Two Washington Post national security reporters on Wednesday announced they will sue the Defense Department for further details on overseas troop reductions announced by President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations MORE.
In a column for the newspaper, the two reporters, Kate Brannen and Ryan Goodman, note recent Pentagon announcements on drawdowns of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. The department has said it will reduce troops in Iraq by nearly half, from 5,300 to 3,000. In Afghanistan, meanwhile, the Pentagon plans to reduce troops from around 8,600 to 4,500 by November.
The Trump administration, the two noted, has stopped releasing numbers on Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria deployments since December 2017, complicating any analysis of drawdowns and how they compare to public promises.
“These drawdowns are occurring right before the presidential election. And like Trump’s unrealistic vaccine promise and his missing health-care plan, it requires scrutiny from the news media and the American public to understand whether Trump is actually delivering, and whether these troop movements are responsive to what’s happening on the ground or are politically motivated to help Trump secure a second term,” the two wrote.
The Pentagon has not responded to a Freedom of Information Act request the reporters filed in April, prompting the Wednesday lawsuit.
“This data served as a critical source of specific and consistent official information about the U.S. military presence in key combat zones,” the lawsuit states. “Transparency on troop levels has been essential for public oversight and accountability concerning the progress of military operations in the Middle East and South Asia.”
The release of the data is necessary, they wrote, not only to fact-check the public pledges but also to analyze issues such as whether private military contractors are replacing withdrawn U.S. troops.
A Pentagon spokesperson told The Hill in a statement that the Defense Department does not comment on pending litigation.