Russiagate and the missing ducks
Stephen Cohen of The Nation is consistently one of the best commentators on the Russiagate affair.
He just published another excellent piece analyzing "How Did Russiagate Begin?, which canvasses some possibilities and leans toward the explanation that it was (and is) an operation by U.S. intelligence agencies unhappy with the possibility that Trump will defuse our increasingly fractious relationship with Russia.
The whole article deserves attention, but one point he makes in passing is worth expanding. Cohen notes:
In March 2018, the current [CIA] director, Gina Haspel, flatly lied to President Trump about an incident in the UK in order to persuade him to escalate measures against Moscow, which he then reluctantly did. Several non–mainstream media outlets have reported the true story. Typically, The New York Times, on April 17 of this year, reported it without correcting Haspel's falsehood.
The reference is to the Skripal affair, in which the Russians, allegedly, used a nerve agent to poison a defector and his daughter. The Brits responded with heavy sanctions, and the U.S., after some hesitation, did the same. The story in the NYT said Trump agreed to the action only after Haspel showed him pictures, supposedly supplied to her by the British government, of collateral damage from the poisoning in the form of hospitalized children and dead ducks.
As many observers outside the MSM have noted, the official accounts of the Skripal affair are garbage. But, amid a welter of contradiction and mendacity, a few facts are clear, most notably that there were no hospitalized children; there were no dead ducks; the Brits never claimed publicly that there were; and, therefore, no genuine pictures could exist.
The deception received a flurry of attention in the Russophile blogs after the NYT story appeared, but since then — silence. No comment from the NYT, the CIA, or the White House.
Attorney General Bill Barr should turn his bloodhounds loose on this episode. It is possible that nothing of the sort happened, and the NYT made it up. Barring that, an investigator should be able to figure out whether MI5 lied to its own government, the Brits lied to the CIA, the CIA staff lied to Haspel, or Haspel lied to Trump.
The answer would illuminate some of the dark corners of the Russiagate matter and would give Barr additional leverage to unravel yet more truths. Russiagate is so massive that it is difficult to grasp, but drilling deeply into this discrete aspect of it would be useful, indeed.
Personally, I would like to see Haspel, her CIA agents, an MI6 representative, and the NYT reporters all discuss the affair on a Fox TV panel, after being put on oath. Now, that would indeed be reality television.
James V DeLong lives in the Shenandoah Valley.