Lt. Col. Daniel Davis served two deployments in Afghanistan.
By BRYAN RAHIJA
Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis, the man who risked his career to raise credible challenges about the Pentagon's rosy depictions of progress in the Afghan war, finally has an opportunity to speak to Congress and the public. The 17-year Army veteran and Ridenhour award-winner is set to give his analysis to Members of Congress today at a 2:00 p.m. press conference and panel discussion.
In his prepared remarks, Davis asked why congressional leaders had not done more to get to the bottom of what conditions were like in the war-torn country:
With all appropriate respect and honor to this body, I must again ask: how could it be that not one committee or sub-committee chairman or chairwoman in the entire United States Congress finds the matter of sufficient importance that they will take action to ascertain the truth?
Davis made headlines back in February after the Armed Forces Journal published a bombshell of an op-ed he wrote titled "Truth, lies and Afghanistan." In the piece, Davis argued that the public wasn't getting the full story about Afghanistan:
Much of what I saw during my deployment, let alone read or wrote in official reports, I can’t talk about; the information remains classified. But I can say that such reports — mine and others’ — serve to illuminate the gulf between conditions on the ground and official statements of progress.
Davis also wrote two reports about his experience. One was classified—another was not.
Davis's reports prompted six Representatives to write House leadership, arguing that his analysis warranted attention from relevant committees in the people's branch.
POGO followed up with our own letter to leadership on the committees of jurisdiction in both the House and Senate, urging them to hold hearings and receive testimony from Davis. As we wrote at the time:
Congress must pay attention when a whistleblower comes forward with credible evidence that Congress may be misinformed, particularly when the stakes are this high. Lt. Col. Davis’s disclosures should be a catalyst for conducting effective oversight of the war in Afghanistan.
We also launched a campaign inviting concerned citizens to express the same sentiment, and thousands of people from around the country responded.
Today's press conference and panel discussion marks a victory for those who took action, and the Members of Congress behind it deserve credit for taking their congressional oversight duties seriously. But it should also serve as a wakeup call to the committees on the Hill with jurisdiction over the war. It's a bit baffling that these committees—we're looking at you, House and Senate Armed Services, Intelligence, and Foreign Relations / Affairs Committees—have barely batted an eye at Davis's allegations. They have a duty to perform congressional oversight of our ongoing efforts in Afghanistan, and when a whistleblower like Davis comes forward with concerns that are serious and credible, they should take note. Lt. Col. Davis deserves a formal hearing.
Today's event is held by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), John Duncan (R-TN), Timothy V. Johnson (R-IL), James McGovern (D-MA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Janice Hahn (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT).
Bryan Rahija edits POGO's blog.