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US President Joe Biden • Russian President Vladimir Putin
The Trump administration was much maligned by mainstream media for not taking seriously enough leaked, anonymous allegations from February 2020 that the Russian government was putting bounties on the heads of US soldiers in Afghanistan. Turns out that's because it's most likely not true.

In an article from Reuters on Thursday that details sanctions levied by the Biden administration against Russia, officials from the US intelligence sector admit that "agencies have 'low to moderate' confidence in their assessment that Russia offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan." this was per a senior US official on a conference call, Reuters reports.

"Translated from the jargon of spyworld," The Daily Beast reported, "that means the intelligence agencies have found the story is, at best, unproven — and possibly untrue." Now, even the Trump-hating Daily Beast is saying "Donald Trump might have been right to call it a 'hoax.'"

Richard Grenell, who was Acting Director of the United States National Intelligence at the time, called out The Daily Beast's editor-in-chief Noah Shachtman for having gone along with the rumors. Grenell said that Shachtman had believed and run with the anonymous leaks, assuming they were US intelligence assessments. Grenell said that this simply was not true, and that the leaks, far from being intelligence reports, were "partisan hits."

Jack Posobiec echoed this claim, saying that the use of "raw intel" to formulate an opinion or to ascertain a set of facts is a dangerous undertaking since "without knowing source's access and motivations or context, it can be completely wrong."

Russia has denied the charge that they had offered a reward for dead American troops, and has continued to do so. "We have repeatedly warned the United States about the consequences of their hostile steps which dangerously raise the temperature of confrontation between our two countries," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

That wasn't Biden's take back in July when The New York Times broke the story of February 2020 rumor of "bounties" on the heads of American servicemen. At the time, Biden used the revelations of rumor to slam Trump. He outlines the Times story, emphasizing that what he's saying is only on the assumption that the report is true.


"President Trump, the commander-in-chief of the American troops in a dangerous theater of war, has known about this for months, according to The New York Times, and has done worse than nothing. Not only has he failed to sanction or impose any kind of consequences on Russia for this egregious violation of international law, Donald Trump has continued his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin. Trump had had this information according to the Times."
Biden, with no proof, continued to lambast Trump for not dealing with a rumor that Biden's own administration now admits has no basis in fact.

While the Biden administration is now reporting that there's hardly any reason at all to believe that Russia implemented this money-for-American-lives scheme, CNN's Jake Tapper was agog at the time to report that the Trump administration didn't see fit to deal with the scandal at the time.

He decried the administration serving other priorities at the time, writing on Twitter that the same day, February 27, 2020. Tapper's message was definitely one of horror.

The story that had the mainstream media pundit-sphere aghast with concern over Trump's foreign policy ineptitude turns out to have been merely rumor. Perhaps the reason Trump didn't focus on these allegations is for the same reason the Biden administration hasn't taken it up, because there was "low to moderate" intel to suggest that the rumors were actually fact.