Disinformation about the end of the war in Afghanistan, debunked – Poynter


As President Joe Biden stuck to a deadline to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan, he was criticized for leaving behind some Americans and thousands of Afghan allies and for not responding quickly enough to the takeover of the Taliban.

Biden has also been criticized for several things he didn’t do or that just didn’t happen.

Influential senators from the GOP and Fox News promoted false and misleading claims about the scale of US weapons currently in the hands of the Taliban, the abandonment of the K-9 military, and Biden’s treatment of the families of 13 soldiers Americans died at Kabul airport on August 26. attack which left more than 200 dead.

These claims were among the recurring themes of disinformation we verified as the two-decade war drew to a chaotic end.

Allegations that the United States provided arms to the Taliban have surfaced following reports that Taliban fighters seized American attack jets, Black Hawk helicopters and other vehicles and equipment. But trending stories about the Taliban’s new “arsenal” relied on outdated spending and claimed to cite specific accounts where there are none.

At first, widely shared Facebook posts incorrectly stated that the Biden administration had offered the Taliban “over $ 80 billion” in military weapons.

This estimate is wrong. The United States has spent around $ 88.6 billion on security in Afghanistan over two decades, but only a fraction of that has gone to military materiel. Defense expert John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, told us that the remaining planes and other military equipment are probably worth less than $ 10 billion.

Another misleading article on weapons in the hands of the Taliban listed 19 categories of military equipment, including 358,530 assault rifles, 22,174 Humvee and 33 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

It is also overkill. There has been no account of how much military equipment was left in Afghanistan. The figures quoted are exaggerated and outdated, with most of the equipment supplied for many years to the Afghan forces.

The figure of “358,530 assault rifles”, for example, appears to come from a 2017 report by the United States Government Accountability Office which counted the number of rifles, including AK-47s and sniper rifles. , supplied from 2004 to 2016.

And none of the numbers show how many items remained in Afghanistan and were usable when the Taliban took control in mid-August.

Overall, most of the weapons and equipment were supplied for many years to Afghan forces that opposed the Taliban, while some remained under the control of the US military.

We rated these pants on fire.

The baseless allegation was made by various conservatives, including Republican political adviser Blair Brandt and Buzz Patterson, a GOP candidate for Congress in California. They said in now-deleted tweets that Biden ignored the dignified transfer ceremony at Dover Air Force Base for the remains of the 13 U.S. servicemen who died in the August 26 attack.

But the plane carrying the remains of the military had not yet arrived at the base when the tweets have been posted. The ceremony took place the next day, August 29. Biden attended. He and First Lady Jill Biden met with military families at Dover’s Center for Families of the Fallen.

A viral photo of dog crates in front of a damaged and empty US helicopter sparked outrage from dog fans and the military. Prominent Republicans like Senator Rick Scott, R-Fla., Said they were abandoned military dogs at Kabul airport during the US evacuation.

But this is not fair. The federal government said the dogs pictured were not working for the military and its working dogs were evacuated from the country in mid-August.

“The US military did not leave any dogs in cages at Hamid Karzai International Airport, including any reported military working dogs,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. tweeted August 31. “The photos circulating online were of animals in the care of Kabul Small Animal Rescue, not dogs in our care.”

Some of the animals in the pictures were likely owned by independent defense contractors and could qualify as “contract working dogs.”

Some animal welfare groups like American Humane have rejected any distinction between contract dogs or military status and called on Congress to start classifying contract dogs the same way it does for military dogs.

Several groups involved in the dog evacuation cited a series of setbacks, including failed charter flights, unrest at the airport and strict security regulations in the United States. Lawyers have said the dogs are safe, but what happens to them now is uncertain.

Conservative bloggers, pundits and politicians like Texas Senator Ted Cruz shared a short, blurry video of a helicopter flying with a person hanging from a rope.

“This gruesome image sums up the Joe Biden disaster in Afghanistan: the Taliban hangs a man from an American Blackhawk helicopter,” Cruz tweeted.

This explanation is wrong. Various other pictures and videos examined by PolitiFact show that the person hanging from the helicopter was alive, moving and waving his arms. The person was suspended by a harness that wrapped around his arms, not a noose around his neck.

Several news outlets and fact-checkers came to the same conclusion, determining that the video did not depict an execution and that the person had been tasked with trying to attach a flag to a public building.

AÅ›vaka News Agency, an Afghan media outlet, later confirmed to PolitiFact that the person was being screened and hung from the helicopter to secure the flag in the governor’s building in Kandahar, the second largest city. from Afghanistan.

Cruz later admitted that his tweet “may be inaccurate” and deleted it. But others, as Fox News host Sean Hannity, continued to sound like the false story after it was largely debunked.

Tom Kertscher, Gabrielle Settles and Bill McCarthy contributed reporting.

These fact checks were originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. They are republished here with permission. Check out the sources for these fact checks here and other PolitiFact fact checks here.


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