The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction told Congress Wednesday that U.S. officials have routinely lied to the public during the 18-year war by exaggerating progress reports and inflating statistics to create a false appearance of success.
“There’s an odor of mendacity throughout the Afghanistan issue . . . mendacity and hubris,” John F. Sopko said in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “The problem is there is a disincentive, really, to tell the truth. We have created an incentive to almost require people to lie.”
As an example, Sopko said U.S. officials have lied in the past about the number of Afghan children enrolled in schools — a key marker of progress touted by the Obama administration — even though they “knew the data was bad.” He also said U.S. officials falsely claimed major gains in Afghan life expectancy that were statistically impossible to achieve.
In addition, Sopko criticized the Trump administration for classifying information that shows the war is going badly, including data on Afghan troop casualties and assessments of the Taliban’s strength.
“When we talk about mendacity, when we talk about lying, it’s not just lying about a particular program. It’s lying by omissions,” he said. “It turns out that everything that is bad news has been classified for the last few years.”
Congress created the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, known as SIGAR, in 2008 to investigate contractual fraud and waste in the war zone. Since 2001, the United States has spent more than $132 billion to modernize the country — more than it spent, adjusted for inflation, to rebuild Europe after World War II.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee summoned Sopko to testify in response to a series of articles published last month in The Washington Post that revealed how senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the conflict had become unwinnable. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Washington Post website.
Click here for John F. Sopko’s Jan. 15 testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (48 PDF pages), on the SIGAR website.