed my ass off. I needed this! I too was pulling for Bernie. Thank you for supplying me with a great response when the neo-liberal true believers call me the spawn of satan for not voting Biden. They already love me when I remind them that Wikileaks revealed that the Hillary campaign worked their media contacts to help Trump become the Republican nominee. One can only presume they thought he was the one candidate she could beat.

  10. vinnieoh
    June 29, 2020 at 18:51

    In passing Caitlin mentions narrative control, the subject she so expertly dissects. It’s important at the premier of this farcically phony addition to the narrative, to remember that:

    It doesn’t have to be true;
    It doesn’t even need a very long half-life;
    It doesn’t even need to be investigated before it is dropped in the “hold” basket.

    All that is need is to be entered into the “official narrative”; because it was reported, became a media topic, it thus has become “real” and can be later concatenated in a litany of other “offenses” committed by our shibboleths against us.

    It’s easy, they do it almost in their sleep now, and the serious faces of our vigilant media never blink an eye, and no perspiration is seen on their upper lips. One big obedient, happy family. It doesn’t matter how many out in teevee land or social media land believe it, only that none of the voices of the official narrative break ranks.

  11. Sam F
    June 29, 2020 at 18:43

    Those who agreed upon and spread this “malignant psyop” of “evidence-free claims” have engaged in journalistic malpractice and state propaganda, and have long betrayed the public trust to provide truth and hold power to account.

    Mass media and all branches of federal and state government must be regulated for balance of viewpoints with checks and balances in all areas, and monitored for corrupt influence. Without such controls we cannot restore democracy.

  12. Realist
    June 29, 2020 at 16:56

    Basically, the CIA is meddling in the presidential election yet again. They want the public not only to believe that this absurd fantasy is true but that Trump and his awful minions looked the other way and gave the evil emperor Putin carte blanche to kill Americans. What baseless charge could possibly be more inflammatory? Betraying your own armed forces would be the apex of high treason. This is yet another doubling down on the failed “Russiagate” conspiracy theory. Not only totally preposterous and completely unsupported but quite unnecessary if the objective is to extract Trump from the White House. Trump has already cooked his own goose in the political arena with his handling of the Covid crisis, the BLM “demonstrations” and the Congressional giveaway of newly-created Fed funny money to the most financially privileged individuals on the planet. The intel agencies obviously have no clue that they conspicuously give away their game by being so over-the-top bombastic in their unending attempts to frame Putin, Russia, and, most importantly, Trump. And the MSM seem just as clueless about the role they play as witless tools of these behind-the-scenes string pullers.

    • Skip Scott
      June 30, 2020 at 08:41

      I am not yet sure that Trump has “cooked his own goose”. Biden is such a horrible candidate it seems that the DNC wants to lose, and Trump’s base never sees anything done by him as “wrong,” or his fault. Whenever I start thinking that the public couldn’t get any dumber or more manipulated, events prove me wrong. One thing is certain, more “theater of the absurd” lies ahead. Buckle up!
      BTW, good to hear from your Realist.

    • AnneR
      June 30, 2020 at 11:15

      Ah, but, Realist, can’t have too many depleted uranium cased weapons to hand, just in case, just in case the Strumpet should win against all the odds, at least as advertised by the pollsters (as was the case in 2016).

      And what better for these “liars, cheats, robbers” (as Pompeo averted – with mucho pride – were the trademarks of the CIA et al) than to once again, despite all common sense, nominate the Russians as our “real” enemies. The f***ing Blue faces cannot let their Cold Warrior Russophobic deep seated perceptions of the world go.

      And – as one expects – there is no mention in the MSM (as represented in this household by the faithful Blue Face upholder, NPR) of the CIA (with Brzezinski’s full support) in Afghanistan deliberately helping to create, support, train the mujahadeen (including what would become the Taliban) to fight, kill and keep the USSR in Afghanistan until it had its “Vietnam” and shrank economically, thus influentially. No thought that, well, even if (big if) this NYT tale proves even remotely based in some fact: we are reaping what we sowed; serves us right. Please – we’d never look at anything done to *us* in that way. We seem incapable.

  13. Drew Hunkins
    June 29, 2020 at 16:19

    Anyone who believes the Russian bounty Taliban story is beyond hope and one must not waste two seconds of their energies trying to reach them. There’s now a segment of our (U.S) population that is TOTALLY immune to any rational and reasonable explanations and facts pertaining to Russia, a Russia that’s a peace and justice champion around the globe promoting cooperative relations throughout the world community.

    • AnneR
      June 30, 2020 at 11:17

      So very true, Drew. So very true – assuming that they consider it at all, that is.

  14. John Drake
    June 29, 2020 at 16:13

    Looks like a get Trump disinformation operation. First concoct this pile of nastiness, and don’t tell Potus . Then release it through subservient mass media(best yet with high stature). Potus says, “huh”, didn’t know and looks foolish, as well as being positioned into the Russian stooge trope- mission accomplished.

    Next act assorted Congress critters get to pontificate, posture and look patriotic.

    Americans are so gullible. Like the Taliban needs a bounty to kill Americans; that’s their job, their goal is to get rid of US presence no need for extra incentive. And of course , Russia could care less and would not be so stupid. If you look at a lot of this stuff the deep state comes up with there is no motive, it doesn’t pass the smell test.

    • PJ
      June 29, 2020 at 19:20

      the phrase is: “couldn’t care less”

    • Randal Marlin
      June 30, 2020 at 15:47

      Re: PJ’s comment. Actually, the phrase “couldn’t care less” has been used so often that many people use “could care less” as an ironic equivalent. It doesn’t bother me any more.

  15. June 29, 2020 at 16:12

    I couldn’t agree more. This story stunk the minute I heard about it. It’s another Deep State effort to undermine any moves to pull back from war.

  16. Kurt McNally
    June 29, 2020 at 15:40

    Thank you for a little sanity in an insane world. So many intelligent questions a good journalist might be asking in our current situation.

Comments are closed.