Here's an interesting question, courtesy of ABC's Jake Tapper: "If the purpose of the Afghanistan war is to fight Al-Qaeda, when was the last time we actually did that?" That's exactly what Tapper asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney earlier this week when he repeated for the umpteenth time that "the reason why U.S. troops are in Afghanistan in the first place, is to disrupt, dismantle and ultimately defeat Al-Qaeda."
Carney didn't know how many Al-Qaeda fighters are still in the country, or when was the last time U.S. troops actually killed an Al-Qaeda operative. So George Zornick of The Nation decided to find out for him. According his Department of Defense inquiry, the last death of a known Al-Qaeda fighter at the hands of coalition forces was in April of 2011. That was 10 months ago. The last capture of a foreign Al-Qaeda fighter occurred in May.
Zornick adds that since that April 2011 fight, 466 coalition members have been killed and as we've disturbingly learned this week, a high percentage of them are being killed by members of the Afghan forces they were working alongside. Obviously, Afghanistan is still a nation beset by problems, but no matter what you think of the U.S. mission there now, it's clear that it's not the same task that it was when we started.