ARLINGTON, VA - MARCH 28: U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld (R), gestures as he speaks while Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace (L) listens during a media briefing at the Pentagon March 28, 2006 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It took three years and two court battles, but The Washington Post prevailed in obtaining “a confidential trove of government documents” that revealed the U.S. government has repeatedly lied to the American public about military progress in the war in Afghanistan. As Craig Whitlock reports, during the past 18 years the U.S. government has spent nearly one trillion dollars on the war in which 157,000 people have died. What proliferates amid this abject failure? Rampant Afghan government corruption and opium farming in the region.

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

“Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible,” Bob Crowley, an Army colonel who served as a senior counterinsurgency adviser to U.S. military commanders in 2013 and 2014, told government interviewers. “Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone.”

“Our biggest single project, sadly and inadvertently, of course, may have been the development of mass corruption,” Crocker, who served as the top U.S. diplomat in Kabul in 2002 and again from 2011 to 2012, told government interviewers.

Read the story