War’s First Casualty: Ukraine Reportedly Sabotaged Nord Stream and Then Lied About It

It is often said that “The first casualty when war comes is truth.” The line is attributed to Hiram W Johnson in 1929 in a debate over a dubious effort to legislatively ban war.  That line is not original to Johnson but what followed should be equally notable: “this mode of propaganda whereby … people become war hungry in their patriotism and are lied into a desire to fight. We have seen it in the past; it will happen again in the future.”

This week, a new story suggests that Johnson’s prediction may be proven  . . . yet again.  The Washington Post is reporting that material leaked by Jack Teixeira, a Massachusetts Air National Guardsman, revealed that the Biden Administration knew three months ago that it was Ukraine that was planning to sabotage the Nord Stream pipelines. Teixeira is now criminally charged under the Espionage Act.

If true, the Administration withheld the information for months as the media widely speculated that Russia blew up its own pipeline. Russia accused the United States of approving the attack by Ukrainian forces.

President Joe Biden was presumably informed by the intelligence agencies. Yet, as speculation continued and Russia pointed fingers as Ukrainian and the U.S., Biden told the public “the Russians are pumping out disinformation and lies. We will work with our allies to get to the bottom (of) precisely what happened. Just don’t listen to what Putin’s saying. What he’s saying we know is not true.”

As Biden “worked with our allies to get to the bottom of what happened,” the Administration knew that months previously it was told by a Ukrainian whistleblower that the CIA was told that a six-person team of Ukrainian special forces were planning to rent a boat, dive to the seafloor and blow up the Nord Stream project. The operation was reportedly led by Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces.

It is not clear what president Volodymyr Zelenskiy knew or when he knew it. However, we knew of this report long before the pipeline was destroyed in the very way described by the whistleblower.

Not even the environmental damage by the alleged Ukrainian attack or the blow to our allies was enough for the Administration to reveal the alleged plot. The sabotage reportedly resulted in “more than 115,000 tons of natural gas escap[ing] the damaged pipeline in just six days, with a greenhouse gas contribution of approximately 15 million tons of CO2—or the amount of carbon that can be absorbed by roughly 580 million trees in a year.”

It was also not inclined to tell the press in multiple press conferences or presumably Congress as the Administration demanded billions for the war.

Now a new environmental disaster is building after sabotaging the Kakhovka hydro-electric dam in the Russian-controlled part of Ukraine. Russia has accused Ukraine and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused “Russian terrorists.”

This follows new evidence that Ukraine appeared responsible for the drone attack on the Kremlin recently. Zelenskyy also denied any involvement in that attack. Ukraine stood back as many of us speculated that this seemed like a false flag attack by Russia. After all, it seemed almost laughable in its objective if it sought to kill Putin or cause serious damage to the government.

Western countries have stressed that their military aid to Ukraine was premised on the country not attacking Russia on Russian soil. However, the larger question is whether such intelligence should be kept from Congress and the public when we have already spent over $75 billion on Ukraine.

It also raises a continued question over the Biden Administration withholding evidence that contradicts its national security claims. The Republicans have fought to gain access to a critical State Department cable that appears to refute President Biden and other officials who insisted that they had no prior warning of the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.  We ended up leaving $7 billion in top military equipment to terrorists, costing the lives of service members, and left thousands of allies behind.

The lack of candor over Ukraine denied critical information on the conduct of our ally at a time when the public is debating the increasing costs of the war. If Ukraine is engaging in sabotage against our other allies (and the environment), we have a right to know.  If committed by Ukraine, the drone attack on the Kremlin was remarkably stupid. It threatened an escalation of the conflict with little obvious military advantage. With tens of billions of dollars going to Ukraine and a world teetering on the brink of a large conflict, we (and particularly Congress) need to know if our allies are telling us the truth or whether they are reliable allies. Likewise, if Zelenskyy did not now of these major operations, it is a fair question to ask who is really in charge of the country or whether Zelenskyy is engaging in willful blindness.

It is even more troubling when Administration officials are presenting conflicting accounts or denying any knowledge of countervailing facts.

Throughout our history, Administrations have jettisoned truth when embarking on war. The most glaring example is the Tonkin Bay Incident that was used to justify the Vietnam War, an attack on U.S. vessels that was later debunked. Likewise, the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War revealed, according to the New York Times, the government  “systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress.”

This is precisely why Congress is given oversight authority and why war powers are shared with Congress. The most important power held by Congress is the power of the purse. It has an obligation to guarantee that money is being spent wisely and based on accurate information.

Many of us supported the sanctions against Russia and still support the Ukrainians in their fight to protect their homeland. However, that does not mean that we should be played for chumps.

134 thoughts on “War’s First Casualty: Ukraine Reportedly Sabotaged Nord Stream and Then Lied About It”

  1. Shocker. Russia, and more particularly Comrade Putin, illegally invaded a sovereign nation in an attempt to reestablish Soviet lands. Ukraine, a democracy, the type you readily prop up in your columns, should use every measure to defend itself. This is what happens in war. Your legal theories are always worth reading John. This one does you no value other than to espouse hard right positions. Perhaps you should make sure that crew isn’t playing you as a chump while Ukraine fights for its existence. Be better.

    1. “Ukraine, a democracy . . .”

      Nice try. Ukraine is an Authoritarian country, with a long history of corruption. Zelenskyy is a wannabe tyrant who oppresses his own citizens, with the willing support of America’s A-listers.

  2. First, it was Russia attacked themselves. That’s a new one.

    Biden all but admitted, a priori, that WE did it. Then he didn’t. Then he did. Obviously, the US did it.

    And now, there is starting to be a little heat so the least feasible of all actors did it — Ukraine. Poorly equipped for such a job, which requires special operations capabilities, lacking the essential tooling, but Biden now says point at them.

    Matt Taibbi gets it:

    Does Anyone Believe American Propaganda Anymore?
    A new Washington Post article about Nord Stream throws Ukraine overboard and absolves the United States, offering another version of reality we’ll have to strain to take seriously

    Matt Taibbi

    This is getting silly now.

    At 10:52 a.m. yesterday, the Washington Post published an exclusive called, “U.S. had intelligence of detailed Ukrainian plan to attack Nord Stream pipeline.” The story contended the United States learned from a “European intelligence service” in June, 2022 that Ukraine was planning a “covert attack” on the Nord Stream pipeline, using divers who “reported directly to the commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces,” General Valery Zaluzhny. Apparently, U.S. and European allies knew about the Ukrainian plan and were impotent to stop a move they worried “risked a severe Russian response.”

    The only people in the country who didn’t roll eyes or laugh at these latest anonymous contortions were reporters. “Americans Were Aware of Intelligence Warning of Ukrainian Pipeline Attacks,” wrote the New York Times, while Rolling Stone declared, “The U.S. Knew Ukraine Was Planning to Attack Russia’s Nord Stream Pipelines,” and so on. My favorite was the Godfather-themed header on the site of former Mother Jones writer Kevin Drum, “Ukraine was behind the Nord Stream bombing all along”:

  3. When the Left literally speak from the same exact talking points, it is because their fingerprints are all over the weapon

  4. Modern life simply lends itself to these conundrums. Wild about “public health”, we build water, sewer, and utilities systems which facilitate communal existence. When we war on others, we destroy these systems to
    disadvantage the adversary. Ergo, it’s to someone’s advantage to destroy the Ukrainian dam, just as it was to the U.S.’s advantage to destroy Bagdad’s sewer system during the Gulf War. Eventually some construction companies will profit from this disorder.

  5. Hmmm….A foreign antagonist attacked your country and you hit a legitimate target? That is war. Lying about it is war too. I certainly understand why Ukraine would do both. They need the help badly and in many respects took a loaded gun away from being pointed at European heads. Now the Russians cannot threaten Europe with a energy ban.

    Seems like smart tactics to me. If the Ukrainians actually did the sabotage.

    I also understand the reticence of any administration not being forthcoming with information about aspects of war. This is tough stuff when the reality hits.

    As for deniability, it is a tactic of war too. Never admit if lying helps the cause.

    While I applaud the good Professor and his stand, I have little issue at this time. Ukraine is fighting for its life and playing fast and loose is understandable. It is easy sitting from the comfort of home and criticize when it is not my life or family in the crosshairs.

    BTW, what makes anyone think that Congress is totally uninformed? There are political considerations here too.

  6. Gee, what a shocker! Ukraine blew up the Nordstream pipelines and the Russians didn’t collude with Trump’s campaign. Does anyone see a pattern here? If, as Turley says, we don’t want to be “played for chumps,” maybe it’s time we put the Russophobia behind us, ignore whatever the NYTimes and the WH neocon warmongers say, and, in the case of Ukraine, stop listening to the little Nazi clown, who has done nothing but lie from day one. Now we know that neither Germany nor Ukraine intended to abide by the Minsk agreements, that NATO has been arming Ukraine for an eventual attack on Russia, and that Kiev has been bombing the Donbas since 2014 because it refused to go along with the illegal coup. Does anyone seriously still think that the Russian invasion was “unprovoked”? If so, I have a few bridges to sell you.

  7. Query: Is the document in question raw intelligence, a working analysis, or final report?

    Query: How do we know that the House and Senate Intelligence, Armed Services, and Foreign Committees did not receive classified briefings on Nord Stream?

    J T, as a lawyer you should know that assuming a report is accurate without substantial support is never a good idea. The same is true for reporters and intelligence officers.

    Also, when speaking or writing about the country the correct form is Ukraine not Ukrainian.

  8. At the risk of sounding naive, why would they admit to it? It was a tactic. Odd, IMO, but still a tactic. And there is a theory they blew up their dam too. Don’t expect a “Hey fellas! Guess what!” moment.

  9. The real damage is the loss of confidence by Americans.

    Listen to our government lie to us daily (Biden, Kirby, Jean?, Psaki).

    Listen to Trump lie every day.

    Being led by liars and crooks, Americans have few moral examples.

    Is it any wonder that civic virtue is declining and cynicism increasing?

    1. A very real concern is how our government turns on its own people … it is no joke to be charged under the Espionage Act! It becomes a game of silencing free speech at a very high price to our country. Look at all the charges spewed when the left wants to win at all costs — count the people who have been accused as Russian agents. The Biden Admin is playing with our Constitution and our lives. When will this end? How will this end?

      1. it is no joke to be charged under the Espionage Act!

        Karen, I predict that nothing will come of this. At least not a successful prosecution. To convict Trump, they have no legitimate option but to do the same for Biden. That would expose the Ukraine documents squirreled away in places like the Penn Biden Center and that would add fuel to the fire currently raging that Biden took a $5 million bribe from interested parties in Ukraine. Remember, what ever Democrats and their weaponized agencies allege Trump has done, they have been proven to have done. The Russian collusion was done by Clinton and the Democratic party, not Trump. The Ukraine quid pro quo was done by Biden, not Trump. Possession and improper handling of classified documents was absolutely done by two people that did not have declassification authority, Biden and Clinton. Regarding Trump, it is yet to be proven if the documents he had in his possession were not declassified by him.

  10. Putin is a criminal and should pay a price. However, it takes a new level of ignorance to think the Russians destroyed a pipeline that was funding its war and future endeavors or destroyed a dam it built and powered its annexed Crimea.

  11. Did the Ukrainians have the capability to destroy that underwater pipeline? I don’t think so. That story is farcical, and looks to me like another CIA Information Op. U.S. personnel (CIA) have been on the ground in Ukraine for a long time, directing missile strikes and providing intel. Sy Hersch was right in the first place, and these continued attempts to deflect blame from the US regime are comical, in my opinion. The war in Ukraine is a U.S. proxy war against Russia, and a money-laundering operation by corrupt U.S. pols and weapons manufacturers to benefit themselves at the expense of the Ukrainian people.

    1. I agree that US involvement in this is likely. I don’t know whether Hersch got it right, but some combination of US and Ukraine now seems like the best bet. Nothing the US says about Ukraine can be believed.

  12. seems Ukrainians and the Deep States are fine with destroy Europe and killing lots of people for their goals!

  13. Ukraine’s bribing of the Bidens will go down in as one of the BEST investments in HISTORY!

    1. Technically a Russia affilliated Ukrainian Oligarch Bribed VP Biden to fire a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating that Oligarch.

      Biden actually interfered with Ukrainian government – to the benefit of Russia.

  14. so tell me….were the Vietnam and Afghan wars worth the billions of dollars and DEAD? Did those wars MAKE any difference to anyone but cronies and MIC?

  15. This whole thing has been on big propaganda missive after another. Zelensky is first and foremost an actor, and actors are liars by their very actions. They represent fiction as reality. Ukraine is the one country that benefited most by the sabotage of the pipeline as it meant Russian oil had to continue flowing through pipelines crossing the country. I don’t doubt that Biden and his lackey’s knew it was going to happen.

  16. facts known about Ukraine…they bribed the Bidens. East Ukraine has been Russian for most of the past 400 years
    Facts known about the USA and their Democrats rulers…THEY LIE and WANT WAR!

  17. Let’s send them a trillion now then./s
    Still think Biden and his crony Zelensky aren’t trying to start WW3??

  18. Of course the Ukes did it and likely with our help! Where’s the Article V invasion of Ukraine by NATO for attacks on member state Germany? Recall the laughable propaganda that the Russians did it.

    The West is totally corrupted by wokeness and obsessed with the LGBTABCEASYAS123 agenda. It’s why Putin is the bogeyman running a Christian, traditionalist government.

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