Since 2001 the United States has been in a state of perpetual warfare. Ever escalating, ever worsening, the war in Afghanistan appears to stretch on without end. Occasionally, comments to the American public allege that something is going to change for the better, but always at a far off enough date that an excuse may be found to disavow the previous comments.
The administration is not, despite appearances, operating entirely on whim, however. Last week the whistleblower group WikiLeaks released some 92,000 classified military documents showing a myriad of truths about this conflict that the American public was never meant to know.
We have been told repeatedly since then, by top officials, that nothing in these leaks is “new” and that they are all things “we already knew.” Certainly it would surprise no one to know that the president and his inner circle, or the top members of the military, were privy to the information contained within the classified documents. Nor, presumably, was WikiLeaks’ goal in releasing them to illuminate the situation for President Obama, who has made this war the centerpiece of his administration’s foreign policy.
It was of course to reveal the truth about the war to the American public, which had no idea, for instance, that Special Forces Task Force 373 was roaming the Afghan countryside attempting to assassinate “extremists” while killing police and children along the way.
Which underscores the problem, that the Obama Administration, and the Bush Administration before it, have been treating this war as something of a mystery religion, with its true nature hidden from all but its trusted initiates, and an official story presented to the public which flies in the face of reality.
Even for “those in the know,” all men are not created equal. Though we are told that virtually everything in these documents was passed to the appropriate House and Senate subcommittees, even the broader Congress has been left in the lurch, with top military brass testifying before Congress with the same straight-faced lies about progress and new strategies that they feed the American public.
Though one might reasonably be convinced of the need to keep certain aspects of the war secret from the American people, surely one cannot countenance overt lying to the public or to Congress, putting on a brave face and pretending the war is going according to plan while all the classified documents show that, quite to the contrary, everyone with accurate information realizes how poorly the situation is faring.
Perhaps even more shocking than the particulars of civilian deaths or the lying about the general trend of the war, however, is the myth of Pakistan as a staunch ally. The Obama Administration has continued to sell us on civilian aid to Pakistan’s Zardari government even as the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency has been backing the Taliban for years. To make matters even more troubling, the ISI gets nearly one third of its annual operating budget as a block grant from America’s CIA, meaning the administration has been for all intents and purposes funding both sides of this war. Is it any wonder the situation never improves?
The WikiLeaks documents have given the American public a rare gift of truth, and while officials continue to insist that the situation has changed in the seven months since the last of those documents was initially written, we must ask why we should believe what they say now, when we have just learned that everything they told us about the prosecution of this war for the past several years has been a lie?
Jason Ditz is news editor at Antiwar.com.
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