That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish!
For the first time in the long history of American military action in Afghanistan, a presidential administration has classified virtually all of the information that could be used to judge U.S. involvement and the use and effectiveness of some $65 billion in taxpayer money.
In its first quarterly report since President Obama proclaimed the end of U.S. combat involvement in that perpetually war-torn land, James F. Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) wrote:
"After six years of being publicly reported, Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) data is now classified. The decision leaves SIGAR unable to publicly report on most of the $65 billion U.S.-taxpayer-funded efforts to build, train, equip, and sustain the ANSF. This includes Afghan troop numbers, salaries, training, equipment (including planes and helicopters), and infrastructure projects."
Gen. John Campbell, commander of coalition forces, said he could not explain the previous lack of secrecy.
But Campbell added: "I am compelled to also protect the lives of those individuals who could be put at risk by the release of sensitive information." Presumably, some information could highlight weak spots in the Afghan military. Of course, the secrecy also covers up failed programs, corruption and poor planning and follow-ups.
A Pentagon spokesman described one concern as "unnecessarily highlighting possible vulnerabilities and capability gaps."
The IG wrote: ""The classification of this volume of data is unprecedented." He also said the military had retroactively reclassified as secret some previously-provided data.
Classifying so much information theoretically denies it to the enemy and all but a few members of Congress and the military given access to the classified appendix.
But the darkness also conveniently removes any means for American taxpayers to independently judge the effectiveness of billions of dollars in aid and equipment ($39 billion more is in the pipeline) as well as of the training of Afghan troops by allies and some 9,500 remaining U.S. military in-country.
Obama has touted this training as proof that the U.S. is winding down the war "in a responsible fashion" and not just leaving, as he did from Iraq in 2011 after failing to negotiate a status of forces agreement.
In the six years of previous unclassified SIGAR reports, we learned that the national police force totaled about 150,000, the military around 180,000 and that some 35,000 had been dropped from Army rolls for a variety of reasons, including death, disability and desertion.
"This is the most transparent administration in history," Obama has claimed. "...It's not sufficient for citizens to just take my word for it that we're doing the right thing."
Such an Obama claim is frequently disputed. You may recall, for instance, he often promised that all hearings on his ObamaCare legislation would be open to the public. Not. Then, there was the day in 2010 when VP Joe Biden met for a progress report with the administration's chief of transparency. But that meeting was closed.
Can Hillary survive Benghazi?
Former successful cattle-futures investor, first lady, senator, unsuccessful presidential candidate, secretary of State and presumable repeat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has reportedly sent word to the House Select Committee investigating Benghazi that she is eager to testify.
That may be another statement she comes to regret, along with her now infamous "What difference at this point does it make" outburst before a congressional committee. (Scroll down for video of that shocking half-minute.)
Clinton is following standard political protocol for damage control: To appear up front and get the bad news, all of it, over with as quickly as possible. Better 2015 than 2016.
But there's a problem. Committee Chair Trey Gowdy says he'd be delighted to talk with her -- but only 30 days after he gets all of the Benghazi documents he's requested from her old State Department. Now run by John "You've Got a Friend" Kerry, that department is also following Obama's standard protocol for damage control, called stonewalling.
Obama's done it every time he gets in trouble--Fast and Furious, Solyndra, IRS, VA, ObamaCare, Benghazi. Stretch out the process. The media will grow tired. Obama minions can claim it's old news. Given the D.C. media's lethargy when it comes to probing Democratic dirt, it's worked pretty well for Obama.
But 721 days from now President Obama gets an indelible ex- in front of his title, fortunately. Meanwhile, in 60 or 70 days Clinton wants to announce her next bid to return to the White House.
It could be very, very messy at the same time to have a former federal prosecutor like Gowdy boring in on issues so damaging to someone who wants to be elected president in 21 months: How despite the ambassador's repeated pleas could security have been so poor at that consulate? Why, in fact, was it reduced given her admitted knowledge of the gathering terrorist clouds there?
Why on a day dated 9/11, hours after the Cairo embassy was stormed, were no alert forces on Middle East standby somewhere nearby? Why was no rescue attempted or reinforcements allowed? She's mentioned the fog of war before, but we now know her department's security duty officers knew of and monitored the attack in real-time.
Where in the world did Clinton's cockamamie video excuse emanate? And why did she and Obama and Susan Rice stick with it so long after we now know it was disproven by their own intelligence people?
There are many more lines of questioning. But that's a start. And it's of major import for someone who seeks to temporarily possess the title commander-in-chief, a job that comes with those frightening 3 a.m. national security phone calls that Clinton boasted of being so ready for back in 2008. Hence, Clinton will likely postpone her official candidacy until mid-summer at least.We still do not know where..............