by Caitlin Johnstone, Caitlin Johnstone:
The Washington Post has published clear, undeniable evidence that US government officials have been lying to the public about the war in Afghanistan, a shocking revelation for anyone who has done no research whatsoever into the history of US interventionism.
In all seriousness it was a very good and newsworthy publication, and those who did the heavy lifting bringing the Afghanistan Papers into public awareness deserve full credit. The frank comments of US military officials plainly stating that from the very beginning this was an unwinnable conflict, initiated in a region nobody understood, without anyone being able to so much as articulate what victory would even look like, make up an extremely important piece of information that is in conflict with everything the public has been told about this war by their government.
But the most significant revelation to come out of this story is not in the Afghanistan Papers themselves.
The most significant Afghanistan Papers revelation comes from The Washington Post‘s account of the extremely difficult time they had extricating these important documents from the talons of government secrecy, as detailed in a separate article titled “How The Post unearthed The Afghanistan Papers“. WaPo explains how the papers were ultimately obtained via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests which, after they were initially rejected by the US government, needed to be supplemented over three years with two lawsuits.
“The Post’s efforts to obtain the Afghanistan documents also illustrate how difficult it can be for journalists — or any citizen — to pry public information from the government,” WaPo reports. “The purpose of FOIA is to open up federal agencies to public scrutiny. But officials determined to thwart the spirit of the law can drag out requests for years, hoping requesters will eventually give up.”
“In October 2017, The Post sued the inspector general in U.S. District Court in Washington — a step that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees — to obtain the Flynn interview materials,” WaPo adds.
Now, The Washington Post is a giant, for-profit corporate media outlet which is solely owned by Jeff Bezos, who is currently listed as the wealthiest person on earth. Does anyone reading this have hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of their life to spend battling the US government into complying with its own transparency laws? Are any of the alternative media outlets which consistently oppose US imperialism able to afford many such expenditures? I would guess not.
Is it not disturbing that the American taxpayer has to depend on outlets like The Washington Post, a neocon-packed outlet with an extensive history of promoting US interventionism at every opportunity, to extract these documents from behind the wall of government opacity?
After all, by WaPo’s own admission it both sought and published the Afghanistan Papers in order to take a swing at Donald Trump. According to the Post it went down this path in 2016 initially seeking documents on Michael Flynn, who was then part of the Trump campaign, after receiving a tip that he’d made some juicy statements about the war in Afghanistan to the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). WaPo then made the decision to publish the papers now rather than waiting for its legal battle for more information to complete because Trump is currently in the midst of negotiating with the Taliban over a potential troop withdrawal.
“The Post is publishing the documents now, instead of waiting for a final ruling, to inform the public while the Trump administration is negotiating with the Taliban and considering whether to withdraw the 13,000 U.S. troops who remain in Afghanistan,” WaPo reports.
It is obviously an inherently good thing that WaPo poured its immense wealth and resources into pursuing and publishing these documents. But would it have done so if those documents hadn’t presented an opportunity to embarrass the Trump administration? What kinds of information does the notoriously war-happy WaPo not spend its wealth and resources pursuing and publishing? Probably a whole lot.
It is a very safe assumption that, because of the immense walls of government opacity that have been built up around the unconscionable things America’s elected and unelected leadership is doing, there are far, far more evil things that are far, far worse than anything revealed in the Afghanistan Papers that we don’t know about, and that we don’t even know we don’t know about. Is it not deeply disturbing that we have to pray that some war-loving, establishment-supporting billionaire media outlet will have a partisan agenda to advance if we want to know about even a tiny sliver of this information?