“Afghanistan Papers” Reveal an 18-Year Lie

A staff sergeant from the Alaskan National Guard stands guard as workers build a bazaar in KandaharUS Air Force

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The original Pentagon Papers showed that lots of people knew we were failing in Vietnam but lied in public about it. Today, the Washington Post has published a followup, the Afghanistan Papers, which show that lots of people knew we were failing in Afghanistan but lied about it in public:

A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.

….Several of those interviewed described explicit and sustained efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public. They said it was common at military headquarters in Kabul — and at the White House — to distort statistics to make it appear the United States was winning the war when that was not the case.

“Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible,” Bob Crowley, an Army colonel who served as a senior counterinsurgency adviser to U.S. military commanders in 2013 and 2014, 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.”

John Sopko, the head of the federal agency that conducted the interviews, acknowledged to The Post that the documents show “the American people have constantly been lied to.”

It’s unbelievable that we’re still in Afghanistan a full generation after we first invaded. Unfortunately, no one has the guts to simply pull out and accept the fact that they will then become the president that lost Afghanistan. So they keep on pretending to fight. And that’s the biggest lie of all.

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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