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New York (CNN Business) - The Washington Post's publication of US government documents. UU. about the war in Afghanistan that lasted 18 years is being compared to the Pentagon documents of the Vietnam era. And the man responsible for filtering the Pentagon documents, Daniel Ellsberg, agrees with the analogy.
In both wars, "the presidents and generals had a fairly realistic view of what they were facing, and that they did not want to admit the American people," Ellsberg said in a telephone interview Monday, hours after the investigation of the Afghan war of The Post.
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Ellsberg worked on the RAND secret study of the Vietnam War and concluded that the public needed to see it. He leaked the documents, first to The New York Times and then to The Washington Post, in 1971.
Now, he plans to read the entire raw document that The Washington Post published online.
“A couple thousand pages? I will read them all, even if that means reliving the terrible experience of Vietnam, ”he said.
Ellsberg, an anti-war activist, has been open about his opposition to the war in Afghanistan. He said the Washington Post report affirms his warnings that the war was similar to that of Vietnam.
"Eighteen years ago, I was saying, when we arrived in Afghanistan, that Afghanistan is Vietnam," said Ellsberg. "In fact, I said that when the Russians entered more than twenty years ago, it was going to be their Vietnam."
How the stories were written
There are even some similarities between the main paragraphs of the stories about Vietnam and Afghanistan.
On June 13, 1971, The New York Times began its first story about the Pentagon documents in this way:
"A massive study of how the United States went to war in Indochina, conducted by the Pentagon three years ago, shows that four administrations progressively developed a sense of commitment to a non-communist Vietnam, a willingness to fight against the North to protect the South and a final frustration with this effort, to a much greater extent than his public statements recognized at that time. ”
And this is the first paragraph of the main story of The Washington Post on the documents of Afghanistan this Monday:
“A confidential treasure of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior US officials could not tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan during the 18 year campaign, making optimistic statements that they knew were false and hiding unequivocal evidence that the war was going on. He had become impossible to win. ”
A three year investigation
The publication of the Roles of Afghanistan took more than three years. Through requests and demands of the Freedom of Information Act in a federal court, the document obtained notes, transcripts and audio recordings of government officials interviewed by the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan, or SIGAR.
The inspector general's reports were written in "dense bureaucratic prose" and set aside the most scathing criticisms of the interviews, journalist Craig Whitlock explained in his story. Therefore, obtaining the interview records and some other materials, including confidential memorandums from the Department of Defense leadership, was a true public service.
"The American people have been constantly lied to" about the Afghan war, SIGAR chief John Sopko told Whitlock in an interview.
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The investigation continues
The Washington Post is working to obtain additional documents.
"The war in Afghanistan has continued for 18 years at a huge cost in lives, injuries and money, and the public has the right to know if officials went directly with them about the war effort," said The Washington Post Marty editor Baron in an email. "Through three years of persistence of Craig Whitlock and our lawyers, the public now knows that the truth was a victim of war from the beginning."
Baron added that dozens of staff in the newsroom worked on the project.
"We are immensely proud of what they achieved by presenting the truth to the public," he added. "We will continue our legal struggle to obtain information that the government is still retaining."
Ellsberg said he is glad that so many officials involved in the Afghan war spoke frankly with SIGAR, but said they should have been so direct in public.
“Ask yourself, would it have been different if we had those statements ten years ago? Five years ago?"
Ellsberg expressed regret for not speaking before during the Vietnam War. And he said he hopes The Post’s investigation “keep in mind that people say we really have no right to kill more Afghans from the air, from the ground.”
"Let Trump leave Afghanistan, something he seems to want to do," said Ellsberg. “Let him take care of that. Better yet, let Congress take responsibility. ”
AfghanistanThe Washington Post