The Washington Post is out with a damning picture of the 18-years-and-counting Afghanistan war, and it's based on the government's own interviews with key players in the conflict. The upshot: US officials have lied to the public repeatedly since the war began in 2001, "making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable," writes Craig Whitlock. The newspaper obtained the interviews—conducted by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR—after a three-year legal fight under the Freedom of Information Act. The fallout could be big: Media writer David Folkenflik of the NPR calls this "the pentagon papers of our times." A quick taste:
- A top general: "We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan—we didn’t know what we were doing,” Gen. Douglas Lute, who served as Afghan war czar under presidents Bush and Obama, told the government interviewers in 2015. "What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking."
- More from him: “If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction ... 2,400 lives lost,” said Lute, who blamed what the Post describes as "bureaucratic breakdowns" in Congress, the Pentagon, and the State Department.
- Skewed numbers: "Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible," Army Col. Bob Crowley told government interviewers. "Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone."
- Acknowledgment: The head of SIGAR, the group that conducted the interviews as part of a "Lessons Learned" government project, says the documents show "the American people have been constantly lied to."
Dig into the Post
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