NYT Still Joking Around About Dead Americans in Afghanistan

Do they have editors at this paper anymore, or it’s all just pre-packaged in Langley?

In an article about three marines who should have never been in Afghanistan in the first place getting killed there in a suicide truck bombing last year, they 1 try to push their Russian bounties hoax some more, while 2 admitting that they’ve got no case to make even though this is their 9th or 10th article in a series on this obvious lie:

“American intelligence agencies are investigating whether that car bomb was detonated at the behest of a Russian military agency paying bounties to Afghan militia groups for killing American troops. Such a possibility, if true, would be a staggering repudiation of Mr. Trump’s yearslong embrace of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Thus far, there is no conclusive evidence linking the deaths to any kind of Russian bounty.”

Yeah, yeah. “If true”; the story of the last four years of Russiagate lies in two words.

They then helpfully remind us:

The investigation into the deaths of the three Marines continues. Although Mr. Trump has dismissed the suspected Russian payments as “fake news,” Congress has begun hearings into the matter. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that while the government so far lacks proof that any Russian bounties caused specific military casualties, “we are still looking.”

As that famous liar Donald Rumsfeld said about Iraq’s unconventional weapons, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Good enough for the newspaper of record, of course.

Cross-posted at the Institute.

Charlie Savage, NYT, CIA Climb Down From Russia Bounties Hoax

The headline blares that it’s a big “administration” conspiracy to play up doubts and play down proofs of the bounties plot, but the text itself reveals that it’s the National Intelligence Council that did the new review and that even the CIA, the agency out in front on this story, has only “medium” or “moderate” confidence on the reality of the plot. Meanwhile DoD and NSA both still say they give it low confidence and cannot verify.

You gotta appreciate the desperate spin of the Times reporters and their editors here:

“A memo produced in recent days by the office of the nation’s top intelligence official acknowledged that the C.I.A. and top counterterrorism officials have assessed that Russia appears to have offered bounties to kill American and coalition troops in Afghanistan, but emphasized uncertainties and gaps in evidence, according to three officials.”

Oh how cynical of the National Intelligence Council to “emphasize” doubts instead of running with wild unverified claims! Their anonymous sources assure us that the memo “was intended to bolster the Trump administration’s attempts to justify its inaction” over the alleged Russian interference. But intelligence officials tell the New York Times lots of things.

I buried the lead nearly as badly as they did, but here it is before they go meandering off saying nothing and refusing to acknowledge the importance of the following admission:

“The memo said that the C.I.A. and the National Counterterrorism Center had assessed with medium confidence — meaning credibly sourced and plausible, but falling short of near certainty — that a unit of the Russian military intelligence service, known as the G.R.U., offered the bounties, according to two of the officials briefed on its contents.

“But other parts of the intelligence community — including the National Security Agency, which favors electronic surveillance intelligence — said they did not have information to support that conclusion at the same level, therefore expressing lower confidence in the conclusion, according to the two officials. A third official familiar with the memo did not describe the precise confidence levels, but also said the C.I.A.’s was higher than other agencies.”

So Charlie Savage admits that his whole stupid story is based on a medium-confidence conclusion of the CIA against the views of the NSA and DoD. I wonder if he noticed the same people gave the story to the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post at the same time as an obvious attempt to use their stenography in a plot to prevent Trump from considering an “early” withdrawal from Afghanistan.

And then check out this from Scott Ritter’s piece at ConsortiumNews.com:

“’Afghan officials said prizes of as much as $100,000 per killed soldier were offered for American and coalition targets,’ the Times reported. And yet, when Rukmini Callimachi, a member of the reporting team breaking the story, appeared on MSNBC to elaborate further, she noted that ‘the funds were being sent from Russia regardless of whether the Taliban followed through with killing soldiers or not. There was no report back to the GRU about casualties. The money continued to flow.’

“There is just one problem — that’s not how bounties work.”

…And they will keep on jerking that rusty old chain.

Shame On You, Charlie Savage

Ashamed man

We all know you know better than to write such garbage as this.

Someone says that “intelligence” says that the Russians are paying to have Americans killed in Afghanistan, huh? And you put your name on that? I mean sure, if you were David Sanger, but you’re Charlie Savage and that means that you have really done a terrible, terrible thing here.

And in paragraphs 5 and 6 you admit that you don’t know that it’s true at all.

“An operation to incentivize the killing of American and other NATO troops would be a significant and provocative escalation of what American and Afghan officials have said is Russian support for the Taliban, and it would be the first time the Russian spy unit was known to have orchestrated attacks on Western troops.

“Any involvement with the Taliban that resulted in the deaths of American troops would also be a huge escalation of Russia’s so-called hybrid war against the United States, a strategy of destabilizing adversaries through a combination of such tactics as cyberattacks, the spread of fake news and covert and deniable military operations.”

“Would.” If actually true, you mean? C’mon, now.

Jeez, they really gave you nothing huh?

“Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have collected some bounty money, the officials said. Twenty Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2019, but it was not clear which killings were under suspicion.”

How come Thomas Gibbons-Neff’s name isn’t on this article? Would he have tried to verify it or something?

We have all come to expect such dishonesty from the New York Times, and especially people like Eric Schmitt. But Charlie. Oh Charlie. This is a new low for you. Have some self-respect for chrissakes.

Update: The WSJ and Washington Post have posted the same assertions, also with no evidence whatsoever.

Update: Savage’s NYT co-conspirators follow-up with slightly more detail, but still no reason to believe.

Cross-posted over at the Institute.

Bin Ladenites Jerking Trump’s Chain

Just like when he fell for the Khan Sheikhoun and Douma chemical attack hoaxes in Syria in 2017 and 2018, President Trump let the bin Ladenites (by way of his Zionists) tell him what to think and who to bomb after the attack on the U.S. base in Iraq on December 27, 2019. This time it was “Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah.”

His revenge attacks on Iraqi Shi’ite militias and then Iranian General Qassem Soleimani could have started a real war.

But the Shi’ites didn’t do it.

We tried to tell you…

Gareth Porter:

The provenance of the event that triggered the fateful decisions that followed is shrouded in ambiguity. As the New York Times reported on Dec. 27, “It wasn’t clear who was responsible for the attack,” adding that the base had been threatened previously by both Iranian-backed militias and Islamic State forces.

The IS forces in the area of Kirkuk where the K1 base was located had become increasingly active in 2018 and 2019, with a rapidly growing pace of attacks, operating freely out of the rugged mountainous north and south of the city. In fact there had been more attacks by IS on government targets in Kirkuk in 2018 than anywhere else in Iraq, and it had the highest rate of growth as well.

Scott Ritter:

The U.S. blamed Iranian-backed Khaitab Hezbollah (no relation to the Lebanese Hezbollah group), for the attacks.

There are several problems with this narrative, first and foremost being that the bases bombed were reportedly more than 500 kilometers removed from the military base where the civilian contractor had been killed. The Iraqi units housed at the bombed facilities, including Khaitab Hezbollah, were engaged, reportedly, in active combat operations against ISIS remnants operating in both Iraq and Syria. This calls into question whether they would be involved in an attack against an American target. In fact, given the recent resurgence of ISIS, it is entirely possible that ISIS was responsible for the attack on the U.S. base, creating a scenario where the U.S. served as the de facto air force for ISIS by striking Iraqi forces engaged in anti-ISIS combat operations.

Me:

No doubt, the only person in the world who wants to see regime change in Iran as much as Benjamin Netanyahu is Ayman al Zawahiri.

Now here’s a follow-up by Alissa J. Rubin in the Times. There’s no solid proof, but also no reason whatsoever to believe any Shi’ite militia was responsible:

Was US Wrong About Attack That Nearly Started a War With Iran?

American officials insist that they have solid evidence that Khataib Hezbollah carried out the attack, though they have not made it public.

Iraqi officials say their doubts are based on circumstantial evidence and long experience in the area where the attack took place.

The rockets were launched from a Sunni Muslim part of Kirkuk Province notorious for attacks by the Islamic State, a Sunni terrorist group, which would have made the area hostile territory for a Shiite militia like Khataib Hezbollah.

Khataib Hezbollah has not had a presence in Kirkuk Province since 2014.

The Islamic State, however, had carried out three attacks relatively close to the base in the 10 days before the attack on K-1. Iraqi intelligence officials sent reports to the Americans in November and December warning that ISIS intended to target K-1, an Iraqi air base in Kirkuk Province that is also used by American forces. …

“All the indications are that it was Daesh,” said Brig. General Ahmed Adnan, the Iraqi chief of intelligence for the federal police at K-1, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. “I told you about the three incidents in the days just before in the area — we know Daesh’s movements.

“We as Iraqi forces cannot even come to this area unless we have a large force because it is not secure. How could it be that someone who doesn’t know the area could come here and find that firing position and launch an attack?” …

Iraqi officials said the group had not had a presence in Kirkuk Province in years. The only time it was active there, they said, was in 2014 during the early days of the fight against the Islamic State.

Ignorant, illiterate Trump couldn’t tell you the difference between ISIS and the Ayatollah if Bloody Gina Haspel waterboarded him.

The disgusting spawn of Zarqawi probably had no intention of launching a false-flag attack here. They were just firing off some rockets at their enemies — Shi’ite army-embedded American troops. Imagine their surprise and delight to see the U.S. exploit their violence to turn against their enemies this way. They sure seemed pretty happy about it at the time. See here:

ISIS welcomes the death of Iran’s Qaseem Soleimani and declare it an act of ‘divine intervention’ that will let them regroup in Iraq

And here:

Qasem Soleimani: Why his killing is good news for IS jihadists

Remember your history.

They Lied Us Into War, All of Them

Cross-posted at the Institute.

Update: On Friday morning I interviewed Iraqi journalist Suadad al-Salhy. She says that actually Shi’ite militias such as Kataib Hezbollah are close enough to have also had the opportunity, and that Rubin is over-simplifying.

The point stands that nobody really knows. And the U.S. has proven nothing.