We don't really know yet what is going on, and I congratulate Eli for
including that line about how difficult it is to assemble consensus in
the intelligence community about this sort of thing. But reading other reports about the bombing incident which also reference these classified reports, the case seems less clear-cut:
American intelligence officials have concluded in a
classified report that a Russian intelligence officer may have been
behind a string of bombings in the nation of Georgia last year,
including an explosion near the United States Embassy, but that there is
no evidence of a plot to attack American installations, an American
official said Thursday.
"The assessment seems to be that the bombings have more to do with
Russia's relationship with Georgia than Russia's relationship with the
United States," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity
because the intelligence assessment on the bombings is classified.
The official said the assessment implicating the Russian officer
draws upon information from several intelligence and law enforcement
agencies, including Georgian ones. The official cautioned that it was
"not a rock-solid assessment" and reached no definite conclusion about
whether the bombings were ordered by officials in Moscow. Its thrust,
the official said, was that the bombing near the American Embassy likely
"was an attempt to poke the Georgians in the eye, not the U.S."
It is important to note that Yevgeny Borisov, the GRU agent in
question, has been publicly identified by Georgia as a prime suspect
since at least last December, and that there is an Interpol warrant
out for his arrest. Borisov is probably at least involved in a string
of bombings inside Georgia. What is still unclear is whether those
bombings were ever targeted at the U.S. embassy.
However, in the midst of potentially explosive charges against Russia
right at a crucial time in its bilateral relationship with the United
States, it is interesting to read some pretty ridiculous pronouncements
about Russian perfidy. One former H.W. Bush official, who now runs a
think tank in Tblisi whose clients include the Georgian government, is
quoted as saying, "Part of the reason they do these things is precisely
because it is not clear to Westerners why they would do them." Right.
Dmitry Rogozin recently described
U.S. Senators John Kyl and Mark Kirk (both Republicans) of being
"monsters of the Cold War." He said that to a Russian TV station in
relation to a meeting he had with them, which he seemed to feel was
hostile and worrisome.
Of course, Russian diplomats are as good as American diplomats in
using outrage and wounded pride to gain a rhetorical edge over their
counterparts. Rogozin isn't necessarily describing what happened
accurately. But there sure seems to be a growing sense in the U.S. that
Russia is no longer a state to be worked with but an enemy to be
countered, and a confusing set of leaks of classified and apparently
uncertain reporting is a part of that. It might be true. It might not.
What is missing is evidence that Moscow is issuing orders to attack
American target (a crucial component to pinning this on Russia). All we
have evidence for right now is that a Russian might be responsible--not
who gave him orders or what his intended target was.