Photo: Pavan Trikutam via Unsplash

Three Things: Bounties, Bounties, Bounce [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Update at bottom of post. /~Rayne]

There won’t be a quiz but there’s an action item at the end.

It’ll be more effort than Trump put into protecting our troops in Afghanistan.

You’ll want to brush up on the NYT report from Friday, Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says.

Washington Post confirmed the story: Russian operation targeted coalition troops in Afghanistan, intelligence finds

As did the Wall Street Journal: Russian Spy Unit Paid Taliban to Attack Americans, U.S. Intelligence Says

~ 3 ~

Remember last year when Rep. Adam Schiff said he believed acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire was withholding from Congress an urgent whistleblower complaint in order to protect Trump?

We build a crowdsourced timeline to guess what the whistleblower’s subject matter might be. We didn’t see the Ukraine quid pro quo but we still compiled a bodacious chronology of foreign policy events.

I’m betting the bit about John Bolton’s exit in that timeline may be revisited in the near future.

But there was one topic we didn’t give a lot of attention which might be worth looking at again, like right now — the peace agreement negotiations in Afghanistan.

(Commenters added more material in comments not added to the original timeline — I think we were learning it was Ukraine and not Afghanistan or Iran which was the subject of the whistleblower’s complaint.)

Now that NYT’s report that Russia offered secret bounties on U.S. service members has been validated by the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, we need to look at the Afghanistan timeline — this time with more content from 2019 and up-to-date 2020 material.

28-AUG-2019 — Russia offered to oversee an agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan; negotiations were in their ninth round when the Russian Foreign Ministry suggested it could be “a guarantor in the agreement” if the two sides wished.

01/02-SEP-2019 — US Special Rep. for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalizad met with Afghan president Ashraf Ghani in Kabul where the Taliban, Afghan government and the U.S. had “reached an agreement in principle” toward an eventual “total and permanent cease-fire.”

03-SEP-2019 — Russian media outlet Tass reported that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister said the U.S. and Taliban “insist that Russia must be present in one capacity or another at the possible signing of the agreements that the parties are working on now.”

05-SEP-2019 — Suicide blast in Kabul killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, 34, from Morovis, Puerto Rico.

06-SEP-2019 — Afghan President Ashraf Ghani postponed a trip to the U.S.

07-SEP-2019 — Over several tweets Saturday evening, Trump canceled the meeting with Ghani at Camp David.

Unclear whether Trump realized he might have been meeting over the anniversary of 9/11 on a peace agreement with both Afghanistan’s government and the Taliban.

07-SEP-2019 — Via Julia Davis (commenter Eureka):

Prof. Michael McFaul tweeted, “What? TASS has these details but USG has not released them? This is very strange. And why does Russia need to be present at signing? We’re they fighting Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and I just missed that?”

09-SEP-2019 — CNN broke story of a CIA asset extracted from Russia in 2017; followed by NYT on the 9th (and then NBC’s Ken Dilanian appears at the asset’s house…)

09-SEP-2019 — Trump asked for Bolton’s resignation and tweeted about it the next morning.

10-SEP-2019 — “They’re dead. They’re dead. As far as I’m concerned, they’re dead,” Trump told the media about the peace talks with Afghanistan.

13-SEP-2019 — Taliban showed up in Moscow almost immediately after the Camp David meeting fell apart (commenter OldTulsaDude).

15-SEP-2019 — Small arms fire in central Warduk province killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy W. Griffin, 40.

20-NOV-2019 — Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk Fuchigami Jr., 25, and Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle, 33, died in a helicopter crash in eastern Logar province. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the crash; Trump visited Dover AFB on Nov. 21 when the soldiers’ bodies were returned.

11-DEC-2019 — Unknown number of U.S. personnel were injured during a large bombing of Bagram Airfield.

23-DEC-2019 — Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Goble, 33, was killed in a roadside bombing in northern Kunduz province.

31-DEC-2019 — A total of 22 service members were killed in Afghanistan in 2019. It’s not clear how many U.S. contractors may have been killed because the military doesn’t track them.

11-JAN-2020 — Two U.S. service members were killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province. Taliban claimed responsibility.

17-JAN-2020 — The Taliban offered a proposal to reduce violence and restart peace negotiations.

27-JAN-2020 — Two U.S. Air Force crew members were killed when an E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft crashed. Taliban claimed responsibility for shooting the plane down.

08-FEB-2020 — Sgt. Javier Jaguar Gutierrez, 28; and Sgt. Antonio Rey Rodriguez, 28 were killed and six other service members were injured in an insider attack in Nangarhar province.

09-FEB-2020 — WaPo reported:

On Sunday, Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban spokesman in Qatar, where talks have been held, said Khalilzad met with Taliban representatives and Qatar’s foreign minister to discuss “some important issues on the results of the negotiations and the next moves,” according to a statement posted to Twitter.

20-FEB-2020 — Trump replaced Joseph Maguire as Acting Director of National Intelligence; Richard Grenell was named Maguire’s replacment.

21-FEB-2020 — U.S.-led coalition, Afghan forces, and the Taliban militia began a seven-day “reduction in violence” ahead of anticipated agreement.

28-FEB-2020 — Trump nominated John Ratcliffe as Director of National Intelligence.

29-FEB-2020 — U.S. and Taliban sign agreement addressing counterterrorism and the withdrawal of U.S. and international troops from Afghanistan.

03-MAR-2020 — Trump spoke by phone with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a Taliban leader and co-founder stationed in the Taliban’s Qatar offices.

23-MAR-2020 — After meeting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. would cut $1 billion in aid in 2020 and threatened to cut another $1 billion in 2021 because Ghani and Abdullah had not formed a unity government. Pompeo then met with the Taliban’s chief negotiator at Al Udeid Air Base, Doha, Qatar where he asked the Taliban to continue to adhere with the February agreement.

??-MAR-2020 — Administration learned that Russia offered secret bounties on U.S. troops.

The officials said administration leaders learned of reported bounties in recent months from U.S. intelligence agencies, prompting a series of internal discussions, including a large interagency meeting in late March. According to one person familiar with the matter, the responses discussed at that meeting included sending a diplomatic communication to relay disapproval and authorizing new sanctions.

30-MAR-2020 — Trump phone call with Putin.

03-APR-2020 — Trump fired Inspector General of the Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson, claiming he “no longer” had confidence in Atkinson. Atkinson was then on leave until the effective date of his termination 03-MAY-2020. As IG he notified Congress of the whistleblower’s report regarding the Ukraine quid pro quo, going around Joseph Maguire to do so.

07-APR-2020 — The Taliban pulled out of talks with the Afghan government after discussions over the unrealized prisoner exchange cratered. Under the February agreement, prisoners were to be exchanged at the end of March; the exchange was called off on March 30.

07-APR-2020 — Trump fired Acting Inspector General of the Department of Defense Glenn Fine; Fine had also been named Chair of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee on 30-MAR. Fine’s termination made him ineligible to continue as chair of that committee.

09-APR-2020 — Trump phone call with Putin.

10-APR-2020 — Trump phone call with Putin (unclear if call was before/after Gen. Miller’s meeting).

10-APR-2020 — Gen. Austin Miller met with Taliban leaders in Qatar:

… The meeting between Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller and Taliban leaders came as both sides accuse each other of ramping up violence since signing a peace deal on Feb. 29, which could see all international troops withdraw from Afghanistan in 14 months.

The meeting, which focused on curbing violence, was part of a military channel established in the U.S.-Taliban deal, the U.S. military’s press office in Kabul told Stars and Stripes.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said night raids and other operations in noncombat areas were discussed at the meeting, and Taliban officials “called for a halt to such attacks.” …

12-APR-2020 — Trump phone call with Putin.

25-APR-2020 — Trump made a joint statement with Putin observing the 75th anniversary of Elbe Day.

07-MAY-2020 — US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad met members of the Taliban in Qatar along with the Special Envoy of Qatari Foreign Ministry for Counterterrorism and Mediation in Conflict Resolution, Mutlaq Al-Qahtani. They discussed the prisoner exchange and intra-Afghan talks.

07-MAY-2020 — Trump phone call with Putin; topics were COVID-19, arms control including Russia and China,  and the oil market.

26-MAY-2020 — John Ratcliffe approved by the Senate and sworn in as DNI.

30-MAY-2020 — Trump delays G7 meeting and invites Russia:

01-JUN-2020 — Trump phone call with Putin; delayed G7 meeting and oil market stabilization discussed.

08-JUN-2020 — Trump orders permanent draw down of 25% of U.S. troops stationed in Germany; he did not consult with NATO before this order.

Is there a pattern here (or more)? Was the violence juiced up to pressure the U.S. — specifically public opinion? What the heck did Russia’s Foreign Minister mean by a “guarantor” based on what we know today? How did Qatar become a player in the negotiations?

Did Trump really do nothing at all to protect our troops except talk with Putin and do some butt-kissing with a joint statement and an invitation to the G7 while undercutting Germany and NATO?

The Congressional Research Service policy brief on Afghanistan is worth a read to fill in some gaps. This paragraph is particularly important:

Afghan government representatives were not participants in U.S.-Taliban talks, leading some observers to conclude that the United States would prioritize a military withdrawal over a complex political settlement that preserves some of the social, political, and humanitarian gains made since 2001. The U.S.-Taliban agreement envisioned intra-Afghan talks beginning on March 10, 2020, but talks were held up for months by a number of complications. The most significant obstacles were an extended political crisis among Afghan political leaders over the contested 2019 Afghan presidential election and a disputed prisoner exchange between the Taliban and Afghan government. President Ghani and his 2019 election opponent Abdullah Abdullah signed an agreement ending their dispute in May 2020, and as of June 2020, the number of prisoners released by both sides appears to be reaching the level at which talks might begin, though the Afghan government may resist releasing high-profile prisoners that the Taliban demand as a condition of beginning negotiations.

~ 2 ~

It wasn’t just U.S. intelligence that learned U.S. troops who were the target of Russia’s secret bounties.

EU intelligence confirmed it had learned that Russia targeted both U.S. and UK troops, offering cash on British targets, too.

UK security officials also validate the report, attributing the work in Afghanistan to Russia’s GRU.

Why hasn’t Britain’s PM Boris Johnson or the Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said anything publicly about this?

Has the Johnson government done anything at all to communicate its displeasure with Russia? Has it taken any punitive action like sanctions?

Because there’s nothing obvious in UK or other international media to this effect as of 3:00 a.m. ET.

~ 1 ~

You’re going to read and hear a lot of folks talking about treason. We don’t encourage that word’s use because it has a specific legal meaning related to traditional warfare; a formal declaration of war establishing a defined enemy is necessary to accuse someone of providing aid and comfort to that enemy.

18 U.S. Code § 2381.Treason

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 807; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(2)(J), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.)

We’re not in a formally declared state of war with Russia; they are not a defined enemy.

But this Russian secret bounties business may fall under another umbrella. U.S. troops are deployed to Afghanistan under Authorization for Use of Military Force of 2001:

Section 2 – Authorization For Use of United States Armed Forces

(a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.
(b) War Powers Resolution Requirements-
(1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.
(2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

The brushstroke with regard to future acts of international terrorism against the United States is and has been interpreted broadly.

Bounce this around a bit: does the definition of terrorism include repeated attacks on U.S. service members and contractors deployed under the AUMF 2001?

Does failing to take reasonable affirmative effort to protect these targets constitute aiding those who attack U.S. service members and contractors deployed under the AUMF 2001?

Is there, if not 18 USC 2381 – Treason, another section of 18 U.S. Code Chapter 115 — Treason, Sedition, and Subversive Activities which may more accurately describe the dereliction of duty by members of this administration by failing to protect U.S. troops?

~ 0 ~

And now for the action item…

Guess who else hasn’t uttered a peep about the Russian secret bounties on our troops?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

House Ranking Member Kevin McCarthy.

None of the +20 GOP senators up for re-election  have uttered a peep, nor have the couple who are retiring.

Here’s your action item:

— If you have a GOP senator(s), call their office and ask for a statement from the senator about the Russian bounties. Where do they stand? What action will the senator take?

— Share the results of your call here in the comments.

Congressional switchboard number is (202) 224-3121. Or you can look up their local office number at

For everybody else, calling your representative and senators to demand hearings with testimony from the former acting Director of National Intelligence Rick Grenell and the current Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe about the presidential briefing that did/did not happen with regard to these Russian bounties.


Let’s stay on topic in this thread — this is plenty to chew on.

UPDATE — 29-JUN-2020 10:00 A.M. ET —

Several new line items have been added to this timeline. If you pulled a copy since publication you’ll want to get a new one.

The Washington Post published an article last evening, Russian bounties to Taliban-linked militants resulted in deaths of U.S. troops, according to intelligence assessments.

It’s clear from reading it that many people knew about this intelligence, that there was a concerted effort to address it though the action ultimately taken was none.

Rather like the pandemic response, about which Trump had been warned in adequate time and then did nothing for six or more weeks, followed by a lot of bullshit and bluster.

Congress had better get to the bottom of this because this is a gross dereliction of duty on the part of the executive branch.

291 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    There’s no excuse for not having hearings about this. None. Zero.

    Every GOP senator owns this because they didn’t remove him in January. He could have been stopped before he posed a risk to our troops as well as +127,452 Americans who’ve died of COVID-19.

    And Trump should be impeached a second time. Offer the GOP Senators another chance to do the right thing or throw their lot in with him.

    • Mitch Neher says:

      Excerpted from the WaPo article linked in Rayne’s OP:

      The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the story “illustrates the low intellectual abilities of propagandists from American intelligence, who instead of inventing something more reliable have to come up with such nonsense. . . . However, what else can be expected from intelligence, which miserably failed the twenty-year war in Afghanistan.”

      Nothing is true until the Russians deny it. The Russians deny it. It must be true.

      And they gloated over it, too.

    • BraveNewWorld says:

      I get why people would want to get rid of DJT, but has your country completely lost it’s mind? The ENTIRE
      POINT of the Afghan war from the US side was to get Afghani’s to kill Russians. American politicians have crowed about that for decades. The Russians don’t have to pay the Afghans to attack Americans, they do that because you have illegally occupied their country.

      In the desire to get rid of Trump you are willing to set in concrete cold war with Russia and China for the next 100 years. That is a cold war the US will lose. Ask yourselves is the US really in shape to go to war on that level? Is the US united in the way a country needs to be to go to war? You can sweep questions like that under the rug when you are attacking unarmed civilians in small countries but this is a completely different road the US is now headed down. No one in NATO wants any thing to do with your insane plan for war with China or Russia. You will be fighting that war alone this time. With this story America has become Donald Trump.

      • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

        Do you think the Russian leadership at the time wasn’t aware of our actions, and took no action in response? Be it diplomatic, financial, or otherwise? That’s the issue here. Knowing, and worse than staying silent, continuing to lick Putin’s foot.

        • BraveNewWorld says:

          Lets put some historical context around this. Afghanistan is where the US paid, trained and armed Osama Bin Laden, yes that Osama Bin Laden, and his band of freaks to attack Russians. Did the Russians arm groups in Afghanistan to attack Americans in response? I would be shocked if they didn’t. But that happened 30 years or so ago.

          This thing where every one is suddenly losing their mind about Trump not having done some thing about it is crazy. The fact that this blew up into a story to push Covid out of the headlines is shocking in that it so vividly displays how easy it is to BS people any where in the world, not just the US. Think of the effect that has on “Democracy”. If you subscribe to the idea that democracy is a well informed electorate selecting the people that will govern them, then don’t you need to worry about where you are going to get a well educated electorate if some thing like this can become a wall to wall gospel story when it is so obviously nonsense?

          To vvv below I don’t think this story on it’s own will be the trigger. But at least twice a week the US is adding new sanctions to ether Russia, China or some country doing business with Russia or China. What American fail to realize is if you punch some one in the face they may shake it off once or twice but if you give them no other way to get you to stop other than hitting back that is what is going to happen. Iran hadn’t attacked another country in 400 years until you finally pushed them to far and they hit you in Iraq. Sooner or later that will be ether Russia or China or both. What is different here is that no one is asking what the ramifications are for sticking it to a major country once again in the name of domestic politics.

        • Mitch Neher says:

          The Fake Sprite from Prospero’s Island said [paraphrased] . . . “[He] would be shocked if they [the Russians] didn’t [avenge themselves against the US] . . . [and that] . . . something like this [Russian vendetta against the US] can become a wall to wall gospel story when it is so obviously nonsense?”

          This, too, is what was meant by the comment about Russian gloating over their vendetta against the US in the act of denying it.

          It’s how you can know to a certainty that the Russians did what they’re both denying and gloating over.

          Spite is still not a virtue. But it’s all the Russians have anymore.

        • vvv says:

          To BraveNewWorld above:

          You don’t think this Russia, Russia, Russia shite yet again is as worthy of attention as covid? We can and will walk and chew gum when it’s necessary.

          This is NOT about what Russia did here, or that other dictatorshit did there, in the sense of what is the biggest issue – it’s about what this administration failed to do in response – and that is an epic failure, if not outright epic betrayal.

          Kinda like the covid, see?

          To abuse another ancient and trite cliche: this is another tree in trump’s evil forest, and they gotta be dealt with all, and likely one at a time at near the same time.

      • vvv says:

        Let’s start with some context:

        What country are you writing from, and why do you prefer Russia to the USA?

        Next, please advise why you believe war with Russia *or* China is an inevitable result to any response to Russia’s “bounties”?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Your intro has nothing to do with your last paragraph’s screed, which I take to mean you’re a troll. Dasvidaniya.

      • Mitch Neher says:

        Putin is the one desperate to gin up a new cold war with the United States for the sake of controlling his own people.

        A cold war with China would require scrapping Trump’s trade deal with China.

        And, for another thing, Ariel was far sprightlier than thou, to boot.

      • Rayne says:

        Dude. The GRU offered bounties to the Taliban to take out U.S. and UK troops. Clearly they had to offer some incentive to overcome the increasing social pressure to resolve internal conflicts enough to encourage the U.S.+NATO to leave.

        And you’re really quite naive if you don’t think we haven’t been engaged in rather warm cold wars with both Russia and China for over a decade. Ditto for NATO with regard to Russia under Putin. NATO if anything is disappointed the U.S. has become a liability to them while Russia knocks the snot out of them with a wide range of hybrid warfare attacks as it claws back former Soviet reach. Hello, does, MH-17 ring a bell? How about NotPetya? Skripals? Go even further back to Litvinenko in UK.

        Not even going to bother spelling out the supply chain problems with China along with cyberattacks.

        Catch the cluestick before it catches you. Or do I need to spell out what this means for Canadians, too?

      • BeingThere says:

        There is of course the gas/oil, and potential lucrative sales east via Afghanistan from Iran/Caspian basin or from the other ‘Stans via Afghanistan to Pakistan, India, & China. Note that protuberance on the east end of Afghanistan goes right to the Chinese border, so all eastern bound pipelines have to go through somewhere. Fighting there is ultimately over oil/gas access, & transport taxation.
        During the Trump presidency the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI) has been under construction, and Putin has his interests in this.

        • BeingThere says:

          I see Kathy S has posted substantially on this topic – wish I’d had time to read all 279 replies before commenting.
          The Caspian basin gas/oil fields have been a bugbear to Putin in exploiting gas/oil sales, hence battle over Georgia for pipeline route to the Black Sea (after a Caspian crossing and Azerbaijan), via Turkey, or around via Russia and the Crimean Peninsula because the Caucasus range kinda get in the way. South via Iran puts any pipeline in competition and potential to be closed off or taxed

      • Rayne says:

        Thanks for that, Bev, I’ve added it now to the timeline. Seems like an odd call to make — the agreement was signed just a few days earlier, things should be moving along wrt prisoner exchange prep, and he calls out of nowhere?

        And 20 days later no progress has been made requiring Pompeo to wield economic punishment. ??

  2. Mitch Neher says:

    Trump’s invitation to Putin to attend the G7 summit and Trump’s draw down of US troops in Germany now look a lot like rewarding, let alone negotiating with, not just one, but two terrorist organizations: the Taliban and the GRU.

    IIRC, Republican presidents have a history of that sort of thing.

  3. OldTulsaDude says:

    The White House response? “No one told us.”
    Come on, is that the best you can do? A child’s denial – It wasn’t me! You expect grown people to believe that?

    Is it mental illness or corruption? Can Trump truly be so narcissistic that he believes his perceived peer, Vladimir Putin, over anyone in U.S. intelligence? Was the purpose of at least one call to ask Putin if the bounty story was true, and when denied, that response was accepted as truth?

    The other possible answer is so dark it roils the stomach: he knows and doesn’t care.

    • bokeh9 says:

      Scariest possible answer? This morning Bolton offered the all-purpose excuse: “He just doesn’t pay attention if it’s not about him” [paraphrased].

      • Vicks says:

        Trump “doesn’t pay attention” was Bolton’s response to Trump’s “good people” retweet of a golf cart parade that featured a shout out to “white power”
        Bolton used the “We don’t know” version of the fake news defense to deflect the Russian bounty killings.
        It makes me think that his legal defense for his book is weak and he has returned to providing cover for this administration hoping it will serve his own agenda.

        • Rayne says:

          I’m wondering exactly when the US intelligence community learned about the bounties. Did they go back as far as last summer before Bolton exited the administration? Did Bolton hear about them? Was the White House not briefed for some time because Trump isn’t trusted with intelligence either because he will mishandle it or ignore it?

          Bolton needs to answer even more questions.

        • Vicks says:

          NYT’s says January
          Trying to figure out Putin’s angle is probably an exercise in futility…
          As has been discussed Trump was already willing to move out of Afganistan.
          Was it just for sport, or to test what these Taliban folks would do for money?
          Then use it as leverage against the Taliban to do what?
          Bust up the negotiations?
          Maybe the place to start looking for the answers to your questions about Bolton may be in your timeline, and this particular soldier that died.
          After all the build up to negotiations the killings didn’t make any sense at the time. If I recall there was more than a little confusion from the Taliban leaders before they took responsibility.
          A few Taliban guys going rogue to make some extra cash could help explain

        • bokeh9 says:

          My point is that this is beginning to look like the default excuse, like Reagan’s memory, completely bypassing the idea that competence is a job requirement.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          What he doesn’t have, a good CEO pretends not to need. It’s a self-serving scam, but it’s surprisingly persuasive with reporters on the finance and politics beats.

        • P J Evans says:

          If the US government is going to prioritize skills over degrees, then Trmp isn’t qualified for a job in it, any more than his grifting kids are.

        • Vicks says:

          None of their defensive strategies would work on the (decent) parents of an 8 year old who got caught being naughty.
          “No one told me and if they did I didn’t hear them”
          Give me a break.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Grenell is saying the same thing, but he was DNI during a lot of this time. No way ALL of the minions hid it from Grenell, considering how many Bushies remain embedded in the bureaucracy.

    • Sonso says:

      The beauty of the Quantum Theory of Conservative Politics is it can be both: cynicism and true belief simultaneously. It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping!

    • BobCon says:

      I think not “briefed” is the key tell.

      It sounds to me like they are falling back on a narrow technical defense — if nothing called an official briefing was given, they will say he wasn’t briefed, even though reporting confirmed he was informed.

      A lot like the denials about tear gas being shot at protestors which hinged on whether the specific agent CS was used and whether smoke counts as gas.

      I’m pretty sure we’ve seen frequent attempts by top GOP officials in the past to deflect questions about whether they have known something by replying they hadn’t read it.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      “He knows and doesn’t care” seems to be Trump’s view about anything Putin does. As long as Vlad doesn’t call in the vig, Trump is happy with whatever he does. With most other things, though, it’s probably more accurate to say Trump doesn’t know and doesn’t care. But he cares a lot about Putin.

      After three and a half years, it is not sufficient for the or a former National Security Adviser to dismiss Trump’s behavior with a shrug and, “he doesn’t get it.” Competence is required. If the president hasn’t any, that’s a serious threat to national security. An NSA and any other top adviser who refuses to deal with it is another serious national security threat.

      Bolton, like Bannon, is being a destructive ass. Presumably, he expects to profit from picking up the pieces. Come to think of it, he does look a little like Burgess Meredith in that Twilight Zone episode, where he laments not having time to read, then suddenly has plenty of time, but no reading glasses.

    • vvv says:

      And just supposing someone made the decision not to advise trump – and I do not believe that – but if they did, who made the other decision to make no response re Russia’s activities? For example, if they truly first learned of it in March, was that Pompeo, Grennell, Pence, Miller, Melania as Natasha? (Please to pardon the “humor”.)

    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      It’s ridiculous how much time and energy the media is spending on the admins lies and deflections claiming the white house didn’t know. They have blunted the point and turned the conversation to flailing justifications about how Trump and Pence could plausibly have not known. The initial reporting was very clear, and the media’s willingness to naively consider their lies about who knew what when is pathetic.

    • 86the45th says:

      Russia and Putin always have multiple goals. Not only was this a chance to kill our troops but he likely bet trump would do nothing, possibly part of his plan. The big picture? Did we know before the Brits and didn’t tell them? Until they knew NYTs had the story they hid this… (Reminds me of the hands caught in the cookie jar when Ukraine scanal broke)
      What kind of wedge will this create with our allies? Russia wants to not only weaken the U.S. but also the backing of all our allies.
      The part about Russia being present at talks is odd. And what role is Qatar involved in with all this.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    By “guarantor,” I assume the Russians mean, “permanent resident.”

    What are the logical and rational responses from a Commander-in-Chief of US Armed Forces, (note, not of ordinary citizens), who is told by an adversary that he’s paying a bounty to kill US troops? What if he does none of the expected things? Instead, he clings to his dictator, patron, and probable financial backer, hoping for silence and continued favor, and, in fact, promotes his patron’s status in the world community? Gross dereliction of duty doesn’t seem to quite capture the crimes. I wonder what the Uniform Code says about a commander who fails so miserably in his duty when confronted by an enemy killing his own troops (once removed)?

    Yet, this is only one rod in the fasces, the bundle of crimes that has become the symbol of Donald Trump’s power and jurisdiction. The next administration would be ill-advised to look forward, not back. If it fails to impose meaningful sanctions on such behavior, it invites more of it. The same is true of Senate and House leadership. It would be hard to think of a better way to encourage the military to disregard political limits and process than by doing nothing. If you don’t protect the people you throw into harm’s way, why should they protect you.

    • Rayne says:

      I’m still adding content, was too tired at 3:00 a.m. to add more. This morning the “guarantor” situation looks different after adding the 23-MAR threat by Pompeo to cut a billion in aid.

      Is the increased violence purchased by bounties a cudgel intended to force aid money into others’ pockets apart from those of the Afghan government and the Taliban?

      I’ve been trying to come up with a money angle; any time I see the word “guarantor” I think financial performance. What I can’t be certain of is the exact word used — was it guarantor (гарант) or surety (поручительство) or bondsman (поручитель) that was meant? Not certain if this had been translated or not.

      • Rugger9 says:

        As I understand it, this may involve stationing troops but what it does do (like the Belgian Treaty in the 1830s) is provide that Russia can intervene to “keep the peace” which to my eyes looks a lot like Putin being given a license to put Afghanistan into the Russian orbit.

        While the Russian Navy is less of a problem than the Soviet one, the warm water port that they own (not rent) is a goal that has been around since Czarist times.

        • Vicks says:

          I believe the port you are referring to is in Syrian city of Tartus.
          I’m not sure if the bounties were directly tied to the port but IMHO it’s all tied together with Putin building his power in the Middle East by exchanging favors with devils like al-Assad and MBS and Trump exchanging favors with Putin.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Tarsus is a rental (but it does explain why Assad is Putin’s pal). Odessa is on the wrong side of Turkey.

          The Russian ideal is to have the port they own outright, not subject to the whims of another country they do not border. If they pull this off in Afghanistan, look to see stuff in Pakistan or (more likely, to leverage China) India. FWIW, India already has a lot of Russian arms.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        With international agreements, my first thought would be “enforcer” of the peace: the or a party responsible for ensuring performance. Since 1945, the aspiration has been to do this through an international body, rather than by a nation-state. Putin – and Trump following Putin – has worked hard to do away with the role of such bodies and replace it with direct rule.

        The role of enforcer establishes the party’s legal presence and right to interact with the parties to a dispute. The role is more involved than that of a mediator – which is a disinterested party who engages, essentially, in talk therapy between the sides to get them to agree or perform in accordance with their agreement.

        An enforcer has coercive power not available to a mediator. Having Russia do it in Afghanistan would be like 1970s Britain doing it in Kenya, Belgium in the Congo, or the US in Vietnam. It has history and the “peace” would be suspect because it has conflicts of interest – and would be sticking around long to benefit from them.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Probably true, like the good mob boss who runs a legit olive oil factory to cover the travel and money flows with Sicily. It’s a word game Putin would delight in, he of such little command of English, but which would utterly evade Trump.

      • KathyS says:

        The words, used by Maria Zakharova, cited in the 2 Russian publications I found on that subject, are Russia to have the role of гарант or свидетел when the treaty between US, the Afghani government and the Talibans is signed. Both words have the meaning of “guarantee”, “warranter”, “guarantor”, “guarantor” best coveys the meaning of both. In Russian and Bulgarian (my native) language there are less synonyms of both words with strictly specified meaning. Both words have broad meaning. What that role encompasses as powers & obligations (during the negotiations and after that) should be seen in the documents of the negotiations. For a brief period of time Japan was involved in that role during the negotiations in Doha. The publications I’ve found in and in Независимая газета are for the Russian public and they have to justify in front of the Russian public that role (some people in Russia have not forgotten the Russian soldiers who died in large numbers in the 80s in Afghanistan). In 2 reasons are cited for their involvement in the negotiations. The first one is the IPI & TAPI Gas pipeline projects, instability in the region have stopped their construction, peace will bring an opportunity to export natural gas, jobs and huge revenues. Since Russians are angry because pensions are small and not enough money their government gives for treatment of ill children that is supposed to suppress their dissatisfaction. Second, the Russian government is in close contacts with the Taliban, because they fight 10 000 ISIS fighters in Afghanistan, 4 200 are from Central Asia and for Russia they are a severe threat for terrorist acts and the territorial integrity of their Central Asian republics in the Russian federation. Russia relies 100% on natural resources for money, and the Russian oligarchs have to build and export natural gas in order to grab more money from their people. I do not have a Twitter account and I won’t be insulted if you do not allow my comment, the important issue for me is to help you.

        • Rayne says:

          Thanks very much for that insight, it’s quite helpful. So there’s likely a financial or economic meaning to the word “guarantor” but from the perspective of the Russian public it’s not oversight but an assurance Russian investment is returned.

        • KathyS says:

          In International law language the meaning of гарант or свидетел could include oversight of the negotiations and later participation in the peace process or even presence in Afghanistan as a third party (instead of UN peace troops for instance or as it was in Kosovo with KFOR) if such options have been negotiated. That has to be seen from the documents regarding these negotiations, an oversight from The House of Representatives can tell what kind of a role for themselves the Russians have negotiated or wished for and the WH has many questions to answer. The money flow is around the building of IPE & TAPI and the export of natural gas to Pakistan and India, which also extends Russian presence in both countries and solidifies Russian geostrategy there, so, the “gas” aspect has a huge international political aim too. (Bulgaria, my country, which is in EU, is totally dependent on Russian oil and gas, and Russians meddle in all aspects of our political and public life, Emilian Gebrev is a Bulgarian, poisoned in 2014 before Skripal, Bellingcat has several publications on that poisoning, from our media you can search for Bulgarian politics and GRU, they are really independent media and publish also in English, if you are interested in).

        • Rayne says:

          Thanks very much. In my opinion, the fundamental problem is that this is a three-way negotiation — Afghanistan’s government, the Taliban, and the U.S.-led NATO-based coalition. Russia has no standing; the U.N. would be a better body to ask for neutral oversight. The U.N. must already have some pre-existing terminology based on previously used oversight/peacekeeping function, which is why I remain skeptical about Russia’s intent offering services as “guarantor.”

          And then there’s the corruption. Pick a pipeline in which Russia is somehow involved where there isn’t corruption.

        • KathyS says:

          There is also another “trio” + Pakistan, the Afghani government, the opposition and the Taliban, and Russia has to ensure that the scenario from the 80s with the rise of Taliban won’t happen again. Russia is afraid and hates NATO presence near it’s borders, but after NATO withdrawal someone has to ensure the order there, the country is full of weapons, fear among the population and ethnic and religious tensions, so Russia has to have a long-term plan. Who and what will replace NATO soldiers there? Why the hurry to put pressure with bounties for US and UK (specifically) soldiers when Russia officially participated in the process of withdrawal and the withdrawal is happening? Someone should look for mercenaries, paramilitary: Eric Prince, Prigozhin… Mobs have their own “armies” operating in parallel with the regular army and police structures. There is a saying here “Some Banana states have a mob, here and in Russia the mob has a state”. Putin and our PM function as CEOs of players behind the stage, there is both an official policy and actions, and parallel structures, legal or illegal (but the law enforcement does not chase them). What was Eric Prince doing in the past year? And the money for mercenaries will come from the gas pipeline.

        • KathyS says:

          First, more “incidents” with US & UK soldiers – easier for Trump to withdraw from Afghanistan, to claim in USA that he cares about soldiers and to gain political victory, and to sign whatever Russia wants in the negotiations. Second, more “incidents” and “incidents” ongoing for some time – easier to introduce some kind of mercenaries to control the peace process instead of the NATO army, Taliban mercenary forces are not excluded.

    • John Lehman says:

      The Putin-Trump affair has long ago been consummated it’s only now that we’re beginning to dissect the rot that has resulted.

      A primal scream should be a true patriot’s response.

      • Vicks says:

        Although what we have witnessed Trump giving to Putin is quite remarkable, I don’t think we are (yet) seeing what Trump is getting out of the deal.

        • Sonso says:

          There can only be two things: Putin has a destructive financial lever over Trump (which I think is the weaker of the two, since Trump likely is much less wealthy than he portrays), or Putin has videotape evidence of Trump’s utter lack of actual manhood. The more time goes on, the more I think it’s the latter.

        • John Lehman says:

          Probably both… lines of credit totally owned by friendly Russian Mafia/Oligarchs to be called in on Putin’s whim and he’s clearly demonstrated his impotence publicly.

        • Coyle says:

          My theory: Trump owes money to various Eastern European oligarchs and organized crime figures. He knows he can’t repay the money, so he hits on the idea of sucking up to Putin and possibly doing a few “favors” for the Kremlin as a way of making his debts magically disappear. The Trump Tower Moscow, with its multi-million-dollar Putin penthouse, was one way of doing this. Running a damaging campaign against Putin’s nemesis, Hilary Clinton, was another. Of course, once Trump became president, his usefulness — or at least his useful idiocy — became even more valuable.

          In any case, I’ve often been struck by how eager and willing Trump is to do Putin’s bidding. It’s not just that Putin has some kind of kompromat on Trump. Trump actually seems excited by the idea of helping Russia and winning Putin’s approval.

        • John Lehman says:

          Tip of the iceberg.

          Shit is fertilizer …. needed to grow crops for future generations.

  5. madwand says:

    Lets look at the “Big Picture” here. The US collaborated with terrorists in the 80s (Osama Bin Laden) which later came back to bite us in the ass in 911. Remember the movie “Charlie Wilson’s War” which documents the use of US Stinger missiles to shoot down Russian helicopters in Afghanistan in the 80’s. Those were Russians that died and we shouldn’t expect Russians to forget any more than we desire to protect our own troops in Afghanistan today. And then you have to remember how Brezinski justified and compared fighting with Bin Laden to the fall of the Soviet Union. To him it wasn’t a contest. At the time the US had “won” and was the supreme hegemon in the world, unstoppable. Historians at least know these things don’t last, and with a little push from Covid, a retreat of the US from world obligations, a totally inept foreign, economic, and domestic policies, and a totally divided populace along with a 19 year old disaster in Afghanistan which is almost exactly similar to the Soviets in 1990, Putin and Xi must be smiling. It is not hard to imagine a little cheering in Russia and China when the US withdraws as it must. So a little piling on as the Russians bestow bounties on the killing of individual US soldiers is surely from their view, consonant with the US use of Stingers before the fall of the Soviets.

    As a domestic issue the press is trying to give the Democrats their own Benghazi issue, one wonders if the gift will be the one that keeps giving or more likely rejected by Dem leadership in the lead up to the election. Make no mistake, Trump knew about the bounties and chose not to respond publicly and with plenty of outrage. This shouldn’t obscure the larger issue and that is that once again a guerrilla force has forced the retreat of a modern army not once but twice, first the Soviets and now us, from the nation of Afghanistan. As Bacevich says some wars just shouldn’t have been fought.

    • Ravenclaw says:

      Your main point seems to be that the Russians are justified in helping surrogates fight against the U.S.A. Many people will be outraged, but basically I agree with you there – as you say, we did the same thing to them, in the same place, within living memory. Naturally we would be expected to retaliate in one way or another.

      But your point is utterly irrelevant to the issue at hand, which is the extent to which the President of the U.S.A. and/or his inner circle of advisors chose to ignore these depredations – to ignore their duty to this country, for whatever reason.

      If, in fact, the President was not briefed on this matter, then the intelligence services have failed, and attention needs to be paid to repairing the lines of communication there – as was true when the State Department failed to take the threat against our embassy seriously enough. But it would be a “mid-level” issue – unless you had a rabid Republican-led Congress tasting the blood of a Democratic Secretary of State.

      But if the President knew what was happening and took no meaningful action (other than drawing down our troop levels in Europe as a kind of “reward”), then the affair is of the utmost importance.

      • madwand says:

        And I have no problem with going after the president on his failure to protect American lives. As I said in the post will the Dems make an issue of it? Will Dems do Benghazi type hearings, I doubt it, I’d like to be proven wrong. I’ll write my representatives, hope you do too. Along with enquiring about the issues articulated by Rayne, I’ll be telling them to get the fuck out of Afghanistan which was my last point.

        • Rayne says:

          I hope you read the articles linked about the peace negotiations. It’s easy to demand “get out of Afghanistan” but when we have shitty diplomats and worse executives and decades-long tensions within a cultural setting not our own, it’s not going to happen without a serious investment of talent and resources.

        • madwand says:

          One negotiates when you can’t win outright and in the last 19 years we have demonstrated that with a serious investment of talent and resources with troop levels far greater than we currently have we cannot win outright. Putin seeks to act as a guarantor and give us a little kick in the pants to get out quick by paying bounties on US soldiers. Presumably if we leave the Russians will try to get back their influence, Putins goal to make Russia Russia again. It would be nice if we could guarantee all those gains we have made, women’s rights etc, but there is a truth here, the vacuum of our leaving will be filled, most likely by the Taliban who will not honor those agreements in the long term. The alternative is to keep troops there and articulate a moral strategy bearing in mind that we will most likely continue to have casualties to possibly achieve even that. So I disagree. We should have been out of Afghanistan years ago. If we had done so then there wouldn’t have been US troops hung out to dry and not for the first time and not just in this war.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Or, the famous “Gang of Eight”?

          If they were, then DJT probably would be howling that the Ds knew it too and also said and did nothing. Never mind DJT owns the response and according to the articles personally stopped anything being done.

          Instead, the WH says they weren’t briefed which as fundamentally explosive as this topic is I find extremely hard to believe.

      • Manwen says:

        I am sympathetic with the general idea that Russia has some justification in helping the Taliban resistance to the American backed government. Turnabout being fair play such as it is in global affairs, despite the domestic outrage other countries using our playbook may cause. But, I would note that as far as I know ,the United States never put bounties on Russian soldiers. The US did arm and train the mujahideen, but as far as I know they did not pay them per Russian killed. Russia supplying arms is one thing, but contracting to kill Americans is an odd for of warfare for them. It would seem as though the Taliban would not need per capita payouts to continue the fight. The sole purpose of this seems to be to incite violence, but whatever the purpose is, it appears qualitatively distinct from paying for targeted hits.
        As I type this though, it does raise another question. What is the relationship between this and Syria? It was in February 2018 that US soldiers killed Russian mercenaries in Syria.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The Soviets and the US have often used cut-outs in proxy wars – hence the name – as they battled each other’s aims. And there isn’t much difference between training and arming people and encouraging them to fight your enemy, and paying them outright to do it. Paying them is actually less of a commitment. The aim is often a propaganda one rather than an outright victory.

          Proxy wars involving one local group fighting another are slightly different. Their aim is to install a puppet regime loyal to your side. There’s been a lot of that, too, even when the weapons used were fountain pens and so-called aid, instead of guns (to paraphrase Woody Guthrie).

          But the issue here is the response by the American president. Donald Trump has either not responded, given his go-ahead to the Russians and continued to promote their cause, or issued a response so ineffectual in protecting his troops as to be laughable. Compounding his villainy, he claims to know nussink and to have done nuffink. That’s usually enough to topple a government.

          How long would DeGaulle have lasted had he reacted similarly to a bounty on French troops offered to Algerians by the Soviets? Or the British prime minister, in the face of a bounty on his troops in Northern Ireland offered by a foreign supporter of the IRA? They would have been out of office tout de suite, in DeGaulle’s case, with a price on his head. The mystery here is that, so far, people are just lumping this into the pot of Trump fuck-ups – no harm, no foul, what can you do with a guy so dumb. That reaction is long past its sell-by date.

        • Manwen says:

          We agree. While the US and Russia have armed each other’s opponents, both sides have accepted that form of proxy war. What is different here, and I think, what drives us to be upset even more upset with Trump, is that Russia has escalated the form of proxy war. Russia becomes a far more direct participation by incentivizing their proxies to target American forces. I believe this is unprecedented in the post-WWII history of US-Russia conflicts. This is the kind of thing that drives nuclear powers toward escalatory conflicts. Steady crisis management becomes more important than ever while defending the lives of US service members being targeted by a rival nuclear power. The stability of his genius being what it is, the impulsive commander in chief is more frightening than ever. I am concerned that Trump cuddles up to Vlad as much as anyone. I am equally concerned that Putin is increasingly escalating the nature of proxy wars, setting a bad precedent for the future level of low intensity conflicts after Trump leaves office. As his re-election gets more dicey, I feel like Russia’s behavior will grow more risky along with Trump’s.

      • 86the45th says:

        That’s just war. The bounty thing is dirty, but we’ve done it too. The issue is domestically how we responded (we know Putin wouldn’t let something like that go), and could anything been done to prevent those casualties or future ones? Why wasn’t Congress notified? Who knew what/when, and is it a cover up, if so why? like you said if trump didn’t know then that’s a intelligence/communication issue,
        which doesn’t make it go away, soldiers died so there must be accountability. If anything trumps revolving door of temporary staff may have contributed. After 9/11 we realized that missing things like this was an issue. The buck stops with the POTUS, it’s still his administration. Wouldn’t be good either if trump just took Putin’s word when he said it didn’t happen like he so easily did on 2016 election. We can’t have a president THAT gullible with Russia, it’s a liability.

        Globally the issue is did we fail to alert our allies? trumps already irked them by insulting them, the attempt to invite Russia back to g7 with this news must sting more. Then trump decides to pull troops out of German base which Russia has wanted, again why?? trump has on a few occasions given up sensitive Intel to his dictator “friends”as well that could endanger troops and spies. All of this puts us more at risk. Are allies going to share Intel with us or be willing to back us in a conflict?

        Russia’s been trying to regain territory, Afghanistan is something they’ve long been after, with us gone that’s more influence in the middle east for them

    • subtropolis says:

      US involvement in Russia’s clusterfuck in Afghanistan are beside the point. The outrageous thing about this bounty news is that Trump has been falling over himself to provide gifts for Putin even as he tried to keep the bounties quiet. Comparisons to the Mujahideen fall flat when seen in that light.

      Besides, the Russians were allegedly doing this at the same time that they were presenting themselves as the good faith “guarantor” of the peace deal.

      And the “terrorist” accusation is specious.

      • Rayne says:

        Yup, Ronald Reagan wasn’t angling for a Reagan Tower-Kabul when he supported the “Afghan freedom fighters” back in the 1980s. The Reagan administration was pretty open about what was going on, too, with regard to supporting opposition to Russia’s presence.

        Blowback was pretty fucking ugly, but at least we had ample publicly-available information to know to expect it. We simply failed at it.

        • P J Evans says:

          IIRC, there were US citizens who went to Afghanistan to help the mujaheddin. One of them later became a congresscritter (Rohrabacher). They weren’t considered to be terrorists or sympathizers with terrorists.

        • J R in WV says:

          When we heard this story the other day, Wife made the comment, But aren’t the military paid to kill the other military in a war? What’s the difference here, anyway? And she has a point.

          But if we aren’t at war with Russia, what is Russia doing paying bounty on NATO Troops? Alternatively, if we are at war with Russia, doesn’t the treason charge come into play instantly? I note there is a federal code quoted in the article above with some kind of reference to treasonous activity… IANAL, esp not regarding international affairs, diplomacy, etc.

          But something is bad wrong here, inside our government, when gov’t officials are inactive regarding protecting our troops and allies. Bad wrong! Criminal wrong!! In the Executive Branch, from Roots to tops!!!

        • Rayne says:

          As you surely know the 2001 AUMF was intended as a permission slip to use our military to target the Taliban who were believed to have planned and launched the 9/11 attack. Where is Russia in that equation? The executive office isn’t supposed to deploy military without advance permission of the people through their representatives; they haven’t been authorized to go after Russia except within the very narrow confines of terrorist acts as spelled out in the AUMF. This is where your spouse’s point is erroneous.

          Russia is using the existing conflict in Afghanistan for some reason. We don’t know exactly what that one or more reasons are, but the response to such provocation is non-military first, like additional sanctions, because we are NOT in a formally declared state of war with Russia.

          Compare and contrast Trump’s reaction to the Russian bounties to his response to Iran since 2017. The very first week in office he instituted a Muslim travel ban which affected Iranians and Muslims from a handful of other countries (but not Saudis). Iran hadn’t done anything to this administration yet Trump made the first very provocative move. He exited the JCPOA even though his administration said Iran was in compliance. Tensions have been escalating all through the Trump administration and why?

          Again, compare to Trump rolling over for Putin. It also makes zero sense why Trump has not made a concerted effort to protect our troops, unless he’s going to argue the country with a military bigger than the next seven or more countries combined should see his ass-kissing Putin as his effort save them from Russian-paid bounty hunters.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Rayne, the Iran comparison is instructive. Trump has unilaterally (until Bolton’s arrival) painted Iran with the broadest brush of accusations, most unfounded or arguable. Every time Russia (or Turkey) does something much worse, his head is planted firmly in his own a–in the sand. Schoolyard bullies are always cowards on the inside.

  6. robert britton says:

    IANAL. i am but a everyday fat bastard with a BS from a two bit SUNY college program.

    i find it really interesting how easy it is for those with law degrees to make arguments about how certain aspects of wrong doing are ok.

    trump did not commit legal treason bc we are not at war.

    flynn is not guilty anymore though he pled three times to it.

    flynn, bannon, jared, don jr. , et al did not collude with russia bc collusion isn’t not illegal or a legal term.

    the president cannot be indicted bc the olc says so.

    i for one am tired of “the law” failing us in the face of obvious wrong doing.

    go ahead. call your senators like i have done literally dozens of times this past three years.

    it won’t matter.

    there is no moral fiber left in our system of governance and society.

    it’s time for a revolution and i don’t mean at the ballet box.

    our system of governance failed is. our elected officials failed us.

    we failed. hate and corruption is running rampant.

    this is the fight for america’s soul.

    • Rayne says:

      First, if you’re advocating sedition to fight seditious treason, you can take that shit right out the exit.

      Second, the problem is the people failed. They grew lazy and apathetic about the nature of democracy. They chose venal, craven gits to represent them and to execute the laws when they showed up to vote at all.

      Change begins at home. Show the fuck up. Do the work necessary to ensure a democracy.

    • bmaz says:

      Hi Robert. You know why people say “IANAL”? Because they are not, but that does not mean it is a grab bag gimme to be stupid.

      Yes, Trump has not committed “treason” because we are not at war, excepting maybe in Afghanistan. If you cannot grasp this, I have no idea what you are doing here.

      Secondly, and ahem, Flynn only pled guilty ONCE, irrespective of how many times he allocated to it. If you do not understand this, I am not sure how much you really pay attention to what we do here.

      Third, NO, “collusion” is really not a crime (it is, at best, an amorphous concept in anti-trust litigation, but not criminal law). If you cannot understand this, you may not belong here.

      Well, the OLC “does” say so, and has so said, at least twice, long before the Trump Administration. Is that truly “legal precedent”? No, but to act like it doesn’t play in is to be stupid.

      The law is the will of the people governed, through their elected representatives. If you can no longer fight for that, please feel free to fuck off and not whine at people that do still care.

      You ever been in an actual courtroom or served on an actual jury, much less argued to them, Robert? I’ll bet not. I have, and a LOT of them. They actually care and try their best. They give a shit and act like it, as opposed to whining from the cheap seats.

      What are YOU going to do for “America’s soul”, Robert?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Thanks for that, especially that the IANAL intro is not a license to say anything you want. I would note that the MSM frequently misstates the once vs. twice pleaded guilty distinction and falsely states that a finding of guilt without sentencing is a “conviction,” especially about Mike Flynn Regular readers here would know better. I won’t get into their recommendation that Joe Biden should get his RICO warriors ready for the pursuit of Donald Trump. (Or did I just do that?)

      • Sonso says:

        Always loving the snake biting, but I think Flynn ‘allocuted ’, not ‘allocated’, but then again, IANAL.

        • bmaz says:

          As Bartles & Jaymes would say, thank you for your continued support of my imperfect proofreading.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I love a guy who can throw shade by referencing a malt liquor from Iowa that’s sold as if it were wine. Typos are not mortal sins on this site, thank goodness. Were you to claim bmaz does not know the difference, it would be worth mentioning. But give us a heads up first, please, so we can buy more popcorn.

    • John Lehman says:

      So you’re ready to grab your pitchfork and storm the Bastille.

      Are you ready for all the horrors, civil strifes, firing squads, starvations and even cannibalism that have inevitably followed internal insurrections?

      Thank God we still have a structure of law.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        That’s in a couple of weeks, but point taken. As for your last line, under Trump and Barr, that’s an assumption with receding validity. It’s one of the arguments for replacing them promptly, at the ballot box while we still have it.

  7. Ravenclaw says:

    All members of my Congressional delegation are Democrats, but what the heck, I sent an email to each of them (text below, for anyone who wants to save time writing their own and thinks I got the gist right).

    Personally I find it difficult to apply the term “terrorism” to attacks on the military – more a form of guerrilla warfare. But many people have done so, and besides, soldiers operating in a theater of war under Congressional approval count as “we’re at war” for just about any conceivable purpose.

    And for what little it’s worth, I’d guess that the bounties were not common knowledge in the intelligence services last summer, but that at least a few White House types had an inkling that they were “supposed” to accommodate the Russian desire to be a key player in the resolution of the Afghanistan conflict. Ah, the Great Game!

    Dear XXX,
    I am writing to express support for the proposal to require John Ratcliffe and Rick Grenell (current and former Directors of National Intelligence) to testify before Congress with regard to the well-substantiated reports that Russian intelligence services offered bounties to Taliban fighters for the killing of American and British troops serving in Afghanistan. It is particularly important to establish whether, as alleged, the intelligence services briefed the President and his senior advisers on this matter in March of this year.

    Please remember that 22 U.S. service members (plus an unspecified number of civilian contractors) were killed in Afghanistan last year. Based on the timing of the interrupted peace talks late last summer, it is highly likely that Sergeant First Class Ellis Barreto Ortiz and Sergeant First Class Jeremy Griffin were among those slain in exchange for Russian bounties. Should it in fact be demonstrated that the President or senior advisors, knowing of these attacks, did nothing of substance to end them, they may well be guilty of violating 18 U.S. Code Chapter 115. This is a matter of grave urgency.

    Thank you for your attention to this issue.

    [FYI, edited to improve ease of copy-paste for community members. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • subtropolis says:

      I concur, about calling this terrorism, and wish that politicians and the Press wouldn’t use the term so casually.

      Having said that, I do think that “treason” — another casually overused accusation — ought not be lightly dismissed in this case. Are the Taliban not the enemy of the US?

      Cui bono?

    • Rayne says:

      After thinking about this for a bit, I’ll disagree about the use of terrorism as a justification for action. It’s not just our troops and military contractors affected by the violence the GRU bounties may have encouraged; it’s the country affected. Afghanistan has been at war with itself for my entire adult lifetime. The country has lost entire generations to warfare. The people are terrorized not just by their own people, but by foreigners directly and indirectly who prevent the country from moving toward peace. (Ex: December attack on Bagram airfield in which two civilians were killed and 80 people injured.)

      By ignoring Russia’s bounties on US troops and UK allies, by ignoring the risks to NATO forces working as coalition force, Trump has only encouraged Russia to continue to disrupt the shaky negotiations process by funding violence which terrorizes Afghanistan. He’s also encouraged more violence against NATO allies — terror to destabilize the organization Putin sees as a threat. A terrorist attack on one NATO member is an attack on the whole of NATO, a U.S. obligation Trump has ignored.

      Just so impeachable if not prosecutable.

      • Ravenclaw says:

        I agree wholeheartedly that the Taliban has used a campaign of terror in Afghanistan. Still not sure that counts as terrorism against the U.S.A., though obviously they did give shelter to the al-Qaeda gang, who fit the bill perfectly. Oh, I guess I’m really with you almost all the way on this one – it just rankles me when the term gets used for any and all attacks on U.S. interests…

        As for “is the President impeachable on this one?” – well, if in fact he knew even half of what was happening and responded only by “rewarding” the Putin regime, then yeah, it’s a no-brainer. But I’m not holding my breath.

    • BobCon says:

      This is great, one thing to add would be stressing the need for hearings ASAP.

      As a practical matter, Congress is scheduled to go on recess all August until after Labor Day, leaving only a few weeks between the July 4 break before they head out of town again. If it doesn’t happen then, the odds of any accountability shrinks — the fiscal year ends a few weeks after Labor Day and there will be a mad rush to deal with appropriations and continuing resolutions.

      Add to that the fight for economic relief bills and members playing hooky to campaign and there will be very little bandwidth from September on.

    • Raven Eye says:

      Thanks for the “starter” text. I added “as well as the Secretary of Defense and the Service Secretaries,” and toned down the prosecutorial theme a little, since there are other courses of action available to Congress. [Dream on.]

      “The Great Game” is a book recommended to me in the mid-90s. It continues to lurk in my mind, popping out periodically as Afghanistan’s elliptical orbit brings it to our attention again and again and again.

      • vvv says:

        FWIW, I used the “contact” form on my 3 critters’ web pages. (Durbin, Duckworth and – ugh – Lipinski.)

        I copied the 3 article titles (NYT, WaPo, WSJ) and requested immediate investigation and action re same.

        But I am, in some few things, a minimalist.

      • P J Evans says:

        The one I read that sticks with me is “Into the Land of Bones: Alexander the Great in Afghanistan” by Frank L. Holt and Peter Green. (It first came out in 2005.) Not just Alexander, but also several of the later invasions.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        Especially where Marsha Blackburn is concerned. She probably carries a Trump shoe polish cloth in her purse, just in case.

  8. AX41 says:

    As unlikely as it may be, let us assume the Trump did not know about the bounties until yesterday.That brings to the fore the question the WH wants to avoid- now that you know , what are you going to do ?

      • AX41 says:

        My question limits I hope the usual game of claiming executive privilege and the like to delay .If Trump claims he will do nothing because thevidence is inaccurate or unreliable. the House and Senate Intelligence Committees may have an easier route.

      • Rugger9 says:

        DJT knew given how many politically important things are wrapped up here: war, Russia, military. All of these are stuff DJT claimed to care about, so he would have been told something was up.

        Maybe he outsourced the response to Jared.

        • Rugger9 says:

          I see that Bolton was floating the idea that he personally briefed DJT in January 2019, which if true has all sorts of implications for the WH… and for Bolton, since that would mean serious information was withheld from the impeachment inquiry that just might have tipped the scales to evict DJT from the WH (then again, the general silence of the GOP tells me maybe not).

          I think the story as of now is Bolton’s pathetic attempt to sell books. We’ll see what else comes out.

  9. mospeck says:

    Ratcliffes, Grenells and Flynns, oh my.
    So it looks like the Witch of the West has got together with the other one from the East.
    Just like back in 39, deja vu or something. I know those back then weren’t tough as us as we are now, but do recall that they did drop a house on the one and finish off the other with a bucket of water.

  10. Tracy Lynn says:

    Emailed my member of Congress and senators. Thank you for kicking us in our collective rears to contact our congress critters. (I have to stop asking myself what more could happen in this shit storm of an administration. The news just seems to keep getting worse and worse.)

  11. jo6pac says:

    Here is a different look at this story. The Russians learned from their lesson but Amerika is still there after what 17 plus years. Those that spread these stories only have one thing on their mind more endless wars to sell more weapons. War is a Racket.

    ht tps://

    ht tps://

    Time for my nap

    [FYI, URLs ‘broken’ with blank spaces to prevent accidental clickthrough. I know nothing about the second site, don’t trust the first site. Community members use with caution at your own risk. /~Rayne]

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Mr. Ritter’s valid cynicism notwithstanding, that he credits Donald Trump’s denial about having been briefed as fact somewhat guts his argument.

        • Rayne says:

          First, it’d be nice if you actually posted Fox News directly instead of through syndication at MSN. That way community members know *before* they click what the source really is.

          Second, how nice of Chuck to say he’s not seen any intelligence about attacks *after* February’s agreement signing. Did you even read the timeline I posted?

          Look, bring a better game or beat it.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          “Fox News has found no direct evidence of Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor after December 7, 1941, when it began covering this story.

          “Aides to the Japanese ambassador have confirmed to Fox News that he remains in residence at his embassy and is ready at any time to continue peace talks. They say he feels keenly disappointed that his host government has refused his attempts to negotiate a peace and, instead, has surrounded his embassy with armed guards.”

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          “Mr Ritter” might not be a Russian propagandist, but the accumulation of your comments sure makes you seem to be one.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      War is a racket, as Smedley Butler wrote in 1935, and the war budget pauperizes the rest of the budget. But it doesn’t mean the C-in-C gets a free pass to let Russia pay a bounty on the lives of Americans he has ordered into harm’s way. Fuck that.

    • soothsayer says:

      If you really think the Russians and their Satellite* states want to kumbaya with us rather than not in fact to put it nicely steal our lunch or to put it bluntly to rape us blind by destroying our democratic system and that of our allies, you should probably come out your cave or aka social media groups group think, for at least a bit of fresh non stale air.

      The problem, is most people in the west, live in a bubble, and do not understand that their freedoms are protected in national security based not just on military defensive or offensive posture, but also on economic security and yes even energy security (all energy, sustainable too). All of which to put into into a metaphor is to make sure you can buy and eat your lunch, and maybe even heat up your lunch if need be, or even to eat it in under a safe and warm comfortable abode, and discuss how good or bad that lunch is with the rest of your Facebook group group think friends, and even if you would like, write about it on such a platform or news piece to discuss it with other people who are not part of your Facebook group group think friends.

      Russia for all intents and purposes, does not have these same views of freedom for their people, and sees our system as a threat. They jail their political opposition, LGBTQ and other groups, they stop protests, they do not provide for the same freedoms as here. They do not have democratic norms, and I doubt do not believe their system is better as much as their system is run by criminal authoritarians who wish to run their country though corruption and control of their people regardless of the harm they cause to themselves and other countries. Thats why they are not allies, and will work against us until we also do not have free societies and we also have a corrupt state – which they are somewhat achieving with Trump – which of course sucks. And yes, they do in fact want to crush our system and align it to their Authoritarian one, and will work to rid democracy from other countries as well.

      Democratic countries working together to protect democratic norms in theirs and in other countries is noble, for the simple basic belief of human rights and freedoms.

      History has proven that wars are needed at some times, and to think war is a racket is a simplification. I wonder how you would exist if we had lost WWII, chance states 50/50 you would even be here to make this statement. I wonder if you would have even changed your tune and stepped up to fight in WWII, when atrocities were being committed on millions of people. I would say, oversimplifying war is a dangerous thing.

      * North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, China etc

      • FL Resister says:

        Yes! Well stated.
        Can we get that remark in a Desiderata-type format to post on refrigerators nationwide?

        I keep going back to and re-reading the timeline in this thread and each time it’s even worse. We need experienced eyes outside of Trump World on the call records between Trump and Putin. Trump has accelerated our weaknesses and Covid has made us weaker still.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Your figurative use of rape (“rape us blind”) is not only offensive and potentially triggering to survivors. It also fails on the rhetorical level, since your rape metaphor illuminates nothing. Please do use language “bluntly,” but think when you do so.

        • soothsayer says:

          That is a very good point, I did not think the metaphor through properly and it should not be used now that I do think about it – to be honest I never use that metaphor normally, and will not again, but apologies and thank you.

        • Eureka says:

          Excellent, Ginevra. Thank you.

          Now I have to find that comment where someone seems to be admiring women’s strength by noting how much pussies take a pounding.

          ETA: oh, I found it and have perhaps given far too much credit to said comment(er).

  12. Vicks says:

    I can’t help but think that if it weren’t for Trump’s mishandling of the virus, bounties placed on the heads of our soldiers would be just one more thing Americans hold sacred that Trump has shat on while those with the power to protect us, give him cover.
    How is this different than the withdrawal of troops in Syria, locking up children, or telling a congresswoman to go back to where she came from?
    Un-f’ing believable that Republicans were with Trump all the way until the couldn’t figure out a way to spin the optics of one of the most powerful men in the world refusing to use his power or lift a finger to prevent the deaths of one hundred and how many thousand Americans.
    It looks like many of us will finally get our wish, the Republican Party looks to be losing their religion.
    Hopefully every damn one of them will lose their jobs the first chance voters get.

    • blueedredcounty says:

      I think most people, even the amazing community of bloggers and commenters here, miss the key point of Trump’s response to Covid-19. His first, last, and every thought, revolves around ways to make money from it.

      In terms of shutdowns, quarantines, stopping the spread before it starts…bad for his businesses. If you stop it before it starts and devastates the country – how would he have been able to make money off extorting the the country for supplies of PPE and drugs?

      The Republicans started down this road back with Nixon, possibly earlier. The only thing the Republicans care about is if they can win election/re-election. And how they can make a buck, and f*ck over anyone who isn’t a Republican and doesn’t give them blind deference. Any of them with any brains, integrity, or a shred of ethics would have ensured it was not possible for Trump to be the Republican candidate in 2016.

      I was at a restaurant with some friends during the 2016 campaign, and one of the Republican debates with 16 candidates was on a TV at the restaurant. I made the comment during dinner that a bomb could go off on that stage and take out all 16 candidates, and the average quality of the Republican field would increase. Please note, I was not advocating that someone bomb it, it was a comment about that field. None of the candidates was espousing the position of any decent human being, and I think that was the debate where someone brought up the size of Trump’s hands. I never in my lifetime expected a Presidential debate, much less among Conservative Republican candidates, to be discussing penis size.

      How many institutions failed by permitting an individual with known Mafia connections to become President of the United States? What is wrong with the FBI office in New York that they wanted this corrupt individual to be President? How corrupt/compromised are they? How were they in the dark about his racism, his sexual predations, and his Russian money laundering? And since they weren’t in the dark (I’m calling bullshit) how could they think this was a person suitable for being in charge of our entire military, including the nuclear codes?

      Trump secured Putin’s first goal when he gutted the State Department in 2017. Diplomacy is a lot cheaper than war, as the Founders were well aware. Every gift to Putin since then is an unexpected bonus for Putin. I think Trump has paid off beyond Putin’s wildest dreams.

      I am not a lawyer, but I am well aware of the fact that remedies at this level require a) voting out the relative members of the legislature or b) impeachment or voting out members of the executive branch or c) impeachment of members of the judicial branch. The start of addressing the current conditions in the United States (a huge task) starts at the ballot box.

      It is also going to take a number of impeachments to remove incompetent or corrupt judges. I believe there are corruption and/or perjury grounds for removing multiple judges. bmaz may disagree with me, and he is a lawyer, but in this case I am sticking with my take on it. This includes a censure for John Roberts for the way he presided over Trump’s impeachment. He should have refused to seat McConnell and Graham because they publicly proclaimed they had already made up their minds, and then swore an oath to be impartial. It would have been worthless to refer them to this corrupt Justice Department for prosecution, but if he was truly an impartial judge, he needed to call out publicly these oaths were fraudulent. And he should have had the guts/spine/balls/pussy (they are tougher than balls, they take a pounding, have to give it to the women) to have McConnell and Graham accountable for their corruption.

      There are some critical Constitutional amendments that are overdue, to correct multiple Supreme Court decisions or precedents that corrupt our government.
      – Lobbying should have been banned years ago. Equating our right to petition our representatives to be the same as a full-time job/profession to raise money and get insider connections to our politicians, is wrong.
      – Corporations are not the same as people and are not entitled to human rights, including rights in the Bill of Rights.
      – If you are going to give free speech protection to spending as political speech, then it must be public speech…no anonymous contributions anywhere. Either your spending is protected speech and you have the integrity to put your money openly where your mouth is, or you shut it, or you go to jail for blatant corruption and buying of political influence and favor. In terms of the Mercers, Kochs, Adelsons, Bloombergs, etc., it is way past time to end this.
      – The past traditions of vetting candidates for the judicial branch (the Senate advise-and-consent) need to be put in writing in a way to permanently end the corruption and abuse of Mitch McConnell and the two-party system.
      … Minimal qualifications/disqualifications (i.e., not at all suitable, so even if a corrupt executive puts them forward they are stopped)
      … Minimum threshold (2/3 of senators?)
      …… subtext on preventing senators from capricious witholding of their consent)
      … Must make the decision within (x) days of the nomination for the position <– no sitting on this leaving the Judicial Branch understaffed or in limbo by not considering candidates at all, or in a timely manner

      • Vicks says:

        I’m not sure that Trump was trying to make a personal windfall off of the virus as much as hawking drugs and handing out contracts to donors hoping they will use part of their good fortune to write bigger checks to his campaign.
        Yes to all the rest but there will need to be a lot of democratic turnover required as well to move any of those mountains.

      • madwand says:

        You say a lot of good things especially your comment about protected free speech being public is certainly appropriate. We need to get rid of Citizens United and all donations need to be public. All that said Dems have boxed themselves into a corner where the only remedy for corruption is the vote in November. It has to be an overwhelming victory as a close contest will be disputed. At different times I am inspired to believe an overwhelming victory is possible, but the reality is that Republicans will do everything in their power to limit the vote along with a little help from foreign actors. Can’t say it’s going to be fun anymore, it’s all getting too personal and I see nothing good coming from a second Trump term.

        • bmaz says:

          You can’t “get rid of Citizens United” without a Constitutional amendment. There is unlikely to be an amendment to the Constitution on any subject, much less CU, in our lifetimes.

          Secondly, the underlying premise of CU that political money is speech under the 1st Amendment is, at root, correct. It obviously is. And the Court in Buckley v. Vallejo in 1976 held that long before CU. And the right of corporations to exercise such free speech was already confirmed by the Court in 1978 in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti.

          Everybody thinks CU is the giant problem, and it simply is not. The better question is how such monetary speech can be regulated. Simply chanting the mantra “Repeal Citizen’s United” is ridiculous.

        • Raven Eye says:

          So…Check me on this, and tell me if I missed the obvious.

          CU is an entity exercising free speech. Other entities – me, partnerships, LLCs, corporations, foundations, etc. – all get to exercise free speech.

          But the point of irritation might not be best associated with the entity itself but, rather, on the sources of funding that make that expression possible. Could transparency there be part of a solution? Or would that be akin to demanding the identification of the shareholders of Apple, General Electric, COSTCO, etc.?

        • Rayne says:

          Why do the investor class get more than one voice? Why should I, who own shares in multiple companies, have more voice than one of my neighbors who owns no stock and is living on Social Security?

          That’s where I believe the system fails. Having money doesn’t mean you get more than one voice. You want to make a donation directly to a candidate or a campaign? Great — but you do it as a citizen and not as a citizen and again as a shell corporation and again as a PAC and again as some other legal construct.

          One citizen, one voice.

        • Raven Eye says:

          I hear you, but…

          “One citizen, one voice” would be an unconscionable restriction on MY freedom of speech. Would one citizen, one voice prohibit me from donating $1 each to ten different PACs? Or are we talking about the volume of that speech (wide distribution effectively being a really, really loud voice)? The Koch brothers are really, really loud. And what is a newspaper editorial? One publisher’s speech, through the instruments of one writer or one editorial board; printed, posted, and (maybe) broadcast. Mark Twain’s “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.”

          I’m unsure how to operationalize the desire to dampen loud, profligate, and lavishly funded voices without doing damage to the freedom we are trying to preserve.

        • Rayne says:

          There are already donor limits in place. If you own a corporation it shouldn’t allow you to reach two donor limits. ESPECIALLY for the Kochs who avoid public scrutiny of their businesses by operating under LLCs instead of C-corps; income to Koch LLC is income to Charles Koch. He gets one donor limit.

          Maybe if the only other method of loud speech is newspapers, billionaires will stop cannibalizing papers through venture capital firms and fund newspapers.

        • Rayne says:

          The Supreme Court already issued a decision this week which is counter to a previous decision.

          This will eventually go back to the court; by then we better have justices who can argue for one citizen, one voice, one vote. It has been a fundamental flaw that corporations were ever permitted to become equal with citizens, and a fundamental flaw that persons with more money have more voice. That’s not democracy, it’s fascism.

        • vvv says:

          I would, I reckon Rayne would, I suspect you would. How to get people who think like us about it and on the SC (or better/more likely, in the legislature) and willing to “fix” it is the issue.

          And I have no solutions, but that whole thing of corporations, dark money, even Super-Pacs is, IMO, eh, not-good.

          I rant about CU and Hobby Lobby, etc. (short-hand labels) all the time – my friends point that out often.

        • vicks says:

          I don’t understand the argument against transparency.
          By that, I mean how would any argument to hide the source of campaign funding be in keeping with the spirit of democracy?
          We check for conflicts of interest on the personal financial disclosures from everyone that runs for a federal office,
          How do we justify overlooking the huge political debt many candidates rack up on thier way to getting elected?

        • Raven Eye says:

          Perhaps the difference between a candidate’s official campaign and an entity expressing an opinion about a candidate or an issue?

        • vicks says:

          Yeah but..
          Big oil may have piles of money but I think that it is overly generous to say that the reason they want to give it to a candidate is to express thier “opinions.’
          Corporations don’t have “opinions” they have agendas, and there is no way in hell that a candidate or party’s platform isn’t shaped around the agendas of those who give them money.
          If I want to dump my garbage in a river, my single vote or $100 bucks isn’t going to get me anywhere with a candidate, not so for the biggest manufacturer in town.
          If corporations are people, and donations free speech, isn’t a corporate donation is speaking for the people of the corporation?
          In the weeds for sure but if I am an employee, does my company really have the right to speak for me?

        • madwand says:

          ok so all donations need to be public and regulated, I’ll buy that, at least we will know who is buying who.

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, exactly, and I think that could be done if there was the will in Congress, So far, there has not even been that.

        • P J Evans says:

          People who get money from Big Donors don’t want that to go away.

          Friend proposed, years ago, these rules:
          No limit on donation amount.
          Only natural persons can donate.
          All donations are reportable.

      • Coyle says:

        Not disagreeing, but I think at this point Trump’s main concern is re-election not personal financial gain. That’s why he tried to bury the intel on Russian bounties while simultaneously taking Putin’s side on issues like the G-7 and NATO. He knows he needs Putin’s help to get re-elected — now more than ever — and nothing else matters, not even the lives of American soldiers. Of course that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of shady financial stuff going on with regard to Trump’s re-election campaign. (Apologies for the double negative — to lazy to change it!)

        • Rayne says:

          Re-election and personal financial gain are not severable. Trump can’t continue to launder money for Russia and grift on taxpayers’ dime if he is out of office and under investigation and/or prosecuted by states and feds.

      • Eureka says:

        […] pussy (they are tougher than balls, they take a pounding, have to give it to the women) […]

        You’re perhaps watching too many male-made porns.

        NB via analogy, this reads like the sexism equivalent of “I have black friends” (or really, intersectionally, more like, “I fucked a black girl once”).

  13. vvv says:

    I wanna mention one more thing in the failed president’s tweet response that really bothers me. He wrote:
    “Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us…..”

    The “Everybody” aside (else why are we discussing this), it’s as though the “not been many attacks” part is offered to somehow mitigate the non-response, or corroborate the denial(s). It does neither.

    • Barbara Grothus says:

      I’m sure the families of dead service men and women during this time take cold comfort in this.

    • P J Evans says:

      Maybe not very many attacks that were reported on Fox/OANN?

      (I worry a bit – one of my younger cousins graduated from Ranger school a year ago.)

      • vvv says:

        “Russian bounties offered to Taliban militants in Afghanistan to kill US or UK troops there are believed to have resulted in the deaths of multiple US troops, the Washington Post reported Sunday, citing US intelligence gathered from military interrogations.”

        ht tps://

        BTW, the Sam Vinograd video on that page is worthy – seems to me she knows her stuff.

  14. harpie says:

    New from NYT:
    3:32 PM · Jun 28, 2020

    Breaking News: U.S. spies and commandos in Afghanistan alerted superiors as early as January to a Russian plot to pay bounties to kill U.S. troops, officials said. [link]

    Spies and Commandos Warned Months Ago of Russian Bounties on U.S. Troops
    The recovery of large amounts of American cash at a Taliban outpost in Afghanistan tipped off U.S. officials.
    June 28, 2020, 3:26 p.m. ET

    United States 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 American troops in Afghanistan, according to officials briefed on the matter. […]

    • harpie says:

      […] Armed with this information, military and intelligence officials have been reviewing American and other coalition combat casualties since early last year to determine whether any were victims of the plot. […]

    • Rayne says:

      So right about the same time that tangerine hellbeast was warned about the pandemic by WHO, he was warned by our own people about the bounties.

      And he did dick-doodley-squat about either of them.

      Just needs to be removed for abuse of office and gross incompetence.

      • blueedredcounty says:

        I prefer Agent Orange, but exactly this Rayne…he needs to go. I don’t see how it is going to happen before the election. I think people are now motivated enough that no matter the lines (see Wisconsin, Georgia) or the COVID-19 infection rate they are going to vote. Trying to keep my hopes up based on 2018, because I never have quite gotten over the shock of 2016.

  15. arbusto says:

    Juan Cole has a different take on Russian bounty; or rather doubts Putin backing the FSU offer (begs the question of Putin having absolute control). Cole states that Putin fears 1) increasing heroin smuggling from Afghanistan and usage among the youth and 2) Taliban & ISIL spreading their brand of religion to the other ‘stans causing more instability in Russia. Russia is offering support for increased border security in the region.

    • P J Evans says:

      Which need an explanation for how killing US (and any allied) personnel in Afghanistan would help – they’re not crossing that border to smuggle drugs.

      • arbusto says:

        That’s item 2, ISIL exporting dogma and freedom fighters to the ‘stans and Chechnya.

      • Coyle says:

        One possible reason: It’s a delaying tactic, designed to forestall a US-Taliban ceasefire and American pullout that leaves Russia on the sidelines. Bringing the troops home was one of Trump’s main campaign promises in 2016 and would certainly give Trump a much-needed boost on the campaign trail this year. Maybe this is Putin’s way of saying “Not so fast, Donnie. You need to deal us in before we let you go.” (Of course this assumes the Russians never planned to have details of the bounty program come out.)

    • arbusto says:

      Just read that Stephanopoulos asked Pelosi if the gang of eight were briefed on the bounty story and she said NO. If that’s true WTF?

      • bmaz says:

        It is not clear that they get briefed on much of anything these days. And Pelosi doesn’t care.

        • BobCon says:

          I really dislike Pelosi, but I’m not quite in the boat that she doesn’t care — I guess I’d buy that she doesn’t care enough to do anything, if that makes sense.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Cole is also not sold on why the Russians would do this in a tit-for-tat for our killing their mercenaries in Syria. However, this idea to keep us there instead of Russians does have some merit as to why Putin would go this route.

      However, it doesn’t explain how it is remotely acceptable for a US President to allow even one American soldier to be sacrificed for this purpose (and BoJo is not going to enjoy PMQs either for the UK soldiers). It even stirred Liz Cheney to slither out and demand answers (but not apparently McConnell, Crenshaw or Cotton, but maybe I missed something). Only DJT could be so compromised to allow this without any concern for the troops. We saw this when we had the soldiers killed in Niger come home early in his term.

  16. Rugger9 says:

    Good grief, we’ve heard from Lindsey about the bounties: he went golfing with DJT without a care in the world. And he’s a long-time reservist JAG. Or, as it appears: a REMF.

    OT: why is Navarro wearing a Q-Anon pin when he never wears pins any other time?

    • vvv says:

      I had to search that out – the pin is obvious on some Faux News footage with him about pontificating about various wacky stuff, and whining about John “Kookookoochoo” Bolton.

      Like, WTF?

      (BTW, the “edit” function has been working a treat the last couple days!)

  17. DAT says:

    I’ve called offices of Indiana’s Sens Braun and Young, and my Rep Walorski. Stressed that three news organizations are reporting this, that monetary payments were offered, and asked their plans to find out who in the American government knew this, when they knew it, what they had planned to do about it, and what their (their, the government officers who knew in March, and their, our Representatives.) plans are now that the General American citizenry knows about it.
    Keep up the good work Rayne!

  18. Pablo in the Gazebo says:

    On the subject of bounties in the military: The one example I can think of was Marine Gunnery Sgt. Carlos N. Hathcock II. He was a sniper in Vietnam. He had 93 confirmed kills of NVA and Viet Cong soldiers, but the actual total was much higher because an officer had to somehow confirm a kill for it to be counted. The NVA put a bounty of $30,000 on him. He died in 1999 from MS. This may be only tangentially relevant to our conversation, but I thought I’d bring it up.

  19. madwand says:

    My letter and its been sent

    Dear Sir

    I am writing to express my concern. The NY Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal and other publications have reported that the Russian government has paid bounties to Taliban linked militants for the assassination of Coalition troops in Afghanistan and that the US government has known of these killings since March. The article asserts that the president has been briefed at “an interagency meeting” in late March and quoting from the NY Times “ 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 consider the safety of US combat troops a strong priority and a sanctified duty of US officials. No response would seem to indicate a reckless disregard for the lives of US soldiers.

    Why would this go unanswered by the US government?

    How do you stand on this issue?

    What actions will you take to insure the safety of US troops in Afghanistan?

    After 19 years what actions and resources are being applied so that the withdrawal of US combat troops from Afghanistan can occur?

    Thank you very much

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Proxy wars are about propaganda as well as fighting and killing. Russia wants this, the US that, the Taliban wants a plague on both their houses, but support enough from somewhere to have an edge against any domestic competitor. Afghanistan’s politics are as harsh as its geography.

    One thing the Russians could rely on is that however Trump responded, he would do it badly and generate dissent and distraction. And yet, while he’s in office and the GOP has the Senate, they could also rely on no serious consequences coming from the US. Apart from embarrassing the US and causing domestic turmoil – Russian state objectives for a hundred years – I can only guess that the US is playing an ancillary role in whatever the Russians want to achieve.

  21. x174 says:

    it seems to me that we’ve long given trump the benefit of the doubt when the evidence to the contrary is abundant, clear and continuous that he works for putin. it is entirely possible that trump was/is all for putin and his thugs doing whatever they want to us and uk soldiers, whenever they want. completely ties in with his persistent destruction of the united states. graveyard of empires and all that. putin probably understands that it was Zbig’s trap that ultimately brought down the ussr. probably wants the us to suffer the same fate and our russian asset has no problem with aiding and abetting him.

    • Rayne says:

      Not like the Chinese weren’t nice enough to warn us back in 1999 what lay ahead when it came to asymmetric warfare and how being overextended was a U.S. weakness to be exploited. We still aren’t acting like we heard them.

      • madwand says:

        Strategic overstretch, what a concept, Napoleon and Hitler in Russia to name a couple. Hitler had 165 Divisions on the Russian front, imagine if he had those in France in June of 1944, from a strategic standpoint the invasion of Russia by both Napoleon and Hitler was the coupe de grace for their countries. The US, 800 bases all over the world, 200 more or so classified, a military not built for defense, but offense, and a penchant for intervening where they are not wanted. Along with being overstretched which is quite obvious our military is now seriously outdated across all services. The “Kill Chain Defending America in the Future of High Tech Warfare” is a good place to start. US should have taken heed of that warning in 1999.

        • John Lehman says:

          “Britannia rules the seas” where is it now? Where’s the British Empire now? And what’s happened to all the other 19th century’s imperialists and imperialist wannabes? They’re all ghosts. We have the means of immediate worldwide communication and transportation undreamt of 200 years ago. Is imperialistic nationalism practical anymore? No. Like I’m proud to be from Ohio (yea Buckeyes)…proud to live in Oregon (yea Beavers, yea Ducks…Ducks??)…point being though, is why can’t the pride we hold for our Nation be more like the moderate pride we have from being from a State or Province? Firmly believe the World is evolving in this direction.

  22. fishmanxxx says:

    Can’t attest obviously to a direct link but the removals of Michael Atkinson, IG of the Intelligence Community on April 3 and Glenn Fine, IG of the Defense Department (and acting IG of the Pentagon) on April 6 may be smelling a little more off about now??

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      When you kick over a rock or audit a Trump property, more than one critter always slithers out.

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for that, certainly a possibility their removals are related. I’ll add them in the morning, thanks much!

      EDIT: Added 9:55 a.m. ET — quite likely linked not only to the Ukraine quid pro quo but whatever hijinks Trump is pulling with ventilators and Russia.

  23. Molly Pitcher says:


    Thank you for the excellent timeline. I am impressed at your diligence in getting this put together in such short time.

    Re. contacting elected officials, I think Jackie Speier is probably sick of hearing from me, but she just received another missive.

  24. Eureka says:

    One thing I’ve not seen anyone remark on, but was one of my first craw-stickers (then and now): Trump sent ventilators to Russia (along with a 5.6 mil “humanitarian aid package”) ca. May 20, *but offers were discussed during our mid-April peak crisis, before it was truly clear that we could spare them*, and this was *after* we bought* a bunch of useless fritzy vents from RU. Much like the crates of PPE shipped to China early on, it piques of his debts rather than US largesse (reportedly it was only 200 vents) (was any of this cover for something else). And as with the PPE to China, what of what he sent might we need later (or, heck, he could have attended to freaking US needs for testing, etc., at that time).

    General e.g.:

    U.S. Sends Ventilators To Russia In $5.6 Million …
    May 21, 2020The United States delivered 50 ventilators to Russia on Thursday, part of a humanitarian aid package worth $5.6 million to help Moscow fight the coronavirus, U.S. officials said.

    US sends 200 ventilators to Russia as crisis … – CNBC
    May 20, 2020 The U.S. is to send 200 ventilators to Russia after President Vladimir Putin called President Trump to ask for help, the U.S. State Department told CNBC.

    *We the people of the US paid for the junk vent from Russia, yet it was billed in the press as “humanitarian aid” from them. Link to follow next.

    • Eureka says:

      Quick sketch, all dates 2020, internal links in blockquotes (one per each) removed:

      ●April 1 — aka, my framing: April Fools Day gag — RU sends US N=45 useless ventilators (that run on 220), made by a sanctioned company (important sneak at ‘precedent’), that first go to NY and NJ, are never used, and later end up in FEMA storage. We pay for half the cost –buy– this “donation” of sanctioned junk. Same model vents later associated with fires (and deaths) in coronavirus patient rooms in Russia. We will return to this April Fool’s gag below.

      Please take a moment to join me in appreciating that they sent forty-five ventilators. Count ’em: 45. Useless (but for compromising the US along with Trump). (Apparently) Dangerous. “Ventilators.”

      ●April 15 (Weds) Trump, in Rose Garden, first mentions sending vents/CoV aid to Russia.

      ●Ca April 15/16 quoted in Rupert’s NY Post (dateline April 17, 2020) above:

      The Kremlin says Russia will gratefully accept President Trump’s offer to provide ventilators for coronavirus patients if needed.

      “We take this confirmation that the American side may provide us such assistance, should we need it,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said of Trump’s offer, Russia Today reported.


      President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov hailed Trump’s offer as “very positive,” saying in Thursday’s [April 16, 2020] call with reporters that “Russia will certainly accept the kind offer if necessary.”

      Russia said it had 27,938 coronavirus cases and that 232 had died.

      Keyword: confirmation. So was this discussed during the April calls? Not clicking RT to get the date of statement, but he noted the reciprocity, that “We [RU] acted in the same way” (re April Fool’s vents).

      ●April 16th Coronavirus Task Force Briefing, Trump mentions this again but adds other countries to list he’d help with vents

      →(Note, this is around the time Trump announces a plan for US to “reopen” by May 1st)

      ●May 7 Trump-Putin call, donation of US-made vents discussed again* (along with 75th anniversary VE Day, oil prices, and redoing arms control deal (instead of re-upping New START) to include China

      ●May 13 RU suspends use of the model of ventilator they’d sent to US, due to its association with fires in COVID patient rooms resulting in deaths. HOWEVER, they suspend use of said vent model manufactured after April 1. RFE/RL notes odd coincidence that this is the same date RU sent US this model of vents**

      Back to April Fool’s: so, then, why don’t we just send them back the useless vents they sent us, now in FEMA storage, since — of necessity — those vents of that model were not manufactured after April 1?

      ● ca. May 16, 17 (“over the weekend” — Julia Davis DB article):

      U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Washington Examiner over the weekend that U.S. President Donald J. Trump decided to provide “significant assistance” to Russia and said that the U.S. equipment is already on its way there. Pompeo said, “We’re excited about our ability to try and help them work their way through this virus,” and added: “I have been working with Russia since I was Director of the CIA,” citing mutual cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

      →Note last line and concordance with much Pompeo content on the crowdsourced (WB complaint) timeline. Also, this quote was to Salena Zito for an article entitled “Pompeo tells Salena Zito the world must ‘impose costs on [China for coronavirus]” (unsure when quote in title closes).

      ●May 21 (Thursday) N=200 US-made vents (start to be) sent to RU as part of 5.6 mil humanitarian aid package. N=50 are delivered on Thursday May 21, with another 150 to be sent “next week” per US Embassy in Moscow (NPR link dated May 21, 2020). (Per May 20, 2020 CNBC link, that first fifty were expected to ship May 20; arrival 21st makes sense.)

      So what was Pompeo talking about “already on its way” by the ca 16th 17th of May?

      Add these to cites in initial comments:

      Reuters & AP on May 7, 2020 Putin Trump call in comment below

      The Strange Story Of A Russian Ventilator Shipment To The U.S. Just Got Stranger

      • Rayne says:

        I think this is a discrete issue not fully entwined with the Afghanistan bounties. On the face of it this looks like a means to circumvent sanctions and a likely laundering facility.

        If you don’t mind, Eureka, I’d like to lift this and use it as a post w/attribution to you. There’s a key point to be made in addition to the possible misuse of humanitarian gestures for sanctions circumvention — that of RFERL which reported on these ventilators.

        RFERL, or Radio Free Europe is now under threat because Trump named Michael Pack to head U.S. Agency for Global Media. You can see the problem from this bit snipped from RFERL’s About page:

        RFE/RL is registered with the IRS as a private, nonprofit Sec. 501(c)3 corporation, and is funded by a grant from the U.S. Congress through the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM) as a private grantee. RFE/RL’s editorial independence is protected by U.S. law.

        They’re trying to hide stuff under our noses, squashing our taxpayer-funded media to do so.

        EDIT: Shit. Did they transfer these ventilators back and forth as diplomatic shipments? Did they hide stuff under diplomatic immunity??

        • vicks says:

          I think you may be confusing this administration with one that would feel the need to cover it’s tracks….
          We DID pay what I think came to around 14K ea for these useless ventilators after all

          “According to the State Department though, the fact that the ventilators were bought from the Russian Government and not from the producer circumvents the sanctions issue.
          “The United States is paying the Russian government directly for the items delivered on April 1. These payments are made consistent with U.S. law.” Therefore, no prohibitions would apply to these transactions under existing sanctions, a State Department spokesperson told the OCCRP.”
          IMHO these Russian companies sanctioned by the United States needed to dump these ventilators, and someone in the Trump administration worked a deal to take 50 of them off their hands using tax payer dollars.
          My question remains, is the Trump team still paying down a debt, if not where the hell are the proceeds for (off the top of my head, leaving our friends the Kurds to be slaughtered, pulling troops out of Poland, lobbying to get Russia back into the G8 and using taxpayer dollars to funnel money back into Russian businesses declared off limits because of the harm they have caused our country) all of these “favors” going?

        • Eureka says:

          Agreed, it’s more about Trump lekking to Putin on the world stage, while he was failing his countrypersons (in more ways than one, per usual). And the chicanery.

          Sure thing, though I would have clarified/highlighted a couple other aspects (it appears a bit troll-fighty, and in that regard I do wonder if the bounties intelligence played an underlying role, if even as just a symptom of RU knowing they owned US with yet more compromising info. Something sure did).

          RFE/RL has the details* covered on the RU side of the sale, all of which are very curious. Russia publicizes their “generosity”, with “From Russia With Love” printed on the cargo boxes; our State Dept. issues a contradictory statement (hmm…) that we bought them, it was not a donation of humanitarian aid. Next:

          Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova then added another wrinkle, confirming the shipment was a purchase but that Washington and Moscow had split the costs.

          Sanction Busters?

          Moreover, she revealed that Russian costs were borne by the Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the $10 billion sovereign wealth fund set up by the government to attract investment into Russia.
          (continues with all of the hairsplitting details re companies involved with supplying vents/relevant sanctions)

          And then, from NPR, re the US’s actual donation, including US-manufactured ventilators:

          In another twist, the U.S. Agency for International Development carried out Thursday’s ventilator delivery — the government agency’s first mission in Russia since the Kremlin expelled it in 2012.

          At the time, the Kremlin accused the agency and USAID-supported Russian nongovernmental organizations of meddling in Russia’s internal affairs.

          United States Agency for International Development

          *RFE/RL also links ABC News’ reporting, where they estimate that we paid ~$660k for our half of the costs (yes, I noted the resemblance to 666 as well. So many transactions round up to Jared).

  25. PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

    I did not foresee publicly tweeting, “Fake news, asked Intel” as Trump’s response. It would have been much more sustainable to lie and say our reaction is super-secret and can’t be discussed, but exists.

    This is a blunder as obviously more confirmations will out, and just like blackmailing Ukraine was a bridge too far for many mid-level staffers and officials, people will speak up.

    Either Trump is genuinely panicking, or he believes he can make the GOP and their media machine fall in line.

    Still, why not lie and say “we responded”? That would have been so much easier, and the secret nature of these things would make it much harder to disprove. He only would have had to exerted pressure on a limited number of his own appointees, rather than hoping the entire IC and DoD backs his lie.

    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      Even saying “we take any threat seriously and always protect the troops” would have been enough of a shred for the GOP to cling to, without directly mentioning Russia. Their current stance makes no sense and is bad strategy for Trump and the GOP. Puzzling.

  26. Eureka says:

    Rayne, there was another Trump-Putin call on May 7th, ostensibly over VE Day*, coronavirus (US aid to Russia — the ventilators), oil prices, and — oh, look — (squeezing China into a replacement of) New START. Different sources emphasize different elements (Washington & Moscow Bureau bylines), and White House vs Kremlin statements similarly vary (winner of that troll fest: Putin).


    Putin-Trump call focuses on coronavirus, arms control, oil


    Trump calls for arms control with Russia and China in Putin call – Reuters

    It’s part of my ventilator-corner sub-timeline but thought it should be noted separately and sooner than I can get to the rest above.

    *VE Day is traditionally recognized on May 8th. [Skipping details, but I could see Inside baseball over why the Kremlin (Stalinist-fest) might suggest speaking on the 7th for that occasion (or why someone with hx knowledge in WH might want to kiss up to Putin by marking it that day), and then when the White House statement opens with that as the reason for the call, Kremlin notes/publically trolls that they spoke “ahead” of the 75th anniversary of VE Day. However, there may have been some other exigent circumstance prompting a call on the 7th, with VE Day as cover. ]

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for that, I’ll add it to the timeline in the morning. I should have remembered the ventilators discussion.

      You know why the tangerine hellbeast probably called Putin on May 7th? Because he’d have gone golfing on Friday, May 8th. I need to check his golf calendar to confirm that but I’ll put money on that being the case. That jackass just needs to retire already.

      EDIT: Color me surprised, he was still observing the shut down order that weekend.
      But there’s not much on his calendar May 7 – not even an indication he had a call with Putin.

      • Eureka says:

        Yeah I’m not sure why he called Putin on the 7th (or if he placed the call). But in case it was not about one of their (c)overt corruptions, I’ll add the inside baseball smidge re VE Day, which I would consider to be part of Putin’s drawing Trump into a pseudo (or is it?) folie à deux to both twin and twine current US-RU global standing.

        If at Putin’s behest (and for that reason), it would be typical Stalinist-fest revisioning of US-RU relationship, and a Team Trump historian (hmm, like Kissinger in the background, always) might want to place the call then to ingratiate with Putin for similar reasons. That’s because Eisenhower and the Soviet high command actually received the German surrender in the early morning hours of the 7th; (still) skipping details, Truman, Churchill, and Stalin made the announcement on the 8th. Like how the “Elbe Day”* statement was just more of (Trump joining) Putin (in) using the whole WWII ally angle as subtext for US and RU being on the same footing in the eyes of the world, and Trump “thinking” things like Norway belongs to Russia. Trump being Putin’s propagandist bitch, in other words.

        *Nearly all of the tweets on the “Elbe Day” topic were from Russian sources and Embassy accounts, and over and over at that, per my recall of that distant event of two months ago (lol).

        Folie à deux

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yea, the Russian ventilators with the wrong voltage and which didn’t work, some of which were prone to fire, and were never used. The US “exchange,” however was worth eight times the amount of the unusable Russian ventilators and was very usable.

      • Eureka says:

        [imp. typo alert (I am starting over reading from the top): 07-MAY-2020 Trump-Putin call got added as *07-APR*]

        ETA: and fact their respective statements claimed commemorating VE Day– goes with adjacent 25-APR Elbe day and then 07-MAY w/Taliban you noted. So that could have been real reason for that call, with New New St

        • Eureka says:

          ^…with “new” version to replace New START to include China (Trump admin alleged goal) possibly used as bargaining chip to just ignore GRU bounty-ing our soldiers (i.e. Trump has no power in this relationship, supposedly wants the new arms deal to include China — unless that’s a clock-runner as suggested in RFE/RL — has no leverage. Maybe ~”we’ll continue to overlook the bounties if you’ll help with this agreement” came up.

          Or something ahead of (or consequent to) the Khalilzad- Taliban meeting of 07-MAY.

          I think it’s super telling, given what we know now, that a Trump-Putin call coincides with that meeting by date (with no mention of Taliban talks in the statements about the call, given RU involvement).

          (Something at the tip of my brain I’ll add later; back to reading the top)

  27. Mitch Neher says:

    On 3 January 2020, a United States drone strike near Baghdad International Airport targeted and killed Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani . . .

    A.) I can’t remember anything anymore.

    B.) The Russians are taking excessive liberties with their exploitation of the opportunity that the US airstrike on Soleimani provided them.

    C) Chances are that Ms. Wheeler warned us about this sort of thing at the time, but . . . (See A: I can’t remember anything anymore).

  28. Manwen says:

    Thanks for the call to action. Called the local offices of Perdue and Loeffler today (both up for reelection in close races). Offices are “aware of it.” They have not “issued a statement at this time.” But, both offices are “sure that they will be issuing a statement soon” but neither can guarantee when. They do “understand the seriousness” and are “passing [my] concerns” on. They were not prepared to answer. If you contact them soon, their offices are scrambling to figure out what to say. I look forward to calling back tomorrow if there is no press release on their website by then.

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for sharing that, which would have sounded to me like a lot of fapping. Appreciate the effort greatly, and the forbearance to put up with listening to that bullshit response.

  29. Eric says:

    Rayne – called Cruz and Cornyn here in TX. Left messages for both. Also emailing. Will keep it up, and let you know if I get any responses.

  30. Spencer Dawkins says:

    I read all the way through the comments so far (whew) to make sure it wasn’t mentioned by someone else, but THANK YOU FOR POINTING OUT THAT THE BOUNTIES WEREN’T ONLY ON US TROOPS.

    I saw when it was published, and the bounty-on-allied-forces part disappeared from media discussion in the US so quickly that I assumed it was a misprint.

    More people have pointed that out in this thread than in all the other places I’m following, put together. And Boris still has an opposition, and doesn’t have a guaranteed term in office, so we’re more likely to learn more from the UK than from anyone who’s not being subpoenaed in the US. Yes, he’s a tool, but he’s not an Agent Orange-level tool.


    • Rayne says:

      DUDE. You did NOT read the post. The second item was about EU and UK intelligence AND that they had learned UK and US troops had been targeted.

      Sometimes I don’t know why I bother putting that much effort into narrowing it down to three things when some people can only read one thing. ~side eye~

  31. Lex says:

    I look forward to the time when the boomers are dead and we can put their irrational fear of Russians away. Of course the Russians offered bounties, that’s no surprise. There’s nothing we can do aside from starting a real war. Trump’s an idiot, among other things, but no other president would do anything about it either. Speaking on it publicly doesn’t do any good. What I don’t get is the left’s desire for more war and strife. Russia isn’t doing anything we don’t do all the time (including meddle in elections). They’re playing our game (cause we’re the hegemon it’s our game) by our rules and we’re bent out of shape. The actual answer is to quit throwing pointless imperial wars all over the world. There was never any reason for US troops to be in Afghanistan to be killed. It was always a pointless mission that couldn’t end in anything but failure. So the proper response to this is, get US military personnel out of Afghanistan. Defund the empire.

    • Rayne says:

      Ha, you’re funny, Lex. Just because we don’t like bounties on our soldiers placed by countries who are interfering with a peace agreement between Afghanistan’s government, the Taliban, and the U.S.-led NATO coalition doesn’t mean we want more war.

      WE WANT RUSSIA TO BUTT. THE. FUCK. OUT. There’s a peace agreement in progress and Russia is stoking more violence? How does that engender peace?

      And how does placing a bounty on UK soldiers help move negotiations along? Don’t bother answering because I can see the cut of your jib.

    • John Lehman says:

      “I look forward to the time when the boomers are dead…”
      Careful whipper-snapper no one knows when their end shall be.
      There’s a number of boomers here and I for one never had an…“irrational fear of Russians”
      I doubt whether very many of the others have either.

        • P J Evans says:

          Some of the people I’ve worked with were Russians. (Some others were Muslims. And several were from what had been Soviet Armenia.) They’re people.

  32. arbusto says:

    I haven’t delved deep in the issue, but it appears none of the alphabet intel agencies felt the need to inform Congress of the new Russian show Bounty Hunter. While some of our intel community had issued made to order analysis and threat warnings, they readily shared their disinformation e.g. weapons of mass destruction,Taliban behind 9/11. Now it’s been 6 months +/- and finally a leak? occurs and Congress professes ignorance on the issue and will no doubt issue a strongly worded report on their finding(s). I guess the upshot of my thought is how deeply our intel leadership has drunk from Trumps chalice to delay exposure of our inaction on a country that appears to have upended what remains of our free elections. That’s scary

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      arbusto, Trump has either fired or replaced most of the heads of our intel agencies, including virtually all of their elite Russia experts. Those he hasn’t dumped he has threatened, humiliated and harassed routinely. I would not put this on them, at least not as the source of the problem.

  33. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The White House “briefing” on Afghanistan this afternoon was for Republicans only. In a two-party state, no head of government does that. The head of one party does that. That briefing was about message management, not governance or foreign policy. It was about keeping Trump in office.

    Rather than doing anything about the problems of the day, Trump corrals an entire party into helping him evade them without consequence. Having surrendered their willingness to govern, no “Republican” should again hold federal office.

    • Tom says:

      I’m sure the meeting will include a conference call to Moscow with Trump’s GOP sheep all responding “baa .. baa … baa” as they get their talking points from Putin.

    • vicks says:

      He golfed with Lindsey over the weekend too
      From the Twitter it looks like they are going with the “fake news” defense it’s hard to believe they need a briefing to go over that tired strategy.
      Must be bad eh?
      Am I wrong in thinking there is a really good chance the truth will get out anyway?

    • vvv says:

      There’s footage on CNN where Kinzinger (R., IL) says that Hoyer was invited and declined and is scheduled for Tuesday with other Dems. The NPR article Raven Eye linked above says, “A group of House Democrats was expected to travel to the White House on Tuesday with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.”

      My read based on “expected to travel” is Hoyer may or may not have been in DC, but he wanted others who were not there yet to attend.

      I am sure that someone saw that by rushing the Repub meeting, they had a talking point, as made by Kinzinger.

  34. viget says:

    So in perusing the homepages of the major network news organizations (Fox does not count), all of them, save MSNBC, have minimized the Russian bounty story. In fact, on some pages it’s nowhere to be found. On CNN’s page it’s obscurely mentioned in an opinion headline.

    What is going on here? This should be all CAPS on the top of the page?!?!

    • vvv says:

      It is, now. I see CNN and the like do that frequently, almost like their reporting gets ahead of their analysis.


      I often feel like they sometimes miss the greater import until others get going on a story, and that’s what brings the realization and they jump on the bandwagon.

  35. john in denver says:

    Don’t know if it is related development or not, but tweet announcing Acting Chief of Staff Mulvaney is leaving comes out March 6, explaining Mark Meadows will take over.

    Meadows quits Congress on March 30. Mulvaney officially resigns March 30. Meadows is the new Chief of Staff (not “Acting”) as of March 31. Watching the explanations of who knew … I’ve seen none referring to Mulvaney, and several making it clear that CoS Meadows was not briefed.

    • vvv says:

      “Richard Grenell, the former acting director of national intelligence who temporarily held the post before Ratcliffe’s confirmation, said on Twitter that he wasn’t aware of any reporting about the alleged bounty practices.” (Raven Eye’s NPR link, above.)

      I’m like, WTF?

      My little conspiracy-theory self says it almost seems like information *was* withheld from certain members of the admin, with CYA in place by putting the info in the Daily Report, because they figured (correctly) it would be missed/ignored.

      (I must note that tonight is a “I’m not drinking” night so the two glasses of Pinot Grigio I had may not be fully stimulating my remaining brain cells.)

      • vvv says:

        After just reading the AP articles that Klynn and Eureka linked below, my above conspiracy-theory silliness is even less likely, but I still wonder why (if he’s truthful) Grennell did not know?

        Maybe it’s in the phrasing, “he wasn’t aware of any *reporting *”.

  36. SVFranklinS says:

    Based on seeing the letters here, I sent this to my 2 senators and my representative. All Dems, so not sure if it matters, but I did it anyway.
    I am concerned.

    The NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and others are all credibly reporting that the Russian GRU offered cash bounties for the killing of US and UK soldiers in Afghanistan, resulting in the deaths of at least one and possibly more than one soldier.

    The White House was quick to kill Iranian general Soleimani in response to attacks in Iraq that killed one US contractor. Now we hear that US soldiers are being further put in harm’s way by having a price on their heads, and also that officials in the Intelligence community informed the White House of this months ago. Yet, according to the reports, the official response has been complete silence on this matter.

    I hope you will call for immediate hearings, so that we can understand who knew about what parts of this matter, when it was known, and how this came to be. In particular, Congress should require John Ratcliffe and Rick Grenell (the current and former Directors of National Intelligence) to testify about their knowledge and understanding of these events.

    It is not a surprise that Russia would seek to expand influence in the area in this way.
    It is a surprise that, upon learning about it, the US government would do nothing.

    I hope you can do something about it.

  37. klynn says:

    Contacted my representative and senators. No word yet.

    Rayne, thank you for working on the timeline. Thank you wheelers for adding to the timeline!

  38. william of ockham says:

    Very commendable site with passion and drilled down data.

    Bad news and good news. Bad news first. No one is going to do anything about bounties, real or imagined. That is because of a combination of two things. First, the Constitution’s format for government is a form of game theory, much like rock/paper/scissors. The founders took three of the four powers generally vested in a monarch – executive, legislative, and judicial, (religious is the fourth) – and broke them into separate branches of government. Most importantly they separated the person in charge of waging war (executive branch) from the ability to tax and fund wars (legislative) and other social necessities. They also provided stimying powers to each branch re: actions of the other branches. Good as far as it went. But the basis for the Constitutional edifice was that those in each branch would be first responsible to the raison d’etre of the branch itself and secondarily to individuals or majority faction (political agendas). As game theory works here, as soon as those in each branch put personal/party agenda first and align with others of shared beliefs in the other branches, separation and balance of powers fail. So in today’s terms if the controlling faction in the Senate is hand-in-hand with the President, the President can never be removed via impeachment. Potential removal doesn’t exist. If there are five Supreme Court Justices linked in party agenda with the legislative branch constitutionality of laws is agenda driven rather than constitutionally driven. (Enter Clarence Thomas whose wife Ginny lobbies/purifies the Executive branch with requests for removal of those not deemed sufficiently loyal or “pure”.) In bounty terms, the alliance of Moscow Mitch and duplicitous Donnie will stymie any proposals for accountability. The format of the Constitution no longer works.

    Second, the creature Trump is, as with all of us, a product of his DNA and his behavioral conditioning. His DNA puts him in the autistic tail of the behavioral curve. If you see the movie The Accountant you would recognize Trump immediately. It is just how he is: nothing less and nothing more. As importantly in BF Skinner behavioral terms he has been conditioned and conditioned other people to accept his essentially autistic actions in all situations. He feels, as he put it succinctly recently, no responsibility (and I would add the ability to empathize) for anything. He can’t. It’s impossible for him. What he does have in addition, and this places him apart as a con man extraordinaire, is a feral instinct to recognize base instincts in others and their willingness/desire to feed those instincts. Barr, Pompeo, Esper, DeVos, Milley in his battle fatiques, Ratcliffe, Pence for sure are all examples in his administration, McConnell and Cotton in the Senate, McCarthy and Jordan in the House, Kavanaugh on the Court. And if they won’t employ those instincts on his behalf he will get rid of them and replace with someone that will if he possibly can. (I would say they are like Cassius, i.e. lean and hungry men but somehow “lean” and Barr or Pompeo or Milley or Kavanaugh don’t fit.) They all see their true Constitutional responsibilities as extensions of personal ambition and party agenda. In those circumstances, Trump will never be held responsible for things for which he doesn’t feel responsible for anyway. If he ran away from the draft and he ran to the bunker, he isn’t going to give a rat’s fanny about bounties on American troops. He isn’t built that way. He doesn’t and literally cannot care and he is surrounded by people that don’t care. Putin just happens to be a true soulmate with whom he is having an extended Vulcan mind meld. All bad news for sure.

    Here is the, at least, potentially good news. The Republican party is probably on its demographic last legs. It probably has about 25 years before it goes the way of the Federalist and the Whigs. Women and minorities are coming to power simply because of the their population growth. They are not the future of the Republican party. And in 25 years most all the 200 judges the Republicans have put into the judicial system are gone along with the Republican way of life they were intended to impose. I say potentially because who knows if the Dems will select the Trumpian way and generate their own Trump.

    • Eureka says:

      (Apologies- technical difficulties– will add links when I can)

      More Breaking:

      AP’s Julie Pace (@jpacedc) tweeted at 1033p (no story yet): “_AP sources: White House was aware of intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops in 2019”

      • Eureka says:

        AP sources: White House aware of Russian bounties in 2019

        via Julie Pace: “The plot, it thickens.”

        Top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russia was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans, a full year earlier than has been previously reported, according to U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the intelligence.

        The assessment was included in at least one of President Donald Trump’s written daily intelligence briefings at the time, according to the officials. Then-national security adviser John Bolton also told colleagues he briefed Trump on the intelligence assessment in March 2019.


        Bolton declined to comment Monday when asked by the AP if he had briefed Trump about the matter in 2019. On Sunday, he suggested to NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Trump was claiming ignorance of Russia’s provocations to justify his administration’s lack of a response.

    • Eureka says:

      Shit, so about all this: I am getting really scared that they are turning Trump out so they can get a Pence/Haley ticket and a better chance at winning. Else why *now*… after all the swing/ rustbelt /sunbelt polling just looks worse and worse for Trump.

      • P J Evans says:

        Pence/Haley would appeal to … not enough voters. The ones that would vote for Pence wouldn’t want a woman in office, especially one who isn’t white enough. Neither one has a lot to offer the rest of us.

        • Tom says:

          The Republican Party has become so all-in with Trump that if he were to go the GOP would find itself shackled to a corpse with no way to escape its stench.

        • Eureka says:

          And shiver me timbers, I didn’t dare say Ivanka’s name, but that would solve the white-enough-for-ya problem (among others, perhaps).

    • Rugger9 says:

      Read Juan Cole on the topic. It’s too far away in time and location. It’s more likely that the idea is to (1) protect the soft underbelly and (2) get a Russian-owned warm water port in India.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Either, but I think India is more likely given their issues with China and the need for a counterweight, combined with the fact most of India’s equipment is Russian design.

  39. Eureka says:

    Statement from NSA O’Brien 11:20 PM · Jun 29, 2020 from The White House:

    NSC on Twitter: “[image of statement]”

    “Over the past several days, the New York Times and other news outlets have reported on allegations regarding our troops in Afghanistan. While we do not normally discuss such matters, we constantly evaluate intelligence reports and brief the President as necessary. Because the allegations in recent press articles have not been verified or substantiated by the Intelligence Community, President Trump had not been briefed on the items. Nevertheless, the Administration, including the National Security Council staff, have been preparing should the situation warrant action.

    To those government officials who betray the trust of the people of the United States by leaking classified information, your actions endanger our national security. No matter the motivation, there is never a justification for such conduct.

    Let me be clear that there is nothing more important to President Trump than America’s security and the safety of our men and women in uniform. He has demonstrated this commitment time and again.” – NSA Robert O’Brien

    Adding, as a counter to some of the above:

    As Ryan Goodman noted in a different context earlier tonight, the fact this showed up in the PDB shows IC had confidence in its truth:

    Ryan Goodman: “CNN confirms: #RussiaBounty was included in Presidential Daily Brief. That’s also more evidence the IC had confidence in the intelligence. @barbarastarrcnn and @CNNPaul report. That now makes it NYT, AP and CNN confirming this element of the story. [CNN link]”

    & Note that AP reference was re earlier AP reporting, not the new one linked tonight

      • Eureka says:

        Yes, I’ve got that in another tab (this Monday night blizzard rivals many a Friday night in Mueller time, I’ll say).

        9:21 PM · Jun 29, 2020
        Natasha Bertrand: “Just in: New statement from CIA Director Gina Haspel [screenshot]”

        Also one from Ratcliffe just before (per press tweet times) the Haspel one (had intentions of transcribing both, we’ll see).

        ETA: your link wasn’t there when I was typing/overlapped I guess

        Here’s Marcy quote tweeting the Ratcliffe one:

        Whatever 8 sources leaked this story probably have a combined 120 years experience in intelligence.

        Ratcliffe has 4 months.

        • Eureka says:

          Haspel text (hopefully didn’t miss errors):

          D/CIA Statement on Impact of Unauthorized Disclosures on Force Protection

          Today, CIA Director Gina Haspel released the following statement:

          “When developing intelligence assessments, initial tactical reports often require additional collection and validation. In general, preliminary Force Protection information is shared throughout the national security community–and with U.S. allies–as part of our ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of coalition forces overseas. Leaks compromise and disrupt the critical interagency work to collect, assess, and ascribe culpability.

          Hostile states’ use of proxies in war zones to inflict damage on U.S. interests and troops is a constant, longstanding concern. CIA will continue to pursue every lead; analyze the information we collect with critical, objective eyes; and brief reliable intelligence to protect U.S. forces deployed around the world.”


        • Eureka says:

          Ratcliffe text:



          NEWS RELEASE


          ODNI News Release No. 26-20

          June 29, 2020

          DNI Ratcllffe Statement on Impact of Unauthorized Disclosures on Force Protection

          WASHINGTON, D.C. — Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe today released the following statement:

          “U.S. and coalition force protection is a critical priority for both the President and the Intelligence Community. The selective leaking of any classified information disrupts the vital interagency work to collect, assess, and mitigate threats and places our forces at risk. It is also, simply put. a crime. We are still investigating the alleged intelligence referenced in recent media reporting and we will brief the President and Congressional leaders at the appropriate time. This is the analytic process working the way it should. Unfortunately. unauthorized disclosures now jeopardize our ability to ever find out the full story with respect to these allegations.”


          emptywheel: “Whatever 8 sources leaked this story probably have a combined 120 years experience in intelligence. Ratcliffe has 4 months.”


          Zachary Cohen: “New statement from @DNI_Ratcliffe: [screenshot; Cohen threads the Haspel statement,”minutes later”, next, FYI]”

  40. Rugger9 says:

    I have seen speculation on Faux of all places that DJT will drop out.

    That will not happen, for as bmaz and others have capably pointed out that leaves him open to prosecution long before the statute of limitations expire, as well as his ego and also the fact that between the TEA Party and Trumpism there is no one that could differentiate themselves from DJT. They joined in or acquiesced or may have furrowed their brows but not one GOP pol did anything substantial (no, Mitt’s vote or Sasse’s venting isn’t anything but a flare on some predetermined result) like demand witnesses in January. So, they carry that anvil around their necks as well.

  41. Kspin says:

    I’m just gob-smacked that the news out today clearly states that POTUS was briefed about this issue – in a WRITTEN brief – but that he and his team continue to split hairs, and maintain that he wasn’t briefed at all, because he wasn’t briefed PERSONALLY. Which I guess means that it’s not DJT’s fault that he can’t (or cant be arsed) reading written comms, it’s the fault of those who know and cater to his (huge) deficits, and should have gone the extra mile, to draw ‘important issues’ to his attention… And that is scary on so many levels.

    • P J Evans says:

      If that’s true, then he needs to resign, because he isn’t mentally capable of doing the job.

  42. Peacerme says:

    If Bolton had briefed Trump on this, and did not testify in the impeachment hearings, he is as culpable for deaths that occurred. That clearly was an impeachable offense. Every republican who knew and colluded is culpable. How can Bolton sleep at night?? Blood on their hands and treason in their veins. (I know technically not treason, but in a colloquial sense it is of the same magnitude of betrayal.)

  43. zed says:

    The thing that sold me on bountygate was the anonymous sources for story. There are never problems or subsequent retractions when anonymous sources are used. However, the fact that the NSA didn’t agree with the intelligence was a close second. Sure, some Trumpistas will point to the lack of agreement among the intelligence agencies as to why he wasn’t briefed, but, Russia, Russia, Russia ….

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This is your FOURTH user name. /~Rayne]

    • bmaz says:

      And WTF does that mean exactly?

      And, Hi Pete, this is the fourth sock puppet you have trolled us with. Stop. And get out.

    • Rayne says:

      Your comment is pure babble; you could use a few lessons in snark.

      If your beef is with anonymous sources, you’ve already seen what happens to sources who come out on the record, and who do so at the request of Congress — like Marie Yovanovitch, Fiona Hill, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, so on. Loyal Americans are subjected to character assassination and then lose their jobs simply for doing their work with integrity. Of course certain sources will remain anonymous after watching this happen since the earliest days of this administration.

      There’s a perfectly good reason why sources used want to be anonymous and need to remain anonymous: a good number of them work in intelligence or in contact with intelligence and they don’t want to jeopardize ongoing intelligence operations, and/or they may wish to continue to serve their country uninterrupted by Trump’s vengefulness. We, the American people, need them to continue to do their jobs.

      Much of what they have said anonymously has been corroborated by John Bolton. And at least one part of the unfolding story is a little too close to exposing methods and means.

      There’s also one intelligence issue which hasn’t yet been addressed by the media. I hinted at it, left a breadcrumb no outlet has seized. Even I am worried about opening that up any further for fear one or more persons’ lives may be at risk.

      You’re not making your repeated use of different usernames here look very innocent.

  44. Eureka says:

    Rayne/moderators important: your new Three Things page is no longer secure connection, due to parts of page such as images (I can only see two images in comments, and I don’t think it’s the Reagan Afghan article because that also appears on this page, and browser is not flagging this page; also that was there yesterday and the page wasn’t flagged as “connection not secure” yesterday).

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for the heads up, I’ll check it out.

      EDIT: Check it out now, should be secure. Let me know if it isn’t. Thanks again!

      • Eureka says:

        Yuppers, all good in the hood. Thanks!

        Also (as to the separate thing where sometimes I/one can’t see some images) I’ve been meaning to thank you again for continuing to host images on your twitter. I find them eventually — or sometimes ahead, and get a hint at what’s under discussion here, lol.

        Adding: just recalled there is another image that breaks https: bmaz’s Christmas wreath. While you’re tuning up the shop, lol.

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