Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wire: Admin Rebuffs Congress Over Afghan War

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2009 -- Newswire services this evening reported that the Pentagon is rebuffing congressional calls for the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan to personally make the case for the war, amid the growing political tumult over the Obama administration's mishandling of the conflict.

The Wall Street Journal reported late Tuesday that an array of powerful lawmakers from both parties, including the Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, want Gen. Stanley McChrystal to testify about the challenges confronting the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan and his plan for beating back the resurgent Taliban.

The Wall Street Journal noted the following details:
The calls to testify come as the Pentagon has asked Gen. McChrystal to delay his request for more troops while the administration rethinks strategy in the wake of last month's Afghan elections, which have been racked by allegations of fraud.

It also comes as public support for the war is waning badly. In a NBC-Wall Street Journal poll conducted between Wednesday and last Sunday, 59% of respondents said they were now "less confident" that the war would come to a successful conclusion. Just over half of those polled said they opposed adding more U.S. troops in the country, while more than a third favored an immediate withdrawal.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress note that the Bush administration made Gen. David Petraeus, the former top U.S. commander in Baghdad, available for days of high-profile hearings on the conduct of the war in 2007, as a similar debate was raging over troop levels in that war.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has refused to make Gen. McChrystal available for testimony on Capitol Hill until the administration completes a broad review of its entire strategy for the war. "Secretary Gates still believes General McChrystal's focus right now should be on managing the war in Afghanistan rather than wading into the debate about it back here in Washington," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

The Obama administration announced a new counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan in March that was designed to protect Afghan civilians from violence, and to improve their daily lives through economic development and better governance. However, under that strategy, U.S. casualties have risen to their highest rates of the eight-year war.

Fifty-one U.S. troops died in Afghanistan in August, more than in any other month since the U.S.-led invasion in October 2001.

See link below for details.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Source: Pentagon Rebuffs Congress

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