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Posts Tagged ‘Taliban’

Erie Times E-Edition Article-Blinken briefs Afghans on pullout

Posted by M. C. on April 16, 2021

” A report on worldwide threats issued by U.S. intelligence agencies forecast Tuesday that the Taliban “is likely to make gains on the battlefield, and the Afghan government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support.””

Wow! Really? The US invaded the country that never attacked US almost 20 years ago. The almost stone age enemy was operating out of caves with cell phones and VCRs. We are still there.

This war department flip flop is said to be because it is felt the US can’t be tied down trying to defeat a stone age Taliban when they go to war against Russia and China. Of course the Taliban aren’t really stone age. Especially after they received advanced equipment from our ME allies (US aided “moderate” al Qaeda) or just picked it up off the ground after we left an area.

That is our Washington, always one step behind.

https://erietimes-pa-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=30cad8a90

Nick Wadhams

Bloomberg News TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a visit to Afghanistan on Thursday to brief the country’s leaders on U.S. plans to withdraw its remaining troops by Sept. 11 and to press for a peace agreement with the Taliban.

Blinken made the stop, which wasn’t announced beforehand in keeping with the strict security measures required for such visits, after President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that the U.S. was pulling the more than 2,500 remaining troops from the country by the 20th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks. An additional 7,000 allied forces are also expected to withdraw.

“The reason I’m here, so quickly after the president’s speech last night, is to demonstrate literally, by our presence, that we have an enduring and ongoing commitment to Afghanistan,” Blinken told a crowd at the U.S Embassy in Kabul. He then met with President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, saying the two countries’ “partnership is changing, but the partnership is enduring.” “We respect the decision and are adjusting our priorities,” Ghani told him.

Blinken visited NATO allies in Brussels earlier to coordinate plans for the withdrawal. The decision pushes back a May 1 deadline that the Trump administration agreed to with Taliban leaders.

Military and diplomatic leaders had said a rushed withdrawal could destabilize the country. Officials had also argued that the Pentagon’s previous “con-

See BLINKEN, Page 4A

Continued from Page 1A

ditions-based” approach for withdrawal was a recipe for leaving U.S. forces in the country forever.

Although some members of Congress endorsed Biden’s withdrawal plans, lawmakers from both parties have warned it would set the stage for the Taliban to return to power and for terrorists from al-Qaida and the Islamic State group to reestablish operations in the country.

Blinken told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday that the U.S. will work closely with allies on a “safe, deliberate and coordinated withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan.”

U.S. officials hope the impending troop withdrawal will create a new sense of urgency for Ghani’s government to agree to a peace deal with the Taliban. At the same time, it has complicated a U.S.-backed peace conference in Istanbul that representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban had been set to attend beginning April 24. The Taliban said in a tweet late Tuesday that it wouldn’t participate.

A report on worldwide threats issued by U.S. intelligence agencies forecast Tuesday that the Taliban “is likely to make gains on the battlefield, and the Afghan government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support.”

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, right, meets with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kabul on Thursday. AFGHAN PRESIDENTIAL PALACE VIA AP

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Biden Begs Taliban: Let Us Stay Six More Months

Posted by M. C. on March 31, 2021

The Biden Administration seems intent on breaking the agreement signed under the Trump Administration for US troops to finally leave Afghanistan, the longest and perhaps most pointless war in US history. Rather than follow through with the withdrawal, the White House is attempting to negotiate with the Taliban for six more months. How many more Americans (and Afghanis) will have to die for this failed policy? Also today, Biden ratchets up war tensions in Ukraine, shipping more than 300 tons of new weapons. War drums getting louder.

More Americans will die if Biden cheats on the deal.

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Watch “Biden Begs Taliban: Let Us Stay Six More Months” on YouTube

Posted by M. C. on March 31, 2021

The Biden Administration seems intent on breaking the agreement signed under the Trump Administration for US troops to finally leave Afghanistan, the longest and perhaps most pointless war in US history. Rather than follow through with the withdrawal, the White House is attempting to negotiate with the Taliban for six more months. How many more Americans (and Afghanis) will have to die for this failed policy? Also today, Biden ratchets up war tensions in Ukraine, shipping more than 300 tons of new weapons. War drums getting louder.

https://youtu.be/28ZBOXIvHjA

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How generals profit from war

Posted by M. C. on November 17, 2020

The Rich Man’s War and Poor Man’s Fight, with Major Danny Sjursen (retired)

https://mailchi.mp/59f03d428e28/how-generals-profit-from-war-4127585?e=de2d0eded6

Why would the U.S. Army pay the Taliban during the daytime, and then fight and kill them at night?

Major Danny Sjursen details from his own experience how his former commanders would send their men to die in pointless missions in order to further their own careers in the military, and to secure a job with an arms corporation after retirement. 
`”These are what Obi-Wan Kenobi called ‘the economics of politics.’ Right here, bare-ass naked for everyone to see exactly what’s going on here.”— Scott Horton
Sjursen names former commanders and colleagues who profited off of this corrupt system.

Using war for private profit goes all the way to the top of the political hierarchy, as Horton reminds us by referring to the case of senators Lindsay Graham, John McCain, and Joseph Lieberman, who tried to sell armored personnel carriers to Qaddafi mere months before they pushed for his death.

President Trump has recognized the two castes in the military, the top brass who “want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy” and the enlisted men who “love” him because “we’re getting out of the endless wars”
Yet for all his rhetoric, Trump has failed to end any wars. And it looks like a Biden presidency will continue endless wars along the neoconservative status quo.

For more examples of high-ranking officers directing foreign policy to their personal gain, including the profitable application of counterinsurgency tactics on United States citizens, click the link below.
Listen to Interview
Innoculate others against war propaganda. Share this email.

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Are the Forever Wars Really Ending? – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on September 15, 2020

George H. W. Bush’s New World Order is ancient history, as are the democracy crusades his son George W. Bush was persuaded to launch.

But what will Trump’s foreign policy legacy be, should he win?

Joe Biden has signaled where he is headed — straight back to Barack Obama:

“First thing I’m going to have to do, and I’m not joking: if elected I’m going to have to get on the phone with the heads of state and say America’s back,” Biden said, saying NATO has been “worried as hell about our failure to confront Russia.”

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/09/patrick-j-buchanan/are-the-forever-wars-really-ending/

By

“There is no… sound reason for the United States to continue sacrificing precious lives and treasure in a conflict not directly connected to our safety or other vital national interests.”

So said William Ruger about Afghanistan, our longest war.

What makes this statement significant is that President Donald Trump has ordered a drawdown by mid-October of half of the 8,600 troops still in the country. And Ruger was just named U.S. ambassador to Kabul.

The selection of Ruger to oversee the U.S. withdrawal came as Gen. Frank McKenzie of Central Command announced plans to cut the U.S. troop presence in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,000 by the end of September.

Is America, at long last, really coming home from the forever wars?

A foreign policy analyst at the libertarian Charles Koch Institute and a Naval officer decorated for his service in Afghanistan, Ruger has long championed a noninterventionist foreign policy.

His nomination tends to confirm that, should Trump win a second term, his often-declared goal of extracting America from the forever wars of the Middle East, unachieved in his first term, would become a priority.

Yet, we have been here before, bringing our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, only to send thousands back when our enemies seemed to be gaining the upper hand at the expense of the allies we left behind.

Still, this time, Trump’s withdrawals look to be irreversible. And with the U.S. deal with the Taliban producing peace negotiations between the Kabul government and the Taliban, America seems to be saying to both sides of this endless civil war:

The destiny of Afghanistan is yours. The choice of war or peace is up to you. If talks collapse and a fight to the finish ensues, we Americans are not coming back, even to prevent a Taliban victory.

Speaking in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Trump made a remarkable declaration:

“We don’t have to be in the Middle East, other than we want to protect Israel. … There was a time we needed desperately oil, we don’t need that anymore.” If Trump means what he says, U.S. forces will be out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan early in his second term.

But how to explain the continued presence of tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Diego Garcia?

Another indication of where a Trump second term is pointing is the naming of retired Col. Douglas Macgregor as ambassador to Germany.

The winner of a Bronze Star for valor in the 1991 Gulf War, Macgregor speaks German and is steeped in that country’s history. He has been highly visible on cable TV, calling for the transfer to our allies of the primary responsibility for their own defenses, and elevating the security of America’s Southern border to a far higher national imperative.

In 2019, Macgregor was quoted: “The only solution is martial law on the border, putting the United States Army in charge of it and closing it off would take about 30, 40,000 troops. We’re talking about the regular army. You need robust rules of engagement. That means that you can shoot people as required if your life is in danger.”

That Macgregor’s priorities may be Trump’s also became evident with the president’s announcement this summer of the withdrawal of 12,000 of the 35,000 U.S. troops stationed in Germany.

Yet, at the same time, there is seemingly contradictory evidence to the notion that Donald Trump wants our troops home. Currently, some 2,800 U.S., British, and French troops are conducting “Noble Partner” exercises with Georgian troops in that country in the Caucasus bordering Russia.

In Trump’s first term, his commitment to extricate America from the forever wars went unrealized, due in part to the resistance of hawks Trump himself appointed to carry out his foreign policy agenda.

Clearly, with the cuts in troops in Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the appointments of Ruger and Macgregor, Trump has signaled a new resolve to reconfigure U.S. foreign policy in an “America First” direction, if he wins a second term. Will he follow through?

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has been in an extended argument with itself over America’s role, America’s mission in the world.

George H. W. Bush’s New World Order is ancient history, as are the democracy crusades his son George W. Bush was persuaded to launch.

But what will Trump’s foreign policy legacy be, should he win?

Joe Biden has signaled where he is headed — straight back to Barack Obama:

“First thing I’m going to have to do, and I’m not joking: if elected I’m going to have to get on the phone with the heads of state and say America’s back,” Biden said, saying NATO has been “worried as hell about our failure to confront Russia.”

Trump came to office pledging to establish a new relationship with the Kremlin of President Vladimir Putin.

Is that still his goal, or have the Beltway Russophobes prevailed?

 

 

 

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The Leftist Effort To Rewrite American History – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on August 5, 2020

Leaders of ISIS and the Taliban have called the recent U.S. trend of
angry mobs destroying statues “inspiring but a bit amateur,” and agreed
to send advisers to Antifa and other far-left groups on how to erase
historical artifacts. “Destroying all art, culture and history from
previous eras is obviously constructive,” said ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim
al-Hashimi. “But they’ve got to do it in a more dramatic way. We
beheaded statues with a sword. The Taliban blew up ancient Buddhas with
dynamite. Tying a statue to a truck and dragging it down just doesn’t
have the same dramatic effect.”

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/08/walter-e-williams/leftist-effort-to-revise-american-history/

By

There is very little new under the sun. The monument and statue destruction that we are witnessing has been witnessed in other times and other places. A tyrant’s first battlefield is to rewrite history. Most notable were the political purges of Joseph Stalin. The Soviet government erased figures from Soviet history by renaming cities — such as the Imperial capital of St. Petersburg to Petrograd and Leningrad and Stalingrad — and eradicating memories of czarist rule. Stalin’s historical revisions also included changing photographs and history books, thereby distorting children’s learning within educational establishments.

Leaders of ISIS and the Taliban have called the recent U.S. trend of angry mobs destroying statues “inspiring but a bit amateur,” and agreed to send advisers to Antifa and other far-left groups on how to erase historical artifacts. “Destroying all art, culture and history from previous eras is obviously constructive,” said ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi. “But they’ve got to do it in a more dramatic way. We beheaded statues with a sword. The Taliban blew up ancient Buddhas with dynamite. Tying a statue to a truck and dragging it down just doesn’t have the same dramatic effect.”

Most of the effort to rewrite American history has its roots among the intellectual elite on our college campuses whose message has been sold to predominantly white college students who have little understanding of how they are being used. Much of their current focus is on tearing down statues and changing names that they deem offensive. They have denounced George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. Without much understanding of history, they have demanded that Princeton University remove the name of Woodrow Wilson, who was a progressive, from its public policy school and residential college. Some are urging Yale University to change its name because its benefactor Elihu Yale was a slave trader.

To purge our society of names associated with evil is going to be quite a task. I suggest that we set up a formal commission to deal with this formidable challenge. Maybe we can name it the Commission to Eliminate Bad Memories. There are some challenging issues. What should be done about our nation’s capital, Washington and District of Columbia? After all, George Washington owned slaves, and Columbia is the feminine form of Columbus. Speaking of Washington, its football team, the Washington Redskins, has finally agreed to temporarily call themselves Washington Football Team until they can find a snazzier name.

Renaming things is a big job. Our military has several fighting aircraft named with what today’s tyrants might consider racial slights, such as the Apache, Iroquois, Kiowa, Lakota and Mescalero. Perhaps offensive to PETA, we also have military hardware named after animals, such as the Eagle, Falcon, Raptor, Cobra and Dolphin.

Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune wrote, “Now that Washington’s NFL team has announced its ‘retirement’ of the racial slur that has been its brand name since 1933, I am tempted to gloat a little.” In response to Page’s article, there is an email making the internet rounds that raises naming issues. What about the Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians?

The New York Yankees might offend Southerners because there is no team named for the Confederacy, Some people, particularly Catholics, might be offended by or deem it sacrilegious to have sports teams named the New Orleans Saints, the Los Angeles Angels or the San Diego Padres. Then what about team names that glorify savage barbarians and criminals who raped and pillaged such as Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Pittsburgh Pirates? The New York Giants and the San Francisco Giants might be promoting obesity and the Milwaukee Brewers promoting alcoholism.

There is another naming issue that needs resolution. I have been working 40 years at George Mason University. Despite his monumental contributions, such as our Bill of Rights, George Mason was a slave owner. Therefore, in keeping with the times, George Mason University is due for a name change. How about Al Sharpton University, Jesse Jackson University or Black Lives Matter University? Does objection to these names make one a racist?

Walter E. Williams is the John M. Olin distinguished professor of economics at George Mason University, and a nationally syndicated columnist. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page.

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Taliban, Russia and John Dillinger

Posted by M. C. on July 25, 2020

I made a poorly written Facebook comment regarding Russia and the Taliban. My original thought was the CIA/Pentagram faked the statement that the Taliban was paid to kill US soldiers, not that the CIA/Pentagram did the paying.

The point being we must prevent Trump bringing troops home from the other side of the planet.

I felt uncomfortable with my correction as after all this is the CIA/Pentagram we are talking about. Think of lives lost due to Tokin Gulf and agent orange lies.

Russia having to pay Taliban to kill US forces is like having to pay John Dillinger to rob banks. It makes no sense. The Taliban have been happy to do it for free for 20 years.

A few days later the memory bank kicked in. We have paid the Taliban… a lot. We have paid them protection money, often through middlemen and contractors, not attack supply convoys. And who knows what else.

Money is fungible. Funds that don’t have to be used to supply one thing, because someone else supplies funds for that thing, can be used to kill Americans.

We also supply the enemies throughout the world due to gross incompetence and negligence. When US forces leave an area lots of good stuff is just left. It is easier to tap the taxpayer for more.

The US has supplied and trained forces that have taken and sold their equipment or gone over to Al Qaeda.

The black market is overflowing with high tech US equipment.

There are hundreds of billion$ worth of equipment the pentagram can’t account for and lost.

The links and the snippet below describe some of what we know. As Donald Rumsfield once stated “we don’t know what we don’t know”.

https://thediplomat.com/2018/06/how-the-us-is-indirectly-arming-the-taliban/

https://abcnews.go.com/WN/Afghanistan/united-states-military-funding-taliban-afghanistan/story?id=10980527

“The military has turned to private trucking companies to transport the vast majority of materiel it needs to fight the war — everything from bullets to Gatorade, gas to sandbags — and in turn, the companies are using American money to pay, among others, the Taliban to try to guarantee the trucks’ safe passage, the reports charge.

Trucking executives and investigators from the House Subcommittee on National Security say the United States military knew it was helping fund the people it was fighting but did nothing about it, choosing to satisfy short-term delivery requirements and ignore fears that payments to the enemy help perpetuate Afghanistan’s long-term security problems.

In one case, a security company is paying a local commander who funnels American money directly to the Quetta Shura, the Taliban leadership council based in Pakistan, according to officials in Pakistan. The commander denied the allegation. On a recent day when the commander was told he had lost the security contract, a half dozen trucks were burned on the road between Kabul and Kandahar. The violence stopped a few days later when the contract was given back to him.”

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Why No Deal is Needed with the Taliban | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on July 21, 2020

Advocates of continuing the war in Afghanistan want to make the issue about whether the Taliban can be trusted. But no trust is necessary; all one needs to see the way forward is a clear understanding of American national security interests and the incentives and goals of the militant organization. From that perspective, the best choice for the United States is a clear commitment to withdrawal, regardless of whether or not we are able to achieve a comprehensive deal before doing so.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/why-no-deal-is-needed-with-the-taliban/

The U.S. should withdraw from Afghanistan and tend to its own interests. Let local powers worry about theirs.

As President Trump moves forward with his plan to withdraw the United States from Afghanistan, a new talking point has emerged among those who would like the United States to stay.

According to current and former government officials, the Taliban cannot be trusted. The argument is that the militant group has proven over the years that it will break any agreement it has reached if doing so accords with its ideological or political interests. According to one scholar, “what we judge the Taliban on is whether they honor the deal.”

Unfortunately, this argument avoids clear thinking about what the vital American national security interests are in Afghanistan, and how to best achieve them. Nearly two decades ago, the United States invaded that country in response to the 9/11 attacks. There was no evidence that Mullah Omar and his government approved of Bin Laden’s plans, or were even aware of them. It is likely they were not, as it was clear to the entire world that a terrorist strike against the United States would end the regime.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the Taliban expressed a willingness to hand over Bin Laden, but demanded evidence and wanted to negotiate the terms. The Bush administration was in no mood for discussions, and military operations to remove the Taliban began about two weeks later.

The Taliban showed no inclination to attack American territory before 9/11, and it has not done so since. Its goal has always simply been to rule over Afghanistan, a country that means little to American interests. Given that the United States went into the country for the purposes of responding to and fighting terrorism, in principle a deal should have been easy to work out.

As the Afghanistan Papers reveal, however, what began as a counter-terrorism war morphed into nation building. Particularly after the failure to find WMDs in Iraq, the Bush administration began to justify its seemingly pointless wars by framing them as struggles for democracy. President Obama came into office skeptical of an open-ended commitment, but was pressured into adopting the kind of counter-insurgency (COIN) mission favored by top military officials. The increase in funding and American troop commitment to Afghanistan coincided with more violence and the Kabul government losing more territory, discrediting the theory of nation-building underlying COIN.

Just as in fall 2001, today the U.S. has no interest in a long-term occupation of Afghanistan, and the Taliban has no interest in attacking the United States. No deal between the two sides is necessary. President Trump can simply withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, as he has been promising to do for years, and the Taliban’s sense of self-preservation should be enough to prevent it from allowing its country to be used as a base for terrorist attacks. In seeking to come back into political power and while facing rival insurgents, the Taliban will have its plate full at home without picking another fight with the United States.

A more serious concern is that the United States leaving Afghanistan would lead to the Taliban eventually replacing the Kabul government. Indeed, the movement has lasted twenty years under pressure from the most powerful military in the world, taking large swaths of territory from a central government receiving overwhelming military and financial support from abroad. Given the extent to which the Taliban has proved itself as a fighting force over two decades, it looks possible it would be able to take power once the United States withdrew.

Even if this is true, few Americans believe that which government rules Kabul is a vital national security interest of the United States. If, after twenty years, the government we have supported is no closer to complete control over its territory than it has been before, it is time to acknowledge that our experiment in nation building has failed. The current government of Afghanistan rests on the agreement and consent of warlords, the likes of which cut deals with the Taliban before and could do so again.

Many citizens prefer the courts and criminal justice system of the Taliban over the central government, seeing the former as less corrupt, better able to provide security, and more consistent with the people’s conservative religious values. Even by the measure of humanitarian concerns, while the central government is in many ways less brutal than the Taliban was, the U.S. occupation has done little to improve the well-being of the Afghan people.

The U.S. should waste no time in withdrawing all American forces from Afghanistan, acknowledging the Taliban as a legitimate player in the future of that country and establishing open dialogue with the group.

Deluding ourselves into believing the Afghan government can stand on its own simply avoids the much-needed honest assessment of the balance of power on the ground.

Advocates of continuing the war in Afghanistan want to make the issue about whether the Taliban can be trusted. But no trust is necessary; all one needs to see the way forward is a clear understanding of American national security interests and the incentives and goals of the militant organization. From that perspective, the best choice for the United States is a clear commitment to withdrawal, regardless of whether or not we are able to achieve a comprehensive deal before doing so.

 

Richard Hanania is a Research Fellow at Defense Priorities and the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University.

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How the Pentagon failed to sell Afghan government’s bunk ‘Bountygate’ story to US intelligence agencies  | The Grayzone

Posted by M. C. on July 11, 2020

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.

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/07/07/pentagon-afghan-bountygate-us-intelligence-agencies/

Another New York Times Russiagate bombshell turns out to be a dud, as dodgy stories spun out by Afghan intelligence and exploited by the Pentagon ultimately failed to convince US intelligence agencies.

By Gareth Porter

The New York Times dropped another Russiagate bombshell on June 26 with a sensational front-page story headlined, “Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says.”  A predictable media and political frenzy followed, reviving the anti-Russian hysteria that has excited the Beltway establishment for the past four years.

But a closer look at the reporting by the Times and other mainstream outlets vying to confirm its coverage reveals another scandal not unlike Russiagate itself: the core elements of the story appear to have been fabricated by Afghan government intelligence to derail a potential US troop withdrawal from the country. And they were leaked to the Times and other outlets by US national security state officials who shared an agenda with their Afghan allies.

In the days following the story’s publication, the maneuvers of the Afghan regime and US national security bureaucracy encountered an unexpected political obstacle: US intelligence agencies began offering a series of low confidence assessments in the Afghan government’s self-interested intelligence claims, judging them to be highly suspect at best, and altogether bogus at worst.

In light of this dramatic development, the Times’ initial report appears to have been the product of a sensationalistic disinformation dump aimed at prolonging the failed Afghan war in the face of President Donald Trump’s plans to withdraw US troops from it.

The Times quietly reveals its own sources’ falsehoods

The Times not only broke the Bountygate story but commissioned squads of reporters comprising nine different correspondents to write eight articles hyping the supposed scandal in the course of eight days. Its coverage displayed the paper’s usual habit of regurgitating bits of dubious information furnished to its correspondents by faceless national security sources. In the days after the Times’ dramatic publication, its correspondent squads were forced to revise the story line to correct an account that ultimately turned out to be false on practically every important point.

The Bountygate saga began on June 26, with a Times report declaring, “The United States concluded months ago” that the Russians “had covertly offered rewards for successful attacks last year.” The report suggested that US intelligence analysts had reached a firm conclusion on Russian bounties as early as January. A follow-up Times report portrayed the shocking discovery of the lurid Russian plot thanks to the recovery of a large amount of U.S. cash from a “raid on a Taliban outpost.” That article sourced its claim to the interrogations of “captured Afghan militants and criminals.”

However, subsequent reporting revealed that the “US intelligence reports” about a Russian plot to distribute bounties through Afghan middlemen were not generated by US intelligence at all.

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 Times also disclosed that 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.

The Times reported that those detainees were arrested and interrogated following the January 2020 raids based on suspicions by Afghan intelligence that they belonged to a “ring of middlemen” operating between the Russian GRU and so-called “Taliban-linked militants,” as Afghan sources made clear.

Furthermore, contrary to the initial report by the Times, those raids had actually been carried out exclusively by the Afghan intelligence service known as the National Directorate of Security (NDS). The Times disclosed this on July 1. Indeed, the interrogation of those detained in the raids was carried out by the NDS, which explains why the Times reporting referred repeatedly to “interrogations” without ever explaining who actually did the questioning.

Given the notorious record of the NDS, it must be assumed that its interrogators used torture or at least the threat of it to obtain accounts from the detainees that would support the Afghan government’s narrative. Both the Toronto Globe and Mail and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) have documented as recently as 2019 the frequent use of torture by the NDS to obtain information from detainees.  The primary objective of the NDS was to establish an air of plausibility around the claim that the fugitive businessman Azizi was the main “middleman” for a purported GRU scheme to offer bounties for killing Americans.

NDS clearly fashioned its story to suit the sensibilities of the U.S. national security state. The narrative echoed previous intelligence reports about Russian bounties in Afghanistan that circulated in early 2019, and which were even discussed at NSC meetings. Nothing was done about these reports, however, because nothing had been confirmed.

The idea that hardcore Taliban fighters needed or wanted foreign money to kill American invaders could have been dismissed on its face. So Afghan officials spun out claims that Russian bounties were paid to incentivize violence by “militants and criminals” supposedly “linked” to the Taliban.

These elements zeroed in on the April 2019 IED attack on a vehicle near the U.S. military base at Bagram in Parwan province that killed three US Marines, insisting that the Taliban had paid local criminal networks in the region to carry out attacks.

As former Parwan police chief Gen. Zaman Mamozai told the Times, Taliban commanders were based in only two of the province’s ten districts, forcing them to depend on a wider network of non-Taliban killers-for-hire to carry out attacks elsewhere in the province. These areas included the region around Bagram, according to the Afghan government’s argument.

But Dr. Thomas H. Johnson of the Naval Postgraduate School, a leading expert on insurgency and counter-insurgency in Afghanistan who has been researching war in the country for three decades,  dismissed the idea that the Taliban would need a criminal network to operate effectively in Parwan.

“The Taliban are all over Parwan,” Johnson stated in an interview with The Grayzone, observing that its fighters had repeatedly carried out attacks on or near the Bagram base throughout the war.

With withdrawal looming, the national security state plays its Bountygate card

Senior U.S. national security officials had clear ulterior motives for embracing the dubious NDS narrative. More than anything, those officials were determined to scuttle Trump’s push for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan. For Pentagon brass and civilian leadership, the fear of withdrawal became more acute in early 2020 as Trump began to demand an even more rapid timetable for a complete pullout than the 12-14 months being negotiated with the Taliban.

It was little surprise then that this element leapt at the opportunity to exploit the self-interested claims by the Afghan NDS to serve its own agenda, especially as the November election loomed. The Times even cited one “senior [US] official” musing that “the evidence about Russia could have threatened that [Afghanistan] deal, because it suggested that after eighteen year of war, Mr. Trump was letting Russia chase the last American troops out of the country.”

In fact, the intelligence reporting from the CIA Station in Kabul on the NDS Russia bounty claims was included in the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) on or about February 27 — just as the negotiation of the U.S. peace agreement with the Taliban was about to be signed. That was too late to prevent the signing but timed well enough to ratchet up pressure on Trump to back away from his threat to pull all US troops out of Afghanistan.

Trump may have been briefed orally on the issue at the time, but even if he had not been, the presence of a summary description of the intelligence in the PDB could obviously have been used to embarrass him on Afghanistan by leaking it to the media.

According to Ray McGovern, a former CIA official who was responsible for preparing the PDB for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the insertion of raw, unconfirmed intelligence from a self-interested Afghan intelligence agency into the PDB was a departure from normal practice.

Unless it was a two or three-sentence summary of a current intelligence report, McGovern explained, an item in the PDB normally involved only important intelligence that had been confirmed.  Furthermore, according to McGovern, PDB items are normally shorter versions of items prepared the same day as part of the CIA’s “World Intelligence Review” or “WIRe.”

Information about the purported Russian bounty scheme, however, was not part of the WIRe until May 4, well over two months later, according to the Times. That discrepancy added weight to the suggestion that the CIA had political motivations for planting the raw NDS reporting in the PDB before it could be evaluated.

This June, Trump’s National Security Council (NSC) convened a meeting to discuss the intelligence report, officials told the Times. NSC members drew up a range of options in response to the alleged Russian plot, from a diplomatic protest to more forceful responses. Any public indication that US troops in Afghanistan had been targeted by Russian spies would have inevitably threatened Trump’s plan for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

At some point in the weeks that followed, the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency each undertook evaluations of the Afghan intelligence claims. Once the Times began publishing stories about the issue, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe directed the National Intelligence Council, which is responsible for managing all common intelligence community assessments, to write a memorandum summarizing the intelligence organizations’ conclusions.

The memorandum revealed that the intelligence agencies were not impressed with what they’d seen. The CIA and National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) each gave the NDS intelligence an assessment of “moderate confidence,” according to memorandum.

An official guide to intelligence community terminology used by policymakers to determine how much they should rely on assessments indicates that “moderate confidence” generally indicates that “the information being used in the analysis may be interpreted in various ways….” It was hardly a ringing endorsement of the NDS intelligence when the CIA and NCTC arrived at this finding.

The assessment by the National Security Agency was even more important, given that it had obtained intercepts of electronic data on financial transfers “from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account,” according to the Times’ sources.  But the NSA evidently had no idea what the transfers related to, and essentially disavowed the information from the Afghan intelligence agency.

The NIC memorandum reported that NSA gave the information from Afghan intelligence “low confidence” — the lowest of the three possible levels of confidence used in the intelligence community.  According to the official guide to intelligence community terminology, that meant that “information used in the analysis is scant, questionable, fragmented, or that solid analytical conclusions cannot be inferred from the information.”

Other intelligence agencies reportedly assigned “low confidence” to the information as well, according to the memorandum. Even the Defense Intelligence Agency, known for its tendency to issue alarmist warnings about activities by US adversaries, found no evidence in the material linking the Kremlin to any bounty offers.

Less than two weeks after the Times rolled out its supposed bombshell on Russian bounties, relying entirely on national security officials pushing their own bureaucratic interests on Afghanistan, the story was effectively discredited by the intelligence community itself. In a healthy political climate, this would have produced a major setback for the elements determined to keep US troops entrenched in Afghanistan.

But the political hysteria generated by the Times and the hyper-partisan elements triggered by the appearance of another sordid Trump-Putin connection easily overwhelmed the countervailing facts. It was all the Pentagon and its bureaucratic allies needed to push back on plans for a speedy withdrawal from a long and costly war.

Gareth Porter

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist who has covered national security policy since 2005 and was the recipient of Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 2012.  His most recent book is The CIA Insider’s Guide to the Iran Crisis co-authored with John Kiriakou, just published in February.

 

 

 

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Poll: Americans Believe Russia Paid Taliban to Kill US Troops – News From Antiwar.com

Posted by M. C. on July 9, 2020

Taliban have been killing US soldiers for 20 years for free.  Russians are not stupid.

Someone has been paying to have US soldiers killed. You and me.

https://news.antiwar.com/2020/07/08/poll-americans-believe-russia-paid-taliban-to-kill-us-troops/

Late last month, reports began emerging claiming that Russia had been paying substantial bounties to the Taliban to kill US troops in Afghanistan. A new poll shows that 60% of Americans view that allegation as “believable.”

Claims Russia did something bad are usually easy to sell, and a claim repeated enough usually gets believed by many. Still, the evidence is not at all on the side of this particular allegation, which the Pentagon tried, and failed, to sell to the US intelligence community.

Centcom head Gen. Frank McKenzie says that when he heard the report it was “worrisome,” but that he’s still not clear anyone was killed on the basis of this. Moreover, he says the US did not change its Afghanistan operations.

It seems clear at this point it was never true, but the New York Times ran with the story, and ran hard, and the poll points to Americans buying the story.

The poll shows that they view Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “threat,” and support a new round of US sanctions against Russia. Alarmingly, 9% even supported attacking Russia outright.

This is undercut by the strong evidence that this plot isn’t true, and never was. The danger is, the US could escalate hostilities and the majority of the public is fine with it.

Be seeing you

 

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