03:09 GMT14 August 2020
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    Allegations of Russian Bounties in Afghanistan (34)

    It’s not the first time the NSA has dissented from its espionage brethren – for instance, its conclusions differed from that of the CIA and FBI on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Both had “high confidence” Kremlin-directed subterfuge had taken place, but the NSA wasn’t so sure.

    The National Security Agency dissented from other US intelligence agencies about reports Russia’s GRU paid bounties to the Taliban for killing of US troops in Afghanistan, The Wall Street Journal has revealed.

    In a shock ‘exclusive’ based entirely on the unverifiable allegations of nameless intelligence officials, the New York Times reported 26th June that not only was the Islamist group in receipt of monies for every American ‘scalp’ they secured, but Donald Trump had been apprised of the information and declined to act on or publicise it.

    ​However, the White House has since struck back, stating the President was never specifically or personally briefed on the ‘intelligence’, and in any event the information was both unconfirmed and contested – a position seemingly vindicated by the Journal’s article.

    While no specific reason is cited for the NSA’s dissent on the issue, the agency’s focus – eavesdropping on communications devices – may offer some clue as to why its conclusion differed from the human-intelligence driven CIA’s so radically. As the utterly discredited ‘Trump-Russia’ dossier compiled by ex-MI6 operative Christopher Steele so amply demonstrates, ‘HUMINT’ is often inherently highly unreliable, and the potential for human sources to relay gossip, rumour, hearsay or outright lies – particularly if they receive a financial reward for salacious information – huge.

    ​The Senate Intelligence Committee stated April disagreement between NSA and other intelligence agencies was “reasonable, transparent, and openly debated among the agencies and analysts, with analysts, managers, and agency heads on both sides of the confidence level reasonably justifying their positions”.

    House Armed Services Committee chair Adam Smith said after a White House briefing 30th June White House officials outlined “intelligence that disputes the conclusion” Russian spies had ever paid the Taliban bounties for killing members of the US occupying forces.

    A day prior, Pentagon officials confirmed the Department of Defense “has no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports”.

    Allegations of Russian Bounties in Afghanistan (34)


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