The Washington Post spent a lot of time and made many of Freedom of Information Act requests to dig up what they hoped would shed some light on what we’re doing in Afghanistan, why we’re still there and whether it is worth the lives of 2,400 — and counting — American military members and the cost of over a trillion dollars.

Adding to the fatalities are 3,814 U.S. contractors, 1,145 coalition troops, 424 humanitarian workers and 67 journalists. The number of Afghans who’ve died total nearly 160,000. And there is no end in sight. 

But the Post’s bombshell fell on deaf ears: They tried to conjure up images of Vietnam, with the same name game: Afghanistan Papers, Pentagon papers. But the American public, unlike in the 1960s, is much more jaded than its parents and grandparents ever were. The report didn’t resonate with the public as the Post had hoped. The 2,000 or so pages of material weren’t going to pique the interest of an American public that is fixated on 140 characters.

But there also isn’t as large an anti-war movement as there was in the 1960s and 70s. Many of those who fought in Vietnam were draftees who didn’t want to go to war. Today’s military is a volunteer force and although many of the troops may not want to go to Afghanistan any more than their predecessors did, the numbers in Afghanistan today (about 13-14,000) are a far cry from the number of troops in Vietnam during the height of the war in 1968.

Surely Congress could carry the banner after the three years of digging that the Post did. But it didn’t pay any more attention to the report than the public did. It is also too busy, by being obsessed with a stupid impeachment trial that has been dragging on in one way or another since this current administration took office, to even take care about the business of running the country.

So, what are the Afghanistan Papers and why are they so important? The Afghanistan Papers are taken from the “Lessons Learned Program” of the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). The Program interviewed hundreds of people who’ve been there and tried to get their take on what has gone wrong in the past 18 years. 

According to the story in the Post, in Afghanistan, we have a bi-partisan effort to mislead and hide the truth from the American people. The reports generated by both military and political leaders painted a far more optimistic picture than what was transpiring on the ground; and in many cases as the reports were moving up the channels this optimistic picture would be increasingly emphasized. 

The Post claims that military and civilian leaders “issued rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hid unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.” They added, “Several of those interviewed described explicit efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public and [create] a culture of willful ignorance, where bad news and critiques were unwelcome.”