The Biden administration acknowledged on Thursday that intelligence agencies do not have a lot of confidence in the widely reported CIA determination that Russia put bounties on American troops in Afghanistan, the New York Times reports.
The Times reported last year that the CIA and National Security Council determined that Russia offered bounties to Taliban troops to attack US personnel but the Trump administration failed to respond.
The Times reported at the time that the CIA placed “medium confidence” in the conclusion but the National Security Agency placed “lower confidence in the assessment.”
But the issue became a prominent Democratic talking point on the campaign trail and President Joe Biden frequently cited the report to attack his opponent.
“Low to moderate confidence”:
A senior administration official told reporters on Thursday that the intelligence community “assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks against U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019, and perhaps earlier, including through financial incentives and compensation.”
Biden review finds nothing new:
The Biden administration took a fresh look at the reports but has “not uncovered anything new and significant enough to bring greater clarity” to the issue, according to the Times.
The official said intel agencies “have low to moderate confidence in this judgment in part because it relies on detainee reporting, and due to the challenging operating environment, in Afghanistan.”
“Our conclusion,” the official added, “is based on information and evidence of connections between criminal agents in Afghanistan and elements of the Russian government.”