• Is It True? U.S. Officials Charge: ‘The American People Have Constantly Been Lied To’ About Afghanistan

    Surge Summary: Newly revealed official documents expose what appears to be governmental dishonesty and manipulation of facts in the its portrayal of the situation in Afghanistan over the course of the last eighteen-years.

    Freshly uncovered government documents unsettlingly reveal senior U.S. officials shaped an overly optimistic picture of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. Some officials have gone so far as to charge their activity amounts to lying to the American public.

    The more than 2,000 pages from a federal investigation examining what went wrong during the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan, the longest armed conflict in American history, contain candid observations from more 400 people close to the conflict expressing frustrations and doubts about the U.S. role in the region. The Washington Post obtained the documents following a three-year Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

    “The American people have constantly been lied to,” said John Sopko, head of the agency conducting oversight on Afghanistan reconstruction, which conducted the interviews. [Mairead McArdle/National Review]

    The papers disclose a considerable source of conflict from the beginning: U.S. officials disagreed regarding the war’s objective. Was it to establish a democratic government in Afghanistan? Or a push for cultural change that was in view? Still others hoped it would rattle the Russia- Iran-Pakistan-India power balance.

    “With the AfPak strategy there was a present under the Christmas tree for everyone,” an unidentified U.S. official told investigators in 2015. “By the time you were finished you had so many priorities and aspirations it was like no strategy at all.”

    Three-star Army general Douglas Lute, a senior advisor to the Bush and Obama administrations on Afghanistan and Iraq, said the U.S. lacked “a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan” and “didn’t know what we were doing.”

    “Who will say this was in vain?” Lute wondered. “We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”

    Equally as scandalous, officials allege the U.S. government was consistently misleading the American people on the on-the-ground situation. Some went so far as to manipulate data, aiming to convince voters the campaign in Afghanistan would be successful.

    One unidentified National Security Council player accused the Obama White House of pressuring the Pentagon to produce stats that would buttress their claims of progress, and manipulated other data when it did not produce the optimistic picture they desired.

    “It was impossible to create good metrics. We tried using troop numbers trained, violence levels, control of territory and none of it painted an accurate picture,” the senior NSC official told government interviewers in 2016. “The metrics were always manipulated for the duration of the war.”

    The senior NSC official explained that Pentagon and White House officials at all levels developed convoluted explanations when confronted with clearly negative results such as increases in American casualties or suicide bombings.

    “It was their explanations,” he said. “For example, attacks are getting worse? ‘That’s because there are more targets for them to fire at, so more attacks are a false indicator of instability.’ Then, three months later, attacks are still getting worse? ‘It’s because the Taliban are getting desperate, so it’s actually an indicator that we’re winning.’”

    “And this went on and on for two reasons,” he continued, “to make everyone involved look good, and to make it look like the troops and resources were having the kind of effect where removing them would cause the country to deteriorate.”

    According to the Department of Defense, since 2001 more than 775,000 U.S. troops have been sent to Afghanistan. 2,300 American service personnel have died in the effort, while 20,589 soldiers have been wounded in action.

    No matter how one cuts it, America’s war exertions in Afghanistan have been a costly endeavor. Many would continue to assert it remained a worthy one – after all, there was this nefarious attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and some airplanes back around the birth of the new century. Remember that? 3000 civilians perished? That outrage didn’t arise from outer space – the Taliban in Afghanistan hosted the terror forces that planned and executed it. The U.S. government had to answer forcefully and unmistakably – and it did.

    It’s what unfolded subsequent to the initial invasion that is grounds ripe for debate and recriminations. And if the accusations in this latest finding are borne out, we can add them to the fetid pile — supplied courtesy of Washington’s and the U.S. military’s powers-that-be.

    H/T: Mairead McArdle/National Review

    Image: Adapted from: by Peter Timmerhues from Pixabay 

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