June 29, 2020

GOP Candidate Sean Parnell Makes Excuses For Donald Trump

First, some background.

A few days ago the NY Times published a story that began with this:
American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the delicate intelligence and internal deliberations. They said the intelligence had been treated as a closely held secret, but the administration expanded briefings about it this week — including sharing information about it with the British government, whose forces are among those said to have been targeted.
And according to The Times, the meeting took place earlier in the year, as the nation was shutting down due to Covid-19. They add that these revelations come as Trump is looking to "invite Mr. Putin to an expanded meeting of the Group of 7 nations."

The Washington Post followed with:

A Russian military spy unit offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan, including U.S. and British troops, in a striking escalation of the Kremlin’s hostility toward the United States, American intelligence has found.

The Russian operation, first reported by the New York Times, has generated an intense debate within the Trump administration about how best to respond to a troubling new tactic by a nation that most U.S. officials regard as a potential foe but that President Trump has frequently embraced as a friend, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive intelligence matter.
The officials said administration leaders learned of reported bounties in recent months from U.S. intelligence agencies, prompting internal discussions, including a large interagency meeting in late March. According to one person familiar with the matter, the responses discussed at that meeting included sending a diplomatic communication to relay disapproval and authorizing new sanctions.
Then there's CNN confirming:
Russian intelligence officers for the military intelligence GRU recently offered money to Taliban militants in Afghanistan as rewards if they killed US or UK troops there, a European intelligence official told CNN.
The usual denials have already arrived: You'll note that Trump can't even get the story correct. It's NOT about "attacks on our Russians" is it? It's about allegations that a Russian military intelligence unit paid bounties for those attacks.

So that's basically the story. Here's how Sean Parnell, (GOP candidate for PA-17) describes it in a series of tweets. He starts with this:
The fact that Russia and other countries like Iran and even China are involved in Afghanistan in some way should come as a surprise to no one. It’s been this way for over a decade. Spanning three presidential administrations.
Which is, of course, completely beside the point. The story is not about Russian involvement in Afghanistan, but the how the GRU offered bounties for killing US Troops, when Trump knew about it and yet did nothing in response. Sean is trying to divert your attention away from the real story.

Then there's this from Sean:
What I can say, with absolute certainty, is that clandestine operations or raw intelligence without context, like this Russian bounty story should not be discussed in a public forum.
But if you were to look at the reporting from The Times, The Post and CNN, you'll see that there's no "raw intelligence" or any discussion of "clandestine operations" there at all. He's trying to divert attention away from the real story -  about how American Intelligence Community concluded that Russia was offering bounties for American troops and how the Trump administration has yet to respond.

Even Liz Cheney (R-Wyo) tweeted:

Even Dan Crenshaw (R-Houston) agreed: And yet, for Sean Parnell, this is the way to go:
By the way, Sean, the story is accurate:
CNN previously reported that Russian intelligence officers for the military intelligence GRU recently offered money to Taliban militants in Afghanistan as rewards if they killed US or UK troops there, according to a European intelligence official. US intelligence concluded months ago that Russian military intelligence offered the bounties, amid peace talks, and Trump was briefed on the intelligence findings and the White House's National Security Council held a meeting about it in late March, according to the Times, citing officials briefed on the matter.
United States intelligence officers and Special Operations forces in Afghanistan alerted their superiors as early as January to a suspected Russian plot to pay bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan, according to officials briefed on the matter. They believed at least one U.S. troop death was the result of the bounties, two of the officials said.
So IF Trump is telling the truth that he wasn't informed, WHY THE HECK NOT? The GRU offered bounties for American deaths in Afghanistan and he's not informed? How much sense does that make? And if he was informed months ago then doesn't that mean he's been lying to all of us about it?

But by all means, Sean, continue to make excuses for the guy. History will reward you for it.