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State Dept, Pentagon are concealing Afghanistan data, says U.S. watchdog -Breaking


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Taliban personnel in Kabul (Afghanistan), October 28, 2021. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

WASHINGTON (Reuters), a U.S. government watchdog has accused Pentagon and State Department, on Friday, of suppressing the information lawmakers and the public require to understand Afghanistan’s collapse and U.S. troop withdrawal.

John Sopko (SIGAR) said that only if information from the Departments of Defense and State that was previously restricted from publication is available will the full story of August’s events be told.

According to a spokesperson for the State Department, the agency had asked that “some reports temporarily be removed in order to remove identifying information from public documents and protect the identities Afghans and Afghan partners organizations” because of security concerns regarding the evacuation.

According to the spokesperson, “The only thing that is intended to be kept secret” was the information regarding identifying details. He also stated that SIGAR holds the power to correct the reports.

The Pentagon didn’t immediately reply to our request for comment.

Sopko addressed reporters and stated that the State Department had asked him temporarily to suspend internet access to reports he published after Taliban took control of Kabul. This was to protect U.S.-affiliated Afghans.

Sopko said the department wasn’t able to identify any threats specific to people that were allegedly contained in their reports. He added, however, that access was denied to him “reluctantly”.

According to him, the State Department requested recent redactions on approximately 2400 items that were still available at SIGAR’s site.

Sopko explained that not all requests were straightforward, such as the exclusion of Ashraf Ghani (ex-President of Afghanistan) from news reports.

Following a thorough review, the agency determined that only four items were worthy of redaction and made all other materials available.

He noted that Congress had given him the task of investigating the fall of the U.S.-backed Afghan government. Additionally, the Pentagon has been preventing public disclosure of data since 2015. This was allegedly at former Ghani’s request.

The majority of this information (including casualty data, unit strength, and other details) was all you needed to figure out if the Afghan security forces are a true fighting force or just a bunch of cards, he stated.

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