Last summer, rumours surfaced that Russia had put bounties on the heads of US soldiers. On Thursday, US intelligence reversed its position. The intelligence community has only “low to moderate” trust in the Russian bounty claim, according to a senior Biden administration official, implying that it is unproven and probably false.
President Biden called the Russia threat a “public emergency” and imposed fresh sanctions on Russian officials shortly after the news broke. The sanctions were imposed in response to Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election, as well as Russia’s suspected involvement in the Solar Winds hack and the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
“The United States intelligence community assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks against U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019, and perhaps earlier, including through financial incentives and compensation,” the official said.
“U.S. intelligence community agencies have low to moderate confidence in this judgment in part because it relies on detainee reporting, and due to the challenging operating environment in Afghanistan, our conclusion is based on information and evidence of connections between criminal agents in Afghanistan and elements of the Russian government,” the official continued.
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After the report was released, lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, requested that the Trump administration clarify what it learned. For failing to react properly to the survey, then-candidate Biden accused Trump of “dereliction of duty.”
At the time Former President Donald Trump had this to say about the story, “The Russia Bounty story is just another made up Fake News tale that is told only to damage me and the Republican Party,” Trump tweeted last July. “The secret source probably does not even exist, just like the story itself.” Trump called on the Times to reveal their source, claiming the story was “Just another HOAX!”
When asked if Biden regretted criticising Trump over the bounty report, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she was “not going to speak to the previous administration,” but added that there was “enough concern” to warrant making intel “truly look into it.”
Russian bounties are “believed to have resulted in the deaths of many US service members,” according to the Washington Post. Officials told the Associated Press that an attack on an American convoy in Afghanistan in April 2019 that killed three Marines is being investigated.
Last summer, a senior US official briefed on the matter told Fox News that the information obtained by the National Security Council was focused on “several sources of intelligence of interest,” some of which was inconsistent and some of which was open to interpretation.
According to a different military source who spoke to Fox News on Monday, special operations forces raided a Taliban outpost this year and seized approximately $500,000, with an investigation of an Afghan soldier later revealing that the money came from Russia. However, the source added that the facts could not be easily confirmed and that the incident was not mentioned in Pentagon briefings to senior leaders.
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The backpedaling on an important issue, on which Trump became a target of the Democrats, was an issue which had no basis. It was pushed by the media and the pro-Democrats in the intelligence community to hurt Trump’s credibility.
President Trump was accused of collusion with Russia because unlike his predecessor he did not make Russia the enemy. Instead, it was China, for its belligerence around the globe, which became a target of Trump’s policies. The Democrats love China and hate Russia to their rotten core and could not digest it and thus even the partisans in the intelligence community pushed the agenda to make Trump lose the Presidential elections. And we know now that the Russian bounty story was nothing more than what Trump had rightly called it, a HOAX!
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