“Russia offered bounties to Afghan militants to kill US troops” – TTG

(CNN) –
Russian intelligence officers for the military intelligence GRU recently offered money to Taliban militants in Afghanistan as rewards if they killed US or UK troops there, a European intelligence official told CNN.

The official was unclear as to the precise Russian motivation, but said the incentives had, in their assessment, led to coalition casualties. The official did not specify as to the date of the casualties, their number or nationality, or whether these were fatalities or injuries. "This callous approach by the GRU is startling and reprehensible. Their motivation is bewildering," the official said.

This story was first reported by the New York Times.

US intelligence concluded months ago that Russian military intelligence offered the bounties, amid peace talks, the New York Times reported Friday. Citing officials briefed on the matter, the Times reported that President Donald Trump was briefed on the intelligence findings and that the White House's National Security Council held a meeting about it in late March.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement Saturday that the President and Vice President Mike Pence were not briefed "on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence." McEnany said her statement "does not speak to the merit of the alleged intelligence but to the inaccuracy of the New York Times story," which said Trump had been briefed. McEnany did not deny the validity of the reported US intelligence that a Russian intelligence unit offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to carry out attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan  (CNN)


Russia denies the story in its entirety. That’s to be expected. The Washington Post, Wall sStreet Journal, CNN and Sky News back up the NYT reporting through their sources. The White House doesn’t deny the intelligence reporting, but denies Trump was in the loop. McEnany’s insistence that Trump is clueless about this is either a damning indictment of the Trump administration or a damned lie. Either way, it’s not good. At any rate, it does appear this is another serious leak of classified information within the White House. That’s also not good.

So was Trump kept in the dark by his NSC? Did he just refuse to believe the IC reporting? Or did he not know whether to shit or go blind? Did he decide to keep this out of the public eye and quietly confront Putin about this episode in the continuing shadow war. That would be a reasonable response. Totally unsatisfying to me, our military and most of the American public, but reasonable from a realpolitik point of view.

Russia’s alleged action is not near as heinous as it may sound. Remember, we supported and supplied the Mujahideen with weapons to kill Soviet soldiers while they were in the process of withdrawing from Afghanistan. It does show that Russia is not our friend and Putin is not Trump’s friend. It doesn’t mean we have to go to war with each other, but we should realize our relationship is not akin to a herd of glitter fartin’ unicorns prancing across the rainbow bridge. 



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110 Responses to “Russia offered bounties to Afghan militants to kill US troops” – TTG

  1. Richard Tubbs says:

    Mid-March would be during Ric Grenelle’s tenure and he’s pushing back pretty hard on twitter. Sounds like our European friends stirring up more shit.

  2. blue peacock says:

    After Iraq WMD and Russia Collusion, we should ask for real evidence instead of the “top intelligence sources”. And we should not buy we can’t provide any evidence because of sources & methods.
    Be skeptical of anything published by Pravda on the Hudson and Pravda on the Potomac when it comes to intelligence matters. Especially months before a general election.

  3. Fred says:

    On to Moscow! Where’s Bomb’n Bolton when we need him?
    “a European intelligence official told CNN.”….. “The official did not specify as to the date of the casualties, their number or nationality, or whether these were fatalities or injuries.”
    So, unknown official, unknown date, unknown if there were any actual casualties.
    “The US concluded that the GRU was behind the interference in the 2016 US election and cyberattacks against the Democratic National Committee and top Democratic officials.”
    Quick, someone tell the House Impeachment Inquiry Committee! Oh, wait, that was Ukraine. What did Mueller collude, I mean conclude, about that Russian interference?
    Let me quote the former acting DNI:
    “You clearly don’t understand how raw intel gets verified. Leaks of partial information to reporters from anonymous sources is dangerous because people like you manipulate it for political gain.”
    I believe he was tweeting that to the press, but then they are doing this for political reasons. Lockdowns and socialist revolutionary riots must not be working in the left’s favor. I wonder why?

  4. Aurelius says:

    Why does this surprise anyone? It was ever thus…

  5. JamesT says:

    Putin claims that US intelligence agencies provided material support to terrorist groups (aka freedom fighters) in Chechnya (I presume during the first and second Chechyan wars). He hasn’t provided any proof, but I think he genuinely believes it.

  6. Leith says:

    We did something similar to them back in the 80s. Maybe not specifically paying assassins, but arming and supporting jihadis is close enough. So why would we be surprised that they would reciprocate. Or perhaps it is payback for the Battle of Kasham back in February 2018?
    I doubt Trump was not briefed. If he wasn’t then it would have been a complete cockup and dereliction of duty by Grenelle and PomPom, as well as Esper, General Milley, and General Miller.
    Stars and Stripes has also published the story. I bet it will be in the next edition of Army Times.

  7. Fred,
    The Mueller Report emphatically concluded that Russian interference in the 2016 election was “sweeping and systemic.” Major attack avenues included a social media “information warfare” campaign that “favored” candidate Trump and the hacking of Clinton campaign-related databases and release of stolen materials through Russian-created entities and Wikileaks. None of that is impeachable. Who would Congress impeach?
    The Republican led Senate Intel Committee also concluded the January 2017 ICA was correct and included specific intelligence reporting to support its assessment. Burr also said the ICA reflected strong tradecraft and sound analytical reasoning. Nothing in that was impeachable, either.
    What Russia does or doesn’t do has nothing to do with impeachment. What Trump does or doesn’t do doesn’t necessarily result in an impeachable offense, either. It could be a pursuing a different policy, which is his prerogative, or it could be stupefying incompetence.

  8. Yeah, Right says:

    On a practical note, how was a Taliban soldier militant meant to verify his claim to a bounty?
    I assume that scalping was not a feasible option, but if you are going to offer a bounty then you are going to want proof that the person claiming that bounty did, indeed, do the job.
    So if a coalition soldier died on *this* day how was a Talibani supposed to confirm to the GRU that “Yep, I did that. Where’s my money?”

  9. J says:

    Biden has chimed in on let’s use this to beat Trump over the head with.

  10. David Habakkuk says:

    You cannot, particularly given the recent record alike of Western intelligence agencies and our MSM, refer to a claim about the GRU as ‘alleged’, and then treat it as fact, and on that basis go on to draw large conclusions about Putin’s objectives, with radical implications for what represents a prudent policy for the United States.
    It seems that the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ approach to intelligence analysis and policy, which I discussed in a post three years ago, is not dead.
    (See https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/04/sentence-first-verdict-afterwards-a-revision-by-david-habakkuk-14-april-2017.html )

  11. Paco says:

    Who could really think that after 18 years of war the afghans need any payment or encouragement to target and murder the invaders? Puerility is rampant, when the cookie jar is empty.

  12. ancientarcher says:

    TTG, I think you are being led away from the truth by your significant bias against Russia. Those with a blinkered vision see only what they want to see. No mystery there.
    Now you want to portray NYT as the paragon of truth telling!! Haven’t we seen enough examples of the lying by Jewish owned neocon media, especially the Times? Now that the Russia-gate fire is nearly put out, these guys are pumping this story.
    You really need to understand the depth of hatred the Jews have for Russia and Russians that makes them like this. That’s the only country /civilisation that got away from their grasp just when they thought have got it. Not once, but twice in the last century.
    But then isn’t your ancestry from Lithuania. Your hatred is strong. I get that – I see that all time with people from the ex-Soviet republics formerly ruled by Russia. Hope others see that too.

  13. Jus,Thinkin says:

    The glitter farting unicorns on the rainbow bridge was great!

  14. turcopolier says:

    TTG et al
    When someone like Trump says he has a good relationship with you or even a GREAT relationship with you that means he thinks he can make a deal with you. It does not mean that he actually thinks you are his friend.

  15. Barbara Ann says:

    Regardless of its veracity, this story will definitely hit Trump where it hurts – chapeau to the individual(s) who conceived this work of fiction, if indeed it is so.
    Again, whether or not performance bonuses* were actually offered by the GRU, has anyone considered that this may still be a Russian Intelligence op?
    Perhaps we should first ask whether the Kremlin wants to deal with a US under another 4 years of Trump. From their FP POV, the huge uncertainty and instability they see in the US now will surely be ramped up to a whole new level, in the event that he is re-elected. And of course all hope that Trump may be able to improve the relationship with Russia was dashed long ago, by Russiagate and the ongoing Russophobia among the Borg. Jeffrey’s mission in Syria is a case in point. At least the US Deep State is the devil they know.
    If the answer to the above question is “no” it must surely be a trivial matter for the GRU to feed such a damaging story to Trump’s enemies in the USIC.
    * “bounties” is an emotive word, useful to Trump’s enemies, evoking individual pay for an individual death – real personal stuff. As others have pointed out the practicality of such a scheme seems improbable. Surely it is more likely that any such incentive pay would be for the group, upon coalition casualties confirmed in the aftermath of an attack. The distinction may not seem important, but the Resistance media can be relied upon to use language designed to inflict the most harm.

  16. Flavius says:

    ‘Intel’ without evidence is “bunk”. Have we learned nothing from Chrissy Steele and the Russiagate fiasco – I know a guy who knows a guy who said… the Russians are bad and Donald Trump is an a……e. Bob Mueller and 18 pissed off democrats have concluded that the Russians are systemically bad and Donald Trump is an a……e. 4 months before a Presidential election intel sources have revealed to the NYT that the Russians are very very bad and Donald Trump is an a……e. Ah yes, the New York Ridiculously Self Degraded Times has broken another important story. I wonder why? Enough already…and yes, we have made a systemic laughing stock of ourselves.
    Oh, and remind me again of why we’ve been staying around Kabul – something about improving the lot of women, or gays, or someone?

  17. Diana Croissant says:

    I’m personally not ready to “duck and cover” after reading this.
    I have accepted the fact that Russia is no longer the Soviet Union. I am watching television news at night but no longer see the clock ticking as I turn it off and go to sleep. So far, no one I know has taken to building a fallout shelter in his back yard.
    I want an answer to this question: Whatever happened to the pillow and blanket I had to bring to school and store in the school’s basement in case we all had to retreat there and be locked down in it during the bombing? Who do I go to to get reparations for the cost of those items? (I was never given the opportunity to retrieve them when I graduated.) Did Khrushchev have to take his shoe to a cobbler after using it to pound on the table while threatening to bury us?

  18. Babak makkinejad says:

    The rebuttal from Russia.
    Which raises the ante by making very very serious accusations of drug trade by US Intelligence.

  19. Charlie Wilson says:

    I think the killing of soldiers should be strictly forbidden. Only civilians should be targeted. It is easier and no one gives a shit.

  20. Fred says:

    Mueller concluded that the Obama administration and the Hilary campaign were defeated by “sweeping and systemic.” interference of the Russians? Why again did the DOJ dropped charges on the “trolls” – no actual evidence that would need to be produced in court or was that just more proof of OMB being on the take? That social media campaign, is that like the one that just interfered in the US election by obtaining tickets to the Trump rally in Tulsa and then not showing up because thousands were not US citizens and not in the US? Or is that OK and but advertisements that cost less than George Floyd’s rent which were seen almost no one yet somehow managed to swing an election? If that’s the case why isn’t Hilary running again, she won more votes than Biden ever did or will.

  21. Babak,
    There’s a rich history of stories about USI involvement in the drug trade. CIA was involved in the heroin trade during the Viet Nam War. The Iran-Contra mess involved selling Columbian cocaine to help finance Nicaraguan anti-Communist rebels. US involvement in the Afghanistan drug trade has been talked about for years. As I said, there are no glitter fartin’ unicorns here.

  22. Babak makkinejad says:

    The Iranian statistics do not lie. Transhipment of drugs across Iran from Afghanistan has been increasing since the American invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.
    The US Office of Foreign Asset Control, the US DIA, the CIA etc. are powerless to do anything about that but are, evidently, all powerfull against USD transactions of the Iranian government.

  23. srw says:

    So I am to believe that “Putin the Poisoner”, ex KGB officer would not put a bounty on allied troops in Afghanistan?

  24. Fred,
    The DOJ only dropped charges against two of Prigozhin’s companies. The case against the IRA and 13 trolls still stands. Prigozhin was able to use Concord’s business status and his lawyers’ “client, not client” status to dig out evidence on the case without exposing himself to the court. His strategy was both brilliant and cynical.
    The K-pop and Tik-Tok trolling of Parscale and the Trump rally was brilliant and cost not a dime. It didn’t limit the attendance of the rally since sign up was not limited. It did screw up Parscale’s data collection and tricked him into believing there was more enthusiasm for Trump that there actually was. It embarrassed him and Trump. And yes, this methodology is closely related to what the Russians did in 2016 except the Tik-Tok trolling was masterminded by a 51 year old Iowan grandmother rather than a former Russian KGB officer.

  25. Babak,
    I’m not trying to deny USI involvement in any of this drug dealing. Or defend it in any way. It’s despicable and shameful. All of it.

  26. Boy, I never thought I’d see TTG be so gullible. The NY Times story is being rolled out in conjunction with British reporting, which oddly claims the same thing. The provenance of this so-called intelligence is so thin and questionable that it is natural to ask who has the agenda and what is their goal? Creating and maintaining the Russian boogey man as the ultimate threat does not serve US National Security interests. The Russians have been pretty consistent over the last 20 years about eliminating radical Islamists. They, unlike many in the United States, understand the threat.
    So, here is their “brilliant” super secret plan–ally themselves with the guys they spent ten years fighting in Afghanistan, pay them to kill Americans and Brits and other US allies with the understanding that their super secret plan will be discovered and will be used as justification for attacking Russia. Yeah, that makes total sense. Russians are stupid, don’t cha know.

  27. CK says:

    The USA needs its boogieman under the bed.
    When it is under a child’s bed the answer is warm milk cookies and a mommies hug.
    When it is under a IC person’s bed the answer is heroin, hookers and cold cash.
    When we leave Afghanistan and its poppy fields to the Taliban they may just do what they had done 20 years ago … close down the trade.
    That would mean that the only readily available supply of nod juice would be Chinese Fentanyl or Mexican Brown.

  28. turcopolier says:

    TTG et al
    This Skynews report makes it sound like this is a British story based on British leaks of one of their own parliamentary documents. If that is so, then the story may have been rejected by the US IC and never briefed to the WH. https://news.sky.com/…/russia-paid-taliban-fighters-to…

  29. turcopolier says:

    So thin skinned! And so intended to intimidate to achieve silence. Obvious troll.

  30. Leith says:

    Three years ago General John Nicholson, Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, testified before the Senate about Russian support to the Talibs.
    Two years ago in an interview with BBC he repeated the charge that the Russians were supporting and arming the Taliban. He quoted stories written in Taliban media sources about support from the Russians. He also cited captured Russian-made night vision goggles, medium and heavy machine guns as well as small arms. He says that although the Russians and Talibs are not natural allies, they use the narrative of ISIS fighters in Afghanistan as justification for legitimizing support.

  31. Mark Logan says:

    Assuming this is based on true events for the moment, is there a significant chance this could’ve been a false flag cover for an op by someone else? Thinking along the lines of the Israeli’s “We’re CIA” assassination ops of nuclear engineers in Iran here. Would the Paki intell services or even Iran attempt this in Afghanistan, perhaps?
    A Russian motive is difficult to imagine in this for me. Mindless revenge for what happened forty years ago strikes me as just barely plausible. I had thought the Russians fear radical Islam as much or more than we do, so I can imagine them paying bounties to Talibs for ISIL scalps much easier than US ones, were they interested enough to play in that sandbox at all.

  32. Jack says:

    I never heard this. And it’s disgusting how you continue to politicize intelligence. You clearly don’t understand how raw intel gets verified. Leaks of partial information to reporters from anonymous sources is dangerous because people like you manipulate it for political gain.

    Ric Grenell responding to a accusatory tweet by Ted Lieu.
    And there’s the obligatory POTUS tweet.

    The Fake News @ nytimes must reveal its “anonymous” source. Bet they can’t do it, this “person” probably does not even exist!

    Let The NY Times show what it got! We’ll be waiting with bated breath. Propaganda all the time. 24×7. There can be no rational discourse in the USA.

  33. JMH says:

    “The K-pop and Tik-Tok trolling of Parscale and the Trump rally was brilliant and cost not a dime. It didn’t limit the attendance of the rally since sign up was not limited.”
    Are you sure? AOC for one applauded this is as well but remember, Congress shall not abridge the right of the people to peacefully assemble.
    “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) credited “teens on TikTok” for the lower than expected turnout at President Trump’s rally on Saturday night in Tulsa, Okla., his first since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.” The Hill

  34. Leith says:

    @Mark Logan: “revenge for what happened forty years ago”
    Well there are still a lot of sore hineys in Moscow for that and for the glorification of it in Hollywood stunts like RamboIII.
    Or more likely it could be revenge for the deaths of the Wagner Group Mercs in Syria just two years ago: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Khasham#Unofficial_Russian_sources_version

  35. akaPatience says:

    Trump’s been trying to get us out of Afghanistan for a long time. Yet there are those who are making a BFD over the report, as though we’re supposed to impeach the POTUS or start WWIII because of the allegation. Who are all of the dead soldiers killed by Russian-paid bounty hunters anyway, and what proof is there that they were killed at Putin’s directive?
    This story seems like more of a non-story, instigated by those who are still trying to maintain the Russian Hoax: the MSM/Resistance, neocon warmongers/NeverTrumpers, et al. As the election grows nigh, Leftists and their allies on the Right are getting more and more shrill and unhinged, demanding conformity of thought and grasping for ways to maintain the perpetual outrage of their ranks over Any. Little. Thing. Sorest of losers, all. I have a feeling they’ll still be filled with anger even if Biden wins — I noticed a growing number of perpetually aggrieved even while Obama was still POTUS. Is it something in the water?

  36. Fred says:

    So you researched where all the people gathering tickets to that event came from, or just concluded the published press reports are accurate?

  37. pl,
    The Sky News story says a British security official is confirming the reports are true. It doesn’t sound like this defense official originated the story. Some are now speculating whether Boris Johnson was briefed or if he was kept in the dark. The Brits will demand an in-person answer from their government on Monday. A CNN report refers to a British security official. Might be the same source. NYT and WaPo refer to US officials for their sources.

  38. Fred,
    I probably saw the same press reports you did. Who knows where they all live? It was done online.

  39. turcopolier says:

    You are usually good at reading between the lines. Usually. It does not sound that way to me. The implication in the article is that this “story” exists in the report cited and that this is what has been planted in the US media. We will see.

  40. walrus says:

    This story is obvious crap and it is purveyed by obvious Democrat shills – the NYT, quoting obvious anti Trump sources that have a well earned reputation for lying – the Five eyesintelligence community.
    Why would anyone give this story a grain of credibility?
    Even without that, I can think of a heap of perfectly acceptable Russian engagements with the Taliban – exactly like our own.
    – Is the taliban going to be the next government in Afghanistan? Probably.
    – Do the US,Britain and Russia talk to the taliban? definitely.
    – Does everyone supply the Taliban with weapons? Yes – at times we all have, although the place is swimming in weapons anyway.
    – Do we or the Russians pay the Taliban and others for intelligence? Of course we do.
    – Would we or the Russians pay for salvaged equipment of technical interest? Of course.
    – Would the Russians pay for documents and details of American or NATO casualties? I would think not, because it would encourage killing for money and their own special forces become targets because the Afghans are entrepreneurial, as evidenced by the “trade” in live bodies for the torture program.

  41. turcopolier says:

    You are repeating the same error in logic that Habakkuk criticized you for. You say there are many “stories” and then you treat these stories as proven facts. Are you the sole author of this line?

  42. D says:

    This whole “story” stinks to high heaven. Judy Miller redux – regime-change info ops, coordinated across multiple media organizations. I happen to dislike Trump, Pompeo et al as much as the next person but here we have, yet again, another “scoop” with zero actual evidence, only the say-so of some nameless “intel officials,” whose jobs might be described more accurately as state propaganda managers.
    How many more times are people gonna fall for this same routine? Even the Wapo, WSJ “confirmations” are a bait-and-switch. The only thing they confirm is that intel officials are indeed pushing this story, not its veracity. It’s a circular claim — like Cheney citing NYT “confirmation” of the unproven allegations his own office had passed on to Judy Miller.
    You can only speculate as to why this, why now. Just six months ago it was Iranians — per Pompeo and his own cadre of “intel officials” — who were offering bounties and sponsoring their own spoiler wing of the Taliban. So maybe it’s a pre-fab “story” already in the propaganda repertory. The motive? Obviously it’s to revive the Russiagate zombie one more time and make it go the distance — the full four years of the Trump admin. And it creates media bubble pressure to extend the Afghan occupation. The kind of pressure that seems to have worked like a charm in case of Syria — where Trump’s order somehow got modified from withdrawal to open-ended occupation and oil-thievery.
    The relationship between flagship media and their contacts in the “intelligence community” isn’t journalism. It’s the relationship an advertising agency has to a client. They market the client’s product and get paid in “scoops” and, with it, increased traffic.

  43. Personanongrata says:

    Italicized/bold text was excerpted from Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says found at the Grey Lady Down:
    The disclosure comes at a time when Mr. Trump has said he would invite Mr. Putin to an expanded meeting of the Group of 7 nations, but tensions between American and Russian militaries are running high.
    What a startling coincidence.
    What would the Russians hope to gain? Revenge?
    If it was revenge the Russians sought they could have simply sat back and let the Taliban continue on with business as usual without having to break a sweat or get their hands dirty – while sitting back and snickering at the futility of US efforts in Afghanistan.
    Has there been any evidence presented to support the anonymous European intelligence officials extraordinary claims?
    The Gray Lady Down report only offers other Russia bad stories which are light on evidence and heavy on innuendo.

  44. Serge says:

    My only question is, and I can’t find any answer to this(please someone direct me if they know, which militants?

  45. Fred says:

    One more planted story like the Steele Dossier to give the left something to investigate.

  46. FakeBot says:

    It sounds like more of the same old sabotage Trump has been dealing with since assuming office. Why else would this leak and why else would Trump be left out of the loop? This reminds me of what Harry Reid once said on CNN during the 2016 election: intelligence officials should lie to Trump in briefings.
    Trump and these officials need to set aside the pettiness and do what’s right. That means pulling out of Afghanistan in a timely and appropriate manner without putting lives at risk.

  47. Serge,
    Taliban. This is from another NYT article out today.
    “The crucial information that led the spies and commandos to focus on the bounties included the recovery of a large amount of American cash from a raid on a Taliban outpost that prompted suspicions. Interrogations of captured militants and criminals played a central role in making the intelligence community confident in its assessment that the Russians had offered and paid bounties in 2019, another official has said.”

  48. Leith,
    I seriously doubt it’s a case of revenge for our support of the mujahideen against the Soviet Army or our shooting up of a Wagner-led group of Syrian militia in the oil fields of eastern Syria. That would be an emotional response and not at all characteristic of Russian or even Soviet military decisions.
    Why would the Russians attempt something like this? Certainly they know Trump’s desire to pull out of Afghanistan under the appearance of a negotiated settlement. Either they want to scuttle/complicate those negotiations to either make our pull out appear to be a surrender and retreat or force us to keep troops in Afghanistan. In that case it would remain an ineffective, festering sore on our government and society. In short, the Russians want to tinker around the edges and make things difficult for us.
    In either case it would contribute to the Russian objective of undermining US political and social unity and weakening our ability and will to constantly throw our weight around the world. There’s nothing sinister about that objective. In fact, I fully agree our foreign policy needs its wings clipped. I just wish we’d do it on our own. There’s also nothing sinister about encouraging some proxy force to act against a competitor nation in a war zone to assist in order to meet that objective. Damned near every country that is capable of doing it does it in one form or another, especially the US.

  49. pl,
    Those many stories and investigations about USI involvement in drug trafficking are cases of our willful ignorance or active policy of laissez faire towards allies engaged in drug trafficking. Drugs were trafficked and we were there.

  50. Larry Johnson says:

    Your claims about US drug trafficking via the Contras is a leftwing myth. Fascinated that you’d fall for the crap. I actually have a lot of first hand knowledge about that, having worked the Central American Task Force at CIA, having been the senior Regional Analyst for Central America, and my business relationship with the former head of DEA’s International Ops and the Agent in charge of the undercover money laundering ops in NYC. Eden Pastora’s involvement in drug trafficking was taking place outside the control of the CIA. Gary Webb’s delusional claims were without foundation. You, for some reason, seem to accept them at face value. Why?

  51. optimax says:

    The Taliban doesn’t need a Russian bounty to kill American soldiers. It would be a waste of money to pay for something the Taliban do anyway. Does the NYT believe the Taliban are motivated only by money?

  52. JP Billen says:

    Revenge is not the only possible motive. Disruption of the US/Taliban/AfghanGov peace negotiations allows the Russian peace negotiations for Afghanistan to go forward. Those negotiations have been going on and off for three years. As Leith mentioned above Russian support to the Taliban started about three years ago. Coincidence? By the way Rex Tillerson when he was SecState also claimed the Russians were arming the Taliban. Anyway if the US peace negotiations fail and the Russians succeed it is a win-win for Moscow’s world rep. Of course they want to mess up any US deal with the Taliban to give their own deal a chance of success.
    Any deal they make will necessitate that the the Taliban not spread their message north of the Afghan border into the former Soviet -stans that Moscow considers as within its sphere of influence. That may work for the current crop of Taliban but it may turn out shortsighted as there are some small Uzbeki-Afghan and Tajik-Afghan Taliban factions that may never want to stop spreading Sharia.
    Or the bounties could be a false flag as someone else here mentioned. Pakistani ISI? Al-Qaeda? The Pakistani branch of the Taliban? China allegedly has unofficial relations with the Taliban but with their problem in Xinjiang you would think they would never actively support Islamic fundamentalists. Qatar? They were accused of supporting Taliban terrorism in Afghanistan, but their accuser was Saudi Arabia so is probably BS IMHO.

  53. Larry,
    So you don’t think there wasn’t any drug trafficking around the Contras? Now you’re guilty of willful ignorance. But if Gary Webb is that guy claiming the CIA is responsible for flooding Los Angeles with crack cocaine, I agree with you. That’s total bullshit.

  54. Christian J. Chuba says:

    “The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN and Sky News back up the NYT reporting through their sources.”

    Does this mean that each one contacted different source in the govt to verify the story or that they verified that the NYT contact was actually a govt employee and not the Easter Bunny?
    Given the timing of the story, its more plausible that someone in the Intel community took a weak source, perhaps a single POW making an unverifiable claim and leaked it to make it harder for Trump to do any of the following … 1. withdraw troops from Germany, 2. Make the G7 into the G8 by letting Russia back in, 3. reinforce the Russians are despicable narrative (always a win).
    Everyone in the MSM accepts this as an indisputable fact. It must be intoxicating to be able to leak a story and have everyone accept it without challenge.
    And I’ll add … the NATO countries in Europe would be more willing to pay a premium for U.S. and Qatar LNG vs Russian NG if they find out that Russia is using their money to kill their soldiers.
    The ONLY rational reason I heard why Russia would do this came from what I consider a marginal website, Veterans today. Gordon Duff said that the Russians did this to deter madman Trump from killing more Russians in Syria. I don’t buy the theory but at least it proposes a rational motive while the MSM didn’t even need a rational motive.

  55. Jack says:

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

    Who was the “source” of the leak?
    It seems that as Ric Grenell noted. There was some raw intel that on investigation didn’t meet the smell test. Someone who had access to that and is a buddy to a favorite Times reporter gave them something to spin to further the narrative that Trump is beholden to Putin.

  56. likbez says:

    @ancientarcher | 28 June 2020 at 08:16 AM

    Now you want to portray NYT as the paragon of truth-telling!! .
    …But then isn’t your ancestry from Lithuania. Your hatred is strong. I get that – I see that all time with people from the ex-Soviet republics formerly ruled by Russia. Hope others see that too.

    You hit the nail. TTG sometimes sounds really like a Ukrainian nationalist on those issues.
    That means that TTG simply can’t think strategically in this case due to his bias.
    If Russia wanted to hurt the USA in Afghanistan then Strela launchers would be in hands of Taliban long ago with plausible deniability that they obtained them from Libya.
    The problem with thinking of people like TTG is that for Russia, the USA presence in Afghanistan is actually useful.
    As in “never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake”.
    Afghanistan occupation is a part of “Full Spectrum Dominance” play and, as such is a blunder. The USA simply does not has the resources for world control, despite the dominance of neocons who are ready to fight for it to the last dollar.
    The especially prominent attitude in the State Department and NSC (Bolton is a nice example of those MIC bottom-feeders)
    It drains the USA resources, and it turns the people of Asian xUSSR republics (so called Stans) against the USA and as such, makes neocolonialist policies in xUSSR republics more difficult.

  57. J says:

    President Trump tweeted on Sunday night that U.S. intelligence “just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or [Vice President Mike Pence]”. The Taliban have also ridiculed the report.

  58. Yeah, Right says:

    Personanongrata, I tend to agree. If it is dead GIs the Russians want then all they need to do is to run guns to the Taliban.
    It’s not as if the Taliban will then take those guns, say “gee, thanks”, and then go out duck-hunting. They’d be after bigger game.
    But this? A bounty, which would require a payment on proof of a kill?
    As Larry Johnson so sarcastically said: “Yeah, that makes total sense. Russians are stupid, don’t cha know.”
    I don’t believe it.
    It makes about as much sense as Russia’s equally-sarcastic insinuation that an uptick in dead GIs may be the result of a CIA protecting its illegal drug business like a Mafia Don.
    At least the Russians have some reason to take offense.
    The USA, eh, perhaps less so.

  59. Fred says:

    “undermining US political and social unity”
    I can’t wait to see a story on what the Chinese have been up to in doing precisely that with billions in investment funds to children of prominent politicians, bribes to academics, NGO cultural centers,operatives sent to the using ‘student’ as cover, or work via H1B visa holders.

  60. turcopolier says:

    What investigations and by whom?

  61. Christian J. Chuba says:

    CNN is a parody of a bad news outlet
    CNN outdid itself by interviewing Clapper this morning. Host re-capped story and said ‘if true’ about a dozen times.
    Trump followed his ‘I was not briefed tweet’ with a stronger, ‘the intel guys told him this was not credible’. Trump can be a buffoon but in his version of events …
    1. Intel comm is flooded with stuff to verify, ‘Russian hit contracts’, ‘Putin kidnapped Lindbergh baby’, ‘Loch Ness monster a GRU agent’, …. that doesn’t immediately get to his desk.
    2. Anon source leaks one of these early claims for their own purpose (seeing Clapper reminds us that this does happen),
    3. It takes him a day to sort it out.
    True or not, this looks plausible but sets off alarm bells to the CNN Clown Car.
    Clapper says brilliant things like Trump could be finessing the truth by getting a written but not a verbal brief. Host shakes head at wise observation and follows up with more ‘if true’ questions for the proven liar …
    CNN defends the most reactionary elements of our security state and snarls at anyone who challenges them. With watchdogs like these what can go wrong?

  62. David Habakkuk says:

    I think what is going on in Britain may hold the key to understanding why this contemptible nonsense is being published in the U.S. at this time.
    The ‘Sky’ link did not work for me, but I think this is the same report:
    (See https://news.sky.com/story/russia-paid-taliban-fighters-to-attack-british-troops-in-afghanistan-12016425 )
    It needs, I think, to be read in conjunction with a report in the ‘Guardian’ on 27 June, which it amplifies.
    (See https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/27/russia-offered-bounty-to-kill-uk-soldiers .)
    The earlier report opened:
    ‘The Russian intelligence unit behind the attempted murder in Salisbury of the former double agent Sergei Skripal secretly offered to pay Taliban-linked fighters to kill British and American soldiers in Afghanistan, according to US reports.
    ‘The revelation piles pressure on the UK to take robust action against the Kremlin amid continuing anger over the government’s delay in publishing a key report on Russian attempts to destabilise the UK.’
    The ‘Sky’ piece actually makes clear that these are claims originating in the United States, one of whose key purposes is to put pressure on the British government:
    ‘It is understood the intelligence was only shared with British officials recently but Boris Johnson has now been briefed. Downing Street will be under pressure to respond to the news and take action against Moscow.’
    Another relevant development, although how this fits into the picture is at the moment very far from clear to me, is that the announcement yesterday that the former MI6 person Sir Mark Sedwill,who has been ‘National Security Adviser’ since 2017 and Cabinet Secretary since 2018, is to stand down in September.
    The ‘intelligence unit’ supposedly to have been responsible alike for attempting to assassinate Sergei and Yulia Skripal and placing a ‘bounty’ on the head of American, and British, servicemen belongs to the GRU – their supposed target’s former employer – which comes under General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
    If you believe that unit of this organisation sent two hitmen, equipped with a hypertoxic nerve agent, to kill one of his organisation’s former employees, and bungled it so badly that he, together with his daughter, survived, I have a very attractive bridge on the Thames, not far from where I live, which I am very happy to sell you.
    If you believe that any employees of this organisation would be involved in ‘freelance’ assassinations, either of its former employees or of British and American servicemen, without Gerasimov’s authorisation, I will include the MI6 HQ at Millbank, to make a ‘package deal.’
    Interested, TTG?
    Rather clearly, the link between the new BS, and the patent BS about Salisbury – in the cover-up over which Sedwill has played a crucial role – very strongly suggests that we are dealing with yet another of the collusive ‘information operations’ practised by incompetent and corrupt elements in the ‘deep state’ in the U.S., U.K. and Western Europe.
    This clearly linked to a ‘bulldogs under the carpet’ struggle which goes to the top of the Conservative Party, and also beyond it. The ‘Sky’ version starts with Tobias Ellwood, the Tory MP who chairs the Commons Defence Select Committee, using the new claims to agitate for publication of what the ‘Guardian’ termed ‘a key report on Russian attempts to destabilise the UK.’
    This report, by the Intelligence and Security Committee, is clearly being deployed to put pressure on Johnson, as repeated references to it in both the ‘Guardian’ and ‘Sky’ versions indicate.
    So, having started with it, the latter concludes:
    ‘News of this Russian plan, and the direct targeting of British troops, will again raise the question of when the long overdue report into Russian interference by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) will be published.
    ‘The report, which examined claims of Russian interference in Britain, was sent to Downing Street on 17 October last year for sign-off.
    ‘That process usually takes no more than 10 days, but the report is still yet to be published and the ISC hasn’t been reconvened after December’s general election.’
    As the ‘Guardian’ report indicates, however, a crucial element in all this is clearly Christopher Steele:
    ‘In his confidential submission to the committee, the former spy Christopher Steele has reportedly suggested that the Kremlin has a “likely hold” over Trump, a claim that has been fiercely disputed but which would sour the government’s relations with the White House once published. “These worrying reports should be the catalyst for the prime minister to finally release the ISC report No. 10 have been stalling for more than six months,” said shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy. “Under this government, Britain is retreating from the world stage and the fear among our allies is that Boris Johnson is afraid to stand up to Vladimir Putin’s Russia.”
    ‘Lib Dem spokesman Alistair Carmichael echoed the call for the ISC report to be published:
    ‘“These reports throw up serious questions about Trump’s soft-touch when it comes to Russia. The Foreign Secretary must also make clear whether the UK had any knowledge of these reports and what conversations he has had with his US counterpart about sanctions towards Russia given these shocking revelations.”’
    The crux of the matter, however, may well have to do with the cases brought against Steele and his company Orbis by the ‘Alfa Group’ oligarchs – Petr Aven, Mikhail Fridman, and German Khan – and the Cyprus-based internet entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev.
    The very broad construction of ‘fair report privilege’ which means that in your country, so long the rubbish you print has been given some kind of endorsement by corrupt government officials, there is no redress for those lied about, is not available in the U.K.
    On the other hand, maintaining a kind of ‘omerta’ is much easier over here than on your side.
    On 29 April, a ‘chink’ opened in this, when Chuck Ross, of the ‘Daily Caller’, posted on ‘Scribd’ the transcript of the cross-examination of Steele by Hugh Tomlinson, QC, on behalf of the Alfa oligarchs, on 17-18 March.
    (See https://www.scribd.com/document/458992503/Steele-deposition .)
    Unfortunately, Ross seems to have fallen, hook, line and sinker, for a classic ‘limited hangout’ ploy. He was happy to use Tomlinson’s exploitation of the IG Report to discredit Steele, which was in parts extremely telling, without noticing that that some of Steele’s responses were not simply to be dismissed.
    If you read the transcript carefully, it seems clear that the successive changes in Steele’s account, in the four witness statements he submitted between 17 February and 16 March, were designed both to suggest that Horowitz and the FBI were colluding to make him the ‘patsy’, to reveal some of what they were trying to conceal, and to threaten to let out more.
    As it happens, we are still waiting for the judgement by Mr Justice Warby in that case. However, it was reported on 25 June that the Gubarev case is to open on 20 July, and this will be public.
    (See https://www.law360.com/cybersecurity-privacy/articles/1286611/exec-s-libel-trial-over-trump-dossier-author-set-for-july .)
    At the moment, for what it is worth, my SWAG is that we are seeing a collusive ‘stitch-up’, one of whose functions is to find ways of avoiding finding in favour of Steele – very difficult, given the preposterous nature of the dossier – while letting him off sufficiently lightly to ensure that he colludes in keeping crucial skeletons within cupboards. It may also be important that the verdicts do not appear to vindicate Trump too comprehensively.
    The ‘NYT’ report is, I think, likely to be involved with this process.
    Also involved here is the hope clearly visible among so many that Biden will be elected, and any danger either of the ‘skeletons’ accumulated during three decades of fatuous and corrupt policymaking, or of more sensible policies, will be over.
    My suspicion is that if Trump’s people had more ‘killer instinct’, they would be looking to get hold of all the material which has been produced in the London cases asap, and see what use can be made of it to ‘unmask’ a subversive conspiracy which there is every reason to believe goes right to the top of the Democratic establishment.
    At the moment, however, both they, and their co-conspirators and ‘useful idiots’ of whom we appear to have some here on SST, appear to be really quite likely to get away it: partly because of their own utter lack of any sense of integrity or honour, but also because of the lack of ‘killer instinct’ on the part of their opponents.

  63. Deap says:

    RE: the spectre of drug trading in US foreign engagements. The inability to even mention the role of drugs in failed US black communities, as well in all the recent high profile “police shooting” deaths of blacks is curious.
    Why the silent treatment on this critically pivotal issue? How much “black rage” comes from the ravages of drugs in these very same communities — but no one dares talk about it .Let alone do anything about it.
    Stopping covid pales to the challenge of stopping the real killer; abusive drugs destroying US lives and communities -black and white. Brown, yellow, olive.

  64. Eliot says:

    Absolutely agreed, top to bottom.
    The only scenario where this makes sense, is if the Russians were engaging in some sort of emotional revenge scheme – which is ludicrous.
    To buy this story ignoring Russian character, it’s not how they think, and it’s not how they see us.
    And you have to overlook the sober competence that marks their foreign policy.
    Look at how they made up with Turkey, after Erdogan ordered the shoot down of the SU. Russia did make the Turks pay, but they weren’t fools, they didn’t sacrifice the relationship. They understood there were things to be be gained by leveraging Turkey away from NATO.
    And in what world do the Afghans need an incentive to attack US forces.
    Warfare is the national sport.
    – Eliot

  65. Jack says:

    U.S. diplomat Chas Freeman: “China is fully integrated into the global economy…Trying to contain China, we’re more likely to end up containing ourselves. We need to…realize that the monopolies on wealth and power that we once had are no longer there.”

    This comment is not about Russia but about the mindset in our political, economic and foreign policy establishment that has enabled the strengthening of our adversaries.
    One thing we can be certain – the neocon and neoliberal policy mavens have weakened the US and it’s national interest over the past 50 years. The question is how have enemies of US national interest captured all levers of power and sustained it for decades? The exploration of this question would be about real reflection and introspection about our body politic.

  66. Leith says:

    TTG –
    It is true that revenge can be an emotional response. But in Russia it can also be construed as a message either to your own people or to the world. Although I do like better the theory of competing peace negotiations put forward by JPB.
    In any case you need to watch your back as it seems the character assassins have been let loose and they are libeling you here.

  67. turcopolier says:

    “and they are libeling you here.” Examples?

  68. David Habakkuk says:

    Actually, the alliance of a certain traditional ‘Anglo’ kind of ‘Russophobe’, like Tobias Ellwood, whom I mentioned in my previous comment, and the ‘insulted and injured’ from the former Russian and Soviet empires, does now involve a very substantial number of influential Jews, on both sides of the Atlantic.
    Given the obvious continuities between what is happening now and the way that Neville Chamberlain and Colonel Beck between them successfully pushed pushed Hitler and Stalin together – see on this in particular the work of the Israeli historian Gabriel Gorodetsky – there are ironies.
    It is, of course, given the long history of Russian anti-Semitism, understandable in its way.
    However, as our host, channelling Captain Jack Aubrey, notes on another thread, politics is very often a matter of choosing ‘the lesser of two weevils.’
    It is also commonly a matter of avoiding situations where one’s choice has unexpected, and unwanted, effects on the preferences of others: as when Stalin in August 1939 decided that making terms with Hitler was the ‘lesser weevil.’
    (For a recent concise restatement and defence by Gorodetsky of his view of the period, see an ‘H-Diplo’ discussion of Stephen Kotkin’s ‘Stalin. Waiting for Hitler, 1929-41’ at
    As to the views of figures like Victoria Nuland, David Kramer, and Jonathan Winer on the ‘choice of weevils’ at the moment, there are aspects which, I must admit, I find puzzling.
    An entry, headlined ‘Putin and Religion’, from a site called ‘ReligionFacts’, provides some accurate information about the Putin ‘sistema’:
    ‘Buddhism, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are defined by law as Russia’s traditional religions and a part of Russia’s historical heritage. These religions have enjoyed limited state support in the Putin era.’
    (See http://www.religionfacts.com/putin .)
    Also in that entry, you will find a quotation from Putin, in 2014 – that is, in the wake of the crisis created by events on the ‘Maidan’ the previous year – writing of how: ‘It was in Crimea, in the ancient city of Chersonesus or Korsun, as ancient Russian chroniclers called it, that Grand Prince Vladimir was baptised before bringing Christianity to Rus.’
    That was in 988, at any absolutely central point in the formation of Russian ‘national identity.’
    At no point in the subsequent thousand years had any ruler of ‘Rus’ described Judaism as one of Russia’s ‘traditional religions’ and ‘a part of Russia’s historical heritage.’
    As I actually think a good few Jews who came to Israel from the Soviet Union realise, it would have been inconceivable when they were young.
    However, the likes of Nuland, Kramer and Winer have preferred to intrigue with ‘Banderistas’ – the heirs of the architects of the Lvov pogrom, if you’ve heard of that – in an attempt to wrest the whole of Ukraine, including Crimea, and Sevastopol, away from Russia.
    And they have preferred to attempt to topple Putin in cahoots with Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky, who, as well as being Jewish and part-Jewish, were among the more disreputable representatives of the ‘semibankirshchina’ which looted Russia under Yeltsin, and who in general Russian ‘deplorables’, who were thrown into poverty at the time, do not much like.
    (Indeed, I rather suspect a good few of their fellow-countrymen came to think figures like Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky would have looked to advantage dangling from lamp-posts.)
    Ironically perhaps, some of the best Western commentators on this history – among other things, on neo-Nazis in Ukraine – are Jewish: obvious names include Stephen F. Cohen, Vladimir Golstein, Eric Kraus, and Yasha Levine.
    But I do sometimes wonder whether there is a kind of ‘Cassandra’s curse’ – that, in a way that was certainly not true in the past, Jewish refugees from the former Russian Empire in the U.S. U.K., and Western Europe, and their descendants, cease to be heard when they are challenging silly conventional wisdoms, but have a ‘fast track’ to the top, if they habitually talk rubbish.
    One of the most incisive, and amusing, ‘Cassandras’, ironically, is Eric Kraus, who was for many years a fund manager based in Moscow, but now seems to be sailing the seas, (a combination of ‘Wandering Jew’ and ‘Flying Dutchman’, perhaps?) as the result of what appears to have been a spectacularly acrimonious divorce from his Russian wife.
    His principal unheeded prophecy is that the kind of policies which Western élites have followed since 1989 would inevitably have the effect of making Putin and other Russians see China as, by far, ‘the lesser weevil’: which, given the dramatic increase in that country’s economic strength, was hardly going to be in the best interests of either Europeans or Americans.
    One of Eric’s ‘party pieces’ is an email exchange he once had with Michael McFaul. As he recalled in a market commentary in 2012, after the beginning of that figure’s – disastrous – stint as Ambassador in Moscow:
    ‘Very amusingly, T&B still has an e-mail sent ten years ago by Mr. McFaul, then a Stanford professor, that “Russia was so afraid of China that they would be compelled to seek a military alliance with America under whatever terms the US chose to impose”. Failure has obviously gone to his head, and he has moved on to great things – as a singularly incompetent and provocative ambassador, he is now contributing to the growing rift between Moscow and Washington. Beijing should be grateful….’
    As a few quick Google searches will inform you, in addition to being in charge of the GRU, General Gerasimov is an absolutely pivotal figure in the steadily increasing military co-operation – not alliance, as yet at least – between Russia and China.
    The reports we have been discussing restate two old charges, which are related to another piece of BS – the notion of a ‘Gerasimov Doctrine.’
    So, in addition to supposedly have intervened in favour of Trump by hacking the emails of the DNC, it is suggested that his people have pioneered chemical terrorism with their supposed attack on the Skripals. In addition to this, it is now suggested that he places a ‘bounty’ on the head of American, and British, servicemen.
    Frankly, if when he sits down with General Li Zuocheng, the chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission of the People’s Republic of China, Gerasimov feels a sense of relief, and perhaps indeed being among friends, it would hardly be surprising.
    And if Western military planners begin to think that, actually, there may be problems if the kind of discussions now under way greatly increase the ability of both Russian and more particularly Chinese naval forces to inflict devastating damage on American, or British, forces, they may, in the dim and distant future, begin to realise that disseminating this kind of BS has costs.
    An irony of course is that the problem for Chamberlain really was that the choice of ‘weevils’ was unappetising, to put it rather mildly. There were many, and hardly surprising or discreditable, reasons why willingness to allow the Red Army to implement its war plans by advancing into Europe became a ‘sticking point.’
    What they were too obtuse to realise was that the effect of this was to offer Stalin a ‘weevil’ which he concluded, quite rightly, involved an unacceptably large risk that the Soviet Union would have to face the full might of the most powerful military machine in human history, effectively, on its own.
    And this was happening at what – thanks of course in substantial measure to his own actions – was a point of ‘maximum vulnerability.’
    Moreover, hardly surprisingly, Chamberlain and his colleagues greatly exacerbated Soviet fears that this was what ‘Perfidious Albion’ had been trying to achieve all along. As is evident if you read Putin’s recent article, republished in ‘The National Interest’, these perceptions are still very much alive today.
    (See https://nationalinterest.org/feature/vladimir-putin-real-lessons-75th-anniversary-world-war-ii-162982 .)
    As an old-style ‘Perfidious Albionian’, while I think that Chamberlain and his associates very emphatically failed to choose the ‘lesser weevil’, I actually do not find it so difficult to have some sympathy for the reasons they made the choices they did.
    And I also think that the use of denunciations of ‘appeasement’, by people who show no sign whatsoever of attempting to grasp what the arguments of the ‘Thirties were about, have become both stupid and unhelpful: a sure way of avoiding thought.
    The greatest irony, however, is that we see American, and British, foreign policy being run by people who habitually denounce ‘appeasement’, but whose mentality and assumptions actually directly parallel those of Chamberlain and his associates.
    It is, moreover, in substantial measure as a result of this that such figures have become involved in a conspiracy to subvert the Constitution of the American Republic – with ‘Anglos’ like Ellwood, Steele, Dearlove, and indeed Fiona Hill collaborating with the figures like Nuland, Kramer and Winer.
    And, quite clearly, they do not have the excuses Chamberlain had.
    The notion that Putin is some kind of reincarnation of Stalin is the product of lies, originally told by Berezovsky and his like, and accepted without question by their ‘useful idiots’ in London and Washington.
    Who are also, of course, ‘useful idiots’ of Beijing.

  69. Leith says:

    @YeahRight: “If it is dead GIs the Russians want then all they need to do is to run guns to the Taliban.”
    That is exactly what they have been doing for at least three years.

  70. Artemesia says:

    Somebody needs to teach Chuckie Schumer how to count to six.

  71. Leith says:

    If anybody called me a ‘Ukrainian nationalist’ I would respond, although maybe not in court. Ditto for implying that Lithuanian heritage automatically gives you an anti-Putin bias. That is kinda like saying that because I have Irish ancestors that I cheered for IRA bombers way back during the Troubles. They tear him down instead of refuting his post point by point.
    TTG has not responded in any namecalling. Good on him.

  72. turcopolier says:

    We cannot refute his recent treatment of media stories as verified truth.

  73. Leith,
    I’m not the least bit worried about possible attempts at character assassination here. Nothing here has been more than disagreements with my writings, sometimes hyperventilating disagreements, but nothing I worry about. Although being accused of sounding like a Ukrainian nationalist stung a little. A Lithuanian nationalist I can understand, but not a Ukrainian. Clearly ancientarcher/libkez and some others do not read my postings, comments very closely along with my many earlier postings on Ukraine.
    Many here seem to think Russia is a nation totally separate from the now defunct Soviet Union, that Russia is incapable or unwilling to engage in the seamier aspects of realpolitik like all other nations. Funny, Putin doesn’t ascribe to this view. A short time ago, someone posted a link to a lecture by the KGB defector, Yuri Bezmenov. It’s an excellent lecture on Soviet active measures.
    They were good at it and used it extensively. Many are now saying its the Democrats and their allies who are the inheritors of this expertise. Remember when I first posted about the Russian concept of reflexive control? A great hue and cry arose. How dare I suggest Putin’s Russia is anything like the old USSR. For God’s sakes people! Where do you think all those KGB active measures people went when the USSR disappeared? They’re running Russia and her intelligence services. They’ve learned humility and political pragmatism since the fall of the USSR, but they didn’t forget their skills in active measures. That’s still a skill in their more humble and pragmatic foreign policy tool box.
    Now back to my yard work and other projects. Don’t worry. I’ll be back.

  74. pl,
    I’ve never delved that deeply into the USI-narcotics connection, but I’ve constantly seen articles on the subject. It’s ubiquitous. The investigations of Alfred McCoy first turned a spotlight on the nexus of SE Asian drug trafficking and US military and foreign policy beginning with his “The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia” in January 1972. He testified before a Senate committee concerning that subject. He followed up with an expanded edition “The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade” in 2003. That book went beyond Laos and into the rise of the Af-Pak narcotics industry.
    For the Contra and other Central American connection, here’s a collection of government documents including FOIA released excerpts from Oliver North’s notebooks and declassified emails, testimony before Senate subcommittees, FBI/DEA documents and Seymour Hersh investigations
    An example concerning Afghanistan is this 2009 House Committee on Foreign Relations Report on“Afghanistan’s Narco War: Breaking the link between drug traffickers and insurgents.”
    “Another factor influenced the escalation of opium production. After the invasion, the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Special Forces put regional and local warlords and militia commanders on their payroll to undermine the Taliban regime and go after Al Qaeda operatives. Despite alliances with the opium trade, many of these warlords later traded on their stature as U.S. allies to take senior positions in the new Afghan Government, laying the groundwork for the corrupt nexus between drugs and authority that pervades the power structure today.”

  75. Leith says:

    Colonel Lang –
    Which stories?

  76. turcopolier says:

    So what, media trash is still media trash no matter how much you want to talk about it. If you believed that the USG and USI were drug dealing criminals how could you stand to be associated with us? In all my time in the field and in high level posts in DC I NEVER ever saw any evidence of the USG involvement in drug dealing. It was all just BS.

  77. Larry Johnson says:

    Well TTG, Twisted does not begin to describe your lack of knowledge and logic on this topic of drugs.
    Probably the best source is PBS Frontline: (https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/special/cia.html)
    A series of expose articles in the San Jose Mercury-News by reporter Gary Webb told tales of a drug triangle during the 1980s that linked CIA officials in Central America, a San Francisco drug ring and a Los Angeles drug dealer. According to the stories, the CIA and its operatives used crack cocaine–sold via the Los Angeles African-American community–to raise millions to support the agency’s clandestine operations in Central America.
    The CIA’s suspect past made the sensational articles an easy sell. Talk radio switchboards lit up, as did African-American leaders like U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, who pointed to Webb’s articles as proof of a mastermind plot to destroy inner-city black America.
    One of the people who was accused in the San Jose Mercury-News of being in the midst of the CIA cocaine conspiracy is one of the most respected, now retired, veteran D.E.A. agents, Robert “Bobby” Nieves.
    “You have to understand Central America at that time was a haven for the conspiracy theorists. Christic Institute, people like Gary Webb, others down there, looking to dig up some story for political advantage,” Nieves said. “No sexier story than to create the notion in people’s minds that these people are drug traffickers.”
    But in the weeks following publication, Webb’s peers doubted the merit of the articles. Fellow journalists at the Washington Post, New York Times and Webb’s own editor accused him of blowing a few truths up into a massive conspiracy.
    Amongst Webb’s fundamental problems was his implication that the CIA lit the crack cocaine fuse. It was conspiracy theory: a neat presentation of reality that simply didn’t jibe with real life. Webb later agreed in an interview that there is no hard evidence that the CIA as an institution or any of its agent-employees carried out or profited from drug trafficking.
    Still, the fantastic story of the CIA injecting crack into ghettos had taken hold. In response to the public outcry following Webb’s allegations–which were ultimately published in book form under the title Dark Alliance–the CIA conducted an internal investigation of its role in Central America related to the drug trade. Frederick Hitz, as the CIA Inspector General– an independent watchdog approved by Congress–conducted the investigation. In October 1998, the CIA released a declassified version of Hitz’s two-volume report.
    You reference Sy Hersh. Sy is an old friend. I’ve known him for 40 years. He’d tell you the same thing–the USG as a major player in drug trafficking is bullshit.

  78. likbez says:

    @The Twisted Genius | 29 June 2020 at 03:55 PM

    Many here seem to think Russia is a nation totally separate from the now-defunct Soviet Union, that Russia is incapable or unwilling to engage in the seamier aspects of realpolitik like all other nations. Funny, Putin does not ascribe to this view. A short time ago, someone posted a link to a lecture by the KGB defector, Yuri Bezmenov

    Bezmenov was trying to please the new owners. Russia does not have resources to engage like USA in Full Spectrum Dominance games. Like Obama correctly said, Russia now is a regional power.
    Also, why bother to do petty dirty tricks in Afghanistan, if an internal fight between two factions of the neoliberal elite, is a really bitter and dirty fight. You cannot do better than neoliberal Dems in weakening and dividing the country. Why spend money, if you can just wait.
    The enormity of problems within Russia itself also excludes any possibilities of trying to emulate the imperial behavior of the USA and CIA dirty tricks. Russia does not have the printing press for the world reserve currency, which the USA still has.
    And Putin is the first who understands this precarious situation, mentioning this limitation several times in his speeches. As well as the danger of being pushed into senseless arms race with the USA again by the alliance of the USA neocons and Russian MIC, which probably would lead to similar to the USSR results — the further dissolution of Russia into smaller statelets. Which is a dream of both the USA and the EU, for which they do not spare money.
    Russia is a very fragile country — yet another neoliberal country with a huge level of inequality and a set of very severe problems related to the economy and “identity politics” (or more correctly “identity wedge”), which both EU and the USA is actively trying to play. Sometimes very successfully.
    Ukraine coup d’etat was almost a knockdown for Putin, at least a powerful kick in the chin; it happened so quick and was essentially prepared by Yanukovich himself with his pro-EU and pro-nationalist stance. Being a sleazy crook, he dug the grave for his government mostly by himself.
    Now the same game can be repeated in Belorussia as Lukachenko by-and-large outlived his usefulness, and like most autocratic figures created vacuum around himself — he has neither viable successor, not the orderly, well defined process of succession; but economic problems mounts and mounts. This gives EU+USA a chance to repeat Ukrainian scenario, as like in Ukraine, years of independence greatly strengthened far-right nationalist forces (which BTW were present during WWII ; probably in less severe form than in Ukraine and Baltic countries but still were as difficult to suppress after the war). Who, like all xUUSR nationalists are adamantly, pathologically anti-Russian. That’s where Russia need to spend any spare money, not Afghanistan.
    Currently, the personality of Putin is kind of most effective guarantee of political stability in Russia, but like any cult of personality, this cannot last forever, and it might deprive Russia of finding qualified successor.
    But even Putin was already burned twice with his overtures to Colonel Qaddafi(who after Medvedev’s blunder in the UN was completely unable to defend himself against unleashed by the West color revolution), and Yanukovich, who in addition to stupidly pandering to nationalists and trying to be the best friend of Biden proved to be a despicable coward, making a color revolution a nobrainer.
    After those lessons, Putin probably will not swallow a bait in a form of invitation to be a “decider” in Afghanistan.
    So your insinuations that Russian would do such stupid, dirty and risky tricks are not only naive, they are completely detached from the reality.
    The proper way to look at it is as a kind of PR or even false flag operation which was suggested by David Habakkuk:

    …we are dealing with yet another of the collusive ‘information operations’ practised by incompetent and corrupt elements in the ‘deep state’ in the U.S., U.K. and Western Europe.

  79. JP Billen says:

    likbez: Well I suggested it may have been a false flag, but I’m more inclined to think it may have been Pakistan’s ISI.
    And what is your evidence for claiming that the EU and USA want to break up Russia into ‘smaller statelets’? That smells a bit fishy. It would make the world a more dangerous place. I don’t see or hear of sane people here or in Europe wishing for that. Maybe a few whackos? Let’s hope they never get their hands on the levers of power.

  80. Dennis Daulton says:

    We hear more about unconfirmed reports from the mainstream media than we do about the facts of the attempted coup against President Trump. A coup which run by the Obama White House with full participation of the mainstream media. In fact since Trump took office this coup has been continued with full force by these same anonymous unconfirmed leaks which get reported as fact but weeks later are confirmed lies. I personally can’t believe anything from the mainstream media and the resist faction, in fact they all need to go to jail for what they have done. I bring this up in the context of this thread because everything that’s reported or leaked must be first thought of as apart of this coup, this has been the pattern for the last 3 and half years. If it doesn’t fit this pattern of the on going coup then we can start to consider if it’s true or not.

  81. Yeah, Right says:

    TTG has actually provided the nugget of information that can be used to dismiss this allegation without, apparently, realising it.
    It is here, when he quoted from the NYT article:
    “The crucial information that led the spies and commandos to focus on the bounties included the recovery of a large amount of American cash from a raid on a Taliban outpost that prompted suspicions.”
    So that vast swathe of cash represents the bounties that have been paid for the killing of American and British soldiers by the Taliban.
    Think about it.
    Think about it.
    Think about it.
    If the payment has already been made then the deed has already been done because, obviously, that’s how a “bounty” works.
    So all we need ask is a simple question: has there been a dramatic uptick in fatalities amongst American and British troops?
    Yes? Or no?
    Because *both* of these statements can not be true:
    1) Fatality rates amongst the troops have not increased.
    2) The massive amounts of cash now being found in Afghanistan are the result of a bounty paid by the Russians for dead GIs.
    You can have one, or you can have the other.
    But you can’t have both.

  82. Barbara Ann says:

    I hardly think paying a performance bonus for successful attacks on Coalition targets in Afghanistan is going to break the GRU’s budget. There are better arguments against this story’s veracity.
    Regarding a possible Minsk Euromaidan and repeat of the Orange Revolution in Belarus, I would like to hear the opinion of Andrei Martyanov on this. I strongly suspect he would laugh his socks off at the prospect of any such action being permitted by Moscow.
    Furthermore, any such attempt would likely be massively counterproductive, as it would give Russia the perfect excuse for an Anschluss operation which would make Crimea’s annexation look like chicken feed. In the wake of 2014 the details for such a contingency must surely have been worked out in great detail. Hey presto – an unannounced Zapad 2020 exercise and you’d have the sum of all NATO fears; Russian forces deployed right up to the Suwałki gap.
    TTG, you are obviously unable to share with us any info you may have on the USG’s assessment of the hypothetical possibility described above, but do you have a view on the chances of a successful color revolution being achievable in Belarus?

  83. turcopolier says:

    None of us has any “insider poop.”

  84. Yeah, Right says:

    The more I have read on this topic the more convinced I am that this “scoop” has a simple genesis.
    It is this: someone in the US military has noticed that Afghanistan has suddenly become awash with cash, and they want to know where it came from.
    (And before anyone comments, I have no doubt Afghanistan has always been awash with US dollars. I am talking about a sudden, recent deluge of cash).
    The CIA has made up this story about “Russian bounties” in order to explain that deluge of money.
    I know it is made-up because *if* it were true *then* there must be a dramatic uptick in combat fatalities (“bounty”, remember).
    No such uptick has occurred.
    So the CIA has had to make up this story to explain the cash now sloshing around Afghanistan.
    They have done so either because:
    1) They Don’t Actually Know Where It Came From or,
    2) They Don’t Want Anyone To Know It’s Their Money.
    One or the other.
    But not this nonsense about “Russian bounties”, because in the absence of dead GIs that can not possibly be the explanation for that mountain of cash.

  85. Larry,
    Isn’t that what I said about Webb and his allegations?
    “But if Gary Webb is that guy claiming the CIA is responsible for flooding Los Angeles with crack cocaine, I agree with you. That’s total bullshit.”
    Hersh laid out Noriega’s narco-trafficking and money laundering in 1986. North’s White House emails subsequent to Hersh’s work showed his and Poindexter’s use of Noriega to support the Contras in spite of Noirga’s illicit activities. This was an “active policy of laissez faire towards allies engaged in drug trafficking” as I also said earlier. Your insistence of characterizing the relationship as being either “the USG as a major player in drug trafficking” or a state of perfect grace is simplistically binary and flat wrong. We were an enabler and made the choice of “the lesser of two weevils” as Colonel Lang used the phrase.

  86. Yeah, Right,
    You’re getting wrapped around the axle over the term “bounty.” The Russians are merely providing financial support to an indigenous force with the expectation that they will continue lethal attacks against US and coalition forces. This is not an unusual foreign policy, covert intelligence or military tactic. There were 22 US troops killed in 2019, the highest number since 2014. Nine have died this year. Most of those have been from Taliban attacks.
    The use of the term “bounty” by the NYT was likely used to inflame and increase the outrage.

  87. turcopolier says:

    I know Hersh as well. A lot of his stuff is very self obsessed in its focus and sourcing.

  88. Yeah, Right says:

    TTG “The Russians are merely providing financial support to an indigenous force with the expectation that they will continue lethal attacks against US and coalition forces.”
    I’m sorry, that argument leaves me cold. Very, very cold.
    If the Russian policy is to see lethal attacks against US forces then they would be supplying *arms* to the Taliban, not *money*.
    After all, if you give the Taliban a wad of cash then they can do whatever they want with it. But if you give them a gun, well, let’s be honest: a gun is rather limited in its application.
    On the other hand if the Taliban is being given “financial support” then it is merely your supposition that this is intended to buy a lot of dead bodies.
    Why, exactly, is that the only (or even likely) reason for the Russians to supply financial support to the Taliban?
    There are many reasons the Russians may want to do that, first and foremost to buy influence amongst a group that in all probably will become the next government of Afghanistan.
    Both you and the NYT appear intent upon reaching a very shaky conclusion constructed atop a mountain of unwarranted assumptions. And all of it – all of it – pivoting upon an single very subjective word: “expectation”

  89. Christian J. Chuba says:

    Here is an amazing quote from CNN’s source https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/29/politics/russia-bounties-presidential-daily-briefing/index.html

    “The source tells CNN that intelligence of this nature with risk to US troops should be assumed to be true until you know otherwise.”

    He/she is saying that truth is based on the severity of the accusation. This sounds more like something a politician would say rather than a professional Intel officer.

  90. likbez says:

    And what is your evidence for claiming that the EU and USA want to break up Russia into ‘smaller statelets’? That smells a bit fishy. It would make the world a more dangerous place.

    One of distinctive features, the hallmark of neocons who dominate the USA foreign policy establishment is rabid, often paranoid Russophobia which includes active, unapologetic support of separatist movements within Russia.
    The same is true about GB.
    I think the evidence of the USA and EU (especially GB, but also Poland, Sweden, and Germany) multi-level (PR, MSM, financial, diplomatic and sometimes military) support of Islamic separatists in Russia is well known: support of separatist movements in Russia is just a continuation of the support of separatist movement within the USSR, which actually helped to blow up the USSR from within (along the key role of KGB changing sides along with a part of Politburo who deciding to privatize Russia’s economy)
    Here is old but still relevant list of “who is who” in the USA foreign policy establishment in promoting separatism in Russia. You will see many prominent neocons in the list.
    The foreign policy of the USA toward Russia to a considerable extent is driven by emigres from Eastern Europe and people who were accepted to the USA before and, especially, after WWII from filtration camps. This “diaspora lobby” includes older generation of emigrants such as late Brzezinski, Madeline Allbright, as well as more recent such as Farkas, Chalupa, Appelebaum, etc. The same is true for Canada (Freeland). All of them are rabid, sometimes paranoid (Brzezinski) Russophobs. They consistently use the USA as a leverage to settle the “ancient hatred”.

  91. A.I.S. says:

    I find the arguments to be highly unpersuasive.
    First, Russia is, generally speaking, not in the habit of paying people, in particular people they arent very fond of, for things they were going to do anyway. If you think the Talebs require Russian financial incentives to kill Americans where they reasonably can I have a bridge over the Pacific to sell you.
    Secondly, while there is plently of things the Russian would want to extract payback for, using the Talebs of all people adds to much risk for too little gain. Even using the same “scheme” of offering boutnies, well,
    Offering bounties to Syrian/Iraqi/Lebanese organisations for pretty much the same thing would be less risky (these organisations are farther from the Russian homeland and have less of a hostile history with russia, in addition, Iran rather then Russia would likely get blamed for it) and about as rewarding.
    Third: I fully expect that Trump was not briefed on this “information”. It is actually quite simple, a lot of “intelligence” goes into the US. Then you have people called analysts, who, among other frequently more interesting things, make judgement calls in what to pass on or not and if yes with what caveats. This process is repeated several times, until at some point something ends up with the US National Security council and/or the president himself.
    If the analysts make the, in my opinion wholly justified decisions, that the information is somewhere between speculation and outright lies, they will not pass it further up the foodchain.
    What I do not know is what types of record keeping are used in the US for the analysts, who probably have to document their decision on wether to pass certain information or not in writing probably including their reasonings, it is quite possible that one of the reasons for not sending it up the food chains was that the “foreign intelligence official” may have come from a country that wishes to increase US-Russian hostility, in particular, I would be unsurprised if the country in question was one characterized by some pretty intense fluctuations regarding its territorial size courtesy of comparable fluctuations in russian controlled territory over the centuries.

  92. David Habakkuk says:

    From the description of the evolution the thinking of Christopher Steele by his co-conspirators Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch:
    ‘When the Soviet Union finally collapsed, the suffocating surveillance of Western diplomats and suspected intelligence officers suddenly ceased – which for a brief moment seemed like a possible harbinger of a new, less authoritarian future for Russia. But the surveillance started again within days. The intrusive tails and petty harassment were indistinguishable from Soviet practices and have continued to this day. To Steele, that told him all he needed to know about the new Russia: The new boss was the same as the old boss.’
    This was, apparently, the figure who MI6 judged fit to head their Russia Desk, and whose analyses were regarded as serious among people in the State Department, CIA, FBI, DOJ etc. LOL.
    As to Simpson and Fritsch, they were supposed to be serious journalists. LOL again.
    A curious thing is that Tom Catan once was.
    He wrote a good long investigative piece in the ‘Financial Times’, back in 2004, about the death of Stephen Curtis, one of the fourteen mysterious incidents in the U.K., which according to Heidi Blake of ‘BuzzFeed’, American intelligence agencies have evidence establishing that they were the work of the Russian ‘special services.’
    (As, according to the ‘Sky’ report you and Colonel Lang discussed, the supposed attempt to assassinate Sergei and Yulia Skripal is supposed to be.)
    What Catan established is that, at the time his helicopter was blown out of the sky, Curtis, lawyer both to the Menatep oligarchs and Berezovsky, had started ‘singing sweetly’ to what was the the National Criminal Intelligence Service.
    And what he was telling them about the activities of Khodorkovsky and his associates would have been ‘music to the ears’ of Putin and his associates.
    As with the deaths of Berezovsky and Patarkatsishvili, which also feature in Ms. Blake’s farragos, at the precise time they died, it was precisely Putin and his associates who had the strongest possible interest in keeping them alive.
    Ironically, she inadvertently demonstrates a crucial element in this story – the extent to which not only British, but American, intelligence/foreign policy/law enforcement agencies ‘got into bed’ with the members of the ‘semibankirshchina’ of the ‘Nineties who refused to accept the terms Putin offered.
    (See https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/heidiblake/putin-global-assassination-campaign-berezovsky-london . Note, in the link, ‘putin-global-assassination-campaign-berezovsky-london.’)
    Unfortunately, I cannot provide a link to the Catan article, as it is no longer available on the web, and when I put my old link into the ‘Wayback Machine’ version, I was told it was infected with a Trojan.
    But I can send you a copy, if you are interested.
    Of course, no ancestry – be it Lithuanian, or Polish, or Ukrainian, or whatever – ‘automatically’ produces bias.
    A prescient early analysis of Putin, which brings out that the notion that his KGB background meant that he wanted conflict with the West is BS, is the 2002 paper ‘Vladimir Putin & Russia’s Special Services.’
    It was published by the ‘Conflict Studies Research Centre’, which was what the old ‘Soviet Studies Research Centre’, which did ‘open source’ analysis for the British military at Sandhurst became, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
    The actual name of ‘Gordon Bennett’, who wrote it, is Henry Plater-Zyberk. They were a great, and very distinguished, Polish-Lithuanian noble family.
    (See https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/96481/02_Aug_4.pdf .)
    In quite a long experience of refugees to these islands from the disasters of twentieth-century European history, and their descendants, I have found that sometimes the history is taken as a subject of reflection and becomes a source of insight and understanding not granted to those with more fortunate backgrounds.
    At other times, however, people become locked in a trauma, out of which they cannot escape.

  93. JP Billen says:

    likbez: Your wiki references seem to say dissolution of Russia if it comes will come from within and not from external sources. Your wiki ref on Chechnya and the ACPC is no longer valid since Chechnya became peaceful years ago when Putin figured out how to deal with it by a) subsidizing Imams, b) isolating the radicals by a divide & conquer strategy, and c) no occupation but an iron fist when needed. The West could learn a lot from that. The British Raj used to do something similar but they seem to have forgotten how.
    The remainder of the references you claim as evidence of the west wanting to dismember Russia seem pretty incredulous. I suspect a bit of paranoia on the part of the Kremlin. It beggars belief to think that anyone would want to split up Russia other than ethnic minorities within Russia who want more independence. But I think Putin is doing a good job of co-opting any resistance movements.

  94. J says:

    It appears that there was strong push-back by both NSA and Gina on un-vetted raw intel, backing White House claims that Trump was never briefed.

  95. David Habakkuk,
    Steele obviously didn’t look very hard. I knew a number of Muscovites during those days. They had some wild stories about events in the city in August 1991. One was hit by cobblestone fragments when a tank’s machine gun sprayed the street in front of him. I attended a silent vigil outside the Soviet Embassy on Friedrichstrasse in Berlin while Gorbachev was under house arrest. That silent demonstration was most impressive. My Moscow friends told me how deep the collapse of the state apparatus reached. Bureaucrats and functionaries disappeared over the first few days. The workings of the city and the state were left to volunteers, mostly from the Russian and Soviet Academy of Science institutes. For a short time, the old system gave way to youthful idealists… idealists with the knowledge and expertise to make things work. Those acquaintances of mine were in the thick of that bold experiment.
    Unfortunately, those days didn’t last long. Once the shock of the collapse wore off, those scientific idealists were pushed aside by the worse kind of opportunists… brutal and rapacious criminals and the worst of the old nomenklatura and minor functionaries, all in a mad grab for power and riches. The scientists of the Academies of Science largely left for foreign institutes so they could continue their research with the hope of returning once Russia composed herself. Russian became the predominant language at many German research institutes.
    Yeltsin was left to deal with a government rife with criminals and the worst of the old functionaries. The KGB was one of the first institutions to right itself. All those reorganizations allowed more competent and patriotic professionals to weed out the opportunists. The new generation was a vast improvement and created a competent and more efficient security and intelligence apparatus. But this generation was still KGB in their souls. They needed to be in order to clean out the criminals and opportunists infesting the new government. It was a painful birth, but the new Russia is a vast improvement over the old USSR. Even this “Lithuanian nationalist” can see that. But I also see the continuity that exists in Moscow’s security and intelligence services. They’re the same hard hearted organizations in service to a humbler and more pragmatic state. Thankfully, the new boss is NOT the same as the old boss, but he still has cold KGB blood running through his veins.
    I’ve not followed the supposed trail of assassinations in England, beyond the blaring headlines and your detailed postings. I’m not convinced either way as to who was responsible. I certainly would not rule out Russian mafiya bosses and oligarchs (often the same persons) as suspects. I am interested in that Catan article you mentioned.If you could forward a copy to Colonel Lang, I’m sure he’ll get it to me.
    In your comment to Leith, you point out that the concept that Putin wants conflict with the West is absurd. I agree. In my opinion, he is far too pragmatic and calculating a Russian nationalist to desire that. I’m reminded of a conversation I had with General Jaruzelski’s foremost civilian advisor. This man was an expert in military psychology among other things. He told me that no one in his circles ever desired or even believed war in Europe between NATO and the WTO was a realistic possibility. It’s only sure result would have been the destruction of all of Europe. All the war plans and war games were just theater to keep the generals busy. Even the generals didn’t believe the propaganda.
    My introduction to this Polish gentleman was amusing. It was at an academic affair in 1987. My graduate advisor introduced me as a Special Forces officer, a Green Beret. The old Polish gentleman turned white, visibly shuddered and stiffened momentarily. Clearly he had heard of all that old Soviet propaganda about us GBs being recruited out of prison death rows and being allowed to roam the countryside at night to keep our murderous skills honed. He relaxed and we shared numerous vodkas. You see, in the old country when you drink with someone to within an inch of your lives, you become friends.

  96. Babak makkinejad says:

    So, the Academic dissidents of old USSR, fierce critics of the Soviet System, and who, like their Decemberist predecessors, were desirous of a more liberal state, they, decamped to greener pastures and left the Russian, Ukrainian, and others to fend for themselves.
    They were no where to be found when Ghaidar was raping the pensioners and calling it shock therapy. And in the West, these champions of human rights did they ever criticize anything in the West?
    I think not. It was all a pose. And it was left for hard men such as Putin to restore the state power in Russia.
    Academic? An opportunistic wimp.

  97. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Colonel, at least on this issue I think you have a very articulate ally:
    From this tenuous evidence footnoted with “according to multiple officials familiar with the intelligence”, democrat operatives in media desperately clutch their pearls and stake out another batch of apoplexy claiming President Trump is not doing anything about it.

  98. Booby Hatch says:

    Supposedly the NVA offered a $50000 reward for a captured US pilot. Our Ops O. was a living legend & Hanoi Hannah would address him by name when she offered a new dead or alive bounty on his head. Intel also said that NVA troops received a bicycle, a ball point pen & 2 weeks leave if they shot down a helo. Unfortunately for the 12.7mm gun crew that shot me down, an air strike killed them immediately after they exposed their position.

  99. Leith says:

    @David Habakkuk: “Of course, no ancestry – be it Lithuanian, or Polish, or Ukrainian, or whatever – ‘automatically’ produces bias.”
    You should tell that to the ones up-thread that suggested it did.
    As far as Putin goes, I have never claimed nor implied that he wants conflict with the West. Any who claim that he does is/are mistaken. As I recall right after 9/11 the Kremlin provided both diplomatic help and tacit intelligence support to the US and Western alliance in Afghanistan. And back in 2006 I went to Bayonne NJ to see the Tears of Grief Memorial built by Russia and dedicated by Putin to the victims of the 9/11 terror attack since both of our countries had been victimized by international terrorism.
    But for some reason all that goodwill dissipated. Why? I think there are some paranoid adults in both the West and Russia that still think there are boogeymen hiding under the bed or just across the border. It is probably true for every country in the world.

  100. Leith says:

    BoobyHatch –
    It’s good you are still vertical. I spent two months in the burn ward at Zama Hospital in Japan after the helo I was in got taken down on Charlie Ridge. But that was south of the DMV. Sounds like you were flying SAR up north?

  101. Barbara Ann says:

    “The House Armed Services Committee voted Wednesday to put roadblocks on President Trump’s ability to withdraw from Afghanistan, including requiring an assessment on whether any country has offered incentives for the Taliban to attack U.S. and coalition troops.”
    How depressingly predictable. And people moan that Trump hasn’t made good on his promises – what chance does he stand against this?

  102. turcopolier says:

    Barbara Ann
    Knuckle draggers. They are intent on re-fighting the Cold War.

  103. David Habakkuk says:

    ‘For a short time, the old system gave way to youthful idealists … idealists with the knowledge and expertise to make things work. Those acquaintances of mine were in the thick of that bold experiment.’
    When you demonstrated enthusiasm for the ‘Levellers’, I began to realise that there might be an impassable ideological abyss between us. Now I am certain that you belong in the ranks of my ancestral enemies.
    I got out the – rather battered – copy of Arthur Koestler’s 1940 novel ‘Darkness at Noon’ I bought in my young ‘teens, a central text in shaping the kind of ‘Cold War liberalism’ in which I was reared.
    At a key point in the book, when the Rubashov is being interrogated by his fellow ‘Old Bolshevik’ Ivanov, the former raises the subject of Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment.’
    In response, his interrogator restates a central argument of the Russian – indeed, Western – tradition which that book had attacked:
    ‘“I don’t approve of mixing ideologies,” Ivanov continued. “There are only two conceptions of human ethics, and they are at opposite poles. One of them is Christian and humane, declares the individual to be sacrosanct, and asserts that the rules of arithmetic are not to be applied to human units. The other starts from the basic principle that a collective aim justifies all means and not only allows, but demands, that the individual should in every way be subordinated and sacrificed to the community – which may dispose of it as an experimentation rabbit or a sacrificial lamb. The first conception could be called anti-vivisection morality, the second, vivisection morality. Humbugs and dilettantes have always tried to mix the two conceptions; in practice, it is impossible.’
    Interestingly, during the same period when you were making friends with a new generation of ‘vivisectionists’ in Moscow, the ‘Chief Political Analyst’ at the U.S. Moscow Embassy was E. Wayne Merry. In an interview for the ‘Return of the Czar’ programme which PBS put out in May 2000, shortly after Putin’s initial election as President, he recalled those times:
    (See https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/yeltsin/interviews/ )
    ‘I remember, in the early ‘90s, I think the most poignant slogan that you saw in Russia during the demonstrations was, “no more experiments.” The people were terribly tired of being treated like laboratory rats. This effort to build the new socialist man, scientific socialism had left people feeling completely alienated from their authorities. And the one thing the Russian people wanted was, not to be treated like experimental material.’
    Your phrase “idealists with the knowledge and expertise to make things work”, I must admit, makes me chuckle. In Britain in the previous decade, we had, as it were, been tossed out of the ‘socialist frying pan’, where the self-proclaimed descendants of the Levellers – ‘idealists’, some of them – were trying to cook us, into a ‘market fundamentalist’ fire.
    Having seen close up the British broadcasting industry remodelled on the basis of the abstract theorising practised by the kind of economists, from Harvard and similar places, whose advice your ‘acquaintances’ sought, it had seemed to me that if the Clinton Administration unleashed such people on Russia, they would make what was likely to be a chaotic process much worse.
    In this, I did have some sympathy for the ‘laboratory rats’ – aka, the Russian ‘deplorables.’
    However, I must admit to more cynical, indeed one might say ‘Machiavellian’, calculations: perhaps it is my ‘cold “Perfidious Albionian” blood.’
    If a ‘bold experiment; by ‘vivisectionists’, taking advice from people at the same university which hosts Zbigniew Brzezinski and Richard Pipes, turns out badly for the ‘laboratory rats’, they are, rather obviously, liable to ‘connect the dots.’
    That the conclusions they are liable to draw may be way ‘off the mark’ is only partly relevant. It is necessary to be aware of what people do think, rather than confusing it with what one believes they ought to think.
    But despite a mass of evidence about the depth of the disillusion with the West produced by the policies of Hillary Clinton’s husband, Strobe Talbott et al, people in London and Washington continue to cling to the fantasy that somehow, a basically pro-Western Russian population is being manipulated by Vladimir Putin’s ‘information operations.
    Reverting to the ‘Levellers.’
    One of the firm convictions I came to, over time, is that the argument Ivanov makes to Rubashov is quite precisely wrong.
    What the ultimately unresolved nature of the argument in the novel actually reflects are basic tensions between different requirements of human life.
    So one needs to admit that both the ‘moral’ side of the argument, and the ‘Machiavellian’, have cogency, and a prudent statecraft must find the best way of, as it were, ‘finessing’ tensions between imperatives inherently in conflict.
    This was, in fact, very much the situation in which Oliver Cromwell found himself, in the spring of 1649. As you are doubtless aware, armies where there are very concrete grievances are commonly ‘easy meat’ for radical agitators, and if once they become uncontrollable, mayhem is liable to result.
    In the case of the ‘New Model’, he had very deliberately promoted people of humble origins but strong Puritan convictions – wildly unrepresentative of their fellow countrymen – to create a force with the determination and skill needed to confront ‘cavaliers’ to whom fighting came naturally, and those who naturally followed them.
    He needed, without the same material superiority, to defeat people similar to many of those who fought on the Southern side in your civil war: natural soldiers.
    In the ‘forcing house’ of the ‘New Model’, an increasing radicalisation of ideas was come together with the rather understandable anger due to arrears of pay.
    The response by Cromwell was to get something done about the arrears, while deploying a prompt and decisive, but limited use of force. When on 17 March 1649 the ‘Levellers’ in Burford Church surrendered, he simply shot three ringleaders, and the mutiny petered out.
    As to Ireland, the issues are too complex to go into here. A very interesting presentation both of the case for the prosecution, and that for the defence, by the Cambridge historian John Morrill (actually a Catholic) is available on the website of the ‘Cromwell Association.’)
    (See http://www.olivercromwell.org/wordpress/?page_id=1837 .)
    An excerpt from the ‘defence case’ for Cromwell:
    ‘Thirdly, when he wrote that the sack of Drogheda would “tend to prevent the effusion of blood for the future”, he meant it. It may be that Drogheda and Wexford were his Hiroshima and Nagasaki: the application of an economy of evil to save more lives in the long run. In the 17th century, as in the 20th century, that is a morally contested view. But it has not led to trials for war crimes. The intention was honourable.’
    Actually, actually, I think General Milley could usefully study Cromwell. Irrespective of one’s judgements about the specifics of the Irish situation, the point that failure to act decisively early can very easily lead to ‘an effusion of blood in the future’ is one on which he, and others, might usefully reflect.
    Another, related issue, is that – initially in part as a result of having read Dostoevsky’s ‘Devils’, not long after ‘Darkness at Noon’ – some of the people who most terrify me are ‘liberals’ who can see ‘no enemies to the Left’, and in fact have a kind of ‘tendresse’ for those who are fomenting anarchy.
    As to the question of the temperature of the ‘blood’ of Putin and his associates, I really cannot comment.
    At the moment, however, the co-conspirators of Christopher Steele, seemingly with the collusion of Inspector-General Horowitz, appear to be trying to make him the ‘patsy.’ In their attempts to make this ‘stick’, they have attributed to him a degree of imbecility which suggests that he should never have been employed by MI6 as a security guard, let alone a key Russia analyst.
    Perhaps, then, it is time to revisit the notion that the original investigation into the death of Alexander Litvinenko, in which the former head of the MI6 Russia Desk clearly played a crucial role, was a masterpiece of forensic acuity.
    A ‘friend’ of mine on ‘Facebook’, Eric Kraus, a wise and witty commentator on Russian affairs, recently reposted a comment I made on his page at the time in the middle of Sir Robert Owen’s Inquiry into the death of Litvinenko.
    (See https://www.facebook.com/krausmoscow/posts/10158738050628103 .)
    Updates on what has emerged in recent months were posted by me in response to the comment.
    A key point I stressed in these is that Lugovoi quite clearly feared that Western and Russian intelligence agencies might collude to make him the ‘patsy’, as neither wanted the actual truth about how and why polonium-210 was smuggled into London to come to light. And, in my view, he was probably right.
    As he does not scare easily, Litvinenko’s supposed assassin took steps to render this possibility moot. From the transcript of his cross-examination in the High Court on 17-18 April, it seems to me evident that Steele is hinting that he could conceivably take drastic steps to prevent his being made ‘the patsy.’ Probably, however, the danger can be ‘headed off.’
    (See https://www.scribd.com/document/458992503/Steele-deposition .)

  104. turcopolier says:

    Habakkuk et al
    I find that TTG’s political polemics have expanded to such an extent that I can no longer tolerate it.

  105. Kilo 4/11 says:

    @ Habakkuk
    988 was not the conversion of “Russia” nor the pivotal moment in “Russian” history; “Russia” wouldn’t come into existence for another 6 centuries. 988 was the conversion of the Kyivan Rus’; IOW, a pivotal moment for the Ukrainian people.
    Ukrainians of the World War 2 generation I’ve spoken with considered “Rus” to mean “red”, or “fair”, in reference to the red and blond haired descendants, prevalent on the territory of Ukraine but not in Russia, of the Scandinavian Rurikid tribes who, along with other local tribes, formed the basis of the Kyivan Rus’ Kingdom, the forerunner of Ukraine and Belarus. Rus’ also is related to the Latin word for countryside; unurban. Other variations, such as ros and rhos, referred to “people who rowed”, and “people who flowed or moved”, as the original Scandinavian river traders and colonizers did. In any case, not to today’s Russia.
    As for the supposed “sacredness” of Crimea to Russia: Long before Muscovy became Russia, long before Russia became involved with Crimea, it was a launch site for Ukrainian Cossack raiding parties who took their light chaika boats all the way to Byzantium and raided the city. During this time, they also raided Caiffa and liberated 20,000 slaves from the Turks.
    It is a lie that “banderistas” and “neonazis” have any power in Ukraine. Unlike in Russia, where the former communists are riding high, never having paid a price for their 70 years of crimes, in Ukraine the “neo-nazi” is an ongoing figment and tool of Russian propaganda. The Kremlin’s reflex reaction to any resistance to Russian hegemony is to label it “nazi” and “fascist”. In fact, Ukraine was the only country occupied by the Wehrmacht that specifically demanded their own independence and the chance to fight the Bolsheviks on their own. For this they were put under the strictest direct control of Berlin and Bandera was imprisoned.
    It is a mystery known only to you initiates why Ukraine, which has never invaded anybody, which sacrificed oceans of blood for the USSR in WW 2 only to be repaid with brutal occupation, more starvation, and the suppression of any national feeling, is heaped with obloquy and sneeringly dismissed as the “ ‘insulted and injured”.
    You keep going back to Chamberlain and the condemnation he received for “appeasement”, as if that is relevant to those who condemn Russia for its war on Ukraine today. Your convoluted argument about Chamberlain and the charge of “appeasement” notwithstanding, Chamberlain’s situation was nothing like that which confronts today’s Ukraine. Germany had not fired a shot at Britain in ‘38. Since 2014, Ukraine has lost 3,094 men and over 12,000 wounded – all casualties on Ukrainian soil – and a valuable piece of its territory to this Russian aggression that you want to excuse.
    As for your disingenuous argument that Putin is no reincarnation of Stalin: call him Catherine the Great, then. Since 2012, when Putin first began to talk of “historical Russia” his policy is patently the same as hers – expansion and aggrandizement.

  106. Kilo 4/11 says:

    @ Diana
    Our school’s preparations for Armageddon didn’t go as far as yours, (and now I’m wondering why not?) but I’ll never forget watching the skies for incoming ICBMs on the way home from school in October, ’62. Apparently, however, we owe our continued existence to a Russian naval officer, who waited a crucial few seconds more than he was supposed to before firing on an advancing U.S. warship, and as a result, got the word that he was to stand down. Credit where credit is due …
    The way I read it, TTG didn’t claim the Russian interference won the election for Trump, just that it happened. But I concede that only when the Russians get good enough to manufacture millions of actual votes for a candidate, as the dems did for hilldog, is there ground for complaint.
    What does alleged American involvement in the drug trade have to do with it? Are you saying that it’s ok for the Russians to offer that as an excuse for continued support or encouragement of the Taliban?

  107. turcopolier says:

    kilo 4/11
    The Dems are implying that Russian support made Trump president. Hillary implies it every time she opens her mouth and so does Pelosi.

  108. Kilo 4/11 says:

    They sure are. I believe it’s part of their identity now.
    Happy Independence Day to you and SWMBO.

  109. fakebot says:


    The Times reported first on June 28, then again on June 30, that a large amount of cash found at a “Taliban outpost” or a “Taliban site” had led U.S. intelligence to suspect the Russian plot. But the Times had to walk that claim back, revealing on July 1 that the raid that turned up $500,000 in cash had in fact targeted the Kabul home of Rahmatullah Azizi, an Afghan businessmen said to have been involved in both drug trafficking and contracting for part of the billions of dollars the United States spent on construction projects.

    The information provided by “captured militants and criminals” under “interrogation” had been the main source of suspicion of a Russian bounty scheme in Afghanistan. But those “militants and criminals” turned out to be thirteen relatives and business associates of the businessman whose house was raided.

    those raids had actually been carried out exclusively by the Afghan intelligence service known as the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

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