• on July 30, 2020

Demand Answers on the Russian Bounties

The world’s greatest deliberative body, the United States’ Senate, has remained complacently silent on the news that American military fighters are having bounties placed on their heads by the Russian government. That silence needs to end now. 

The Senate needs to investigate the Russian bounties placed on American warfighters and find out who in the Trump Administration knew what, and when. 

Some, including the President, have attempted to cast doubt on The New York Times report. However, the President himself was made aware in briefs as far back as March 2019, according to former National Security Advisor, John Bolton. Later reports shone a light on the amount of money some made from the bounties. Still, finding definitive answers to how American service members were killed in 2019, like the four Marine Corps Reservists taken from their families by a roadside bomb, does not appear to be the prerogative of their Commander-in-Chief, itself a point of great concern.

Were America’s sons and daughters, like NYC Firefighter and USMC(R) Staff Sergeant Christopher Slutman, targeted and killed because of Russian bounties, executed by the Taliban? Also, who in the administration knew and when? These few questions are all the President needs to ask those under his charge, yet there is little if any indication he wants to get to the bottom of this.

If these reports are true, the President’s lack of action is tantamount to abandonment of the armed forces by the highest echelons of leadership. In my almost ten years of both active duty and National Guard service, had I or any of my fellow service members encountered this level of disheartening negligence by a superior, it would communicate a total disregard for our service and our lives. This dereliction of duty by the Commander-in-Chief is likely to create service-wide, morale busting fissures. 

When daily, I would cross paths with the placards displaying the chain of command, similarly posted in duty stations across the world, I understood who I answered to and with whom the buck stopped. Yet President Trump seemingly will not accept the risk of accountability, even if it comes from his own administration, and even if it means saving American lives. Instead, he leaves those under his charge to wonder if he is putting service before self, as they do. President Trump may leave service members to wonder what Putin’s price on their head will be and if President Trump will stand up for them. 

The Senate has the investigative power to get to the bottom of those critical questions. The answers may not be pretty, but they are necessary in order to restore the trust the president has eroded is eroding in the ranks of our defenders. The Senate has the oversight power to remind our military they are valued, and their sacrifices are not lost on their country, which they defend.

The American people and our military deserve answers, and it is clear we are not getting them from the White House. The Senate should immediately host hearings to get the answers we need. 

Take Action

We’ve learned through credible investigative reporting that US intelligence officials believe the Russian government has been paying bounties to the Taliban for the killing of US troops in Afghanistan. It is unclear when President Trump was briefed on this issue and if he took any action after learning of the intelligence. This is a disturbing discovery and one which merits a full investigation by Congress. Send a message to your Senators now calling for hearings in the Senate Armed Services, Foreign Relations, and Intelligence Committees.

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