Eighteen years ago, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center buildings on September 11th. In response, then-President George W. Bush, with the permission of Congress, authorized the use of military force. Ever since the war began on October 7th, 2001, the U.S. Government has lied to the American people regarding the mission, the casualties, and overall effectiveness. The Washington Post has just recently concluded a three-year legal battle pushing for the release of the “Lessons Learned” report that exposes that the U.S. Government has lied to the American people for years. No one President is at fault for this, rather, all three since the war began during Bush’s first term have actively attempted to cover up the incompetence of the U.S. Military.
Douglas Lute was a three star Army general and the “Afghanistan Czar” for both the Bush and Obama Administrations. He was one of the most influential people in the Lessons Learned Project because of his role in the war and his damning testimony. When asked about the Afghan war, he had said, “We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing.” Not only was the U.S. Government lost on the objective in Afghanistan, they did not even know who the enemies were. A former advisor to an Army Special Forces team who decided to remain anonymous during the original Lessons Learned Project had said, “They thought I was going to come to them with a map to show them where the good guys and bad guys live. It took several conversations for them to understand that I did not have that information in my hands. At first, they just kept asking: ‘But who are the bad guys, where are they?’” The ignorance went to the highest level of the military: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. He wrote, “I have no visibility into who the bad guys are,” in a private memo to other senior defense department officials.
The lack of a clear objective baffled congressmen and women to the point of throwing money at the issue to try and solve it. An unidentified executive with the U.S. Agency for International Development guessed that over 90 percent of what was funded was overkill, saying “We lost objectivity. We were given money, told to spend it and we did, without reason.” The average payout was three million U.S. Dollars per day for an area roughly the size of a U.S. county. One unidentified military contractor asked a visiting congressman whether he could possibly spend that kind of money back home “‘He said hell no.’ ‘Well, sir, that’s what you just obligated us to spend and I’m doing it for communities that live in mud huts with no windows.’”
The only thing that this overspending did was push money into an unstable region of the world and cause copious amounts of corruption. Former Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker knew what this amount of money would cause, saying “You just cannot put those amounts of money into a very fragile state and society, and not have it fuel corruption. You just can’t.” U.S. Officials knew that corruption was rampant in Afghanistan and chose not to disclose it to the public. Despite multiple instances where they said that there was no tolerance for misuse of aid in the Afghan region, many U.S. officials admitted that they looked away during the Lessons Learned interviews. All in all, this overspending and corruption has cost U.S. taxpayers over 1.5 trillion dollars in just eighteen years.
The American people are no stranger to being lied to during wartime by their government. It happened in Vietnam and was only exposed when the Pentagon Papers were released, which brought a swift end to the war. Leading up to the publication of the Afghanistan Papers, the people have been lied to in almost every aspect in the war. One way that Washington lied was to spin the numbers of a survey of the area and military reports before releasing them to the public. An unnamed Senior National Security Council Official said, “There was constant pressure from the Obama White House and Pentagon to produce figures to show the troop surge of 2009 to 2011 was working, despite hard evidence to the contrary.” So the military made up false numbers and statistics to satisfy President Obama and Senior Pentagon Officials. The same National Security Council Official testified that “the metrics were always manipulated for the duration of the war.”
Currently, President Donald Trump has announced a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan ofup to four thousand men and women in the wake of the publication. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) has called for immediate hearings into the matter, but it seems unlikely in the Republican controlled Senate.