U.S. intelligence is now backing off having confidence Russians were allegedly paying bounties to kill American soldiers, a claim that managed to damage the candidacy of former President Donald Trump and was used by then-candidate Joe Biden himself during the campaign.
It was and still is an unverified claim, Gen. Jack Keane, a Fox News analyst, said Friday morning.
“The media took this story, leaked I think to one of the major newspapers, and accepted it as the truth,” Keane told “Fox & Friends.” “But at the same time, our commanders in Afghanistan and our Central Command commander who oversees the entire Middle East, Gen. [Kenneth] Mackenzie, and the Pentagon, all said they do have a report to that effect, but they rate that report as low to moderate in terms of its validity.
“Now, why is that? What does that gobbledygook really mean? It means that they only have likely a single report, which they have not been able to verify.”
Gen. Keane believes the unverified claim came from one detainee who pinned a lot amount of money on having ties to Russians.
“Then it turns out it was leaked – and I’m assuming this may be right – and that it was a single detainee, plus a lot of money that had been found, and he connected Russia with the money,” Keane added to co-host Brian Kilmeade.
“But the command could not verify that and they had no other indicator whatsoever. So they did not support the conclusion that the media hyped all over that Russia was doing this.”
Gen. Keane noted Russia does provide support for the Taliban in terms of arms and resources, so the narrative of a “bounty” might just be an offshoot of that.
“But listen, listen, the backdrop to this, though, is Russia does supply arms to the Taliban; they provide other resources,” Gen. Keane concluded. “It wouldn’t be a stretch for Russia to tell them, ‘listen, point all those resources at U.S. troops.’
“That would not be a stretch, but we don’t have any evidence of that.”
The media, Democrats, and the Biden campaign all pressed President Trump for not addressing the claims Russians are paying the Taliban a bounty for the deaths of American soldiers in Afghanistan, the longest continuously running war in American history.
Even the Biden-voting former Secretary of State Colin Powell rejected the bounty story as “hysteria.”
“What I know is that our military commanders on the ground did not think that it was as serious a problem as the newspapers were reporting and television was reporting,” Powell told MSNBC last July. “It got kind of out of control before we really had an understanding of what had happened. I’m not sure we fully understand now.
“But Gen. McKenzie,” Powell continued, “did not think this was of that level of importance to us.
“Remember, it’s not the intelligence community that’s going to go fight these guys, it’s the guys on the ground. It’s our troops. It’s our commanders who are going to go deal with this kind of a threat, using intelligence that was given to them by the intelligence community.”
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