Judicial Watch Sues State Department for Records about Afghanistan Payments and Censorship
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the Department of State for records about the censorship of government reports about US tax dollars spent on military support and equipment for Afghanistan, as well as records about payments to Afghanistan’s Government and/or any member of the Taliban related to the U.S. departure from Afghanistan (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:21-cv-03391)) (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:21-cv-03390)).
The lawsuit (No. 1:21-cv-03391) about the censorship of government reports about Afghanistan was filed after the State Department failed to respond to a September 13, 2021, FOIA request for:
All records regarding the editing or removal from any public website of any report pertaining, in whole or in part, to any military equipment or training provided to the government of Afghanistan or any component thereof. This request includes, but is not limited to, any related directives or requests, as well as any related records of communication between any official or employee of the Department of State and any official or employee of any other branch, department, agency, or office of the Federal government.
The lawsuit (No. 1:21-cv-03390) concerning payments to the Afghanistan government and/or Taliban was filed after the State Department failed to respond to a September 8, 2021, FOIA request for:
All records related to any actual or proposed payments to the government of Afghanistan and/or any member or associate of the Taliban related to the departure from Afghanistan of any U.S. citizen or other individual authorized by the U.S. Government to depart. This includes, but is not limited to, all fees related to the use of any airport for any such departure.
Emails obtained by Judicial Watch from the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) confirm the Biden administration censored hundreds of reports from government websites at the request from the State Department:
On August 16, 2021, at 3:18 p.m., one day after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, Carole Clay, an official at the State Department’s Bureau of the Comptroller and Global Financial Services, emails SIGAR official Matt Dove to inform him of the State Department’s “unprecedented request” to SIGAR “to suspend large portions of your website and public access to reports and records:
We request urgent assistance in identifying and temporarily removing (and potentially redacting on a longer term basis) all potentially sensitive and identifying information on U.S. government assistance programs/projects in Afghanistan. A great many of your historical publications contain extensive details about activities and partners that could put individuals at risk in the current environment.
“We caught the Biden administration red-handed trying to cover up its Afghanistan disaster,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “As Americans reportedly remain stranded in Afghanistan, the Biden administration has yet come clean about the tens of billions of military resources potentially lost to Taliban and about whether the government paid or considered paying the Taliban during Biden’s deadly and disastrous surrender.”
In October 2021, Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Defense for videos and photos of Afghans clinging to or falling off U.S. military aircraft at the Kabul airport (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Defense (No. 1:21-cv-02543)).