The New York Times report of evidence found by American intelligence agencies of a Russian bounty on American soldiers stunned and angered many people from both sides of the political aisle. The report stated that evidence showed Russian officials were offering financial rewards to militants linked to the Taliban for their part in the deaths of U.S. soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. The issue brought up the much-debated topic of the President’s willingness to allow Putin free reign as well as the equally questioned reliability of certain intelligence sources.
Everyone has an opinion on the possibility of the lives of American soldiers used as a source of income to fund terrorist activities. One of the most concerning parts of the story for Republicans has to do with the response from the man in the Oval Office. President Trump first denied the reports and claimed to have never received any briefs on the subject. He then, through his own words and through the statements of his staff, contradicted his initial statement but downplayed the legitimacy and the seriousness of the concern. Later comments included his usual tactic of announcing that “no one has been harder on Russia” than his administration.
Republicans outside the beltway have an array of opinions. All Americans need to know how credible the threat was, if it is still a legitimate concern, and if lives were lost only for terrorist income. Soldier’s willingly put their lives at risk to protect the United States, so it is the duty of all Americans to do whatever they can to reduce the risk for these important men and women.
Some republican veterans question the commitment of President Trump to take the issue seriously. Is his waffling about what he knew a sign of him trying to not take responsibility? Or are those around him not giving him the information he needs for their own reasons?
Other veterans continue to support the reaction of the president to the reports. Some state that the idea of Russia encouraging American deaths is nothing new or unexpected. Most of these supporters believe the President was fully aware of the issue and was handling it behind the scenes.
The most upset by the story are those who lost loved ones in attacks, and now question if the Russian bounties were the reason. Republicans who proudly support the military and have given up so much need to know that Russia will pay a price for causing the death of someone they loved.
Republicans want Russia to face stricter sanctions, but they also want undeniable proof of the bounties. Contradictory reports make this anything but a closed case. No one seems to have a definitive answer, and the politicians who have questioned U.S. intelligence officials about the reports have offered very little to the public for answers.
Payments were made, but for what? Who orchestrated the orders? Answers are needed to determine if the stories were fabricated, partial truths, or were demands that came directly from Putin himself. Only then can the U.S. respond accordingly to protect our troops and offer closure for the affected families.
Unfortunately, the truth becomes harder to find in a world where many news organizations spend more time offering opinions than facts. It is nearly impossible to find any topic where both democrats and republicans agree, and even less likely for agreement and reliable answers when the topic is Russia.