President Donald Trump has instructed acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to stop releasing Pentagon inspector general reports that detail problems within DoD to the public because they tip off our enemies.
It is longstanding practice to permit independent inspectors general to publish public reports detailing all the things that are going wrong, the Washinton Examiner noted.
But during a Cabinet meeting Wednesday, the president turned to Shanahan and said, “I don’t want it to happen anymore, Mr. Secretary. You understand that?”
The president continued: “Some I.G. goes over there who — mostly appointed by President Obama, but we’ll have ours too — and he goes over there, and they do a report telling every single thing that’s happening and they release it to the public.
“What kind of stuff is this? We’re fighting wars, and they’re doing reports and releasing it to the public. Now the public means the enemy. The enemy reads those reports; they study every line of it. Those reports should be private reports,” he added.
The Washington Examiner noted further:
The U.S. military has been increasing classifying metrics that had been reported in the past by the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, including casualties suffered by Afghan forces, troops levels and performance ratings, and the number of troops deserting.
The increasing secrecy has drawn the ire of John Sopko, the head of the independent Afghanistan watchdog, who noted in his most recent quarterly report that Congress expressed disappointment in the Pentagon’s lack of transparency on basic information. That includes effectiveness of bombing and development and retention and casualty rates of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
“The report said the restriction of information in this manner undermines public confidence, hinders necessary congressional oversight, and raises legitimate questions about the efficacy of current U.S. efforts in Afghanistan,” Sopko wrote in his July 2018 report.
The president said he doesn’t have a problem with the independent watchdog identifying and assessing problems regarding a war he believes has gone on far too long and at far too great of an expense.
“Let them do a report, but they should be private reports and be locked up and if a member of Congress wants to see it he can go in and read it, but for these reports criticizing every single thing … to be given out to the enemy is insane,” he said.
We’d have to agree. Some things are just better kept close to the vest, and certainly, any assessments and other information that would be helpful to our enemies should never be made public. — Jon Dougherty
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