On May 1, President Obama arrived in Kabul, Afghanistan like a thief in the night. Embassy officials and the White House initially claimed the reports of his visit were “untrue” and by the time they copped to it, the president had signed a pact with Hamid Karzai pledging to keep US troops in the country through at least 2024.
The 2024 date was never exactly a secret, but official statements mostly glossed over that part of the deal, instead lionizing Obama for signing the deal that would “end” the war, even if it only theoretically ends it long, long after he would leave office.
For the mainstream press, it was apparently “message received,” as the NY Times’ top story today chronicles Obama’s “shift” on Afghanistan, and closes with the claim that Obama is going to “largely” withdraw in 2014. 2024 is not mentioned.
The AP, for its part, ran a story on the NATO summit in Chicago, focusing on Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s promises not to “rush to the exits” instead of the police brutality going on outside. This article too explicitly claims that the war will end “by 2015.”
2024 has become the date that dare not speak its name, and indeed the closest thing to a major media acknowledgement of the date in several days came on NPR, which said that the President “pledged support” through 2024. That this support will come in the form of a military occupation, of course, is not mentioned, though since they do refer to the deal as a “strategic security pact” (technically it is simply a document dictating terms of engagement for ground troops), they at least get partial credit.