2021 Apr 16, 2:28pm
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That Russia placed "bounties” on the heads of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan was one of the most-discussed and consequential news stories of 2020. It was also, as it turns out, one of the most baseless — as the intelligence agencies who spread it through their media spokespeople now admit, largely because the tale has fulfilled and outlived its purpose.The saga began on July 29, 2020, when The New York Times announced that unnamed “American intelligence officials” have concluded that “a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops.” The paper called it “a significant and provocative escalation” by Russia. Though no evidence was ever presented to support the CIA's claims — neither in that original story nor in any reporting since — most U.S. media outlets blindly believed it and spent weeks if not longer treating it as proven, highly significant truth. Leading politicians from both parties similarly used this emotional storyline to advance multiple agendas. ...What was missing from this media orgy of indignation and militaristic demands for retaliation was an iota of questioning of whether the story was, in fact, true. All they had was an anonymous leak from “intelligence officials” — which The New York Times on Thursday admitted came from the CIA — but that was all they needed. That is because the vast majority of the corporate sector of the press lives under one overarching rule:When the CIA or related security state agencies tell American journalists to believe something, we obey unquestioningly, and as a result, whatever assertions are spread by these agencies, no matter how bereft of evidence or shielded by accountability-free anonymity, they instantly transform, in our government-worshipping worldview, into a proven fact — gospel — never to be questioned but only affirmed and then repeated and spread as far and wide as possible. ...Predictably, now that this CIA tale has served its purpose (namely, preventing Trump from leaving Afghanistan), and now that its enduring effects are impeding the Biden administration (which wants to leave Afghanistan and so needs to get rid of this story), the U.S. Government is now admitting that — surprise! — they had no convincing evidence for this story all along. ...If you think that, upon learning yesterday's news, there was any self-reflection on the part of the media figures who spread this, or that they felt chastened about it in any way, you would be very, very wrong. In fact, not only did few if any admit error, but they did exactly the same thing on Thursday about a brand new evidence-free assertion from the U.S. Government concerning Russia: they mindlessly assumed it true and then stated it to millions of people as fact. They are not embarrassed to get caught spreading false CIA propaganda. They see their role, correctly, as doing exactly that. ...Do you think journalists learned the lesson that they just had rubbed in their faces hours before about the foolishness of assuming official statements to be true with no evidence? Of course that is a rhetorical question: too many to count instantly proclaimed that this story was true without spending an ounce of mental energy to question if it was or apply any skepticism. Here’s Maddow’s MSNBC comrade showing how this is done:Twitter avatar for @chrislhayesChris Hayes @chrislhayesThere was no collusion, just the Russians hacking Trump's opponent to help Trump and Trump's campaign manager passing campaign info to the Russians.April 15th 20214,608 Retweets26,017 LikesDo you see what Hayes just did there? It is vital not to lose sight of how irresponsible and destructive this behavior is just because it is now so common. He saw a Press Release from a U.S. Government agency, read an assertion that it contained in one sentence, had no evidence that this assertion was true, but nonetheless “reported” it as if it were proven fact to millions of people in a predictably viral tweet.
A member of Congress on an intelligence committee sleeping with a Chinese spy and not in jail? WTF?
Billionaire-Backed Operative Kept Funding Steele, Fusion GPS in 2019, Even After Dossier’s Credibility CrumbledA former staffer for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) continued to pay large sums of money in 2019 to former British spy Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS, the firm that retained Steele for work on a Hillary Clinton-funded misinformation dossier, even as the credibility of both Steele and the claims in his dossier evaporated.The Democracy Integrity Project (TDIP), a nonprofit operated by former Feinstein staffer Daniel Jones, paid $1,222,714 in 2019 to Bean LLC., the shell company that controls Fusion GPS, and $700,000 to Walsingham Partners Ltd., a British company co-owned by Steele, according to a tax filing. ...In 2017 and 2018, Jones used his two nonprofits to funnel more than $5.3 million to Fusion GPS and almost $1 million to Steele. He told the FBI in March 2017 that billionaire financier George Soros and a group of seven to 10 Silicon Valley billionaires funded his Trump–Russia operation to the tune of $50 million. ...The Democracy Integrity Project received $1.5 million from a subsidiary of Soros’s Open Society Foundations, according to the foundation website.The project received $2 million from the Fund for a Better Future and $500,000 from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Neither group discloses the identities of its donors.