BOUNTYGATE: Why Didn’t Haspel Demand an Oval Office Meeting?

The safety of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan does not appear to be the motive in intelligence agency leaks to the media about the alleged Russian “bounties,” says Joe Lauria.

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday night that a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, which Donald Trump had demanded, has been put off until after the U.S. presidential election in November.

Maintaining imperial interests in Afghanistan seems to be one of the main reasons for the so-far uncorroborated, possibly cooked-up “scandal” known now as Bountygate.

Other motives appear to be the same twofer that was at the core of Russiagate: first, unnamed intelligence officials meddling in domestic U.S. politics, this time to undermine Trump’s re-election campaign; and, second, to even further demonize and pressure Russia.

The public has been subjected to daily morsels of supposedly factual stories meant to further deepen the plot. The first item dropped online on June 26 with The New York Times’ initial reporting on the say-so of “American intelligence officials.”

It seemed yet another attempt to launder disinformation through big media, giving it more credibility than if it had come directly from the security services. A discerning reader, however, would want more than the word of a bunch of spooks who make a living practicing deception. 

The “evidence” for the story that Russia paid the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers came from interrogation of Afghan detainees. If the interrogations were “enhanced” the evidence is even more unreliable. 

For the record, Consortium News supports no candidate and has been a strong critic of Trump. But we see intelligence agencies’ insertion into domestic politics to be a greater threat than even eight years of Trump for the precedent it is setting. As spooks like to say, “Administrations come and go. And we’re still here.”

Meddling Again in Politics

Trumped briefed in the Oval Office, Sept 2017. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

A main purpose of this planted Times story was made clear in the following paragraph, and it’s been the constant theme since, seized on by Trump critics from the Lincoln Project to Democratic candidate Joe Biden:

The intelligence finding was briefed to President Trump, and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March, the officials said. Officials developed a menu of potential options — starting with making a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and a demand that it stop, along with an escalating series of sanctions and other possible responses, but the White House has yet to authorize any step, the officials said.” [Emphasis added.]

The inference is that Trump knew about it for months and didn’t do anything, obviously because he’s a Kremlin agent.

Trump said he was unaware of the “intelligence.” John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, put out a statement on June 27 saying Trump had not been briefed on it.

But the Times that day quoted an “American intelligence official” (another one or the same?) saying:

…it was included in the President’s Daily Brief, a written document which draws from spywork to make analytic predictions about longstanding adversaries, unfolding plots and emerging crises around the world. The briefing document is given to the president to read and they serve as the basis for oral briefings to him several times a week.”

The Times did not say that Trump was orally told about it. I suspect the CIA gave it to him only in print, and knowing Trump doesn’t entirely read his daily written briefings, did not orally tell him, making him out to be a liar by leaking this information.

But this raised the immediate question: If this were such an urgent matter that Trump had ignored for more than three months, why hadn’t CIA Director Gina Haspel demanded, in all that time, an immediate Oval Office meeting with Trump to urge him to act? After all, isn’t the CIA’s job supposed to be to protect Americans?

If this was even close to being confirmed, Haspel would have briefed directly given the sensitivity of the subject,” Scott Ritter, a former U.S. counterterrorism officer, told me by email.  Haspel, distancing herself from the controversy, put out a statement condemning the leaks to the Times, saying they “compromise and disrupt the critical interagency work to collect, assess, and ascribe culpability.”

Clearly the purpose of this leaked story was not to protect the lives of American soldiers.

Denials All Around 

Trump speaks to members of the National Security Council during a meeting at the Pentagon in 2017. (DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

The story is being ginned-up with small leaks everyday despite denials from the Taliban, Moscow and statements from the National Security Council, the National Security Agency, the Pentagon and the director of national intelligence that undermine its credibility. National Security Council officials said the information had not been sufficiently corroborated to be brought to Trump’s attention. 

“Because the allegations in recent press articles have not been verified or substantiated by the Intelligence Community, President Trump had not been briefed on the items,” said Robert O’Brien, the national security advisor.

“We are still investigating the alleged interference referenced in media reporting and we will brief the President and Congressional leaders at the appropriate time,” said John Ratcliffe, director of national intelligence.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement: “The Department of Defense continues to evaluate intelligence that Russian GRU operatives were engaged in malign activity against United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan. To date, DOD has no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports.”

Ray McGovern, the former CIA analyst, said: “I helped prepare The President’s Daily Brief for Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan, and personally conducted the one-on-one morning briefings in the Oval Office from 1981 to 1985. In those days we did our best to corroborate reporting — especially on highly sensitive issues — and did not try to cover our derrieres by alerting the president and his top aides to highly dubious reporting, however sexy.” 

The Wall Street Journal reported that the NSA “strongly dissented” from the assessment on the bounties, citing “people familiar with the matter.”

Even the anti-Putin Moscow Times doesn’t buy the story.


The Drip, Drip, Drip of New Leaks

The initial story has been followed up by new leaks nearly every day. First we heard from the Times of an electronic transfer from a bank account controlled by the GRU, Russian military intelligence, to the Taliban. We are not told what this money was for. Was there a line item for “killing American soldiers?” The Times reports:

Though the United States has accused Russia of providing general support to the Taliban before, analysts concluded from other intelligence that the transfers were most likely part of a bounty program that detainees described during interrogations.” [Emphasis added.]

Other intelligence” that is not cited “most likely” meant it was part of the bounty “program” is hardly convincing reporting.

Anyone who knows anything about intelligence operations knows that such payments would be made by cash on the ground in Afghanistan and not by leaving a discoverable paper trail. The cash would come from Russian officials in Afghanistan, not wired to a Taliban account. This is the same portrayal of a bumbling, unprofessional Russian intelligence service that supposedly left Cyrillic letters and the name of the first Soviet secret police chief in the metadata of its alleged hacks of the DNC. At the same time we are meant to be deathly afraid of these “amateurs.”

The alleged money sent by bank transfer was supposedly handed out in cash on the battlefield by a “lowly drug dealer” who puzzled his neighbors because he was suddenly driving a fancy car. But wait, Rahmatullah Azizi, the Times says, got the cash in Russia:

U.S. intelligence reports named Mr. Azizi as a key middleman between the G.R.U. and militants linked to the Taliban who carried out the attacks. He was among those who collected the cash in Russia, which intelligence files described as multiple payments of ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars.’” [Emphasis added.]

This contradicts the Times‘ earlier story that the money was transferred electronically. Now the cash was collected in Russia. Azizi associates were arrested and a half-million dollars was found in his house. The Times, however, does not say what they were charged with.

Just how the money was dispersed to militants carrying out attacks for the Taliban, and at what level the coordination occurred, remains unclear,” the Times reports. Indeed. In an earlier era of journalism that would incite an editor to bark, “Don’t put it in the story until you find out.”

Mission Accomplished

The three goals of the leaks are being accomplished:

  • Trump is being dogged by the story with no let up. Debunked Russiagate stories about him being a Kremlin tool have been revived.
  • Russia is further demonized, not just as the destroyer of American democracy, but as the destroyer of American lives.
  • The troops are staying put in Afghanistan over Trump’s objections.

The LA Times story said the decision to keep a little more than 4,000 troops there was made “late last month,” around the time The New York Times story broke.

The plan, worked out at a meeting between Pentagon and White House officials late last month, would represent an about-face for President Trump. He has pushed for a complete withdrawal of the 8,600 troops now in Afghanistan by the election, seeing a pullout as a much-needed foreign policy achievement as his reelection prospects have deteriorated. Trump had only recently told advisors that a full and rapid pullout could blunt the controversy over intelligence reports that Russia has paid militants to kill American service members, one official said.”

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston GlobeSunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers. He began his professional career as a stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe .

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41 comments for “BOUNTYGATE: Why Didn’t Haspel Demand an Oval Office Meeting?

  1. July 7, 2020 at 04:43

    Nobody tried to imagine how a meeting of Trump and Haspel could look time.

    Ah, Gina, always a pleasure to see you!

    It is my deepest pleasure, Mister President.

    So what do you have today? More duck pictures? Some victims of an oil spill? Or picks from an overcrowded poultry farm? Last time, you did not show me hunting trophies. You know, one of my sons is an avid hunter…

    Sorry Mr. President, today I have a different matter, it is an issue of utmost urgency…

    Ah, sick children! Yes, we should always worry about sick children. Just tell me one thing, Gina, is it about a leak to NYT that you made already, or one that you plan to do later, like with ducks and children?

    Mr. Presidents, this time the American lives are at stake…

    Surely it can wait a minute or two. I just want to make a few things clear. I understand that we need to work the press. Everybody pulls a trick now and then, at least, every good spook does it. I am not young, and I have seen a lot. But given how old I am, it surprises me that I cannot recall leaks to the press that brag how the leakers managed to fool their boss.

    Mr. President, this is a very critical issue…

    Sorry, Gina. Whatever it is, we must be on the same page. Tell me first what did you leak and what you plan to leak.


  2. Vera Gottlieb
    July 5, 2020 at 10:34

    Oh, ENOUGH already with these “bounty” stories…which are nothing but lies fabricated in the US. Just another way to keep the folks distracted from what ails the country – and there is plenty.

  3. realtime
    July 5, 2020 at 00:14

    I googled “how many US soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in 2020?”. The answer was 9. I guess no one wants the bounty. I hear the CIA pays in opium. Maybe they would rather get paid in opium.

  4. DH Fabian
    July 4, 2020 at 22:40

    Why would anyone think Trump’s chances of being re-elected have deteriorated? He faces no real opposition. As you know, we spent the last 25 years pointing out the deep, growing split in the former Dem voting base, middle class vs. poor, further pitted against each other by race. Etc. Not much left to say about that. Republicans are certainly aware of that split, and know that those former Dem voters aren’t voting Republican. As if driven by some bizarre compulsion, Democrats pursued their reckless Russia-gate scheme, driving away more voters. Where does that leave them? They created a monster, and now they don’t know what to do with it.

  5. Annie
    July 4, 2020 at 22:33

    Dear ML,
    I’m not in agreement with his policies, but then again I haven’t been thrilled with the political policies of our “leaders” for a long time, decades. All those wars, all those dead, well, at least Trump hasn’t been involved in a war, not an overt one anyway. I do hate his sanctions, but no president has yet to call them a crime. Everyone, except Sanders didn’t want to impose sanctions on Iran, but his fellow democrats did. Chomsky hates him, his environmental policies are dreadful he says, and they are, but then again most of the presidents in recent memory have done very little in that regard, and the rest of the world hasn’t helped much. Our government, our president, senators, congressmen are corporate whores who are fed by corporate money, so they feed their keepers, and make them rich, so why should I hate Trump more? The democrats spill hate and lies all over him, but are they any better, especially now? In the last four years all they’ve done is side track all his policies, with lies, about just made up things to get rid of him, forgetting we have a constitution. I really hate that.

  6. Donald Duck
    July 4, 2020 at 18:39

    I was very interested in reading David Graebner’s insights in his book ‘Bullshit Jobs’. That is to say Jobs that fullfil no useful purpose except some unearned and useless payoff of the employee. I think that we can now extend this phenomenon to other social and political areas. To wit: Bullshit Politics, Bullshit Economics, Bullshit culture, Bullshit MSM …. Feel free to add any additional categories.

    • July 5, 2020 at 11:17

      I did not read the book, but the very premise seems wrong.

      Consider a related topic: draining “the swamp”. That was a big theme in the first half of the previous century and before. Now most of us now about critical ecological role played by WETLANDS. Wetlands (that include bogs, quagmires, fields seasonally filled with puddles and deeper water etc.) are essential to support many species, decrease flooding, remove contaminants from environment etc. This is particularly important in the case of big, deep wetlands like Quagmires of Lower Potomac. Remove them, and entire industries will collapse, like hospitality industry in the area (seriously, in NYC you get lower hotel prices during weekdays, in DC, during weekends because of lobbyists spending weekends with their families etc.). Many endemic humanoid species would get extinct. Then downstream effects: imagine sharks, whales and assorted other marine creature landing on our beaches, literally stuffed with “mulah” so much that they cannot absorb food.

      Same with bullshit a.k.a. manure. Producing and spreading manure is a huge industry with a vital role. Upon some checking, it is actually a minor subsidiary industry associated to a major industry that produces something else, like beef or enticements of the public to spend on some products and services. As a result, the workers have low status, are disparaged, morale is low and proper methods are frequently neglected. Compare nice odorless bags of manure that you can purchase in home improvement stores with the stinking wet mass released as “bounties on US troops”.

  7. vinnieoh
    July 4, 2020 at 16:50

    And, come Sunday morning all the beltway boobs (Shit The Press, Washington Bleat, Fuck the Nation) will breathlessly try to engage the sheep in their latest xxxx-gate spectacle. Anything but talk about themselves and how they’re sucking the blood out of all of us.

    Two things not mentioned yet: was there no-one aboard Trump’s Ship of Fools that saw them sailing into mined waters? (essential clarification: it was a “cloaked” mine, latent, waiting.)

    Second: for how many decades now 5, 6? the Congress slumbers while their dogs of war roam, but immediately snap to wakefulness if those dogs are summoned to their cages. The Congress now, dejectedly admitting (/s) that they have been beaten, can no longer authorize wars, only block their ending. I’ve often believed that the reason this is so, is because they have become sooo convinced that payback is gonna be a real bitch. Who wouldn’t? And I fear for my grandson and his generations. Sorry kid, I just didn’t count – I wuz invizibel!

  8. Mark Thomason
    July 4, 2020 at 16:42

    Missile Gap. This is not the first time that hawkish hysteria was used for purely domestic politics.

    The payback hoped for goes beyond the election, to promote hawkish policies that otherwise would have far fewer supporters.

    • Piotr Berman
      July 4, 2020 at 23:03

      Missile Gap hoax was a relatively high quality hoax, if I recall it reached a high level of consensus, and by its very nature, it relied on data that the public could not get and were harder to dispute. Compare it to a decent dinner wine — 10-20 USD per bottle.

      On that scale, this hoax can be compared to moonshine contaminated with wood alcohol. Everyone (not blinded by wood alcohol or equivalent toxic substances produces by shady think tanks from lowest quality ingredients) can see that a conjecture that a drug dealer got cash for drugs rather than for bounties has to be seriously considered. Then the paltry level of casualties that could plausible be attributed to bounties under an assumption that they existed.

      A seasoned hoaxer sticks to mysterious evidence that has to be disputed with conjectures or facts not available to the big majority. Is it plausible that two individuals of very different ages, sexes, state of health could get into contact with a poison that for several hours would show no over effects and dramatically succumb so synchronously that none of them could call for help for the other. Perhaps not, Her Majesty Government says it is precisely the best reconstruction of the events, and how many people has this kind of experience with poisoning?

  9. dean 1000
    July 4, 2020 at 16:16

    The soft coup efforts continue as the dirty turkeys( not a Rock group) strike again claiming that Taliban POWs said Russian military intelligence paid bounties to Taliban to shoot US soldiers.

    The dirty turkeys have been lying about Trump for 4 years, turned the NSC into a nest of spies and we are supposed to believe this transparent, boneheaded hatchet job.

    Thanks for the link to the LA Times. I didn’t know Trump wanted be bring all the Troops home from Afghanistan this year. Too bad the Generals insist that 4,000 troops stay.

  10. Douglas Baker
    July 4, 2020 at 15:55

    So the Loony Tunes franchise has gone viral distributed by monopoly media as Orwellian “1984” newspeak repeated as though instruction for a flock, of what has been called “A Nation of Sheep”, with an “Animal Farm” hand repeating instruction in every way imaginable for the elite guides of American destiny to carry on, with Bugs Bunny demanding, “What’s Up Doc?”

  11. Roe Castelli Orr
    July 4, 2020 at 13:58

    Those with free thinking minds can discern the MSM/MIC propaganda narrative and still despise Trump at the same time.
    Trump is America Unmasked.
    A Diseased, renditioned Portrait of a 21st Century Dorian Gray hanging in the halls of the Capitol.
    The Empire’s bidding if for Gold, Oil, Drugs, Puppet Vassals for exploitation of mineral rights drowning in oceans of blood from colonialism.
    All for the Whores of K Street.
    Unfortunately Biden will be the same.
    Wash, Rinse, Repeat.
    Rome isn’t Burning it’s vaporizing.

    • DH Fabian
      July 4, 2020 at 23:11

      Absolutely. With all of Trump’s negatives, he is still n0t the Antichrist. In fact, contrary to the character he plays in public, he has weirdly often made practical, sane decisions. We can’t say that about Congress. Strong opposition to the right wing Democrat Party does not mean support for Trump. And yes, no president in modern history has more clearly reflected the face the America.

      On the broader picture, we’re closing in on the economic, social and political collapse of the US, something that has been expected for years. The proverbial masses (us) have been divided, subdivided, pitted against each other, conquered. The country has remained on this road ever since the Reagan Revolution, before many of you were born. Administrations of both parties “stayed the course.” I don’t know what comes next, but whatever it is, it’s out of our hands.

  12. Roe Castelli Orr
    July 4, 2020 at 13:27

    Totally independent functioning brains can discern the propaganda perpetrated by the MSM/MIC about this recent Russia-gate nonsense and still realize Trump is still an imbecile, Narcissistic, self aggrandizing human waste.
    Trump is the caricature of Dorian Gray hanging in the halls of the capital.
    Trump is the true face of a dying, diseased Empire of Gold, Oil, Drugs, Puppet Vassals,and Mineral theft beholden to It’s K Street whores.

    • Piotr Berman
      July 4, 2020 at 23:17

      Trump vs Biden is truly a clash of titans. Quite possibly, mysterious creatures pulling strings in a certain party that is old and “almost grand but somewhat deficient, hence DOP, figured that the chief failure of Hillary was to project a persona of a narcotic smart Alec. A better candidate would avoid any appearance of being smart. This is not a novel approach, GOP tried to use it ever since the success of RR who looked pretty stupid.

      The discovery of Trump was that one can perform a triangulation between looking smart and looking stupid.

  13. Rob
    July 4, 2020 at 13:03

    I learned from reading Caitlin Johnstone that the debating technique known as the “Gish Gallop” consists of inundating one’s opponent with numerous ancillary “arguments” that the opponent is forced to refute individually. The individual arguments may all be fallacious, but put together, they create the impression that the main or underlying argument must be true. This is exactly what the corporate media did with Russiagate and are doing once again with Bountygate. It’s the steady drip drip of stories, all uncorroborated and sometimes conflicting with one another, which, taken together, seem to support the Bountygate narrative without actually doing so.


    • Roe Castelli Orr
      July 4, 2020 at 13:41


  14. Aaron
    July 4, 2020 at 12:58

    “My feeling, and I mean this wholeheartedly, is that I really don’t care. What bothers me is we didn’t win the game.” Brett Favre’s reaction to the Saint’s bountygate in the playoff game.
    Our poor troops have been stuck in that hellhole for 20 fu***ng years, and like a sports warrior like Favre, all that they ever wanted I’m sure for all of their sacrifice, was for it to not be in vain, and somehow feel that they won the war. Let’s try to look at this from the perspective of a serviceman fighting in the Afghan war. That Taliban fighters have been trying to kill them everyday since 2001 is supposed to be news to them? They live that reality every single day. The politicians of both parties have made no attempt to protect them for years and years and years. To pretend that they care about those they deem expendable now in July of 2020, after all these years is about the saddest thing one could imagine for them on this 4th of July. I hope that they all can come home now, all of the troops, not just some of them, all of them. Because the reality of our wars and troops in the Middle East come from a prioritization of both political parties to serve 1) Israel first 2) Israel second 3) Israel third

  15. teresa smith
    July 4, 2020 at 11:09

    Ak I missing something? Doesn’t the US have a history of paying anyone they feel will advance their agenda, in any direction, to any nefarious group or individual? Crying foul by the US is still more hypocritical blather, designed to distract. CN never disappoints! Thank you all!!!

    • Linda Furr
      July 4, 2020 at 13:20

      Absolutely!! And dopey stuff like Russia paying Taliban bounties on American lives in Afghanistan is exactly why most people are totally turned off by Washington DC and the corporate MSM that promotes the DC system (ie a bought-and-paid-for Congress, a CIA that creates misery all over the world, a Pentagon that eagerly displays its gonads every time it can). Russia isn’t causing our institutions to be questioned; our institutions are.

  16. AnneR
    July 4, 2020 at 10:55

    Thank you Joe for this piece collating all of the claptrap we are being fed daily (including by NPR – well, bien sur). And as with the whole farrago, charade of lies, innuendos that was/is Russiagate, my view is closely allied to yours as stated here: “This is the same portrayal of a bumbling, unprofessional Russian intelligence service that supposedly left Cyrillic letters and the name of the first Soviet secret police chief in the metadata of its alleged hacks of the DNC. At the same time we are meant to be deathly afraid of these amateurs.”

    Quite. Absolutely. IF the GRU and its kindred agencies in Russia are this bloody incompetent, this incapable of not leaving a trail that Hansel and Gretel could easily follow, then why would we be so worried, so frightened of them? Totally, completely idiotic – but apparently the US MICIMATT and corporate-capitalist-imperialist ruling elites (including the Congress and most of the WH) really do believe that we, the hoi polloi, are so f***ing stupid as to believe that the Russians are totally incompetent (and thus “we” can “see” them) but simultaneously we should, must be knocking our knees with complete and utter fear of them and their dastardly plots against us…

    What it all makes apparent is that our ruling elites at all levels, in and out of government and its services truly believe we are as thick as two short planks. All of us.

    • Roe Castelli Orr
      July 4, 2020 at 14:14

      Unfortunately about 10 to 15% are as awoke as you and I.
      The government actuarial studies realize that if this figure was over 40% the Earth’s Axis would reverse throwing these devils into the abyss.

    • Tim
      July 6, 2020 at 11:26

      Anne R.

      > truly believe we are as thick as two short planks. All of us.

      Not all of us; just a large enough majority — and aren’t they right?

  17. Guy
    July 4, 2020 at 10:49

    This story is proof that the US media is now CIA written large.

  18. Bob In Portland
    July 4, 2020 at 10:47

    It sounds like the lowly drug dealer may have been making inroads into the business. This has been a standard tacts for our drug wars. That is, the US intelligence agencies use the drug wars to eliminate competition to its own very lucrative drug trade wars. Like the Japanese did to China, supplying a conquered population with drugs as a means of control.

    In this case the lowly drug dealer was used as another propaganda tool aimed at Trump.

    • AnneR
      July 4, 2020 at 14:19

      A widening of the view, Bob in Portland – Before the Japanese came the Brits with Opium, grown (in their knowledge) in Bengal (if I recall right), in the early 1800s (at least, though possibly earlier, cos we poor working class Brits used to feed our very noisy, obstreperous hungry babies Laudanum to keep ’em quiet. Laudanum is a derivative of Opium…and opium poppies do not thrive in GB (yer more regular poppies do).

      So – we were (?) the first to introduce large quantities of Opium into China which (inevitably, it would seem) led to war and the Brits gaining Hong Kong (what? did the Brits say: we’ll stop trafficking opium into your country if you hand over Hong Kong? Wouldn’t surprise me in the least).

      Now the major supplier/grower/producer is Afghanistan – and it is difficult to believe that the CIA has no hand in it. A deep hand. How easy then to create a fantabulous story about the “Russians,” “bounties to kill US military,” and drug dealers as the “go-betweens” with the $$$…. Deflection while pointing at those “others.”

      One could point out, rightly in my opinion, that were no US military in Afghanistan, none would be killed no matter who, what, why, how….. Lie our way in; Lie our way to stay.

  19. Rob Roy
    July 4, 2020 at 10:27

    Loathsome though Trump may be, he once said the most intelligent thing I’ve heard a president say about Russia in my lifetime, “Why can’t we just be friends.” The duopoly lost its collective minds. The horror!

  20. jdd
    July 4, 2020 at 06:57

    Mr. Lauria hits the nail on the head. To his report, I would add in the vile role of the impeachment Dems: Nancy (“all roads lead to Putin) Pelosi, Chuck (“Trump is too soft on Putin) Schumer; and their Bushy allies, who continue to keep this latest hoax alive.

  21. July 4, 2020 at 06:43

    Hm, an electronic money transfer between “bank owned by Russian military intelligence” to “an account linked to Taliban” changed, in front of our eyes, into (a duffel bag of?) notes carried with much toil from Russia to Afghanistan. I have seen something like that years ago.

    At the end of a magic show, the performer threw up a handkerchief that changed into an umbrella that changed into a bunch of carnations while few white doves appeared too. That led Senator Schumer to conclude that we need new, tough sanctions on Russia.

  22. July 4, 2020 at 05:14

    “The cash would come from Russian officials in Afghanistan, not wired to a Taliban account. This is the same portrayal of a bumbling, unprofessional Russian intelligence service that supposedly left Cyrillic letters and the name of the first Soviet secret police chief in the metadata of its alleged hacks of the DNC.”

    Superb summary.

    I think the principle at work is an old one from advertising and propaganda.

    Throw enough crap at the wall, and some it will stick.

    My, what glorious work done at the highest levels of American government.

    I really do think when top politicians and officials show this level of corruption and contempt for truth, it can’t too long before things really start falling apart.

    Already deadly serious economic problems. Already a world competitiveness problem. Already terrible extremes of inequality. Already serious unhappiness on the streets with brutal cops and sugar-frosted history.Now the loss of any moral authority. and on all sides of the government, not just Trump.

    “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”

    • Torontonian
      July 4, 2020 at 12:10


      And look around –things are already falling apart – here in Canada -locally , nationally and of course on the world stage. Wait until the real economic mess hits and governments cant pay the hush money to people any more, ie to prop up the last semblances of a “good (sic: structure”.

      Here in Toronto, no Canada Day celebrations ? but instead an ” emergency” dictate for construction projects to continue from 6am to 10 pm at night 7 days a week– so we all celebrated to noise we didn’t want and public work we don’t care about– really new sidewalks again? more Bell Canada fibre network (paid by taxpayers)

      Totally topsy turvy world -priorty for business with total disdain for the public. Collapse is here–not centre structure yet….

  23. July 4, 2020 at 05:07

    I also can’t imagine the G.R.U. dropping all that money on some middleman (Azizi) and expecting him to carry out a distribution. More likely he would just abscond with it (remember Iraq and all those pallets of cash money [billions] just evaporating, heck-of-a job, Paul Bremer). And really, a guy who shows up with bling, so to speak. Nothing like attracting attention.

  24. Seer
    July 4, 2020 at 04:58

    Look up John Stockwell. It’s an essential component of the CIA to spread disinformation, and doing so via the media (figure that many ex-spooks are on CNN’s payroll). Trump is totally correct when he calls out “fake news/media” (he’s just inconsistent in applying it).

    People struggle to understand the difference between siding with a Trump position vs siding up with Trump himself. TDS has helped cloud this.

  25. Seer
    July 4, 2020 at 04:51 completely shreds the media’s handling of this:

  26. Annie
    July 4, 2020 at 03:51

    I simply ignore such obvious propaganda, as I did Russia-gate. Through his entire presidency trumped up allegations have become the norm. The press is in complicity with it all, and after a while I feel more alienated from those who hate him, degrade him, make up lies about him and those that go so far as to undermine the constitution in order to get rid of him.

    • ML
      July 4, 2020 at 16:14

      It’s one thing to ignore and abhor the propaganda; so many of us regular CN readers do, but it’s quite another to feel any sympathy or simpatico, with a person as vile and as unfit as Donald John. No dichotomous thinking is required, yet that’s the egregious error too many Americans make.

  27. Drew Hunkins
    July 4, 2020 at 02:21

    I don’t know about you, but I’m getting real sick and tired of the term “intelligence.”

    • AnneR
      July 4, 2020 at 10:59

      Yes, DH. But I think their grotesque presumption is that WE the vox populi have no intelligence, (and they would seem to believe that of the Russians and the Chinese and the Iranians…gor blimey); therefore they can feed us, repeatedly, any old tripe they cook up (and serve with chips and vinegar – Brit chips).

  28. July 4, 2020 at 00:04

    “we see intelligence agencies’ insertion into domestic politics to be a greater threat than even eight years of Trump”

    To have stylistic harmony with anti-Russian claims, I would say that the leakers from law enforcement and intelligence have equal loathing to all politicians, and they want them to be weak, fearful and know better than to say no to whatever they may request.

    A “leak” with a series of “corrections” gives a transient trouble to Trump and sticky trouble to those who made a big noise on false premises that “anyone with half a brain would recognize, sadly my opponent lacks even that much.” By the way, assassins in Afghanistan seem to command fees that soccer stars could envy. “At least one American soldier” and “multiple payments of hundreds thousand dollars”. Collected by a drug dealer. Alleged. GRU contacts were neither seen nor described (or perhaps some infamous person was described allowing to link with “Boris and Natasha” unit of GRU to whom Western analysis ascribes a long list of failed schemes like secession of Catalonia, coup in Montenegro, extermination of ducks, children, pizza lovers and beer drinkers in Wiltshire.)

    The more details we know, the less probable the story is. More precisely, the easier it is to point alternative and more plausible scenarios. Like, a drug dealer being paid for drugs — that flowed in large quantities out of Afghanistan. It happens all the time that a drug dealer gets money for drugs. Since dealing in drugs carries death penalty in many countries there (I am not sure about Afghanistan), any story told to interrogators is better than the true story.

    Still, it is quite puzzling how a leak about money transported by couriers got garbled into an electronic transfer, “contact” into a “bank”, dealer in Afghanistan into “an account linked to Taliban”. Was the lucidity of the receivers of the leak clouded by something like ethanol?

  29. dfnslblty
    July 3, 2020 at 17:42

    Death by a thousand cuts – potus ain’t in charge, even intel. ain’t in charge.
    Must be the fascist/armament component of bigGov.

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