On August 14, the Washington Free Beacon reported that the U.S. had confirmed “a Russian nuclear-powered attack submarine armed with long-range cruise missiles operated undetected in the Gulf of Mexico for several weeks and its travel in U.S. strategic waters was only confirmed after it left the region.” Back in 2009, just months after Obama took office, the New York Times had reported the appearance of Russian attack subs off the U.S. coast for the first time in more than a decade.
The WFB report was sourced to anonymous “officials who are familiar with reports of the submarine patrol in the Gulf of Mexico,” and they pointed to “incursions into restricted U.S. airspace near Alaska and California in June and July by Russian strategic bombers.” The incursions had also been noted by WFB — when they allegedly occurred — as demonstrating a pattern of increasing Russian aggression. Then, too, the WFB relied on anonymous Pentagon sources.
Republican John Cornyn of the Senate Armed Services Committee was quoted by WFB confirming the sub report:
It’s a confounding situation arising from a lack of leadership in our dealings with Moscow. While the president is touting our supposed “reset” in relations with Russia, Vladimir Putin is actively working against American interests, whether it’s in Syria or here in our own backyard.
Cornyn has been active in opposing Russian support for the genocidal dictatorship in Syria that is one of Russia’s closest allies. However, the only major news organization to carry the WFB report was the Daily Mail, and two days later the Pentagon denied the report. The Moscow Times quoted submarine experts opining that the Russian sub could not have been stealthy enough to enter and remain in the Gulf for an extended period. The MT quoted other sources calling the WFB’s bona fides into question and suggesting the report was political propaganda from a website whose publisher worked on the McCain campaign in 2008.
The WFB stood by its story. The Kremlin refused to comment. The Kremlin’s English-language mouthpiece, Voice of Russia, said Russian military officials were congratulating themselves on a job well done. Then, it said maybe not.
So what do we have here? Is the Obama administration conspiring with the MSM to cover up a damaging series of events that seriously undermine Obama’s foreign policy agenda, or is a rogue conservative website ginning up false reports as the election cycle gets underway to help sink the Democrats’ reelection bid? Was Cornyn commenting based on his own independent knowledge of the events, or did he jump the gun and simply respond to the claims made by WFB? Was WFB lied to by anti-Obama figures within the U.S. military?