The latest iteration of Teflon Don avoiding damnation for treason materialized amid a week of denials. He claimed he wasn’t informed that his Russian buddy, Vladimir Putin, was paying bounties to Taliban assassins to kill American and British troops in Afghanistan.
Trump said he wasn’t briefed. Even if he was, he didn’t believe it.
American military and intelligence operatives reported discovering the plot in late 2019 after capturing a Taliban fighter with lots of cash and a story of a Russian assassination-for-hire plot. The prisoner preferred sharing what he knew rather than facing the tender mercies of his adversaries for not talking. Because the allegations are a matter of “national security,” what actually happened probably won’t be revealed before election time.
The American general running the endless Middle East campaign against almost everybody said last Tuesday he knew of reports suggesting that Russia may have paid Taliban militants to kill American troops in Afghanistan without being convinced that any bounties offered resulted in U.S. military deaths.
The Diplomat, a website and slick magazine that keeps on eye on Asia, said Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, revealed the U.S. did not increase force protection measures in Afghanistan as a result of the information, instead he asked his intelligence staff to “dig into the matter more.”
I found it very worrisome. I didn’t find that there was a causative link there,” said McKenzie. He is the first Pentagon official to speak at length about the matter. He warned that Russia has never stopped coveting Afghan resources since it was drummed out of the country by American and NATO-backed Mujahedeen fighters in the 10-year Soviet–Afghan War throughout the 1980s. As many as 2 million Afghan civilians were killed.
News of murder-for-hire plot was sensational when it broke two weeks ago, with Trump’s shaken supporters looking for explanations that would absolve them of having to defend a traitor during an election year. They were aided by Mother Nature herself. She was so busy killing Americans with COVID-19 that there was not a long enough respite for Americans to consider much of anything other than trying to survive.
When American deaths from COVID-19 had almost topped 130,000, the New York Times revealed that Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) Unit 29155 operators were the culprits of the murder-for-hire scheme. The GRU operators who executed the mission are the creme de la creme of the clandestine GRU.
Their past missions include:
- Destabilizing governments.
- Helping invade and capture the Crimea.
- Helping Syria murder its disaffected citizens.
- Poisoning Putin’s opponents.
- Throwing dissidents out of hotel windows.
- Hacking e-mails from Hillary Clinton campaign headquarters that Trump harkened as good news during his malignant 2016 presidential campaign.
For bona fides that Trump is so unstable he didn’t or couldn’t process several intelligence reports of Russians paying bounties for murdered American war-fighters, go to John Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened.” Then try and understand how that could be. It was written from the two-year-long viewpoint of Trump’s former national security adviser.
The story features Bolton as the brain supplanting the grey goo squishing under the faux gold dome where looney Donald Trump gets his zany ideas for ruling the world. Bolton says he can’t reveal what really happened in the murder-for-hire saga because of national security prohibitions he is already accused of violating.
“He [Trump] can disown everything if nobody ever told him about it,” Bolton said.
Top officials in the White House were reportedly aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russian special operations troops were secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans and Brits. This information came from unidentified U.S. officials who had direct knowledge of the plot. None of their whispers fell on Trump’s ear.
Chimerical voices from America’s intelligence services quickly materialized between the lines of the New York Times and Washington Post long enough to claim the information was so hot that American briefers felt duty bound to brief the Brits. Unsubstantiated reports that subsequently surfaced claim that between one and four Americans were killed by Russian-financed assassins before the plot was uncovered. McKenzie and other top American officials claim any bounty-hunter deaths were unlikely.
Despite McKenzie’s lukewarm declaration last week the US is still avoiding the issue. Either somebody got the implications of the intelligence very wrong, or the gilded Pentagon princes charged with addressing Russian espionage are taking cover. It might never be revealed to what extent Trump knew, if he knew at all, or if he chose to ignore the intelligence because it doesn’t fit into his relationship with Putin.
Trump is apparently an informed president only when it suits his purpose. Being stupid comes easy to him. Obviously screwing with Putin over assassinating American and British service members in Afghanistan is not part of his presidential portfolio. Unfortunately, Trump can honestly argue that Americans and Brits have been killing their enemies by deeds equally foul for a long time. That may also be contributing to the lack of candor dimming the report.
Trump used the massage to race relations to create next cataclysmic event . Over the 4th of July weekend he pushed Russian murder-for-hire plots back into the shadows by defending race-mongers touting mythical Confederate nobility instead of offering succor to grieving families of America’s growing list of dead and maimed.
It seems remarkable that the Pampered Princes in the Pentagon haven’t revealed any concrete clues about what happened. The ego-soaked Joint Chiefs, wearing the shiniest brass in the land, apparently know where their bread is buttered. Those left after Trump’s unrelenting assaults on the brass are the ones who still believe the military’s self-serving zero-defect mentality to protect them from allegations of being wrong.
The late, great Col. David H. ”Hack” Hackworth had some ideas on that subject. Known on the radio as “Steel Six,” he served as an infantry commander in the foul Mekong River delta for three tours before Agent Orange’s deadly cousin Agent Blue began maneuvering to take his life. Hackworth was on the Army’s fast track to general’s stars when he abruptly resigned over how the brass was running the Vietnam War. He turned his anger into a bestselling book and himself into the face of military authority on CNN until he died in 2005.
Hack was a human mine detector. His amazing instincts depended on innocuous clues and subtle irregularities to unearth Pentagon petty-fogging. One personal favorite is the time an Air Force general was flying high around the world with his remarkably efficient and particularly lovely enlisted clerk ensconced aboard a mobile love pod inside a huge transport airplane.
The young crew chief who cared for the plane wrote Hack how he had taken umbrage to the general’s habit of turning his huge airplane into a “flying whorehouse” without providing any details about how. Soon after, just days before the story broke, the officer decided to retire. Hackworth said the smoking gun was the young airman himself because only the youngsters took enough pride in service to care. The old timers never made career threatening waves.
The military’s inability to now locate crucial intelligence may be a case of not making waves rather than being lost and not found. Imagine being a senior military officer in the American armed forces suffering Trump as commander-in-chief.
In his smoking condemnation of Trump, Bolton alludes numerous times to Trump’s dizzying lack of understanding about political geography, military history, strategy, or tactics, as well as his total disregard for the norms and institutions of America’s arcane military culture.
Trump’ fundamentally deficient character is perfectly captured by fictional chaplain Captain Albert Taylor Tappman in Joseph Heller’s anti-war classic “Catch-22”.
“It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.”
To steal a phrase, some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Trump it has been all three. Even among men lacking all distinction he inevitably stands out as a man lacking more distinction than all the rest, and people who met him were always impressed by how unimpressive he was.