A casual glance at the news sites shows that most of them have run with a recap of the New York Times article about Russia paying bounties for the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. They’re not caveating the story(ies). Their wording suggests it’s happening or happened and that confidence is high about that assessment.

Have a look at this headline. There’s not a lot of grey area there. The United States knew of this in January.


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Anyone who reads blog posts reads the articles, so no one here will be surprised what’s coming next. (Another reason I’m putting this stupid little hobby into mothballs…what’s the point of preaching to the choir. I hasten to add, if any journalism programs stumble on this and want to hire a hack freelance photographer for some awesome, well-paid, remote work kind of thing, please message me…on the hour…until I reply.)

First part of the article (bold portions added by me):

WASHINGTON — U.S. intelligence officers and Special Operations forces in Afghanistan alerted their superiors as early as January to a suspected Russian plot to pay bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan, according to officials briefed on the matter. They believed at least one U.S. troop death was the result of the bounties, two of the officials said.

The crucial information that led the spies and commandos to focus on the bounties included the recovery of a large amount of American cash from a raid on a Taliban outpost that prompted suspicions. Interrogations of captured militants and criminals played a central role in making the intelligence community confident in its assessment that the Russians had offered and paid bounties in 2019, another official has said.

I’ve also seen articles suggesting that the Brits corroborated the information. As far as I can tell, that’s an incorrect use of the term corroborate. The United States briefed the United Kingdom on the information, and the United Kingdom assessed that it was credible. If information from two distinct entities relies on the same underlying information, it’s not corroboration. It’s the same underlying information being repeated by two distinct entities.

I have no idea if the underlying information is credible. The point I’m making is that the New York Times, for all intents and purposes, has now elevated the claims of unidentified Afghan detainees to fact. Slow down, dig deeper.