The Afghanistan Papers: We Were Lied To
This is not a bombshell report, but unlike what the WashPost usually does, this actually qualifies as journalism.
Confidential documents obtained by The Washington Post reveal that top US officials misled the American public about the war in Afghanistan in order to conceal doubts about the likelihood that the US could be successful in the nearly 20-year effort since its earliest days, the paper reported in a major investigation on Monday.
In comparing the new documents to the Pentagon Papers, the Post said that "throughout the Afghan war, documents show that U.S. military officials have resorted to an old tactic from Vietnam — manipulating public opinion."
After 18 years of war, you would have to be extremely naive and gullible to think that we were winning in Afghanistan. So I think the lies were meant more for internal consumption than for the public.
Nevertheless, some of the quotes are enlightening.
In one such case, the Post said Douglas Lute, "a three-star Army general who served as the White House's Afghan war czar" under former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, told interviewers "we were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan -- we didn't know what we were doing."
"What are we trying to do here? We didn't have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking," Lute said in 2015, according to the Post.
In another example, Jeffrey Eggers, a retired Navy SEAL and White House staffer for Bush and Obama, bemoaned the cost of the war to interviewers, asking, "What did we get for this $1 trillion effort? Was it worth $1 trillion?" the Post said.
"After the killing of Osama bin Laden, I said that Osama was probably laughing in his watery grave considering how much we have spent on Afghanistan," the former SEAL said, according to the paper.
One individual identified as a senior National Security Council official said, according to the paper, that "even when casualty counts and other figures looked bad ... the White House and Pentagon would spin them to the point of absurdity."
John Sopko, head of the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said "the American people have constantly been lied to" since the war began.
The Five O'Clock Follies didn't work, and the Afghanistan lies didn't work either.
“Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible,” Bob Crowley, an Army colonel, told government interviewers, according to the Post. “Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone.”
In a related note, SIGAR released a report on our War On some Drugs in Afghanistan just a few days ago.
Do I need to give you a hint what it says?
The counternarcotics effort there, for example, "has just been a total failure," John F. Sopko, special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC, in November.