US Intelligence Says Leak Of Russian Bounty Story Was ‘A Crime,’ Jeopardized Investigation

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
Font Size:

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe released a statement condemning media reports about a Russian unit that allegedly put bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and said the reports ruined an ongoing investigation.

President Donald Trump tweeted out Ratcliffe’s statement Tuesday morning, in which the DNI reiterated that leaking classified intelligence 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.” (RELATED: US Has Reduced Military Presence In Afghanistan By 2,000 Troops Despite No Peace Deal)

“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.”

The statement comes after Saturday reports claimed that a secretive Russian unit was offering bounties to terror groups in Afghanistan on U.S. and coalition forces, even as the U.S. negotiated a peace agreement with the Taliban.

The U.S. entered a tentative peace agreement with the Taliban in late February in which the U.S. would incrementally scale back troop deployment so long as the Taliban continued to reduce hostilities.

“This country is not in the best shape after 40 years; they’ve been suffering from conflict. If we ripped everybody out overnight it would, almost in a certain sense, threaten everything we’ve done,” one senior Trump administration official familiar with the deal said at the time.

The peace agreement is on shaky ground as both the U.S. and the Taliban have carried out attacks in recent weeks.

“If this all blows up that’s unfortunate, but fine, we’ll just start killing them again,” one official said of the agreement.