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There aren’t a lot of amazing stories left in “The New York Times,” they are all so predictable and self-righteous, but if you read the paper yesterday you did see one. “U.S. Exposes What It Says Is Russian Effort to Fabricate Pretext for Invasion.” That was the headline. The story explained that at some point very soon, Vladimir Putin plans to stage a fake military attack on his own citizens. Putin will use actors to portray Ukrainian soldiers and Intel operatives committing atrocities against Russians. Then he’s going to videotape the whole thing and secretly release to the world. When people in the West see the clips of that on Facebook they will understand why Putin was justified in invading Ukraine. So it’s a Psyop. Pretty diabolical.
You may be wondering how exactly how do we know that Vladimir Putin is actually planning to do something like this. Because in real life, the global intelligence world is a very complicated place. People in it rarely tell straightforward truths. So actually, if you are devising propaganda for the Ukrainian government, this might be exactly the kind of story you would place in “The New York Times,” which of course is compliant. They’re on your side. A story like this would give you a way to plausibly deny attacking Russian citizens.
Is that what happened here? We don’t know. We have no idea if “The New York Times” account is true or not. Then again, neither does “The New York Times.” Right in a story, they conceded that the Biden officials “would not release any direct evidence of the Russian plan or specify how they learned of it,” saying to do so would “compromise their sources and methods.” Those must be the same sources and methods the CIA is protecting by continuing to hide thousands of documents from 911 two decades ago, or the Kennedy assassination 60 years ago. If you live in Washington you recognize that that is the all-purpose justification for everything. State Department spokesman Ned price knows exactly how this works because Price began his career at the CIA.
Here’s what he said at a briefing:
NED PRICE: We have previously noted our strong concerns regarding Russian disinformation and the likelihood that Moscow might create a false flag operation to initiate military activity. Now we can say that the United States has information that Russia is planning to stage fabricated attacks by Ukrainian military or intelligence forces as a pretext for a further invasion of Ukraine.
Wait a second, what was that? A false flag operation? Really? That is a jarring term to hear from a Joe Biden employee much less an official. Because until yesterday we were under the impression false flag operations didn’t exist. And if they did exist it was only within the diseased imagination of conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones and his minions in QAnon. That’s what they told us.
But now they are telling us that false flag operations are entirely real, except they never happen here. Never in the United States, never in Washington, only in Russia. We will let that digest just for a minute. CIA veteran Ned Price assures us that it is true. Normally that would be the end of it. Reporters would’ve scurried back to the cubicles to write their breathless little stories about Vladimir Putin’s false flag operation. And by and large that is exactly what did happen. The stenographers wrote Ned Price’s story.
But one of them didn’t. That man’s name is Matt Lee. He’s a State Department reporter for the Associated Press. We know nothing about Matt Lee other than he appears to be a middle-aged man who has been around long enough to ask a skeptical follow-up question or two. In Washington that makes them virtually unique. Lee noticed that Ned Price actually hadn’t said anything that could be checked or even described in meaningful detail. So Lee asked Ned Price, “What are you actually talking about?” Here’s the exchange that followed.
MATT LEE: OK, well, that’s quite a mouthful there. So you said actions such as these suggest otherwise. Suggest meaning that they suggest they’re not interested in talks and they’re going to go ahead with some kind. What action are you talking about?
NED PRICE: One, the actions I just pointed to.
MATT LEE: What actions?
NED PRICE: The fact that Russia continues to engage in disinformation.
MATT LEE: You made an allegation that they might do that. Have they actually done it?
NED PRICE: What we know, Matt, is what I have just said. That they have engaged in this activity.
MATT LEE: Hold on a second, what activity? What activity?
NED PRICE: This is not the first time we’ve made these reports public.
Hold on a second. What are you talking about? That was the question. It was a good question. You wish you heard it more in official briefings, you wish you heard it more in everyday life in this country. It is usually the essential question in the first step towards finding out what the truth is. Ned Price didn’t want to answer that question, but Lee kept pressing him. Why didn’t Matt Lee just take Ned Price’s word for it like everybody else? Maybe because this is the very same Ned Price who has a documented history of lying to reporters in the briefing room. Here is Ned Price promising that Kabul would not fall to the Taliban not long before it did fall to the Taliban:
NED PRICE: The president from the day he announced that the U.S. military would be withdrawing, except for the troops necessary to protect our diplomatic compounds, was very clear that we have partnered with the Afghan people and with the Afghan government over the course of some 20 years now. That partnership would not diminish in any way with the military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Again, we retain a diplomatic compound in Kabul. That is what we intend to retain going forward.
“Our partnership will not diminish in any way with the military withdrawal from Afghanistan.” Days after Ned Price said that, the Biden back president of Afghanistan through millions of U.S. dollars into a duffel bag and fled to the United Aram Emirates in a private plane. So actually, the partnership did diminish, pretty quickly in fact. Matt Lee has been around long enough to remember that. He probably also remembers the time Colin Powell promised the country there were WMDs in Iraq. He probably remembers when Hillary Clinton claimed our ambassador in Benghazi was murdered over an Islamic-phobic YouTube video. He probably remembers those two separate occasions, not too long ago, when the entire foreign policy establishment in Washington assured us that evil Bashar al-Assad had gassed his own people with poison gas and deserved to be bombed, but at the same time forgot to show us any evidence that it actually happened. We are still waiting on that evidence, by the way. Matt Lee remembers stuff like that and he mentioned it yesterday.
MATT LEE: Ned, I’ve been doing this for a while.
NED PRICE: You have been doing this for quite a while. You know that when we declassify intelligence we do so with an eye to protecting sources and methods.
MATT LEE: I remember a lot of things. So where is the declassified information other than you coming out here and saying?
Best question ever: “Where’s the declassified information other than you coming out here and saying it?” How thrilling to watch someone ask something so simple. Imagine if the entire press corps acted like that? We might have a decent government. Ned Price seemed completely unprepared for any of this and highly annoyed by it. Nothing in his CIA training had suggested he might encounter disobedient reporters in the White House. So he stuck with what he had which was, “I said it, therefore it’s true.”
NED PRICE: We told you a few weeks ago that we have information indicating Russia also has propositioned a group of operatives to conduct a false flag operation in Eastern Ukraine. So that Matt is an action that Russia has already taken.
MATT LEE: No. It is an action that you say that they have taken. But you’ve shown no evidence to confirm that.
It went on and on like this. If you really want to dislike your government, you can look it up for yourself online. We can tell you Ned Price’s superciliousness gets more nauseating as it goes on. It does make you wonder about the CIA. Do they hire people oily on this purpose? Where do they find people like this? Well, The Georgetown School of Foreign Service, of course. We tell you just one more portion of this exchange in which Matt Lee flips the usual script and accuses Ned Price of sounding like a crazed conspiracy nut. It’s beautiful.
MATT LEE: This is like crisis actors, really? This is like Alex Jones territory you’re getting into now. What evidence do you have to support the idea that there is some propaganda film in the making?
NED PRICE: This is derived from information known to the U.S. Government, intelligence information that we have declassified.
MATT LEE: Where is it? Where is this information?
NED PRICE: It is intelligence information that we have declassified.
MATT LEE: Where is the declassified information?
NED PRICE: I just delivered it.
MATT LEE: No. You made a series of allegations.
One correction, Alex Jones lies far less and is far more credible than Ned Price is. You see the point. Ned Price lost that exchange. He claimed to have information that he did not have, and Matt Lee persistently called him out on it. So Ned Price ran out of B.S. The B.S. barrel was empty. So what did Ned Price do then? Ned Price did what they all do when they are cornered. He went right to the lowest personal attack. He didn’t call Matt Lee racist, he’s probably saving that for next week, but he did suggest Matt Lee is more sympathetic to Russia than he is to his own country, the United States. He implied Matt Lee is a shill for Vladimir Putin.
NED PRICE: If you doubt the credibility of the U.S. government, the British government, of other governments and want to find solace and information that the Russians are putting out, that is for you to do.
MATT LEE: I’m asking what the Russian government is putting out, and what is that supposed to mean?
At an earlier age, this is the point where Matt Lee would’ve gone to the podium and punched him right in the face. There was a time in this country when calling a man disloyal was a grave and serious charge. You could not let that stand. That’s not true anymore, we’re so used to it now. We hear it constantly. On Wednesday, two days ago, during a closed-door briefing in Congress on Russia, Jim Cooper of Tennessee, a Democrat, asked an intelligence briefer to find out if this show is tied to Russia.
We are not tied to Russia, of course. It’s a cable television program. We are not a diplomatic mission. Jim Cooper knows that. But that is not the point. The point is: We have criticized the Biden administration’s Ukraine policy. So in retaliation for that, Jim Cooper has asked the intel agencies to dig up dirt on us. To be clear, that is not allowed. It is illegal to use the U.S. Government to settle partisan scores or to silence opposition journalists.
It is also, by the way, illegal to secretly monitor their electronic communications. But Joe Biden’s NSA did that to this show this summer. That happened. We are not speculating about it. The NSA admitted it. And congressman Cooper admitted what he did today when we asked him, though he was too cowardly to come on tonight to explain how he could justify that.
This is scary behavior. It is also revealing.
After a full year of governing, all the Biden Administration could muster when challenged are ad hominem attacks and more spying from the intel agents. Let’s put the intel agencies on. What they can’t do is explain themselves. They don’t even try. That is not a sign of strength. It’s a sign of rot, it’s a sign of weakness. And yet they are doing it and getting away with it. How are they getting away with it? Very simple, they are getting away with it because Republicans are allowing them to get away with it.
Screaming about Russia, even as we ignore China, is now a bipartisan effort. You remember Russia-gate. You thought Republicans would never fall for that again? No, they internalize the whole thing. They now believe Russia is our greatest enemy. They are the existential threat. All eyes on Putin. They could stop this tomorrow. If Mitch McConnell criticized the build-up to the war with Putin, it would end immediately. If five Republicans held a press conference tomorrow to declare that the territorial integrity of the United States is more important than the territorial integrity of Ukraine, this couldn’t continue. The lunacy would end. But they are not doing that. Instead, Republicans are every bit as hysterical about Russia as Adam Schiff ever was.
SEN. JONI ERNST: We need to impose sanctions on Russia now. We need to show them that we mean business and we will be there for Ukraine.
CSPAN REPORTER: Do you think President Biden should send U.S. troops to Eastern Europe?
SEN. TODD YOUNG: Without delay.
MITCH MCCONNELL: It appears the administration is moving in the right direction.
CONGRESSMAN DAN CRENSHAW: There needs to be clear consequences for what they do. We failed to deter, and now you are inviting conflict. It is a very bad situation and we left ourselves without many options as a result.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: We are not providing the deterrence necessary to stop Putin from invading Ukraine.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: As Putin looks to dismantle NATO, and divide NATO, I support President Biden’s decision to send more groups to reinforce NATO.
Lindsey Graham just admits I’m on Biden’s inside, but most of them are too clever to do that. They are doing something you may not notice at first. They are attacking Joe Biden for being weak. His weaknesses is inviting aggression. And on the basis of that, they are in fact agreeing with Biden and supporting his Russia policy. Got that? We are against Biden. That is why we are backing him up and his Russian policy. Pretty clever.
Is that what Republican voters want? Let’s see. If you ask them, they probably say why don’t we send as much military equipment to the Texas border as we did to the Russian border? If someone says it out loud, that may be the entire country could assess how grotesque Washington’s priorities are. Speaking of grotesque priorities, Senator John Cornyn represents Texas. Texas is a state that’s had well over 1 million foreign nationals pour into it illegally over the last year. Right over the border. That is a far bigger invasion than anything Vladimir Putin is planning in Ukraine. And yet when John Cornyn talks about border security, he’s not talking about his own state or even his own country. He’s talking about Ukrainian border security.
JOHN CORNYN: Make no mistake, an attack on Ukraine is also an attack on America’s global security interests and on world peace. And could have cascading consequences that right now are too horrible to contemplate. This is an existential threat to our leadership in the world. And to the global order we underwrite. And to our way of life and the way of life for freedom loving democracies around the world.
These are people who sit in committee meetings often with closed doors. What are they doing? Well they are apparently sicking the intel agencies on anyone who criticizes them. But are they getting unfiltered information from those intel agencies? Are they making wise decisions on the basis of it? Do have any idea what they are talking about? No, of course not. They cloak their ignorance in the usual cliches. Freedom-loging democracies like Ukraine. But the truth is, their interests, their beliefs are so far out of alignment with the interests and beliefs of the average person in this country, including their own voters, that once that is exposed to light, they are in trouble.
Last point, this is only happening because there is no credible opposition to it in the Congress.
This article is adapted from Tucker Carlson’s opening commentary on the February 4, 2022, edition of “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”