State Department officials attempted to censor watchdog reports on U.S. efforts in Afghanistan as Taliban militants swept across the country, according to a top oversight official.
“Some of the requests were bizarre, to say the least,” Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Ropko said Friday. “State requested we redact Ashraf Ghani’s name from our reports. While I’m sure the former president may wish to be excised from the annals of history, I don’t believe he faces any threats simply from being referenced by SIGAR.”
The requests extended a pattern of information suppression that the auditor described as “outrageous” and “offensive.” The habit of hiding embarrassing information damaged public debates about the conduct of the war and set the stage for the tragic chaos of the final evacuation from Kabul’s international airport.
“In my opinion, the full picture of what happened in August, and all the warning signs that could have predicted the outcome, will only be revealed if the information that the departments of Defense and State have already restricted from public release is made available,” Ropko said in his prepared remarks. “But as SIGAR has experienced all too often in the past, good intentions for transparency by senior leaders are frequently thwarted by bureaucratic inertia or fear of the public knowing the truth.”