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Report on Afghanistan war deceit prompts anger, call for congressional hearing

By Daniel Uria
Report on Afghanistan war deceit prompts anger, call for congressional hearing
A Washington Post report stating senior U.S. officials knowingly misled the public about the progress of the Afghan war prompted outrage and a call for a Congressional hearing on Monday. File Photo by Michael O'Conner/USAF | License Photo

Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Monday called for the Senate armed services committee to hold a public hearing on the United States' strategy in the war in Afghanistan after a report stating senior U.S. officials knowingly misled the public about the progress of the conflict.

Gillibrand, who serves on the committee, wrote a letter to committee Chairman James Inhofe, R-Okla., and ranking member Jack Reed, D-R.I., calling for hearings on the "deeply concerning revelations" included in the report by The Washington Post released on Monday.

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"The committee owes it to the American public to hold hearings to examine the questions raised by this reporting and provide clarity with respect to our strategy in Afghanistan, a clear definition of success and an honest and complete review of the obstacles on the ground," she wrote.

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The Washington Post report cites more than 2,000 pages of documents including more than 400 interviews with U.S. military commanders diplomats and aid workers in addition to Afghan officials involved with "lessons learned" a project designed to diagnose policy failures in Afghanistan.

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"Several of those interviewed described explicit and sustained efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public," the paper said. "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."

In one interview, Army Col. Bob Crowly, who was a senior counterinsurgency advisor in 2013 and 2014 said "every data point was altered to present the best picture possible."

The report also cited memos from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, including one from Sept. 8, 2003, while he served in the Bush administration in which he expressed that it became difficult to articulate who they were fighting and why.

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"I have no visibility into who the bad guys are," Rumsfeld said.

More than 2,400 U.S. soldiers and more than 38,000 Afghan civilians have died in the 18-year war, which has cost more than $2 trillion, according to The New York Times.

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The Washington Post likened the Defense documents disclosed in the report to the Pentagon Papers, which cataloged the top-secret history of the Vietnam War.

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Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders recalled protesting against the Vietnam war as he responded to the report on Monday.

"After 18 years of lies and $1 trillion of war in Afghanistan, we are in the same place," he wrote on Twitter. "We must end this war and build a society that stops this from happening again."

The report also prompted anger from current and former U.S. service members and family members of soldiers who died during the conflict.

"The deaths of our loved ones ... they don't care because it's not the family of a Washington bureaucrat," Jose Leal, father of Army Corporal Joseph Maciel who was killed by an Afghan ally in the Uruzgan province in July 2018 told Newsweek. "They see death as normal because they never had to serve this blessed country. Billions of dollars of waste with our loved ones blood for the gaining of what? Nobody knows."

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