RAY McGOVERN: Mutiny on the Bounties

Has there been another mutiny in Trump’s White House, as Obama’s former ambassador to Russia piles on the nonsense about Trump being in Putin’s pocket?

By Ray McGovern
Special to Consortium News

Corporate media are binging on leaked Kool Aid not unlike the WMD concoction they offered 18 years ago to “justify” the U.S.-UK war of aggression on Iraq.

Now Michael McFaul, ambassador to Russia under President Obama, has been enlisted by The Washington Post’s editorial page honcho, Fred Hiatt, to draw on his expertise (read, incurable Russophobia) to help stick President Donald Trump back into “Putin’s pocket.” (This has become increasingly urgent as the canard of “Russiagate” — including the linchpin claim that Russia hacked the DNC — lies gasping for air.)

In an oped on Thursday McFaul presented a long list of Vladimir Putin’s alleged crimes, offering a more ostensibly sophisticated version of amateur Russian specialist, Rep. Jason Crow’s (D-CO) claim that: “Vladimir Putin wakes up every morning and goes to bed every night trying to figure out how to destroy American democracy.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with McFaul meeting Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, on May 7, 2013. (State Department)

McFaul had — well, let’s call it an undistinguished career in Moscow. He arrived with a huge chip on his shoulder and proceeded to alienate just about all his hosts, save for the rabidly anti-Putin folks he openly and proudly cultivated. In a sense, McFaul became the epitome of what Henry Wooton described as the role of ambassador — “an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.” What should not be so readily accepted is an ambassador who comes back home and just can’t stop misleading.

Not to doubt McFaul’s ulterior motives; one must assume him to be an “honest man” — however misguided, in my opinion. He seems to be a disciple of the James Clapper-Curtis LeMay-Joe McCarthy School of Russian Analysis.

Clapper, a graduate summa cum laude, certainly had the Russians pegged! Clapper was allowed to stay as Barack Obama’s director of national intelligence for three and a half years after perjuring himself in formal Senate testimony (on NSA’s illegal eavesdropping). On May 28, 2017 Clapper told NBC’s Chuck Todd about “the historical practices of the Russians, who typically, are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique.”


As a finale, in full knowledge of Clapper’s proclivities regarding Russia, Obama appointed him to prepare the evidence-impoverished, misnomered “Intelligence Community Assessment” claiming that Putin did all he could, including hacking the DNC, to help Trump get elected — the most embarrassing such “intelligence assessment” I have seen in half a century .

Obama and the National Security State

I have asked myself if Obama also had earned some kind of degree from the Clapper/LeMay/McCarthy School, or whether he simply lacked the courage to challenge the pitiably self-serving “analysis” of the National Security State. Then I re-read “Obama Misses the Afghan Exit-Ramp” of June 24, 2010 and was reminded of how deferential Obama was to the generals and the intelligence gurus, and how unconscionable the generals were — like their predecessors in Vietnam — in lying about always seeing light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

Thankfully, now ten years later, this is all documented in Craig Whitlock’s, “The Afghanistan Papers: At War With the Truth.” Corporate media, who played an essential role in that “war with the truth”, have not given Whitlock’s damning story the attention it should command (surprise, surprise!). In any case, it strains credulity to think that Obama was unaware he was being lied to on Afghanistan.

Some Questions 

Clark Gable (l.) with Charles Laughton (r.) in Mutiny on the Bounty, 1935.

Does no one see the irony today in the Democrats’ bashing Trump on Afghanistan, with the full support of the Establishment media? The inevitable defeat there is one of the few demonstrable disasters not attributable directly to Trump, but you would not know that from the media. Are the uncorroborated reports of Russian bounties to kill U.S. troops aimed at making it appear that Trump, unable to stand up to Putin, let the Russians drive the rest of U.S. troops out of Afghanistan?

Does the current flap bespeak some kind of “Mutiny on the Bounties,” so to speak, by a leaker aping Eric Chiaramella? Recall that the Democrats lionized the CIA official seconded to Trump’s national security council as a “whistleblower” and proceeded to impeach Trump after Chiaramella leaked information on Trump’s telephone call with the president of Ukraine. Far from being held to account, Chiaramella is probably expecting an influential job if his patron, Joe Biden, is elected president. Has there been another mutiny in Trump’s White House?

And what does one make of the spectacle of Crow teaming up with Rep. Liz Cheney (R, WY) to restrict Trump’s planned pull-out of troops from Afghanistan, which The Los Angeles Times reports has now been blocked until after the election?

Hiatt & McFaul: Caveat Editor

And who published McFaul’s oped? Fred Hiatt, Washington Post editorial page editor for the past 20 years, who has a long record of listening to the whispers of anonymous intelligence sources and submerging/drowning the subjunctive mood with flat fact. This was the case with the (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the U.S.-UK attack. Readers of the Post were sure there were tons of WMD in Iraq. That Hiatt has invited McFaul on stage should come as no surprise.

To be fair, Hiatt belatedly acknowledged that the Post should have been more circumspect in its confident claims about the WMD. “If you look at the editorials we write running up [to the war], we state as flat fact that he [Saddam Hussein] has weapons of mass destruction,” Hiatt said in an interview with the Columbia Journalism Review. “If that’s not true, it would have been better not to say it.” [CJR, March/April 2004]

At this word of wisdom, Consortium News founder, the late Robert Parry, offered this comment: “Yes, that is a common principle of journalism, that if something isn’t real, we’re not supposed to confidently declare that it is.” That Hiatt is still in that job speaks volumes.

‘Uncorroborated, Contradicted, or Even Non-Existent’

It is sad to have to remind folks 18 years later that the “intelligence” on WMD in Iraq was not “mistaken;” it was fraudulent from the get-go. The culprits were finally exposed but never held to account.

Announcing on June 5, 2008, the bipartisan conclusions from a five-year study by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Jay Rockefeller ( D-WV) said the attack on Iraq was launched “under false pretenses.” He described the intelligence conjured up to “justify” war on Iraq as “uncorroborated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”


Yogi Berra in 1956. (Wikipedia)

Here’s an assignment due on Monday. Read McFaul’s oped carefully. It appears under the title: “Trump would do anything for Putin. No wonder he’s ignoring the Russian bounties: Russia’s pattern of hostility matches Trump’s pattern of accommodation.”

And to give you a further taste, here is the first paragraph:

“Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have paid Taliban rebels in Afghanistan to kill U.S. soldiers. Having resulted in at least one American death, and maybe more, these Russian bounties reportedly produced the desired outcome. While deeply disturbing, this effort by Putin is not surprising: It follows a clear pattern of ignoring international norms, rules and laws — and daring the United States to do anything about it.”

Full assignment for Monday: Read carefully through each paragraph of McFaul’s text and select which of his claims you would put into one or more of the three categories adduced by Sen. Rockefeller 12 years ago about WMD on Iraq. With particular attention to the evidence behind McFaul’s claims, determine which of the claims is (a) “uncorroborated”; which (b) “contradicted”; and which (c) “non-existent;” or (d) all of the above. For extra credit, find one that is supported by plausible evidence.

Yogi Berra might be surprised to hear us keep quoting him with “Deja vu, all over again.” Sorry, Yogi, that’s what it is; you coined it.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. During his 27-year career as a CIA analyst, he prepared and briefed The President’s Daily Brief for Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

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

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37 comments for “RAY McGOVERN: Mutiny on the Bounties

  1. Tarus77
    July 6, 2020 at 14:25

    Gad, one wonders if it can ever get much lower in the press and the answer is yes, it can and will go lower, i.e. the mcfaul/hiatt tag team. They are still plumbing for the lows.

    The question becomes just how stupid these two are or how stupid do they believe the readership is to read and believe this garbage.

  2. Voice from Europe
    July 6, 2020 at 11:58

    By now the Russia did it ! is in effect a joke in Russia. Economically, politically, geo strategically China and Asia and Africa have become more important and reliable partners of Russia than the USA. And Europe is also dropping fast on the trustworthy partners list…..

  3. John
    July 5, 2020 at 12:55

    Michael McFaul and Fred Hiatt are both long-time members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), flagship of the globalist “liberal world order”. The CFR and its many interlocking affiliates, along with their media assets and frontmen in government, have dominated US policy since WW2. Most of the Fed chairmen and secretaries of State, Treasury, Defense and CIA have been CFR members, including Jerome Powell and Mark Esper.

    The major finance, energy, defense and media corporations are CFR sponsors, and several of their execs are members. David Rubenstein, billionaire founder of the notorious Carlyle Group, is the current CFR chairman. Laurence Fink, billionaire chairman of BlackRock, is a CFR director. See lists at the CFR website.

    • Anna
      July 6, 2020 at 09:38

      Michael McFaul and Fred Hiatt are both very active promoters of hate crimes. Neither has any decency hence decency is allergic to war profiteers and opportunistic liars.
      The poor USA; to descend to such a deep moral hole that both Michael McFaul and Fred Hiatt are still alive and prospering. Shamelessness and presstituting are paid well in the US.

  4. July 5, 2020 at 11:35

    Dems and Reps are already mad.You cannot destroy what does not exist;like Democracy in these United States.Nor God or Putin could.This has always being a fallacy.This is not a democracy;same thing with”comunist China or the USSR.Those two were never socialist.There has never being a real Socialist or Communist country.

  5. Guy
    July 4, 2020 at 12:26

    “It is sad to have to remind folks 18 years later that the “intelligence” on WMD in Iraq was not “mistaken;” it was fraudulent from the get-go. The culprits were finally exposed but never held to account.”
    That statement goes to the crux of the matter .Why should journalists care about what is true or a lie in their reports ,they know they will never be held to account .They should be held to account through the court system . A lie by any journalist should be actionable by any court of law . The fear of jail time would sort out the scam journalists we presently have to endure . As it is they have perverted the profession of journalism and it is the law of the jungle .No true democracy should put up with this. We are surrounded with lies that are generated by the very establishment that should protect it’s citizens from same .

    • Skip Scott
      July 4, 2020 at 15:36

      They are spoon fed those lies by our “intelligence” agencies. As CNN’s Jeff Zucker said, “We’re not investigators, we’re journalists”.
      Replace “journalists” with “toadies” or “shills” for our “intelligence” community and you’ve gotten to the truth of the matter.

    • Anna
      July 6, 2020 at 09:50

      The ‘journalists’ observe how things have been going on for Cheney the Traitor and Bush the lesser — nothing happened to the mega criminals. The hate-bursting and war-profiteering Cheney’s daughter has even squeezed into US Congress.
      In a healthy society where human dignity is cherished, the Cheney family will be ostracized and the family name became a synonym for the word ‘traitor.’ In the unhealthy scoiety of Clintons, Obamas, Epstein, Mueller, Adelsons, Clapper, and Krystols, human dignity is a sin.

    • Ricard Coleman
      July 6, 2020 at 11:42

      Our institutions including journalism are not merely corrupt, they are degenerate. That is, the corruption is not occasional or the exception is is by design, desired and entirely normal.

  6. Stan W.
    July 4, 2020 at 12:10

    I’m still confident that Durham’s investigation will expose and successfully prosecute the maggots that infest our government.

    • Skip Scott
      July 4, 2020 at 15:29

      What is the basis for this confidence?

  7. John Puma
    July 4, 2020 at 12:03

    Re: whether Obumma “had earned some kind of degree from the Clapper/LeMay/McCarthy School” of Russia Analytics.

    It would be a worthy addition to his degree collection featuring that earned from the Neville Chamberlain Night School of Critical Political Negotiation.

  8. Jeff Harrison
    July 4, 2020 at 11:16

    Hmmm. Lessee. The US attacks Afghanistan with about the same legitimacy that we had when we attacked Iraq and the Taliban are in charge. We oust the Taliban from power and put our own puppets in place. What idiot thinks that the Taliban are going to need a bounty to kill Americans?

    • July 4, 2020 at 18:29

      Jeff Harrison, I like your logic. Plus, I understand that far fewer Americans are being killed in Afghanistan than were under Obama’s administration.

  9. AnneR
    July 4, 2020 at 10:27

    Frankly, I am sick to death of the unwarranted, indeed bestial Russophobia that is megaphoned minute by minute on NPR and the BBC World Service (only radio here since my husband died). If it isn’t this latest trumped up (ho ho) charge, there are repeated mentions, in passing, of course, of the Russiagate, hacking, Kremlin control of the Strumpet to back up the latest bunch of lies. Doesn’t matter at *all* that Russiagate was debunked, that even Mueller couldn’t actually demonstrably pull the DNC/ruling elites rabbit out of the hat, that the impeachment of the Strumpet went nowhere. And it clearly – by its total absence on the above radio broadcasts – doesn’t matter one iota that the Pentagonal hasn’t gone along, that gaping holes in the confabulation are (and were) obvious to those who cared to think with half a mind awake and reflecting on past US ruling elite lies, untruths, obfuscations. Nope. Just repeat, repeat, repeat. Orwell would clap his hands (not because he agreed with the atrocious politics but the lesson is learnt).

    Added to the whipped up anti-Russia, decidedly anti-Putin crapola – is of course the Russian peoples’ vote, decision making on their own country’s changes to the Basic Law (a form of Constitution). When the radio broadcasts the usual sickening anti-Russian/Putin propaganda regarding this vote immediately prior they would state that the changes would install Putin for many more years: no mention that he would have to be elected, i.e. voted by the populace into the presidency. (This was repeated ad infinitum without any elaboration.) No other proposed changes were mentioned – certainly not that the Duma would gain greater control over the governance of the country and over the president’s cabinet. I.e. that the popularly elected (ain’t that what we call democracy??) representatives in the Duma (parliament) would essentially have more power than the president.

    But most significantly, to my mind, no one has (well of course not – this is Russia) raised the issue of the fact that it was the Russian people, the vox populi/hoi polloi, who have had some say in how they are to be governed, how their government will work for them. HOW much say have we had/do we have in how our government functions, works – let alone for us, the hoi polloi? When did we the citizenry last have a voting say on ANY sentence in the Constitution that governs us??? Ummm I do believe it was the creation of the wealthy British descended slave holding, real estate ethnic-cleansing lot who wrote and ratified the original document and the hardly dissimilar Congressional and state types who have over the years written and voted on various amendments. And it is the members of the upper classes in the Supreme Court who adjudicate on its application to various problems.

    BUT We the hoi polloi have never, ever had a direct opportunity to individually vote for or against any single part of the Constitution which is supposed to be the “democratic” superstructure which governs us. Unlike the Russians a couple of days ago.

    • Richard Coleman
      July 6, 2020 at 15:48

      “HOW much say have we had/do we have in how our government functions, works…” See, that’s your mistake right there. WE don’t have a government. We need one, but we ain’t got one. THEY have a government which they let us go through the motions of electing. ‘Member back when Bernie was talking about a Political Revolution?

      Here’s a little fact for you. The five most populous states have a total of 123,000,000 people. That’s 10 Senators. The five least populated states have a total of 3.5 million. That’s also 10 Senators. Democracy anyone?

  10. vinnieoh
    July 4, 2020 at 09:37

    There have been three coup d’état within the US within the lifetimes of most that read these pages. The first was explained to us by Eisenhower only as he was exiting his time from the national stage; the MIC had co-opted our government. The second happened in 2000, with the putsch in Florida and then the adoption by the neocon cabal of Bush /Chaney of the PNAC blueprint “Strategies for Rebuilding America’s Defenses” (Defenses – hahahaha – shit!). The third happened late last year and early this year when the bottom-up grass-roots movement of progressivism was crushed by the DNC and the cold-warrior hack Biden was inserted as the champion of “the opposition party.”

    And, make no mistake that Kamala Harris WILL be his running mate. It was always going to be Harris. It was to be Harris at the TOP of the ticket as the primaries began, but she wasn’t even placing in the top tier in any of the contests. However, the poohbahs and strategists of the DNC are nothing if not determined and consistent. If Biden should win, we should all start practicing now saying “President Harris” because that is what the future holds. For the DNC, she looks the part, she sounds the part, but more importantly she is the very definition of the status quo, corporate ass-kisser, MIC tool.

    The professional political class have fully colluded to fatally cripple this democratic republic. “Democracy” is just a word they say like, “Where’s my kickback?” (excuse me – my “motivation”.) This bounty scam and the rehabilitation of GW Bush are nothing but a full blitzkrieg flanking of Trump on the right. And Trump of course is so far out of his depth that he actually believes that Israel is his friend. (A hint Donny: Israel is NO-ONE’S friend.)

    What is most infuriating? hope-crushing? plain f$%&*#g scary? is that the majority of Americans from all quarters do not want any of what the professional political class keeps dumping on us. The very attempt at performing this upcoming election will finally and forever lay completely bare the collapse of a functioning government. It’s going to be very ugly, and it may very well be the end. Dog help us all.

    • Richard Coleman
      July 6, 2020 at 15:51

      Don’t you think that the assassination of JFK counts as a coup d’etat?

    • Zhu
      July 7, 2020 at 02:10

      Apres moi, le Deluge.

    • John Drake
      July 7, 2020 at 11:25

      Oh gosh how can you forget the Kennedy Assassination. Most people don’t realize he was had ordered the removal of a thousand advisors from Vietnam starting the process of completely cutting bait there, as he had in Laos and Cambodia. All of which made the generals apoplectic. The great secret about Vietnam-which Ellsberg discovered much latter, and mentioned in his book Secrets, another good read- was that every president had been warned it was likely futile. Kennedy was the only one who took that intelligence seriously-like it was actually intelligent intelligence.

      Enter stage right Allen Dulles(fired CIA chief), the anti Castro Cubans, the Mafia and most important the MIC; exit Jack Kennedy.

      Douglas, JFK why he died and why it matters is the best work on the subject. And no Oswald did not do it; it was a sniper team from different angles, but read the book it gets complicated.

  11. Roger
    July 4, 2020 at 09:11

    from Counterpunch.org : “Around 15,000 Soviet troops perished in the Afghan War between 1979 and 1989. The US funneled more than $20 billion to the Mujahideen and other anti-Soviet fighters over that same period. This works out to a “bounty” of $1.33 million for each Soviet soldier killed.”

  12. Skip Scott
    July 4, 2020 at 08:35

    I am wondering how Cheney and Crow can block Trump from withdrawing the troops from Afghanistan. Is Trump Commander in Chief, or not? How can two senators stop the Commander in Chief from commanding troop movements? I realize they control the budget, but aren’t they crossing into illegality by restricting Trump’s ability to “command”?

    • Toad Sprocket
      July 4, 2020 at 16:49

      Yeah, I imagine it’s illegal. Didn’t Lindsay Graham threaten the same thing when Trump was thinking of pulling troops/”advisers” from Syria? And other congress warmongers joined in though I don’t think any legislation was passed. They can’t be bothered to authorize the starts of wars but want to step in when someone tries to end them.

      Oh, and Schumer on South Korea troops, I think that one did pass. Almost certainly illegal if it came down to it, but our government is of course lawless. And our courts full of judges who are bought off or moronic or both.

  13. dean 1000
    July 4, 2020 at 06:52

    The soft coup attempt continues Ray. More lies and bullshit. It may continue until election day. Will the media fess-up to its lies after the fact again?

  14. Francis Lee
    July 4, 2020 at 04:49

    “Vladimir Putin wakes up every morning and goes to bed every night trying to figure out how to destroy American democracy.”

    Yes, of course it is a well-known ‘fact’ that Putin has nothing better to do than destory American democracy, and I bet he has dreams about it too! But I am minded to think that if anybody has a penchant for destroying American democracy it is the powers that be in the US deep state, intelligence agencies, and zionist cliques controlling the President and Congress.

    ”Those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.”

    The American establishment seems to be suffering from a bad case of ‘projection’ as psychiatrists call it. That is to say accusing others of what they are themselves actually doing.

    The whole idiotic circus would be hilarious if it were not so serious.

    • Antonia Young
      July 4, 2020 at 12:20

      Putin’s (and by extension the Russian Federation’s) primary objective is international stability. “Destroying America, dividing Americans is the last thing he wants.) Putin learned many lessons during the break-up of the U.S.S.R. observing the carpet baggers/oligarchs/vultures who descended on the weak nation, absconding with it’s wealth and resources at mere fractions of their real value. The deep state’s worst fear is the co-operation btwn Putin and President Trump to make the world more peaceful, stable, co-operative and prosperous.

    • rosemerry
      July 4, 2020 at 16:10

      The whole conceited and arrogant “belief” that
      1. the USA has any resemblance to a democracy and
      2 Pres. Putin has nothing else to do but think how he could do a better job of showing the destructive and irresponsible behavior of the USA than its own leaders” and media can do with no help
      has no basis in reality.

      If anything, Putin is such a stickler for international law, negotiations, avoidance of conflict that he is regarded by many as too Christian for this modern, individualistic, LBGTQ,”nobody matters but me” worldview of the USA!

    • Steve Naidamast
      July 5, 2020 at 19:54

      “If the enemy is self destructing, let them continue to do so…”


    • Zhu
      July 7, 2020 at 02:17

      “zionist cliques”: Christian Zionist fighting Fundies, eager for the End of the World, the Second Coming of Jesus.

  15. delia ruhe
    July 4, 2020 at 01:09

    Yup, we got a Bountygate. Since my early morning visit to the Foreign Policy site, the place has exploded with breathless articles on the dastardly Putin and the cowardly Trump, who has so far failed to hold Putin to account. Reminded me of a similar explosion there when Russiagate finally got the attention the Dems thought it deserved.

    (Anyone think that the intel community pays a fee to each of the FP columnists whenever one of their a propaganda narratives needs a push to get it off the ground?)

    • July 4, 2020 at 08:52

      Udo Ulfkotte was a German journalist.

      He wrote a sensational book about the practices he experienced of the CIA paying German journalists to publish certain stories.

      The book was a big best seller in Germany.

      Its English translation was suppressed for years, but I believe is now available.

    • Susan Siens
      July 5, 2020 at 16:30

      Reply to John Chuckman: I’d love to read this book but it wasn’t available a few years ago when I looked. I’ll look again!

    • Voice from Europe
      July 6, 2020 at 11:52

      Gekaufte journalisten.
      Ulfkotte admitted he signed off on numerous articles that were prepared for him during his career. The last year’s of his life he changed his mores and advocated “better die in truth than live with lies”.

  16. Richard A.
    July 4, 2020 at 00:59

    I remember the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour from decades ago. Real experts on Russia like Dimitri Simes and Stephen Cohen were the ones to appear on that NewsHour. The NewsHour of today rarely has experts on Russia, just experts on Russia bashing–like Michael McFaul. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

  17. Antonia Young
    July 3, 2020 at 23:35

    Thank you, Ray for your clarion voice in the midst of WMD-seventeen-point-oh. Will the American people have the wisdom to notice how many times we’re being fooled? And finally wake up and stop supporting these questionable news outlets? With appreciation for your excellent analysis, as usual. ~Tonia Young (Formerly with the Topanga Peace Alliance)

    • July 4, 2020 at 11:55

      The majority of Americans have a lot more to worry about than the latest nonsense about Russia. I think most people just tune it out.
      The ones being fooled are the fools who have been lapping this crap up from the get go. The supposed educated class who think themselves superior and well informed because they read and listen to the propaganda of PBS, NPR, NYT etc.
      They don’t seem to realize the ship is sinking while they’re playing these ridiculous games.

    • Susan Siens
      July 5, 2020 at 16:34

      The supposedly educated class, yes! It can be stunning how people believe anything they hear on PBS or NPR, and then they make fun of people who believe anything they hear on Fox News. What’s the difference? Both are propaganda tools.

      And, yes, watch us go down in flames while so-called progressives boo-hoo about Trump thinking he’s above the law (like every other president before him). Our local “peace and justice” group sent me an email asking me to sign a petition supporting Robert Mueller. I was gobsmacked, and then I realized our local “peace and justice” group had been taken over by Democratic Party “resisters.” Jeezums, why is every word hijacked?

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