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A Brave Afghanistan Truth-Teller Comes Forward

The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Woolsey) for 5 minutes.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey

legislator photo

Madam Speaker, it was an ancient Greek playwright who originally said: ``Trust is the first casualty of war.'' More than 2,500 years later, those words still hold painfully and tragically true.

Tomorrow afternoon, I will join several of my colleagues in meeting with Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis who has embarked on a brave truth-telling campaign about the war in Afghanistan.

After two combat deployments to Afghanistan, Lieutenant Colonel Davis has written two reports--one classified, one unclassified--in which he tells what he has seen. As part of his assignment with the Rapid Equipping Force, he traveled across Afghanistan several times, spanning some 9,000 miles, and visited with hundreds of troops as well as with Afghan civilians and Afghan security forces.

What he saw were Afghan police who stay in the safe harbor of their checkpoints while allowing the Taliban to roam free. What he saw were Afghan local governments completely unprepared to protect and provide for their people. What he heard were stories of, in his words, ``how insurgents controlled virtually every piece of land beyond eyeshot of a U.S. or International Security Assistance Force base.''

Madam Speaker, this is not exactly the story we've been getting from top military brass when they report on the status of the Afghanistan war. Lieutenant Colonel Davis' experience is yet one more example of how we're not getting the entire story.

As he puts it:

Senior ranking U.S. military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the U.S. Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable.

He continues:

This deception has damaged America's credibility among both our allies and enemies, severely limiting our ability to reach a political solution to the war in Afghanistan.

Madam Speaker, after everything Americans have sacrificed--the lives, limbs, the mental capacities of thousands of our people, the billions of dollars every month, our global reputation, and credibility--the least we are owed is the unvarnished truth. For the price the Nation has paid, we deserve transparency and not the propaganda we're receiving. A good start would be to declassify the National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan as well as to publicly release the classified version of Lieutenant Colonel Davis' story.

Some have suggested that Lieutenant Colonel Davis is a publicity seeker. My only response to that is, I certainly hope so. I want the message out. Goodness knows, the other side of the story, the official party line that the Afghanistan war is a strategic success, has gotten plenty of publicity over the last decade. It's about time that a different version of events got close to equal time.

I hope my colleagues, in particular those who have supported the Afghanistan war year in and year out, will read what Lieutenant Colonel Davis has written, and I hope they will consider the significant risk he has taken and the patriotism he has shown. I look forward to meeting Lieutenant Colonel Davis today, and I look forward to the Nation finally heeding his words, honoring his courage and vindicating his story by bringing our troops home.