The Afghanistan Papers A Secret History of the War
A Secret History of the War
For nearly two decades of fighting in Afghanistan, U.S. leaders have sounded a constant refrain: We are making progress. They were not, documents from government interviews show, and they knew it.
The Post obtained records from more than 400 of the interviews after a three-year legal battle. The documents reveal that people who were directly involved in the war could not shake their doubts about the strategy and mission.
Konar Province, 2010. (Magnum Photos)
Konar Province, 2010. (Magnum Photos)
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, 2003. (Getty Images)
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, 2003. (Getty Images)
Fort Campbell, Ky., 2014. (Matt McClain/The Post)
Fort Campbell, Ky., 2014. (Matt McClain/The Post)
I have no visibility into who the bad guys are.
Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. defense secretary from 2001 to 2006
The strategy became self-validating. Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible.
Bob Crowley, retired Army colonel who served as a counterinsurgency adviser in Kabul from 2013 to 2014
We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing.
Douglas Lute, Army lieutenant general who served as the White House’s Afghanistan “war czar,” then U.S. ambassador to NATO from 2013 to 2017
You just cannot put those amounts of money into a very fragile state and society, and not have it fuel corruption. You just can’t.
Ryan Crocker, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan

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(Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
(Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
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