Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

"The metrics were always manipulated for the duration of the war"

"The metrics were always manipulated for the duration of the war," one unnamed National Security Council official said in an interview obtained by the Post. (Image: WaPo)

'Read Every Word of This': WaPo Investigation Reveals US Officials' Public Deception Campaign on Afghan War

Officials repeatedly told the public "progress" was being made, but new documents show they knew that wasn't true.

Andrea Germanos

A major Washington Post investigation released Monday is a confirmation of the peace movement's message that "there's no military solution in Afghanistan."

That's according to Paul Kawika Martin, senior director of policy and political affairs at Peace Action, replying to "The Afghanistan Papers." The report exposes how top officials spanning the George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations waged a deliberate misinformation campaign to conceal the total failures of the 18-year war in Afghanistan.

The bombshell from investigative reporter Craig Whitlock "broadly resembles the Pentagon Papers," and it is based on over 2,000 pages of notes from interviews with a federal agency that "bring into sharp relief the core failings of the war that persist to this day" and belie comments by officials "who assured Americans year after year" of progress made in the war.

The Post also published this accompanying video:

The paper obtained the cache of documents following a legal battle that lasted three years and included two lawsuits.

The documents came out of a project from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), an agency now headed by Obama-appointee John Sopko. That project, entitled Lessons Learned, was meant to assess "the U.S. reconstruction experience in Afghanistan." While it has released a number of reports beginning in 2016, those public documents had major omissions, namely "the harshest and most frank criticisms from the interviews" SIGAR conducted.

As the Post reported, the interviewees, who were directly involved in the war effort, were forthright, believing their remarks would not be made public. They revealed that officials continually misled the public about the war's success, there was no strategy, their efforts fueled corruption, and the U.S. was clearly losing ground as well as tens of thousands of lives and at least $1 trillion.

The trove includes transcripts and notes from over 400 interviewers between 2014 and 2018. SIGAR blacked out names of roughly 85 percent of interviewees.

"It was impossible to create good metrics" about the troop surge, one unnamed senior National Security Council official said in a 2016 interview. "We tried using troop numbers trained, violence levels, control of territory and none of it painted an accurate picture." They added, "The metrics were always manipulated for the duration of the war."

That theme was similar to Army colonel Bob Crowley's remarks in a 2016 interview. "Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone," Crowley said.

Ryan Crocker, who was the top U.S. diplomat in Kabul from 2011 to 2012, said in a 2016 interview, "Our biggest single project, sadly and inadvertently, of course, may have been the development of mass corruption."

The Post's reporting also used previously classified memos known as "snowflakes" from former Pentagon chief Donald H. Rumsfeld between 2001 and 2006.

"I have no visibility into who the bad guys are," Rumsfeld said in a 2003 memo. "We are woefully deficient in human intelligence."

"Take the time to read every word of this," progressive commentator Krystal Ball said on Twitter of Whitlock's new investigation. "Three administrations have lied to us about Afghanistan. How many lives have been lost and fortunes spent for nothing??"

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said the takeaway from the reporting was clear: "18 years later it's time to get out. Now."

Read the full Washington Post investigation.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

Harris Says White House Not 'Discussing' Use of Federal Land for Abortion Care

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are among the Democratic lawmakers who have expressed support for the idea as GOP-controlled states move to outlaw abortion.

Jake Johnson ·


Abortion Rights Defenders Applaud Judge's Block on Utah 'Trigger Ban'

"Today is a win, but it is only the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult fight," said one pro-choice advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


Scores Feared Dead and Wounded as Russian Missiles Hit Ukraine Shopping Center

"People just burned alive," said Ukraine's interior minister, while the head of the Poltava region stated that "it is too early to talk about the final number of the killed."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biodiversity Risks Could Persist for Decades After Global Temperature Peak

One study co-author said the findings "should act as a wake-up call that delaying emissions cuts will mean a temperature overshoot that comes at an astronomical cost to nature and humans that unproven negative emission technologies cannot simply reverse."

Jessica Corbett ·


Amnesty Report Demands Biden Take Action to End Death Penalty

"The world is waiting for the USA to do what almost 100 countries have achieved during this past half-century—total abolition of the death penalty," said the group.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo