Veteran Middle East reporter Lara Logan, who works for CBS' "60 Minutes," accused the U.S. government of propagating a "major lie" about terrorism, in her keynote address at Tuesday's Better Government Association annual luncheon. The lie, Logan said, is that the Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists have softened in recent years.
There has been "a narrative coming out of Washington over the last few years," Logan claimed, "driven by Pakistani lobbying money and by Taliban apologists," that "the Taliban today is so unlike the Taliban of 2001. They are just a more moderate, gentler, kinder, Taliban that just can't wait to see women in the workplace, occupy an equal role in society ... it's such nonsense."
Logan was speaking about a Sept. 30 segment she reported on for "60 Minutes" about "insider attacks" killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Logan went on to characterize the "lie" this way: "The theory is, if you pack up and go home from Afghanistan the problem is over. The Taliban just want their country back, they've got no problem with you, and we can ... stop wasting billions of dollars and American lives in Afghanistan, and we can turn our backs on this war that has really been a waste of our time."
Comparisons between the conflict in Afghanistan and the Vietnam War are inappropriate, Logan argued, because the Taliban are nothing like the Viet Cong.
"To think that there's any similarity between this and Vietnam is ridiculous. The Viet Cong didn't care what you did when you went back to America. The Viet Cong didn't fight for an Islamic caliphate. The Viet Cong didn't fight a global struggle. It's amazing to me that we constantly ignore ... what all these groups tell us every day in their own newspapers, in their own statements."
Terrorism, Logan said, is "a completely and utterly different fight from anything we have faced in our history."
Logan also criticized the media who cover terrorism for not paying attention to what the terrorists say about the United States.
"Our way of life is under attack. And if you think that is government propaganda, if you think that's nonsense, if you think that's war-mongering, you're not listening to what the people who are fighting you say about this fight," Logan said emphatically.
"In your arrogance, you think you write the script, but you don't. There's two sides and we don't dictate the terms."
Toward the end of her speech, Logan directed more of her criticism directly at the Obama administration.
"I can't stand that there's a major lie being propagated about the real situation. I don't care who's in power. I don't care who's behind it," she said.
She also criticized the Obama administration for its misleading statements about the terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, that led to the deaths of Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
"When I look at what's going on in Libya, there's a big song and dance about whether this was a terrorist attack or a protest and you just want to scream, for God's sake, are you kidding me?"
Logan ended the speech by calling on the White House to seek revenge for the attack.
"I hope to God that you're sending in your best clandestine warriors to exact revenge and let the world know that the United States will not be attacked on its own soil, that its ambassadors will not be murdered and the United States will not stand by and do nothing about it," she said.
Logan has been a reporter and producer since the late 1980s. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, she has mostly covered the Middle East, especially Afghanistan. While covering the Egyptian Revolution in February, 2011, she was arrested, beaten and sexually assaulted.
Video of the full speech can be viewed on YouTube here.