President’s Afghan Withdrawal Based on Fraudulent Data?

photo credit: the us armyAn officially reported downward trend in insurgent attacks that has underpinned President Obama’s decision to pull 34,000 troops from Afghanistan did not actually happen last year.

On Tuesday, the NATO command in the Afghan capital of Kabul acknowledged that a database error caused it to report a 7 percent decline in “enemy initiated attacks,” when the actual number remained the same compared to 2011.

The Pentagon highlighted the decline in the lead-up to Mr. Obama’s announcement in his State of the Union address this month that more than half of the 60,000-plus U.S. troops now in Afghanistan will return home by the end of this year.

The error means that, on a statistical basis, the war is not going as well as professed by the administration — and as most international combat troops prepare to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

In December, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta cited a downturn in violence in Afghanistan during a speech at the National Press Club. He referred to a NATO summit in Chicago last May during which the alliance approved an Obama campaign plan to hand over more duties to local Afghan troops, paving the way for a foreign troop exit.

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