Gillibrand calls for Senate hearings following release of Afghanistan papers

Gillibrand calls for Senate hearings following release of Afghanistan papers
Afghanistan war (Source: MGN)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWNY) - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D. - NY) is calling for a Senate hearing to investigate U.S. strategy and obstacles to success in Afghanistan.

Her request comes after the Washington Post’s release of previously confidential documents and interviews, in which senior U.S. military, administration, and diplomatic officials make clear that there was no clear objective to U.S. policy in Afghanistan, and no way of reaching stated goals, and that this was hidden from the American people.

“These 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,” said Senator Gillibrand, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee. “We have spent the last 18 years in Afghanistan, in what has become the longest armed conflict in U.S. history. It’s far past time that Congress reclaim its Constitutional role in our nation’s decisions to go to -- and remain in -- war. The men and women who serve our nation deserve much better, and the Senate must investigate how our nation got tangled in this mess.”

The Washington Post reported it obtained more than 2,000 pages of confidential documents following a three-year legal battle.

The Post said the documented showed U.S. officials systematically misled the public about the war in Afghanistan during three presidential administrations.

The material, it said, is a government report titled “Lessons Learned” that investigated failures of the war effort through interviews with hundreds people, including U.S. military commanders, diplomats, aid workers, and Afghan officials.

Approximately 2,400 U.S. service members have been killed in the Afghan conflict and many thousands more wounded.

Gillibrand sent a letter to Senator Inhofe (R-OK), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senator Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The letter can be read below:

Dear Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Reed:

We all read today, the striking reporting by The Washington Post, suggesting that administration officials, including potentially 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.

I appreciate the many hearings that you, and Chairmen McCain and Levin before you, have held to review the war in Afghanistan. As the story reports, based on the Defense Department’s own figures, “since 2001, more than 775,000 U.S. troops have deployed to Afghanistan, many repeatedly. Of those, 2,300 died there and 20,589 were wounded in action, according to Defense Department figures,” and approximately a trillion dollars spent, without accounting for classified figures. It is with these great costs to our nation in mind, that I recently introduced the War Powers Reform Resolution to end the manipulation of the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force to conduct nearly two decades of war, and to fundamentally reform how Congress would authorize future wars, so that we no longer send Americans into military action unless Congress has approved the purpose, location and duration of such action, and clearly stated whom we are fighting.

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.

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.

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