Article from Reason by Elizabeth Nolan Brown.

The U.S. government has been lying about the war in Afghanistan practically since it started. “Every data point” about American efforts there “was altered to present the best picture possible,” according to Bob Crowley, an Army colonel and former senior counterinsurgency adviser to military commander in Afghanistan. “Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone.”

This and many more damning quotes about the now three-presidency-spanning U.S. war in Afghanistan come via some remarkable efforts by The Washington Post, which fought with federal agencies for more than three years to obtain a trove of documents that the paper is calling the Afghanistan Papers. The title is an allusion to the Pentagon Papers, the Defense Department’s secret Vietnam War files leaked in 1971 by Daniel Ellsberg. (Read Reason‘s recent interview with Ellsberg here. Read our earlier interview with Ellsberg—from way back in 1973—here.)

“We didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking,” confessed Douglas Lute, Afghan war czar under Bush II and Obama, back in 2015. Jeffrey Eggers—a former Navy SEAL and a staffer for the Bush II and Obama administrations—asked, “What did we get for this $1 trillion effort?”

The material uncovered by the Post (facilitated via Freedom of Information Act requests and a lengthy legal battle) “includes more than 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war, from generals and diplomats to aid workers and Afghan officials.” The officials were “speaking on the assumption that their remarks would not become public” as part of an interview project spearheaded by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Read the entire article at Reason.