Defense Department Rules Data on Failure in Afghanistan Is Not Releasable

Today, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction released the 38th quarterly report on the “reconstruction” effort in Afghanistan. We need only read as far as Inspector General Sopko’s cover letter to learn that the Department of Defense has decided that the effort in Afghanistan is failing so badly that a complete lid must be placed on information that provides details that can be used to document that failure:DOD continues to blaze new ground in its efforts to hide its failures. Remember when it tried retroactive classification to hide a report it didn’t like? This is an interesting variation on that play. Now, data that is clearly known to be unclassified, and that SIGAR has been publishing for two years, is suddenly “not releasable”.

Why is it not releasable? That, of course, is because it shows just how badly DOD is failing in Afghanistan. Note that SIGAR tells us “the number of districts controlled or influenced by the government has been falling since SIGAR began reporting on it”. You can bet everything you own that had there been even the slightest improvement on territory held by Afghan forces, DOD would have told SIGAR to release the data and would have had generals on every network touting their resounding success. At the same time, DOD is replaying a previous trick in classifying the actual force size for Afghan forces. I interpret that move to be telling us that Afghan forces are dwindling faster than previously claimed, presumably through the also-classified rates of casualty, attrition and capability metrics.

The ruling prohibiting release of data on the territory held becomes even closer to an attempt at retroactive classification as we move to the next part of Sopko’s cover letter:Just because they don’t want us looking closely at the data from November, here it is:
Granted, this report is from December 15, but let’s take a look at how that claim that “The Afghan Government retains control of Kabul” holds up. In today’s New York Times, we have this:
With Kabul suffering this badly, imagine how bad it must be in the rest of the country. The war in Afgthanistan is now over 16 years old. It’s time for it to take those car keys and drive itself home, because things are going so badly there that DOD is hiding all the data it can.

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.

9 replies
  1. Wm. Boyce says:

    Wow, this is deep.

    No foreign invader has ever “conquered” Afghanistan, and we aren’t going to be the first to succeed.

  2. lefty665 says:

    Hey you don’t make the record books for the longest war in US history by being good at it, or by deciding we’ve had enough fun and it’s time to go home.

    From the dim dark recesses of my memory I recall that we went to Afghanistan in the first place to get that bin Laden guy. By all reports he is no longer there. Seems we could declare “Mission Accomplished” or something like that.

    • bell says:

      being bad at something is being good when it generates constant money to the financial and military complex…

  3. Rapier says:

    I wonder why they bother preventing the info release?   Nobody cares, at least as far as elections and politics go. Is there an elected politician in America calling for total withdrawal from Afghanistan? It would be political suicide.

    • Trip says:

      As more money is siphoned to the top 1%, military spending is increased, and the GOP embarks on raiding and pillaging social security, medicare/caid, etc., the public will eventually wake up with a severe hangover. You wouldn’t want them to stumble upon how much you are funding intentional failures. Then, (and only then?) the pols will get on the bandwagon of stopping the war. Rep. Barbara Lee has been the only person standing alone, with that kind of courage, to date.

    • Jim White says:

      In one sense, it’s an ingrained reaction for the military. Kind of like a dog trying to scratch grass over a fresh pile of shit. But Trip also has a point. There may well be a tipping point where people finally figure out just how badly it’s going (not that the press will help them get there, though).

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