Every time I try to get out, they drag me back in.

I admire the people who maintain a vigilant watch against reckless journalism. Their stamina and dedication are inspiring. I can’t do it. I know that I could spend 30 more years writing blog posts about the folly of paying any attention to journalism that starts with “according to officials familiar with the intelligence” and it wouldn’t make a difference. Not one bit of difference.

I logged into IG on my computer today and saw several stories expressing shock about Trump turning a blind eye to Russia and Putin paying bounties for the killing of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. The IG stories were based on a New York Times article or articles in other news outlets that referred to the New York Times article.

The New York Times article was garbage. Complete garbage. I’m not really interested in continuing with this post. I’ve written too many similar ones. I’ll compromise. I’ll press on, but resolve to make this one the last one. Unless a journalism program wants to hire me remotely, in which case, disregard that previous sentence. I would be thrilled to continue my life’s work and passion for the Consuming Journalism obscure blog thread.

Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says

Gulf of Tonkin. Grenada. 1953 Iran. Colin Powell’s vials of WMD. Sophisticated Iraqi mobile something or others. A Slam Dunk. The Steele Dossier.

For fuck’s sake, please start questioning what you read, even when it lines up with what you want to believe. Who, what, where, why, when, how. You can’t go wrong with that. There’s always money in the banana stand.

I’ll try to head off the trolls. I should have made this into a cut and pastable option. Trump is a train wreck of a president with a dangerous affinity for authoritarian rulers. I’d bet your stimulus check that he can’t identify Afghanistan on a map. Russia is a corrupt military power that hasn’t got a winning message. If you believe Russia is an evil, expansionist power, you’ve got to be able to explain why our military budget and foreign military interventionism, Forever Wars, and drone assassinations are different. If you say because we’re the good guys, well, find someone who has the energy to discuss American exceptionalism. America still has a winning message that Russia can’t touch, but we sure try to squander that.

Back to the article. Russia is paying bounties to Afghanis for the killing of American soldiers.

If true, that cannot stand. Even though we provided resources to Afghanis in their war against the Russians, we can’t stand for that. We voted for the leaders who have kept us in Afghanistan since 2001. We owe it to the men and women who serve in the U.S. military to keep them safe. The most effective means is voting out the neocons and Forever Warers…but until we do that, we also have to make sure we press for the resolve to watch their backs, while they’re deployed and after they return home.

But let’s look at the article and the claim.

Would the Russians enjoy seeing some dead Americans in Afghanistan? I wouldn’t doubt it. Powerful countries love playing The Great Game. True or not, there are claims that U.S. entities (impossible to prove) enjoyed getting some payback for Vietnam by helping the Afghans against Russia.

Bounties? Russia is relatively wealthy, and they have a very strong military and formidable intelligence/diplomatic resources. If they wanted to see dead Americans in Afghanistan, would bounties be the logical route? What does that even mean? Are they paying for photographic evidence, a I swear to god, scalps?

Did Charlie Wilson overspend?

Wilson is best known for leading Congress into supporting Operation Cyclone, the largest-ever Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) covert operation, which during the Carter and Reagan administration supplied military equipment to the Afghan Mujahideen during the Soviet–Afghan War. His behind-the-scenes campaign was the subject of the non-fiction book Charlie Wilson’s War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History by George Crile III and the subsequent film Charlie Wilson’s War, starring Tom Hanks as Wilson.

All that money, effort, and hardware. Couldn’t Charlie Wilson have just offered up some bounties? Sure seems a lot cheaper.

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.

Unnamed American officials. According to officials briefed on the matter.

How long are we going to put up with this sort of journalism. Haven’t we learned any lessons?

The United States concluded months ago that…

Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have collected some bounty money, the officials said.

Are believed to have…the officials said. The unnamed officials said that they are believed to have…

Twenty Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2019, but it was not clear which killings were under suspicion.

Twenty Americans killed in combat is twenty too many. But the article’s premise is starting to smell rotten. Unnamed officials. An intelligence assessment. A global, military superpower with the ability to provide vast amounts of cash and weapons opting for bounties that may have been tied to the deaths of twenty Americans.

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.

Unnamed officials. Uncertain links to death. Straight to it being a “huge escalation”…sorry, would be a huge escalation of a “so-called” hybrid war.

Spokespeople at the National Security Council, the Pentagon, the State Department and the C.I.A. declined to comment.

Who did comment then? Are you telling me that Americans know there is solid intelligence saying that Russia is paying for the killing of U.S. soldiers, but the only thing to do in the face of inaction is to leak it to the New York Times? If only there was someone in the Pentagon or Congress outside the vast coverup who the leaker could send a memo to – I have a copy of the intelligence assessment, and I will leak it to the press if you don’t take action.

The officials familiar with the intelligence did not explain the White House delay in deciding how to respond to the intelligence about Russia.

Officials familiar with the intelligence…

The intelligence assessment is said to be based at least in part on interrogations of captured Afghan militants and criminals. The officials did not describe the mechanics of the Russian operation, such as how targets were picked or how money changed hands. It is also not clear whether Russian operatives had deployed inside Afghanistan or met with their Taliban counterparts elsewhere.

The intelligence is said…Is that the passive voice? My English teaching days are behind me. Based on interrogations of captured Afghan militants and criminals.

Unnamed Afghan detainees. Who did the interrogations? Is this third-hand (or worse?) information? Did an American hear a Taliban detainee say, “I spoke to a man named Ivan who paid me to kill a U.S. soldier.” Or was it something more along the lines of “everyone knows this.”

The officials did not describe the mechanics of the operation. Should the wording instead be that the officials could not provide any details about the claims made by the unnamed Afghan detainees in unspecified interrogations in unspecified locations by unnamed and unidentified interrogators?

The revelations came into focus inside the Trump administration at a delicate and distracted time.

What fucking relevations? For something to be a revelation, it has to be revealed.

While officials were said to be confident about the intelligence that Russian operatives offered and paid bounties to Afghan militants for killing Americans, they have greater uncertainty about how high in the Russian government the covert operation was authorized and what its aim may be.

More unnamed officials. Oh, and throw in the word operatives. Now we’re talking specifics.

Some officials have theorized that the Russians may be seeking revenge on NATO forces for a 2018 battle in Syria in which the American military killed several hundred pro-Syrian forces, including numerous Russian mercenaries, as they advanced on an American outpost. Officials have also suggested that the Russians may have been trying to derail peace talks to keep the United States bogged down in Afghanistan. But the motivation remains murky.

Some officials have theorized….(Unnamed) officials have also suggested that

The officials briefed on the matter said the government had assessed the operation to be the handiwork of Unit 29155, an arm of Russia’s military intelligence agency, known widely as the G.R.U. The unit is linked to the March 2018 nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury, England, of Sergei Skripal, a former G.R.U. officer who had worked for British intelligence and then defected, and his daughter.

The (unnamed) officials briefed on the matter said the government had assessed…link it to a shadowy unit, tie in some assassinations.

Jesus Christ this article is bad. Three acclaimed national security reporters turning in a pile of shit. It could all be true, and that’s not the point. This is shit journalism.