Armed Services Committee member Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Defense: Bombshell report reveals officials misled public over progress in Afghanistan | Amazon accuses Trump of ‘improper pressure’ in Pentagon contract decision | House Judiciary holds final impeachment hearing Gillibrand demands hearing following release of ‘Afghanistan Papers’ White House, Congress near deal to give 12 weeks paid parental leave to all federal workers MORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday called for the panel to hold a hearing to investigate U.S. strategy in the 18-year Afghanistan War following a damning report that senior U.S. officials knowingly lied to the public for years about the country’s progress in the conflict.
“We all read today, the striking reporting by The Washington Post, suggesting that administration officials, potentially including military officials, have misled the American public about the war in Afghanistan. I am writing to request hearings to address these deeply concerning revelations about the Afghan war,” Gillibrand wrote in a letter to committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeGillibrand demands hearing following release of ‘Afghanistan Papers’ Overnight Defense: Trump leaves door open to possible troop increase in Middle East | Putin offers immediate extension of key nuclear treaty Trump leaves door open to possible troop increase in Middle East MORE (R-Okla.) and ranking member Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedGillibrand demands hearing following release of ‘Afghanistan Papers’ Republicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Overnight Defense: Trump clashes with Macron at NATO summit | House impeachment report says Trump abused power | Top Dem scolds military leaders on Trump intervention in war crimes cases MORE (D-R.I.).
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The Post — through a cache of documents obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request — found U.S. officials on numerous occasions acknowledged a lack of understanding, strategy and progress in the war.
The officials acknowledged the problems in private interviews conducted by a watchdog across the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations.
They also described a purposeful disinformation campaign for the public, meant to make discouraging statistics look like the U.S. was winning the war.
Gillibrand said in a statement on Monday that the papers “show that past administrations, and our civilian and military leaders, have misled the American public about their objectives in Afghanistan and the potential of reaching those objectives. This is absolutely unacceptable.”
According to the Post, more than 775,000 U.S. troops have deployed to Afghanistan since 2001, and of those, 2,300 died there and 20,589 were wounded in action.
“Given these costs in American lives and funds, it is deeply troubling to read a report of interviews with U.S. Government officials that appear to contradict the many assurances we have heard at committee hearings that the continuing war in Afghanistan has a coherent strategy and an end in sight,” Gillibrand wrote.
“The committee owes it to the American public to hold hearings to examine the questions raised by this reporting and provide clarity with respect to our strategy in Afghanistan, a clear definition of success, and an honest and complete review of the obstacles on the ground,” she wrote.
The United States has roughly 13,000 troops now fighting in the Afghanistan war, with most focused on training Afghan forces to fight the Taliban. A smaller number of special forces conduct counterterrorism operations against groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS.