By Dave Lindorff
In 1966, during the early years of the America’s war against Vietnam, Congress passed and President Johnson signed into law a Freedom of Information Act. It wasn’t all that great at the time, though. Indeed, it took the courageous act of two men, Daniel Ellsberg and his co-conspirator, Anthony Russo, to steal and then copy thousands of pages of a secret US government study of the history of that war, known as the Pentagon Papers, in 1969, and to then, at great personal risk, to get them, in 1971, printed in the New York Times.
Three years later, in the midst of the Watergate scandal and Nixon impeachment, the FOIA was improved and expanded. Suddenly ordinary Americans were for the first time able to file a FOIA request with a government agency like the FBI and receive documents (censored of course, but still useful) like a dossier of spying on themselves (as I did), or a copy of the government’s plan for implementing martial law in the event of a “national emergency” (as I also did).
The FOI Act still exists, though over the last three presidencies of GW Bush, Obama and Trump, it has been severely weakened again and been violated in practice by successive administrations.
Nonetheless, it was through that Freedom of Information Act, not a couple of heroic whistleblowers this time, that the Washington Post, its lawyers and reporter Craig Whitlock obtained what are being dubbed the Afghanistan Papers. These documents provide a disturbingly similar inside account to the Pentagon Papers in their documenting of how and why the US invaded one of the world’s poorest countries, and has now fought a war there against its impoverished and long-suffering people for 18 years and running.
Like the Pentagon Papers of over half a century ago, the Afghanistan Papers tell a tale of epic deception: self-deception on the part of presidents and their top advisors and cabinet officers, deception of government leaders and members of Congress by generals and government bureaucrats seeking to inflate their reputations, resumes and rank, and deception of the American people by virtually everyone government.
The basic takeaway from the Afghanistan Papers is that for the past two decades virtually everyone involved in this longest US war, with the exception of some brave, honest soldiers like those in Iraq Veterans Against the War (I(!VAW), has been simply making stuff up to make it appear to the public as if the US were somehow always, if not winning, then “making gains.” This logical impossibility was obviously quite a challenge, since the truth has been that, despite over $1 trillion in military spending and 18 years of epic bombing and killing, the US is losing the war…
For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the uncompromised, collectively run, six-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative news site, please go to: https://thiscantbehappening.net/afghan-papers-wouldnt-be-needed-if-we-had-a-real-independent-media/