U.S. Intel Walks Back Russian Bounties On US Troops Claim: ‘Low To Moderate Confidence’ In Assessment


One of the biggest stories of the 2020 election was the report that Russia had put bounties on our troops in Afghanistan (and that Trump was doing nothing about it). The leak was clearly designed to damage Trump. Mike Pompeo even confronted his Russian counterpart over the report so the leak had real world, not just political world, consequences.

Well, now it turns out the story may not have been true. A stunning report from The Daily Beast now says that U.S. intelligence only has “low to moderate” confidence Russia did in fact put bounties on our soldiers.

“The United States intelligence community assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019 and perhaps earlier,” a senior administration official said.

From The Hill:

The New York Times first reported in June that the intelligence community concluded months earlier that a unit within the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, secretly offered payments to Taliban-linked militants for attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan last year. Several other news outlets later confirmed the report.

The news ignited a firestorm on Capitol Hill, largely from Democrats who demanded answers from the Trump administration and blasted then-President Trump for not punishing Russia.

The intelligence was reportedly included in written material given to Trump known as the President’s Daily Brief, but Trump denied he was ever briefed. Dismissing the issue using his favorite pejorative of “fake news,” Trump also said in July he never raised the issue in conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

U.S. military officials, meanwhile, have said that while they take all reports of threats to troops’ safety seriously and were continuing to investigate the allegations, they have yet to find corroboration of the intelligence.

The senior Biden administration official noted Thursday that the “low to moderate confidence” was largely due to “challenging operating environments,” but stressed that the attribution “puts a burden on Russia.”

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