No Al Qaeda Policy: Congress Wants Answers

House plans to grill administration on what's being done to get bin Laden.

ByABC News
April 19, 2008, 7:43 PM

WASHINGTON, April 19, 2008— -- Congress plans to press the Bush administration aggressively to justify its policy in Afghanistan following a nonpartisan report that concludes that the administration "lacks a comprehensive plan" to take on al Qaeda in its stronghold.

"I want to shine light on this," Rep. Howard Berman, the California Democrat who chairs the House Foreign Relations Committee, told ABC News today. "I want the American people to know what is not happening, and I believe that pressure from that public scrutiny will force this administration and certainly the next administration to make a 180-degree change."

Berman has scheduled a hearing for May 7 to grill administration officials.

His concern follows a report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, that concludes, "No comprehensive plan for meeting U.S. national security goals ... has been developed" in Pakistan's lawless tribal region along the Afghan border.

The Bush administration does not have such a plan, even though it was called for by the 9/11 Commission and was mandated under a 2007 law, the GAO report said.

The report pulls no punches. It concludes that six years after President Bush pledged to take Osama bin Laden "dead or alive," al Qaeda has "regenerated its ability to attack the United States and had succeeded in establishing a safe haven" in Pakistan's border region.

"For six years now, we have known where Al Qaeda is based. The administration has announced over and over again they have a policy to go after Al Qaeda," the GAO report said. "The 9/11 commission said nothing is more important than a coherent strategy to smash this security threat, to break these safe havens. The congress has passed legislation mandating that. Notwithstanding the administration's own words, the recommendations of the 9/11 commission, and congressional law, the agencies involved have failed to implement any kind of effective security."

The United States has spent $10.5 billion in Pakistan since 2002, nearly all of it on the Pakistani military, which has essentially subcontracted the war there. But Pakistan has never fully controlled the tribal territory and has been unable to stop al Qaeda's resurgence.