Sixty-Six Pages

The Washington Post, most recently associated, in media-reporting circles, with salons and story-killings, has gone back to its roots. Today’s edition of the paper features a long article—bylined, in true back-to-roots style, “Bob Woodward”—based on the revelations of a sixty-six-page-long, confidential memo from Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan.

The memo, leaked to the Post, details the urgent need for more troops to carry out the mission in Afghanistan. “Failure to gain the initiative,” McChrystal writes, “and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months)—while Afghan security capacity matures—risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.”

What the Post has shared of the memo’s contents isn’t complete—“senior administration officials asked The Post over the weekend to withhold brief portions of the assessment that they said could compromise future operations,” the article notes—but, still, its publicity in the national press means that, today, the American public has a more detailed (and, one presumes, accurate) picture of the situation in Afghanistan than we had previously. A searchable version of the document, declassified and “with some deletions made at the government’s request,” is available here.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.