Media reports that came out about an intelligence unit in Russia allegedly placing a bounty on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan have jeopardized the whole investigation, said the Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe.
The president tweeted the statement from Ratcliffe on Tuesday morning, June 30, a reminder that leaking of classified intelligence information is a crime.
“U.S. and coalition force protection is a critical priority for both the President and the intelligence community,” Ratcliffe wrote. “The selective leaking of any classified information disrupts the vital intelligence work to collect, assess, and mitigate threats and places our forces at risk. It is also, simply put, a crime.”
“We are still investigating the alleged intelligence referenced in recent media reporting and we will brief the President and congressional leaders at the appropriate time. This is the analytic process working the way it should,” the statement continued. “Unfortunately, unauthorized disclosures now jeopardize our ability to ever find out the full story with respect to these allegations.”
DNI Ratcliffe issues statement on impact of unauthorized disclosures on force protection pic.twitter.com/Pr7PbWk443
— Office of the DNI (@ODNIgov) June 30, 2020
The statement comes in reply to media reports on Saturday, as the New York Times reported that Russian intelligence was rewarding terrorist groups in Afghanistan for killing U.S. and military forces. The bounty was allegedly in place even as peace negotiations between the United States and the Taliban were occurring, reports the Daily Caller.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement to The New York Times, “These kinds of deals with the Russian intelligence agency are baseless—our target killings and assassinations were ongoing in years before, and we did it on our own resources,” he said. “That changed after our deal with the Americans, and their lives are secure and we don’t attack them.”
A tentative peace agreement was struck in February, with U.S. troops agreeing to slowly withdraw, providing the Taliban kept to its part of the deal of controlling terrorism. Peace between the two has been on shaky ground recently, with attacks from both sides occurring.