by Roger Kimball
Do you trust the U.S. government? I don’t recommend it.
Consider what John Kirby, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said a couple of days ago at a press briefing. “We believe,” Kirby said, that Russia is planning to stage a fake attack by Ukrainian military or intelligence forces against Russian sovereign territory, or against Russian speaking people,” in order to justify an invasion of Ukraine. Kirby had lots of details: “We believe that Russia would produce a very graphic propaganda video, which would include corpses and actors that would be depicting mourners, and images of destroyed locations, as well as military equipment, at the hands of Ukraine or the West.”
Gosh. Should we be worried? Yes. But not necessarily for the reasons that Kirby and his puppet masters want you to be worried. The United States is sending troops and arms to aid Ukraine, so of course there needs to be an emergency to justify that action. John Kirby just outlined a scary scenario. But inquiring minds want to know: What’s his evidence for this dramatic claim?
That was the burden of the remarkable exchange between State Department spokesman (and former CIA operative) Ned Price and veteran AP reporter Matt Lee.
OK, Lee said, we’ve just heard that Russia is in the process of organizing a gigantic false-flag operation to justify its attack on Ukraine. “What evidence,” Lee asked, “do you have to support the idea that there is some propaganda film in the making?”
Bingo. What followed is the stuff of legend.
PRICE: This is derived from information known to the U.S. government, intelligence information that we have declassified.
LEE: Okay. Well, where is it? Where is this information?
PRICE: It is intelligence information that we have declassified.
LEE: Well, where is it? Where is the declassified information?
PRICE: I just delivered it.
LEE: No. You made a series of allegations.
Ned Price was not looking too happy by this point in the exchange. I suppose he deserves some sort of commendation for persevering.
PRICE: Would you like us to print out the topper? Because you will see a transcript of this briefing that you can print out for yourself.
LEE: That’s not evidence. That’s you saying it. That’s not evidence. I’m sorry.
PRICE: What would you like, Matt?
LEE: I would like to see some proof that you can show that shows that the Russians are doing that.
Price also get points for chutzpah.
PRICE: Matt, I’m sorry you don’t like the format but we have—
LEE: It’s not the format. It’s the content.
PRICE: I’m sorry you don’t like the content. I’m sorry you are doubting the information that is in the possession of the U.S. government.
Fortunately, Matt Lee is part terrier. Once he got his teeth into Price, he wasn’t letting go. “You don’t,” he said, “have any evidence to back it up other than what you’re saying.” That’s when Price played the capital-D Deterrence card. “That is the idea behind deterrence, Matt. That is the idea behind deterrence. It is our hope that the Russians don’t go forward with this.” That is, we’ll make these allegations publicly, but we won’t show you what we’re basing the allegations on. And by the way if the Russians do nothing, “that is not, ipso facto, an indication that they never had plans to do so.” Hall of mirrors, anyone?
Lee and Price offered brief closing summaries. Lee: “What is the evidence you have that suggests that the Russians are even planning this? I’m not saying they’re not, but you just come out and say this and expect us to believe it without you showing a shred of evidence that it’s actually true, other than when I ask or what anyone else asks what is the information? You said, well, I just gave it to you, which is just you making a statement.”
A hit, a palpable hit. Price ended with the old “sources and methods” wheeze, surmounted by a little cherry of anti-patriotic innuendo:
You know that when we make intelligence information public, we do so in a way that protects sensitive sources and methods. You also know that we do so, we declassify information only when we’re confident in that information. If you doubt the credibility of the U.S. government, of the British government, of other governments and want to, you know, find solace in information that the Russians are putting out, that is for you to do.
Ouch, yes, but the sore spot is not anywhere on Matt Lee.
The Biden Administration, what is left of it, is cranking up the old U.S. war machine. Perhaps his advisors have been watching “Wag the Dog.” It worked there, old shoe, but I wouldn’t be too confident about a repeat performance of that script. For one thing, the American people are more concerned about U.S. sovereignty and the integrity of our southern border than Ukraine.
For another, there have been too many exposed lies emanating from the corridors of power for us to take this latest allegation at face value. We’re still cataloging the lies they told us about COVID: Where it came from, who was involved in weaponizing the virus, how dangerous it was, and on and on. We haven’t gotten to the bottom of that, not by a long shot. Nor have we gotten to the bottom of the January 6 pseudo-insurrection narrative. Then there was the “Trump-is-a-puppet-of-Putin” lie, part of the gigantic Russian collusion delusion fomented by Obama’s intelligence apparat and then assiduously circulated by the regime media.
Nor is government mendacity a new thing. Remember Colin Powell’s “Weapons of Mass Destruction” gambit? That lie was elaborated in great detail to justify attacking Saddam Hussein. I bought it myself: all those slides and charts and photos. Pretty impressive. All lies.
Turns out, alas, that lying has been standard operating procedure for decades. Back in 1964, Lyndon Johnson lied about U.S. destroyers being attacked off the coast of Vietnam in order to justify air strikes and troop deployments against North Vietnam.
Maybe the Russians are doing what the Pentagon and State Department say they are doing. But our mantra should be “Don’t trust unless you can verify.” And this is a good place to suggest that you keep your eyes peeled for false-flag propaganda emanating from the United States. Given the deep state’s fondness for doing exactly what they accuse their opponents of, I would not be at all surprised to see Kirby, Price, and Jen Psaki solemnly describing foreign tragedies that were born and bred in the U.S. of A. As a friend observed, the FBI probably already owns all the Nazi paraphernalia in North America. You never know when a swastika will come in handy to smear an imaginary “domestic terrorist,” disgruntled trucker, or angry parent complaining about his local school board.
Ned Price was like a scab torn off a suppurating wound of illegitimacy. “If you doubt the credibility of the U.S. government,” forsooth. You would have to be an idiot not to.
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Roger Kimball is editor and publisher of The New Criterion and the president and publisher of Encounter Books. He is the author and editor of many books, including The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia (St. Augustine’s Press), The Rape of the Masters (Encounter), Lives of the Mind: The Use and Abuse of Intelligence from Hegel to Wodehouse (Ivan R. Dee), and Art’s Prospect: The Challenge of Tradition in an Age of Celebrity (Ivan R. Dee).