Questions Surface About White House Awareness of Russia-Taliban Bounty Plot

Headline Roundup June 30th, 2020

Reports of Russian-backed bounties on U.S. military personnel raise questions about how much the White House knew and when senior officials were informed. Recent developments suggest President Donald Trump was informed of the bounties in February, a claim the president has denied.

Left- and center-rated sources were more likely to focus on the president's supposed knowledge of the alleged conspiracy against U.S. forces, framing his purported inaction as worthy of criticism. Right-rated outlets focused less on specifics about Trump's awareness.

Questions Surface About White House Awareness of Russia-Taliban Bounty Plot

From the Left
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ANALYSIS

It was late Friday when the New York Times first reported on a stunning story: according to U.S. intelligence, while peace talks were underway to end the long-running conflict in Afghanistan, a Russian military intelligence unit "offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan -- including targeting American troops."

Soon after, most of the nation's leading news agencies confirmed the story: U.S. intelligence agencies have reason to believe Vladimir Putin's government offered financial rewards to those who killed American servicemen and women.

Among the many questions is...

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From the Center
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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 at the time that he briefed Trump on the intelligence assessment in...

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From the Right
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The nation’s top spy chiefs condemned the classified leaks about an alleged plot by Russia to offer bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. forces, warning the selective leaking jeopardized the intelligence community’s ability to ascertain the veracity of the claims.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and CIA Director Gina Haspel released separate statements within minutes of each other late Monday night.

Ratcliffe, who, last month, was sworn in as the head of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, where he oversees the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies,...

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