Reason Roundup

The Government Has Been Lying About Afghanistan All Along

Plus: Provocative reindeer cause trouble for beer label, Law & Order's sex work fantasy, and more...


The U.S. government has been lying about the war in Afghanistan practically since it started. "Every data point" about American efforts there "was altered to present the best picture possible," according to Bob Crowley, an Army colonel and former senior counterinsurgency adviser to military commander in Afghanistan. "Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone."

This and many more damning quotes about the now three-presidency-spanning U.S. war in Afghanistan come via some remarkable efforts by The Washington Post, which fought with federal agencies for more than three years to obtain a trove of documents that the paper is calling the Afghanistan Papers. The title is an allusion to the Pentagon Papers, the Defense Department's secret Vietnam War files leaked in 1971 by Daniel Ellsberg. (Read Reason's recent interview with Ellsberg here. Read our earlier interview with Ellsberg—from way back in 1973—here.)

"We didn't know what we were doing. We didn't have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking," confessed Douglas Lute, Afghan war czar under Bush II and Obama, back in 2015. Jeffrey Eggers—a former Navy SEAL and a staffer for the Bush II and Obama administrations—asked, "What did we get for this $1 trillion effort?"

The material uncovered by the Post (facilitated via Freedom of Information Act requests and a lengthy legal battle) "includes more than 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war, from generals and diplomats to aid workers and Afghan officials." The officials were "speaking on the assumption that their remarks would not become public" as part of an interview project spearheaded by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

While the Post is still waiting on a federal court ruling regarding the identities of many of those interviewed, the paper said that it decided to publish what it had now in light of the Trump administration's current talks with the Taliban and the question of whether to withdraw more troops from Afghanistan.

President Donald Trump is reportedly mulling 14,000 more U.S. troops could be deployed to "help" in the Middle East.

More from the Post's Afghanistan investigation here.


Beer nannies. North Carolina brewery Sycamore Brewing pulled a holiday-themed ale from its taproom under pressure from the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, which was offended by what Fox News describes as "provocative imagery involving reindeer." It has since been replaced with kid-friendly art:

Fox notes that a similar situation played out earlier this year,

when a Utah-based brewery was told by the NC ABC that they would not be allowed to sell a polygamy-themed beer in the state.

In July, Wasatch Brewery was told that their Polygamy Porter had been rejected by that state authority because "polygamy is illegal." The brewery unsuccessfully appealed the decision and the beer remains off the shelves in North Carolina (although it was sold in 20 other states).


TV show skews story of sex worker death. "It's been two years since 38-year-old massage worker Yang Song fell four stories to her death from an apartment window during a police raid on an illegal parlor in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens," writes Tiffany Diane Tso at HuffPost, in a review of a recent Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode based in part on Song's story.

But the SVU version "feeds us a white savior fantasy version of the very real crackdown on Asian-run spas that offer sexual services in New York City and across the country," Tso writes. More here.


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  • Sigh: