FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Attack, Deny

Deniability only is as good as credibility.

We’re at the point which the American people don’t know what they can believe from the Trump administration, whether from the president or his loyalists. Especially after they abandoned controlling the pandemic, leaving the task up to the states.

The latest issue at which the truth seems to be at stake involves a report by The New York Times that Russian military intelligence transferred money to a Taliban-linked account, concluding it would be used to pay for killing U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan. U.S. officials said the information was derived from electronic intercepts, the paper reported.

President Trump denied he ever was briefed about the findings even though officials told the Times that the information was included in his daily written intelligence briefing in late February. Trump has been known not to read those briefing papers, preferring oral accounts from a CIA briefer instead. He tweeted that the reports were a “made up Fake News Media Hoax started to slander me & the Republican Party.”

He tweeted Sunday that “nobody briefed me or told me” or Vice President Michael Pence or his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, “about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians.”

National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien backed up his boss on Fox News Wednesday, saying, “The president was not briefed, because at the time of these allegations they were uncorroborated. And as a result, the president’s career CIA briefer decided not to brief him.”

Further, O’Brien said on “Fox & Friends” that if the information could be corroborated “we had options ready to go, and the president was ready to take strong action, as he always is.”

Yet the intelligence was taken seriously enough so that there were prepared “options ready to go” for Trump to make a decision? Officials had gone that far yet didn’t tell the president?

It’s a stretch of the imagination to think Trump, as commander in chief, would not have been told about Russian efforts to pay the Taliban to go bounty hunting, considering the reports involved the lives of American troops and that Russia is the chief rival of the United States, not some small country acting out a grudge against Americans.

Maybe White House officials were reluctant to tell Trump about the intelligence because they feared his reaction since he apparently does not readily accept bad news and because of his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, which he attempts to keep friendly. He has frowned on any criticism of his relationship with Putin.

Leave us not forget that Trump aided Russia in several ways: He early on called NATO obsolete, an Atlantic military alliance that is a bulwark against Russian interference in western Europe; he abandoned Kurdish allies in Syria by withdrawing U.S. troops from the area, handing it to the Russians; and he recently announced pulling 9,500 troops from Germany, a move sure to please Putin.

Or did Trump know about the intelligence reports and ignored them because he didn’t want to approach Putin for fear of upsetting him?

Or has Trump taken a leaf from the playbook of the late Roy Cohn, chief counsel to Sen. Joseph McCarthy during his early 1950s hunt for Communists in America, when he instructed that one should “attack, attack, attack, deny, deny, deny” when confronted with hostility?

Or all of the above?

Just exactly what credibility does Trump own?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped into Trump Sunday, saying on ABC’s “This Week” that his denial about knowing of the Russian bounties “is totally outrageous. You would think that the minute the president heard of it he would want to know more instead of denying that he knew anything.”

“In fact,” she said, “we’ll find out if he has been briefed, and if it was in his daily brief, but if it were not what does that say about the concern that those who brief the president have about not going anywhere near the Russia issue with this president? This is appalling.”

Frankly, it’s tough to believe anything Trump says because he has a long history of lying. The Washington Post has caught him telling more than 19,000 lies and making misleading statements during his presidency.

“I don’t know what the Russians have on the president politically, personally, financially, whatever it is, but he wants to ignore Russian wrongdoing,” Pelosi said. “How else would you explain his refusal to ignore again and again the intelligence that puts right at the Russian doorstep the involvement in our election, for example.”

There are so many who know so little about so few.

More articles by:

Richard C. Gross, a career journalist at home and abroad, retired as the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun.

August 13, 2020
David Correia, Justin Bendell, and Ernesto Longa
Nine Mile Ride: Why Police Reform Always Results in More Police Violence, Not Less
Vijay Prashad
Why a Growing Force in Brazil Is Charging That President Jair Bolsonaro Has Committed Crimes Against Humanity
Brett Wilkins
Teaching Torture: The Death and Legacy of Dan Mitrione
Joseph Scalia III
Yellowstone Imperiled by Compromise
Binoy Kampmark
Don’t Stigmatise the Nuke! Opponents of the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty
Margot Rathke
The Stimulus Deal Should Include Free College
CounterPunch News Service
Critic of Wildlife Department Removed Day Before Scheduled Meetings on Revisions to Wolf-killing Protocols
Thomas Knapp
America Doesn’t Have Real Presidential Debates, But It Should
George Ochenski
Time to Face – and Plan for – Our Very Different Future
Ted Rall
Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential Pick is … ZZZZZ
Purusottam Thakur
‘If We Don’t Work, Who’ll Produce the Harvest?’
Robert Dreyfuss
October Surprise: Will War with Iran Be Trump’s Election Eve Shocker?
Gary Leupp
The RCP, Fascism, and Chairman Bob’s Endorsement of Biden for President
James Haught
The Pandemic Disproves God
Robert Koehler
Election Theft and the Reluctant Democracy
August 12, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s War On Arms Control and Disarmament
P. Sainath
“We Didn’t Bleed Him Enough”: When Normal is the Problem
Riva Enteen
Kamala Harris? Really? Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
Kenneth Surin
The Decrepit UK Political System
Robert Hunziker
Freakish Arctic Fires Alarmingly Intensify
Ramzy Baroud
The Likud Conspiracy: Israel in the Throes of a Major Political Crisis
Sam Pizzigati
Within Health Care USA, Risk and Reward Have Never Been More Out of Kilter
John Perry
The US Contracts Out Its Regime Change Operation in Nicaragua
Binoy Kampmark
Selective Maritime Rules: The United States, Diego Garcia and International Law
Manuel García, Jr.
The Improbability of CO2 Removal From the Atmosphere
Khury Petersen-Smith
The Road to Portland: The Two Decades of ‘Homeland Security’
Raouf Halaby
Teaching Palestinian Children to Love Beethoven, Bizet, and Mozart is a Threat to a Depraved Israeli Society
Jeff Mackler
Which Way for Today’s Mass Radicalization? Capitalism’s Impending Catastrophe…or a Socialist Future
Tom Engelhardt
It Could Have Been Different
Stephen Cooper
Santa Davis and the “Stalag 17” Riddim
August 11, 2020
Richard D. Wolff
Why Capitalism is in Constant Conflict With Democracy
Paul Street
Defund Fascism, Blue and Orange
Richard C. Gross
Americans Scorned
Andrew Levine
Trump and Biden, Two Ignoble Minds Here O’erthrown
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Nationalism Has Led to the Increased Repression of Minorities
Sonali Kolhatkar
Trump’s Presidency is a Death Cult
Colin Todhunter
Pushing GMO Crops into India: Experts Debunk High-Level Claims of Bt Cotton Success
Valerie Croft
How Indigenous Peoples are Using Ancestral Organizing Practices to Fight Mining Corporations and Covid-19
David Rovics
Tear Gas Ted Has a Tantrum in Portland
Dean Baker
There is No Evidence That Generous Unemployment Benefits are Making It Difficult to Find Workers
Robert Fantina
War on Truth: How Kashmir Struggles for Freedom of Press
Dave Lindorff
Trump Launches Attack on Social Security and Medicare
Elizabeth Schmidt
COVID-19 Poses a Huge Threat to Stability in Africa
Parth M.N.
Coping With a Deadly Virus, a Social One, Too
Thomas Knapp
The “Election Interference” Fearmongers Think You’re Stupid
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail