During a speech given on the floor of the U.S. Senate, GOP Senator Jim Inhofe presented a series of fake photos, which he claimed show Russian troops advancing in the Ukraine. Inhofe used the fake photos as justification for his senate bill, which would authorize the U.S. to provide “lethal military aid” to the Ukraine.
“What is going on there?”
“We have the Russians in there with the Separatists doing horrible things, things that are just as bad as the things that are taking place in ISIS, Syria and other places.”
To demonstrate his point, Inhofe claimed he “brought back” a group of photos from a trip to the Ukraine. He goes on to claim that the photos are evidence of Russian tanks in the Ukraine.
Here’s video of the speech, courtesy of c-span.org:
The photos Inhofe used are not what he claims. Two were taken in 2008, during Russia’s war with Georgia. The other, which was taken in October, shows Russian-backed separatists in the Luhansk town of Krasniy Luch.
Inhofe is the author of Senate Bill 452, which would authorize the U.S. to provide “lethal military aid” to the Ukraine. He introduced the bill on February 11, 2015, using the fake photos to illustrate why the United States must provide “lethal” weapons to the Ukraine.
These photographs were given to me by Lt. Col. Semen Semenchenko, the commander of Donbas Volunteer Assault Battalion and newly elected member of the parliament of Ukraine, during our meeting on 13 Nov last year.
The first set of pictures show Russian troops in T-72 tanks, BTR armored personnel carriers, and BMP infantry fighting vehicles entering eastern Ukraine, waiving Russian flags. This is not simply supporting separatists – it is an invasion of the Ukraine by Russia.
The second set of pictures were taken by Ukrainian soldiers on the front line in eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials deny providing Inhofe with the photos. According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL):
Yuriy Bereza, a parliamentarian who also leads the pro-Kyiv Dnipro battalion in eastern Ukraine, says that when he and a Ukrainian delegation met with Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe’s staff last November, he provided them only with photos taken by his men between August 24 and September 5.
“Those photos were taken during [the battle] for Ilovaisk, then after Ilovaisk events in Piskiy and Mariupol — three places” he told RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service. “I never gave photos from 2008.”
We have seen this before.
During the first war in Iraq, the George Bush Senior administration used fake witness testimony to drum up support for the U.S. invasion. Later, his son George W. Bush would follow in his father’s footsteps, presenting false information to Congress in order to justify a second invasion of Iraq. CNN documented a total of 935 false statements made by the George W. Bush administration, relating to the war in Iraq.
There are only two possible scenarios that explain Inhofe’s use of the fake photos.
The first scenario, that he deliberately and knowingly lied about the photos to purposefully deceive government officials is entirely plausible.
The second scenario, that he was duped into showing the fake photos by Ukrainian officials, is also plausible.
In either scenario, by presenting these photos, Inhofe demonstrated that he is entirely unfit to be a representative of the U.S. government.
*Featured image credit: video screen capture, via C-Span