Tag Archives: Afghanistan

How the Pentagon failed to sell Afghan government’s bunk ‘Bountygate’ story to US intelligence agencies, by Gareth Porter

US intelligence agencies didn’t buy the Bountygate story, but the New York Times did. From Gareth Porter at thegrayzone.com:

Another New York Times Russiagate bombshell turns out to be a dud, as dodgy stories spun out by Afghan intelligence and exploited by the Pentagon ultimately failed to convince US intelligence agencies.

The New York Times dropped another Russiagate bombshell on June 26 with a sensational front-page story headlined, “Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says.”  A predictable media and political frenzy followed, reviving the anti-Russian hysteria that has excited the Beltway establishment for the past four years.

But a closer look at the reporting by the Times and other mainstream outlets vying to confirm its coverage reveals another scandal not unlike Russiagate itself: the core elements of the story appear to have been fabricated by Afghan government intelligence to derail a potential US troop withdrawal from the country. And they were leaked to the Times and other outlets by US national security state officials who shared an agenda with their Afghan allies.

In the days following the story’s publication, the maneuvers of the Afghan regime and US national security bureaucracy encountered an unexpected political obstacle: US intelligence agencies began offering a series of low confidence assessments in the Afghan government’s self-interested intelligence claims, judging them to be highly suspect at best, and altogether bogus at worst.

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Russia-Baiting Is the Only Game in Town, by Philip Giraldi

Russia has caused every US problem, including the US failure to elect Hillary Clinton, since Vladimir Putin became Russia’s leader. From Philip Giraldi at unz.com:

Washington again becomes hysterical

There is particular danger at the moment that powerful political alignments in the United States are pushing strongly to exacerbate the developing crisis with Russia. The New York Times, which broke the story that the Kremlin had been paying the Afghan Taliban bounties to kill American soldiers, has been particularly assiduous in promoting the tale of perfidious Moscow. Initial Times coverage, which claimed that the activity had been confirmed by both intelligence sources and money tracking, was supplemented by delusional nonsense from former Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who asks “Why does Trump put Russia first?” before calling for a “swift and significant U.S. response.” Rice, who is being mentioned as a possible Biden choice for Vice President, certainly knows about swift and significant as she was one of the architects of the destruction of Libya and the escalation of U.S. military and intelligence operations directed against a non-threatening Syria.

The Times is also titillating with the tale of a low level drug smuggling Pashto businessman who seemed to have a lot of cash in dollars lying around, ignoring the fact that Afghanistan is awash with dollars and has been for years. Many of the dollars come from drug deals, as Afghanistan is now the world’s number one producer of opium and its byproducts.

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BOUNTYGATE: Scapegoating Systemic Military Failure in Afghanistan, by Scott Ritter

A fine chronicle of the US government’s long and inglorious history in Afghanistan, from Scott Ritter at consortiumnews.com:

The story of the alleged “bounty scheme” grew up in the context of top U.S. brass blaming Russia for America’s defeat in Afghanistan, says Scott Ritter.

On the morning of Feb. 27, Beth Sanner, the deputy director of national intelligence for mission integration, arrived at the White House carrying a copy of the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB), a document which, in one form or another, has been made available to every president of the United States since Harry Truman first received what was then known as the “Daily Summary” in February 1946.

The sensitivity of the PDB is without dispute; former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer once called the PBD “the most highly sensitized classified document in the government,”while former Vice President Dick Cheney referred to it as “the family jewels.”

The contents of the PDB are rarely shared with the public, not only because of the highly classified nature of the information it contains, but also because of the intimacy it reveals about the relationship between the nation’s chief executive and the intelligence community.

“It’s important for the writers of the presidential daily brief to feel comfortable that the documents will never be politicized and/or unnecessarily exposed for public purview,” former President George W. Bush observed after he left office, giving voice to a more blunt assessment put forward by his vice president who warned that any public release of a PDB would make its authors “spend more time worried about how the report’s going to look on the front page of The Washington Post.

Beth Sanner.

Sanner’s job was the same for those who had carried out this task under previous presidents: find a way to engage a politician whose natural instincts might not incline toward the tedious, and often contradictory details contained in many intelligence products. This was especially true for Donald J. Trump, who reportedly disdains detailed written reports, preferring instead oral briefings backed up by graphics.

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Seriously, Get The Hell Out Of Afghanistan, by Caitlin Johnstone

You will find very few people who will defend what the US has done and is doing in Afghanistan, but the military can’t seem to exit America’s longest war. From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:

With overwhelming bipartisan support, the House Armed Services Committee has added a Liz Cheney-spearheaded amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which throws severe roadblocks in the Trump administration’s proposed scale-down of US military presence in Afghanistan and Germany.

As The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald notes, both parties advancing the amendment cited in their arguments the completely unsubstantiated intelligence leak that was recently published by credulous mass media reporters alleging that Russia has paid bounties to Taliban fighters for killing the occupying forces in Afghanistan. Yet another western imperialist agenda once again facilitated by unforgivably egregious journalistic malpractice in the mass media.

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This Russia-Afghanistan Story Is Western Propaganda At Its Most Vile, by Caitlin Johnstone

The news organs that have found Russians in every closet and under every bed found a few more. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

All western mass media outlets are now shrieking about the story The New York Times first reported, citing zero evidence and naming zero sources, claiming intelligence says Russia paid out bounties to Taliban-linked fighters in Afghanistan for attacking the occupying forces of the US and its allies in Afghanistan. As of this writing, and probably forevermore, there have still been zero intelligence sources named and zero evidence provided for this claim.

As we discussed yesterday, the only correct response to unsubstantiated claims by anonymous spooks in a post-Iraq invasion world is to assume that they are lying until you’ve been provided with a mountain of hard, independently verifiable evidence to the contrary. The fact that The New York Times instead chose to uncritically parrot these evidence-free claims made by operatives within intelligence agencies with a known track record of lying about exactly these things is nothing short of journalistic malpractice. The fact that western media outlets are now unanimously regurgitating these still 100 percent baseless assertions is nothing short of state propaganda.

The consensus-manufacturing, Overton window-shrinking western propaganda apparatus has been in full swing with mass media outlets claiming on literally no basis whatsoever that they have confirmed one another’s “great reporting” on this completely unsubstantiated story.

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Two Decades of War in Afghanistan Is Enough, by Doug Bandow

Afghanistan may be the ultimate 21st century US foreign policy adventure—futile, corrupt, and never ending. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

The Trump administration is edging America toward the exit in Afghanistan, nearly two decades after President George W. Bush intervened in the aftermath of 9/11. The U.S. quickly dispersed Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda and ousted the Taliban, only to spend the following years failing to build a stable, liberal democracy centered in Kabul.

America’s extended commitment of lives and resources to Afghanistan never made sense. If there is one spot on the planet in which the US has little strategic interest, it is Afghanistan. The latter is geographically distant, landlocked among Iran, China, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Afghanistan is strongly tribal and socially traditional, a Muslim country ruled at the village and valley. With formal borders drawn by British officials, Afghans have strong family, ethnic, and religious ties across nations. US officials had little contact with Afghanistan prior to the 1979 Soviet invasion, which Washington used to bleed America’s Cold War adversary.

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President Trump: End This Stupid War Now! By Eric S. Margolis

The war in Afghanistan is perhaps the US’s most stupid and dishonest war, although there’s abundant competition. From Eric S. Margolis at lewrockwell.com:

After 19 years of war, over $1 trillion in spending, 2,400 dead and a torrent of lies, the US may now be facing an end to its longest war.

The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001. There were three reasons: 1. to cover up the humiliation of the tough-talking Bush administration for being caught sleeping on guard duty by the 9/11 attacks; 2. To secure oil pipeline routes through Afghanistan from Central Asia down to Pakistan’s sea coast; and 3. To occupy a supposedly empty square on the Asian chessboard before China did.

Since 2001, hardly a word of truth about Afghanistan has come out of Washington. All wars are accompanied by a bodyguard of lies, as Churchill wrote, but the lies and propaganda about Afghanistan were extraordinary and shameful.

Chief among the lies: Osama bin Laden was the architect of the 9/11 attacks that killed 3,000 Americans and that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan with the help of the Taliban movement. In fact, the plot was hatched in Germany and Spain by Saudi exiles, not Afghans, who claimed the US was occupying their nation and exploiting its riches.

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Afghanistan: Imagine There’s No Future, by Daniel Lazare

The ballyhooed Afghanistan peace deal is already comatose and will soon be dead. From Daniel Lazare at antiwar.com:

Here’s a little thought experiment. Imagine it’s Sept. 12, 2001, and America is in deep shock over the destruction of the World Trade Center the previous day. George W. Bush goes on national TV and declares:

“Now is not the time to lose our heads. Like Pearl Harbor, the death of thousands of innocent people in Lower Manhattan is a crime that will live in infamy. But our response must be carefully calibrated. With that in mind, we are sending teams of commandos to Afghanistan with the sole purpose of apprehending Osama bin Laden and his top henchmen. Once they’re arrested – and, mark my words, they will be – we will bring them to New York to stand trial just a few yards from where their despicable act of mass murder occurred. We have no quarrel with the people of Afghanistan. But we will have no dealings with the Taliban government as long as it harbors despicable terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. We are confident that our allies will do the same.”

The result of such a well-calibrated response would have been no war in Afghanistan, no prisoners in Guantánamo Bay, and almost certainly no war in Iraq either. Without earlier conflicts to pave the way, intervention in Libya, Syria, and Yemen would have all proved more difficult. Countless deaths would have been avoided and entire societies spared.

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THE ANGRY ARAB: The Lessons of the Taliban, by As`ad AbuKhalil

The US government and its military learned nothing from Vietnam. From As`ad AbuKhalil at consortiumnews.com:

The U.S. humiliation in Afghanistan shows that the empire can’t impose its will, no matter how much violence it inflicts, writes As`ad AbuKhalil.

Zalmay Khalilzad, left, the U.S. chief envoy, signs off on peace deal with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a Taliban leader, in Doha, Qatar, Feb. 29, 2020. (State Department)

It was quite a spectacle for this century.  If Western media were not all tied to the war establishment, they would have commented on the symbolism: a U.S. envoy signing a peace agreement with an official representatives of the Taliban movement.

Had Osama bin Laden been alive, he may have been invited to the signing ceremony.  Younger readers did not live through the massive propaganda campaign by all Western governments against the Taliban back in 2001.  The U.S. war on Afghanistan was very popular then: at least 90 percent of Americans supported it in 2001.

Conservatives and liberals united to convince public opinion that the removal of the Taliban from power was an American national priority.  The liberal organization, the Feminist Majority, aided the White House in its propaganda effort by releasing information on the Taliban’s war on women.

But when U.S. bombs started to kill women and children on a regular basis, the Feminist Majority and other liberals were silent. (Among women’s rights activists — including some in Afghanistan — the Feminist Majority’s pro-military position on Afghanistan was controversial at the time.)

George W. Bush and his wife briefly posed as feminist in an effort to persuade the public that the American invasion of Afghanistan is a humanitarian effort.

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The Afghanistan ‘peace deal’ riddle, by Pepe Escobar

Don’t expect too much from any Afghanistan peace deal. The Taliban want the US out, the US military wants to stay. From Pepe Escobar at asiatimes.com:

As far as realpolitik Afghanistan is concerned, with or without a deal, the US military want to stay in what is a priceless Greater Middle East base to deploy hybrid war techniques
In this photo taken on February 21, youths and peace activists gather as they celebrate the reduction in violence, in Kandahar. A week-long partial truce took hold across Afghanistan on February 22, with some jubilant civilians dancing in the streets as the war-weary country prepared for this coming Saturday’s planned agreement on a peace deal between the Taliban and the United States. Photo: AFP / Javed Tanveer

Nearly two decades after the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan post-9/11, and after an interminable war costing over $ 2 trillion, there’s hardly anything “historic” about a possible peace deal that may be signed in Doha this coming Saturday between Washington and the Taliban.

We should start by stressing three points.

1- The Taliban wanted all US troops out. Washington refused.

2- The possible deal only reduces US troops from 13,000 to 8,600. That’s the same number already deployed before the Trump administration.

3- The reduction will only happen a year and a half from now – assuming what’s being described as a truce holds.

So there would be no misunderstanding, Taliban Deputy Leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, in an op-ed certainly read by everyone inside the Beltway, detailed their straightforward red line: total US withdrawal.

And Haqqani is adamant: there’s no peace deal if US troops stay.

Still, a deal looms. How come? Simple: enter a series of secret “annexes.”

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