December 15, 2019


    “American Cipher: Bowe Bergdahl”

    Season 2019 Episode 10 | 28m 47s

    Marcia Franklin talks with Michael Ames about his book, “American Cipher: Bowe Bergdahl and the U.S. Tragedy in Afghanistan.” Bergdahl was a soldier from Hailey, Idaho, who walked off his base in Afghanistan in 2009 and was captured by the Taliban. He was held and tortured for five years. Ames and his co-author delve into Bergdahl’s childhood and the politics surrounding the search for him.

    [Aired on Dec. 13, 2019


    U.S. officials constantly said they were making progress. They were not, and they knew it, an exclusive Post investigation found.

    The Afghanistan papers

    The Secret History of the War

    The documents were generated by a federal project examining the root failures of the longest armed conflict in U.S. history. They include more than 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war, from generals and diplomats to aid workers and Afghan officials.

    “We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan–we didn’t know what we were doing.” Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015. He added: “What are trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.” 

    With most speaking on the assumption that their remarks would not become public, U.S. officials acknowledged that their warfighting strategies were fatally flawed and that Washington wasted enormous sums of money trying to remake Afghanistan into a modern nation.

    The interviews also highlight the U.S. government’s botched attempts to curtail runaway corruption, build a competent Afghan army and police force, and put a dent in Afghanistan’s thriving opium trade.

    The U.S. government has not carried out a comprehensive accounting of how much ithas spent on the war in Afghanistan, but the costs are staggering.

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