Lawmakers to President Obama: Get Out of Afghanistan

By John R Parkinson

May 5, 2011 1:06pm

ABC News’ John R. Parkinson reports: With the corpse of Public Enemy No. 1 now submerged on the floor of the Arabian Sea, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced new legislation in the House of Representatives today to require the Obama administration to present an exit strategy for all U.S. forces from Afghanistan. After Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden Sunday and with just an estimated 100 members of al Qaeda remaining in Afghanistan, Rep. James McGovern, the chief architect of the legislation, asked rhetorically whether “it really make sense to keep using over 100,000 U.S. troops to occupy Afghanistan and prop up a corrupt government?” “We must use this opportunity to re-examine our policy and to require the administration to tell us exactly how and when we will end our massive troop presence in Afghanistan,” McGovern, D-Mass., said. “Our bill requires the president to give Congress a concrete strategy and timeframe for bringing our servicemen and women home to their families and communities where they belong.” The bill would require President Obama to transmit to Congress a plan with a timeframe and completion date on the transition of U.S. military and security operations in Afghanistan to the Karzai government, establish a quarterly report from the president on the status of the transition and the cost of remaining in Afghanistan, including increased deficit and public debt, and would oblige the administration to disclose to Congress any savings should the U.S. accelerate redeployment to conclude the transition of operations within six months. The current plan from the White House would begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan this July, and transition security to the Afghan government in 2014, but the lawmakers are pressing the president for an extensive decrease and a plan to eventually bring all troops home, not just a token withdrawal of a few thousand troops this summer. “The president told us that we will see a substantial drawdown of troops in July. He needs to keep that promise, and he needs to tell us when all of our troops will be coming home, and how much it will keep costing the American people – in sacrificed lives, wounded bodies and minds, and U.S. tax dollars – until this war is finally over,” McGovern said. “For too long, Congress has ducked its proper oversight responsibilities when it comes to the war in Afghanistan. We’ve avoided meaningful debate and discussion and have chosen to simply ‘go along to get along.’ Today we – in a bipartisan way – plan to force an end to that pattern. We will utilize every opportunity available to us to end that inexcusable indifference.” Rep. Walter Jones, R-North Carolina, touched on a similar question asked by John Kerry when he testified before Congress decades ago on the Vietnam War by quoting a retired Marine general’s email. “What do we say to the mother and father, the wife of the last Marine killed to support a corrupt government and a corrupt leader?” Jones quoted from the general’s letter. “It is time for the American people to demand from the United States Congress that we get behind Mr. McGovern’s bill and we start a process to bring our troops home from Afghanistan,” Jones said. McGovern and Jones say they are lining up bipartisan support for the measure, including the backing of seven House Republicans including Reps. Jason Chaffetz, Jimmy Duncan, Ron Paul, Tim Johnson, Justin Amash, and Roscoe Bartlett. Nine Democrats have signed on as original cosponsors as well.  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she was unsure about the details that McGovern’s bill specifically called for, but signaled the commitment of U.S. troops in Afghanistan should not be open-ended – a message she took to the Afghan president when she visited the region in March. “I do know that the American people want us to draw [troop levels] down. I don't know that — how much of an impact the death of Osama bin Laden has.  He's a person; he's a symbol,” Pelosi said. “It isn't an end to the threat to our national security, and that's how we have to make the judgment. But again, my message to the president of Afghanistan and to others that I met was:  This is — this has to come to an end.”

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