THE NEW YORK TIMES “BOUNTY ON U.S. TROOPS” STRAW MAN

Let me start this blog by pointing out that I assume we have enemies that offer rewards to attack and kill our troops.  I can’t offer specifics, but it stands to reason that our enemies would do such a thing.

But Friday’s New York Times article by Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt and Michael Schwirtz did not make this general claim.  It made a  specific claim about Russia offering a bounty on “coalition forces in Afghanistan” – which would include U.S. Troops – and President Trump doing nothing about it.

Here is how the article starts:

American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter.

The United States concluded months ago that the Russian unit, which has been linked to assassination attempts and other covert operations in Europe intended to destabilize the West or take revenge on turncoats, had covertly offered rewards for successful attacks last year.

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.

The intelligence finding was briefed to President Trump, and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March, the officials said. Officials developed a menu of potential options — starting with making a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and a demand that it stop, along with an escalating series of sanctions and other possible responses, but the White House has yet to authorize any step, the officials said.

I’ve provided the link so that you can read this entire story.  When you do, you will find no specific source for the claim about a bounty, no specific source for the claim that it was discussed with the White House and no specific source that, if the discussion took place, no steps were authorized.

It does, however, mention – buried in the middle of the article – that “both American and Afghan officials have previously accused Russia of providing small arms and other support to the Taliban” – which suggests that steps to deal with such an eventuality are already in place.

The bottom line is that this article appears to be a classic “strawman” – i.e. an article written in a way that suggests an ongoing situation already being dealt with, if it exists at all, is some kind of huge scandal…

…and one tailor-made for presumptive Democrat nominee Joe Biden and his writers to take pot shots at, which I will detail in my next blog.

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