The Pentagon has denied intentionally misleading the public about the 18-year war in Afghanistan, after The Washington Post published a trove of government documents revealing that officials made overly optimistic pronouncements they knew to be false and hid evidence that the conflict had become un-winnable. 

“There has been no intent by DoD to mislead Congress or the public,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell wrote to VOA on Monday. 

“The information contained in the interviews was provided to SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) for the express purpose of inclusion in SIGAR’s public reports,” he added.

The Post said the documents contain more than 400 interviews with senior military and government insiders who offered unrestrained criticism of what went wrong in Afghanistan and how the United States became mired in nearly two decades of war.

According to the Post, U.S. officials, most of whom spoke on the assumption that their remarks would not be made public, acknowledged that the strategies for fighting the war were flawed and that the U.S. wasted hundreds of billions of dollars trying to make Afghanistan into a stable, democratic nation. 

“If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction,” Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, said in 2015, according to the documents. “We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”

The Post said the interviews also highlight botched U.S. attempts to reduce corruption, build a competent Afghan army and reduce the country’s opium trade.

U.S. presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump all vowed to avoid becoming mired in “nation-building” in Afghanistan. However, the report shows how even from the early days of the war, senior officials in charge of directing U.S. policy in the country expressed confusion about Washington’s basic objectives and strategy for achieving them.

The Post said the interviews “contradict a long chorus of public statements” that assured the U.S. was “making progress in Afghanistan.”

Outgoing Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, who serves as the senior enlisted adviser to the top U.S. military officer, told reporters on Monday that he “firmly thought the strategy we had in place was working.”  

“I feel that we’ve never been lied to, and we are continuing to move forward (in Afghanistan),” Troxell added.

The Afghan war is estimated to have killed more than 150,000 people, including civilians, insurgents, local and foreign troops, since the U.S. and its allies invaded 18 years ago to oust the Taliban from power for sheltering al-Qaida leaders accused of plotting the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes on the U.S.

The conflict has claimed the lives of more than 2,400 U.S. service members and cost Washington nearly $1 trillion.

The Post waged a legal battle for three years to force the government to disclose the information because of its importance to the public.

The U.S. and the Afghan Taliban restarted peace negotiations on Saturday, three months after Trump abruptly stopped the yearlong process aimed at finding a political settlement with the insurgent group and ending the war in Afghanistan.

Afghan-born U.S. special reconciliation representative, Zalmay Khalilzad, led his team at a meeting Saturday in Doha, Qatar, where insurgent negotiators are based.

The draft agreement the U.S.-Taliban negotiations had produced before Trump called off the process on Sept. 7 would have set the stage for a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

The Taliban, in return, had given counterterrorism guarantees and promised to engage in intra-Afghan peace negotiations to permanently end decades of hostilities in the country.


New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg launched his campaign less than three weeks ago, but he is already making his first foreign trip as a presidential candidate.

The Democrat will appear Tuesday at a United Nations global climate conference in Madrid, where he’ll share the results of his private push to organize thousands of U.S. cities and businesses to abide by the terms of a global climate treaty that the Trump administration is working to abandon. The appearance comes as Bloomberg, a former Republican whose dedication to the environment earned him the designation of special U.N. envoy for climate action, tries to find his footing in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary election.

It’s rare for a presidential candidate to step onto the international stage before securing the nomination, and virtually unheard of for a candidate to do so in the first month of his or her candidacy.

Earlier this year, Bernie Sanders appeared in Canada to highlight his fight to lower prescription drug costs, while former candidate Beto O’Rourke met with asylum seekers in Mexico. Both men represented states that bordered those countries, however, and there were no formal talks with foreign leaders involved.

Bloomberg shared his plan to appear at the global climate conference on social media on Monday.

“I’m going to the climate summit in Madrid because President Trump won’t,” he said, adding that he plans to “meet with environmental leaders from around the world about next steps on tackling the climate crisis.”

Bloomberg also vowed in a statement to rejoin the Paris climate agreement in his first official act as president.

Campaign aide Brynne Craig said climate would be “a central issue” for Bloomberg this week and throughout his presidential run.

She said the issue “is near and dear to his heart” and “a front-of-mind issue for Democratic voters.”

The 77-year-old billionaire has used his wealth to make an impact in the global fight against climate change and in his 2020 presidential campaign. He is largest donor in the history of the Sierra Club, and he has spent more than $60 million in the first two weeks of his campaign on television ads now running in all 50 states.

Many progressives remain resistant to his candidacy.

“How many self-declared climate champion billionaires does the race need? The answer is none,” said Mitch Jones, climate and energy program director for the group Food & Water Watch, which has been critical of Bloomberg’s pragmatic approach to fighting climate change. “This is just Bloomberg trying to insert himself into international climate negotiations to bolster his campaign.”

Bloomberg’s presidential campaign released a new online video ad contrasting his message on climate change with that of Trump, who served formal notice last month that the U.S. intends to become the first country to withdraw from the Paris accord.

“It’s getting hotter. But while fire and smoke choke our air, Donald Trump is making it worse,” Bloomberg’s new ad says, describing Trump as a “climate change denier” and Bloomberg as a “climate change champion.”

AP VoteCast, a nationwide survey of the American electorate, found that 92% of people who voted for Democrats in the 2018 midterms said they were at least somewhat concerned about climate change. Seventy percent said they were very concerned.

 


U.S. President Donald Trump will join Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday for talks with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the White House announced.

The three will “discuss the state of the bilateral relationship,” a senior Trump administration official said Monday.
 
The meeting, which was originally announced to involve only Pompeo and Lavrov, was widely speculated to be attended by Trump, as well.
 
White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said such a visit by Trump would reciprocate a courtesy extended by President Vladimir Putin to Pompeo during his last visit to Moscow.

“When Pompeo has gone to Russia, Putin’s seen him. And one of the things that we’ve said with the Chinese and the Russians is, we want reciprocity,” O’Brien said on the “Face the Nation” television program.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, pose for a photo before their talks in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, southern Russia, May 14, 2019.
FILE – Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, pose for a photo before their talks in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, southern Russia, May 14, 2019.

The trio is expected to meet for a half-day of talks that include a working lunch and a news conference. U.S. officials say the three will discuss arms control, as well as the situations in Ukraine and Syria, among other issues.

Strained ties
 
The meeting comes as bilateral ties between the United States and Russia are strained over allegations of election meddling, as well as the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.
 
The talks appear to have been initiated after Putin said last week that Moscow was eager to extend the New START nuclear arms control treaty by the end of this year “without any preconditions.”

At the recent NATO summit in London, Trump said that he was aware of Moscow’s desire to “do a deal” on arms control, and said that China could also be brought into the process.
 
Pompeo and Lavrov met several times this year, including in Russia and in New York at the United Nations. Lavrov has not been in Washington since he met Trump at the White House in May 2017, a meeting that led to accusations that Trump divulged classified information during the talks.

Impeachment inquiry

The talks come at a time when Washington is embroiled over the ongoing impeachment inquiry against Trump, which has focused on allegations that he withheld aid to Ukraine in order to pressure Kyiv into launching an investigation into Trump’s potential Democratic rival in the 2020 U.S. presidential elections.

Russia has also been drawn into the conversation, with some Democrats arguing that the scope of the impeachment trial should include allegations of obstruction of justice by Trump for his dealings with special counsel Robert Mueller, who investigated Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
 
Mueller’s report concluded that Russia did interfere to try to tilt the vote in favor of Trump. Moscow has denied any interference.

While Mueller’s report concluded that Trump did not collude with Russia, it also did not fully exonerate the president on possible crimes of obstruction of justice.
 


На засіданні Вищого антикорупційного суду 9 грудня почалося дослідження доказів, заявлених стороною обвинувачення у справі щодо міського голови Одеси Геннадія Труханова, повідомляє пресслужба Спеціалізованої антикорупційної прокуратури.

Згідно з повідомленням, в суді наразі досліджують відеозаписи обшуків, а також листування обвинуваченого та його родичів.

«Наступне засідання, на якому продовжиться дослідження доказів, призначено на 15:00 годині 23 січня 2020 року», – повідомили у САП.

Геннадія Труханова підозрюють у декларуванні недостовірної інформації. За версією слідства, міський голова у своїх деклараціях за 2015-2016 роки подав завідомо недостовірні відомості стосовно майна та інших об’єктів декларування, які відрізняються від достовірних на суму понад 33 млн гривень та 18 мільйонів гривень відповідно.

 


North Korea addressed new insults to U.S. President Donald Trump Monday, calling him a “heedless and erratic old man.”

Pyongyang was responding to a Trump tweet saying that “Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way.” Trump added that Kim “does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November.”

Former North Korean nuclear negotiator Kim Yong Chol, said in a statement that his country has “nothing more to lose” even though “the U.S. may take away anything more from us, it can never remove the strong sense of self-respect, might and resentment against the U.S. from us.”

Kim Yong Chol said Trump’s tweets clearly show that he is “bereft of patience” and the time may come “when we cannot but call him a ‘dotard’ again.”

He leveled accusations that the Trump administration is attempting to buy time ahead of an end-of-year deadline set by Kim Jong Un for Washington “to salvage the nuclear talks.”

Trump on Sunday warned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un against hostile military actions, even as Pyongyang announced it had conducted “a very important test” at a satellite launching site.

“He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore,” the U.S. leader said. “He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November. North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, has tremendous economic potential, but it must denuclearize as promised. NATO, China, Russia, Japan, and the entire world is unified on this issue!” 

….with the U.S. Presidential Election in November. North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, has tremendous economic potential, but it must denuclearize as promised. NATO, China, Russia, Japan, and the entire world is unified on this issue!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2019

Trump’s remarks came after North Korea’s state media said the test was conducted Saturday at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station 7, a long-range rocket launching site station in Tongch’ang-ri, a part of North Pyongan Province located near the border of China.

The government-run Korean Central News Agency said the results “will have an important effect on changing the strategic position of the DPRK once again in the near future,” it added, using an acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. But the report did not say what kind of test was performed at the site.

FILE – In this March 6, 2019 file photo, a man watches a TV screen showing an image of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea, during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea.

The North Korean announcement came a day after CNN reported that Planet Labs, a commercial satellite imagery company, had detected activity at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, including the image of a large shipping container.

This year has been one of North Korea’s busiest in terms of missile launches. Saturday’s test comes as North Korea continues to emphasize its declared end-of-year deadline for the United States to change its approach to stalled nuclear talks.

Pyongyang has carried out 13 rounds of short- or medium-range launches since May. Most experts say nearly all of the tests have involved some form of ballistic missile technology.

Earlier this month, Trump, in answering reporters’ questions about North Korea at the NATO summit in London, said, “Now we have the most powerful military we’ve ever had and we’re by far the most powerful country in the world. And, hopefully, we don’t have to use it, but if we do, we’ll use it. If we have to, we’ll do it.”

North Korea responded in kind. “Anyone can guess with what action the DPRK will answer if the U.S. undertakes military actions against the DPRK,” Pak Jong Chon, head of the Korean People’s Army, said on state media. “One thing I would like to make clear is that the use of armed forces is not the privilege of the U.S. only.”

North Korea last tested an intercontinental ballistic missile in November 2017 and conducted a nuclear test in September 2017.

In April 2018, Kim announced a self-imposed moratorium on ICBM and nuclear tests, saying North Korea “no longer need(s)” those tests. Recently, however, North Korean officials have issued reminders that North Korea’s pause on ICBM and nuclear tests was self-imposed and can be reversed.

 


Громадська організація «Комітет виборців України» проаналізувала показники законодавчої роботи народних депутатів України за перші 100 днів роботи парламенту.

«Всього за період із 28 серпня до 6 грудня народні депутати зареєстрували 797 проектів законів, що є високим показником. Попри це, низка політиків поки що не ініціювали жодного проєкту закону. Загалом у парламенті є 24 таких депутати», – йдеться в повідомленні КВУ.

За даними організації, серед тих, хто не вніс жодного законопроєкту, переважно члени фракції «Слуга народу» (13) та «ОПЗЖ» (9).

«Натомість у Верховній Раді є народні депутати, які вже стали авторами десятків проєктів законів. Рекордсменом за кількістю зареєстрованих документів є Дмитро Шпенов (позафракційний), який став автором 70 проєктів законів», – повідомили у КВУ, зазначивши, що Шпенов за 100 днів роботи реєстрував «майже по закону в день».

Перше засідання Верховна Ради України дев’ятого скликання провела 29 серпня.

Відповідно до порядку денного Верховної Ради, з 9 до 13 грудня депутати працюють у комітетах і комісіях, втім минулого тижня парламентарії проголосували за те, щоб вийти 12 грудня на позачергове засідання.


Президент України Володимир Зеленський і президент Росії Володимир Путін проведуть двосторонню зустріч після переговорів «нормандської четвірки» в Парижі. Про це повідомив в понеділок заступник глави Офісу українського президента Кирило Тимошенко.

«Після зустрічі чотирьох лідерів в нормандському форматі президент Володимир Зеленський проведе двосторонню зустріч з президентом Росії Володимиром Путіним», – сказав він на брифінгу у Парижі.

Тимошенко пояснив, що двостороння зустріч Зеленського і Путіна відбудеться після «нормандського саміту», тому що «так домовилися лідери».

 

Помічник російського президента Юрій Ушаков також заявив, що зустріч Путіна з Зеленським запланована після переговорів в «нормандському форматі», повідомляє ТАСС. Він додав, що не знає, скільки триватиме розмова президентів України і Росії.

9 грудня відбудеться перша за три роки зустріч лідерів «нормандської четвірки». Президент України Володимир Зеленський, президент Франції Емманюель Макрон, канцлер Німеччини Анґела Меркель та президент Росії Володимир Путін проведуть переговори в столиці Франції.

 


Про це йдеться у відповіді правоохоронців очільнику Києва, яка опинилася в розпорядженні Радіо Свобода