A new trove of government documents has been released, which confirms that top US officials have spent years lying to the public about the progress made in the Afghanistan War, which has cost thousands of American lives and billions of taxpayer dollars.
The documents come from more than 400 interviews, which were conducted by the US government to find out what went wrong in Afghanistan, and why this war appears to have no end in sight after 18 years. The results should make every American question what they have heard from the government about this war.
For example, in one interview, a former Army colonel said, “Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible. Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone.”
These documents were obtained and published by the Washington Post, and it is the result of a legal battle that started back in 2016. When the Post initially filed a Freedom of Information Act request, the US government argued the public had no right to see these interviews, or to know what was being said. The Post then had to sue twice in federal court before the documents were finally released.
While the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction fought against the release, the head of the agency acknowledged that the documents show “the American people have constantly been lied to.”
We have not seen much of a response from current government officials, but this is a crucial point, as the US says it is open to resuming talks with the Taliban, and the Trump Administration continues to say its goal is to remove US troops from the country.
The documents do underscore the fact that the ongoing corruption surrounding the war in Afghanistan is not contained to just one administration—it has been ongoing through Bush, Obama, and now Trump, and it is present in every aspect of the war.
The interviews claim one of the biggest problems is that the US has spent years pouring billions and billions of dollars into the country.
In one interview, an unnamed executive for the US Agency for International Development said, “Capitol Hill was always asking, ‘Did you spend the money?’ …We were burning $400 million per month at one point. We lost objectivity. We were given money, told to spend it and we did, without reason.”
Others noted that the US government refused to acknowledge that trying to force Afghanistan to have a democratic government never would have worked in the political climate, and the continued attempts to influence the country with unlimited funds resulted in mass bribery and fraud.
Now we have a country where the Taliban is stronger than ever, corruption is stronger than ever civilian casualties from US drone strikes are skyrocketing, and yet freedom and democracy are at record lows.