WHY ISN’T ANYONE TALKING ABOUT: Media Quietly Admits Russian ‘Bounties’ Scandal Can’t Be Verified

The mainstream media is now quietly walking back the claim that Russia paid the Taliban “bounties” to kill American soldiers, after the top US commander in the region confirmed there was no evidence—a reminder that MSM would rather focus on “anonymous” scandals than to report the verifiable corruption the US has fueled in Afghanistan for 19 YEARS…

On today’s edition of ‘Why Isn’t Anyone Talking About This?” just two months after the mainstream media sold you the story that the Russian Military was paying members of the Taliban bounties to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan, they are now quietly walking them back after a top US commander in the region confirmed that the claims could not be verified.

Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command told NBC News that “a detailed review of all available intelligence has not been able to corroborate the existence of such a program,” but promised to keep an eye out for new information.

As a reminder, the original story run by the New York Times cited anonymous “American intelligence officials” who reportedly claimed that “a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan—including targeting American troops.”

Despite the fact that anonymous claims were never verified, within days of the story’s release, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers came together to call on the Trump Administration to take action against Russia:

Top Democrats in the House and Senate have been quick to be use this report as another way to try to tie President Trump to Russia without looking at the evidence. Rep. Adam Schiff said, “We should be considering what sanctions are appropriate to further deter Russia’s malign activities, not further ingratiating Russia into the community of civilized nations.” And Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “Above all, go after Putin. This president has been played like a fool by President Putin. Every time they negotiate, Putin wins and he loses. He’s afraid to talk to Putin. One can wonder why.” 

At the same time, top Republicans in the House and Senate also seem to have no doubt that the reports are accurate, based on the fact that they include Russia. Senate Majority LeaderMitch McConnell said, “I can’t verify the current rumors that all of you are writing about. But would I be surprised if the Russians were doing something like this? Absolutely not.” And Rep. Liz Cheney said, “We remain concerned about Russian activities in Afghanistan and around the world. We’re going to continue to work with the administration. We anticipate additional briefings on this issue.” 

But while the unverified story spread far and wide, the media ignored the fact that if they want to talk about corruption in Afghanistan, they have headlines for days.

It has been nearly 19 years since the US invaded Afghanistan, not only has Taliban not been defeated, but it is now stronger than it has been at any point since 2001. While the group is known for its brutal tactics and extreme religious beliefs, in some cases it is those beliefs that attract new recruits. And for others, they see the revolving door of US soldiers who are stationed in their country for months at a time as the true enemy.

Among a long list of strict rules, the Taliban also outlawed the production of opium. But since the US invaded, not only has the cultivation of the poppy plants that are used to make opium increased—it has skyrocketed. Afghanistan now produces more than 90 percent of the world’s opium supply, and the current area for opium cultivation in the country is four times larger than it was in 2002—making it around 20 times larger than the land area of Washington D.C.

Civilian casualties have also increased dramatically in the country, and a report from the United Nations found that 2018 saw the largest number of civilian causalities since 2009, with nearly 4,000 civilians killed and nearly 11,000 wounded. The UN also found that while the number of civilians killed by the Taliban has dropped 43 percent this year, the number of civilians killed by the US and its allies has increased 31 percent. As a result, NATO forces have killed more civilians than the Taliban in 2019.

Then there is the cost of war—a combination of bombing campaigns, military operations and rebuilding projects are estimated to have costs American taxpayers around $1 trillion dollars. In 2018 alone, the Department of Defense budgeted $45 billion dollars for the War in Afghanistan, which included $13 billion for U.S. forces, $5 billion for Afghan forces, and $780 million for economic aid.

Instead of focusing on the verifiable facts that they can put on record and involve the future of the US and the tax dollars of every America, the media has chosen to focus on scandalous “anonymous” reports—and that’s something everyone should be talking about.

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Rachel Blevins is a journalist who aspires to break the left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives.

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