Biden Administration Withholding Key Information About Afghanistan: Watchdog

11 months ago 104

President Joe Biden’s medication is withholding accusation astir Afghanistan, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko said during a code connected Friday.

As an example, Sopko said, the Department of Defense (DoD) withheld accusation connected the show of Afghan information forces, including portion strength, grooming deficiencies, and casualty data, or, “in essence, astir each the accusation you needed to cognize to find whether the Afghan information forces were a existent warring unit oregon a location of cards waiting to fall.”

“In airy of caller events, it is not astonishing that the Afghan government, and apt immoderate successful DoD, wanted to support that accusation nether fastener and key,” helium added.

Sopko said helium was forced to relegate the accusation into classified appendices of a caller report his bureau released detailing flaws successful the United States’ 20-year warfare successful Afghanistan.

“This accusation astir surely would person benefited Congress and the nationalist successful assessing whether advancement was being made successful Afghanistan and, much importantly, whether we should person ended our efforts determination earlier,” helium said.

“DoD is good alert of the Special Investigator for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s caller report. Its assertions that DoD deliberately withheld accusation connected the Afghan Security Forces lacks discourse arsenic the section took important effort to guarantee that the availability of information connected Afghan forces was treated likewise to however DOD would negociate specified information connected U.S. forces,” Major. Rob Lodewick, a Pentagon spokesman, told The Epoch Times successful an email.

The Pentagon maintains that the Afghan authorities wanted to classify the information and that it recommended against it but “abided by the determination of the archetypal classification authority.” Overall, the section says it has cooperated with SIGAR since the bureau was created by Congress.

The State Department, meanwhile, wrote to Sopko soon aft U.S.-backed Afghan forces were routed by the Taliban violent radical arsenic the U.S. moved to afloat retreat from the country.

“Shortly aft the autumn of Kabul, the State Department wrote to maine and different oversight agencies requesting to ‘temporarily suspend access’ to each ‘audit, inspection, and fiscal audit … reports’ connected our website due to the fact that the Department was acrophobic that accusation included successful those reports could enactment Afghan allies astatine risk,” Sopko said.

While the watchdog believes Afghans astatine hazard should beryllium protected, the State Department was ne'er capable to picture immoderate circumstantial threats nor could they explicate however removing the reports “could perchance support anyone since galore were years aged and already extensively disseminated worldwide.”

Sopko complied reluctantly with the petition but became much puzzled erstwhile the bureau reached retired asking for redacting astir 2,400 items successful the reports, including the sanction of erstwhile Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. A reappraisal recovered each but 4 requests “without merit.”

“In my opinion, the afloat representation of what happened successful August—and each the informing signs that could person predicted the outcome—will lone beryllium revealed if the accusation that the Departments of Defense and State person already restricted from nationalist merchandise is made available,” said Sopko.

The code was delivered to a league successful Arlington, Virginia.

A State Department spokesperson said successful an email that the bureau has worked to code challenges SIGAR identified successful its study and recognizes the value of the watchdog’s work.

“Due to information and information concerns regarding our ongoing evacuation efforts, we requested immoderate reports beryllium temporarily removed to redact identifying accusation from nationalist records and support the identities of Afghans and Afghan spouse organizations. SIGAR has the authorization to reconstruct the reports erstwhile it deems appropriate,” the spokesperson said.

“To support the identities of Afghans and Afghan implementing spouse organizations, the Department of State has worked to region identifying accusation from aggregate nationalist records.  The identifying accusation are the lone details intended to beryllium shielded.  Because of the measurement of information, immoderate entities temporarily removed reports oregon afloat datasets,” they added.

Zachary Stieber

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Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including authorities and tribunal cases. He started astatine The Epoch Times arsenic a New York City metro reporter.

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