Here’s something you won’t see plastered on CNN for the next 48 hours. Remember that Russian Bounty story that supposedly proved Trump was more worried about appeasing Putin than the troops? That conveniently broke right as the President was looking to pull troops out of Afghanistan, a war we’ve been in for 20 years with no end in sight.
As I wrote at the time, the story always smelled wrong. The timing was too perfect and there was nothing in the way of actual evidence (see New Report: The Intel Assessment Behind the Russian Bounty Story Doesn’t Appear to Exist). Seeing Republicans like Rep. Liz Cheney jump to the tune of the mainstream media was also disappointing (see Opinion: It’s Time to Stop Virtue Signaling About Russia and Face Reality)
But if you needed more proof the story was nonsense, we’ve got an update from the Pentagon, and it’s not going to be well received by the left.
2 months after top Pentagon officials vowed to get to the bottom of whether the Russian gov't bribed Taliban to kill US service members, the commander in the region says a review of the intel has not been able to corroborate the existence of such a program https://t.co/RaiUV2XtHr
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 14, 2020
WASHINGTON — Two months after top Pentagon officials vowed to get to the bottom of whether the Russian government bribed the Taliban to kill American service members, the commander of troops in the region says a detailed review of all available intelligence has not been able to corroborate the existence of such a program.
“It just has not been proved to a level of certainty that satisfies me,” Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, told NBC News. McKenzie oversees U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. continues to hunt for new information on the matter, he said.
“We continue to look for that evidence,” the general said. “I just haven’t seen it yet. But … it’s not a closed issue.”
Yeah, I’m sure they’ll keep looking, and I’m equally sure they’ll keep coming up empty. Russia did not need to pay bounties to the Taliban to get them to try to kill U.S. troops. This may be hard for some to grasp, but when fundamentalists are in a war, they don’t need the extra incentive. To the extent that Russia meddled, they probably sent arms, something they’ve done in every U.S. conflict in the post-war era.
Of course, that didn’t stop hacks like Jake Tapper and others running with the original contention without any corroboration. It also hasn’t and won’t stop Joe Biden from repeating lies.
McKenzie’s comments, reflecting a consensus view among military leaders, underscores the lack of certainty around a narrative that has been accepted as fact by Democrats and other Trump critics, including presidential nominee Joe Biden, who has cited Russian bounties in attacks on President Donald Trump.
You’d think some of our valiant fact-checkers could look into this and correct Biden, but I won’t hold my breath.
Around and around we go. That ridiculous story led to the fake story in The Atlantic about Trump disparaging the troops, which led to the Bob Woodward nothingburger. The media are going to keep at this though. All the way until election, they will pump out false and misleading stories that target the president. And why wouldn’t they? They’ve paid no price and will continue to not pay a price.
There was something especially insidious about this bounty story though. To attempt to paint Trump as not caring if soldiers live and die was just disgusting. To then use a story the media knew there was no evidence of to spin a week’s news cycle was equally gross. These news outlets truly are enemy of the people material. They prove it every single day.
(Please follow me on Twitter! @bonchieredstate)