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Angus King, Jared Golden Express Concerns Over 'Afghanistan Papers'

Rahmat Gul
Associated Press
In this Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019 photo, An Afghan National Army soldier stand guard at a checkpoint ahead of presidential elections scheduled for Sept. 28, in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Two members of Maine’s congressional delegation, who both serve on armed services committees, are raising concerns about reports by The Washington Post that top government officials and military leaders misled the public and Congress about the mission and status of the war in Afghanistan.

Independent Sen. Angus King and Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden say they are taken aback by revelations that officials of both the Bush and Obama administrations often painted an outwardly positive picture of the situation in Afghanistan at times when it was deteriorating. King says to do its job, Congress has to rely on sound information.

“We can’t make good policy if we don’t have good facts, and we can’t have good facts unless the people who are appearing before the committees are giving us the straight scoop,” he says.

Golden says accurate status assessments are particularly important for the members of the House and Senate armed services committees. He says as he has read some of the thousands of pages of documents revealed in the Washington Post reporting, his concerns have grown.

“Really what came to mind to me is the necessity of being honest with the American people and you know that is something that concerns me greatly. And I worry that is not happening even today,” he says.

Golden served in Afghanistan in 2004 as a combat Marine, and says he clearly knew the mission at the time, which was to defeat al-Qaida and destroy its ability to launch another attack on the United States. He worries that the mission is no longer clear.

“Is it nation building or is it counterterrorism? I don’t believe we should be trying to push democracy through military occupation and deployments and ongoing wars. But I do support efforts to protect the American people,” he says.

King says he is concerned that in light of what’s been reported that the public will doubt the testimony of all those who appear before Congress, though he believes that most are telling the truth. He says he expects the Senate Armed Services Committee to look into the documents and see how they compare to the testimony that was given before the committee.