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Dems: Time to shift terror efforts

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Election 2008
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Posted April 6, 2008 3:35 PM
The Swamp

by James Oliphant

Senate Democrats today sent a letter to President Bush, accusing him of taking his "eye off the ball" with respect to global counter-terrorism efforts. Sen. Harry Reid, the majority leader, and others say that the White House has committed too much of the nation's resources to Iraq while neglecting terror-havens Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Here's Reid:

While violence and the drug trade have surged in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s security remains fragile, we are distracted by an endless civil war in Iraq. To make America more secure, we must refocus on hunting down a resurgent Al Qaeda, securing a troubled Afghanistan and rebuilding our overburdened and misused military.


Joe Biden, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee added:

While we look forward this week to hearing from Ambassador Crocker and General David Petraeus on Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan must also be an urgent priority. Afghanistan is slipping toward failure and the instability in Pakistan continues. As a result, he border area between the two remains a freeway of fundamentalism, where those who actually attacked us on 9/11 have regrouped. Afghanistan’s fate is directly tied to Pakistan’s future and America’s security.This Administration cannot continue to treat the region as an afterthought.

And finally Senate Intelligence Commmittee chair Jay Rockefeller:

The fact remains, Al Qaeda threatens us most directly from safe havens along the Afghan-Pakistan border, not Iraq. The Administration must come to terms with this and implement a counter-terror strategy that reflects this reality.

Here's the full letter:

April 6, 2008

The President
The White House
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

We write out of deep concern over the deteriorating situation in both Afghanistan and Pakistan: the negligent policies of the last half-decade have permitted al-Qaeda and the Taliban to regenerate, and to pose a greater threat to the national security of the United States than at any point since September 11, 2001. In order to protect our homeland from attacks which may well be developing in the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan at this very moment, we urge you to refocus the U.S. counter-terrorism strategy and our national security resources on this region and implement a comprehensive new strategy to keep America safe.

For too long, this Administration has treated Southwest Asia as an afterthought, even as it committed more U.S. troops and treasure to the war in Iraq. The neglect of Afghanistan and Pakistan reflects a failure to recognize this region as the central battlefield in the war against al Qaeda. This Administration’s misguided priorities have deprived our military of the resources they need to win the fight against al Qaeda: as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen put it in December, “in Afghanistan, we do what we can. In Iraq, we do what we must.” The commander of American forces in the region, Admiral William Fallon, echoed the sentiment in January: “Back in 2001, early 2002, the Taliban were pretty much vanquished,” he said, “but my sense looking back is that we moved focus to Iraq, which was the priority from 2003 on, and the attention and the resources focused on a different place.”

Such neglect cannot continue indefinitely without endangering not only Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the safety of America as well. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently expressed concern that the shadow of Iraq was decreasing public support in NATO countries for the war effort in Afghanistan. A prominent nonpartisan report chaired by Marine General (Ret.) James L. Jones and former Undersecretary of State Thomas R. Pickering urged that the United States “decouple” the two conflicts— both in funding and in diplomacy. We urge you to take this advice, in order to prevent the war in Iraq from further impeding our vital struggle against our most dangerous enemies.

More than six years after the ouster of the Taliban, the promises made by this Administration for success in Afghanistan remain further than ever from being fulfilled. As the Jones-Pickering report notes, “The United States and the international community have tried to win the struggle in Afghanistan with too few military forces and insufficient economic aid, and without a clear and consistent comprehensive strategy.” Security has been gravely degraded throughout much of the nation, with the Taliban making much of the country ungovernable and ravaging the capitol itself by frequent bombings and suicide attacks. According to testimony presented by Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell in late February, the central government of Afghanistan controls less than one-third of the country’s territory. Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Maples has said that al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan is “increasing to levels unseen since 2001-2002.”

On this Administration’s watch, Afghanistan has become a virtual narco-state supplying 93% of the world’s opium and heroin, while drug-fuelled corruption and warlordism are recreating the chaos that enabled the Taliban to seize power in the 1990s. Your pledge of a reconstruction program on the scale of the Marshall Plan remains an unfulfilled promise, and the lack of adequate development has undermined the legitimacy of the Afghan government and increased popular support for our enemies.

The situation in Pakistan is just as troubling. Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s top leadership remain at large, most likely in the sanctuary of Pakistani territory near the Afghan border—and a new generation of terrorists move and operate openly there, free to plot new attacks against our homeland. According to the declassified key judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate of July 2007 entitled The Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland, al-Qaeda has “protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability, including: a safehaven in the Pakistani Federal Administered Tribal Areas.”

The recent election in Pakistan provides a rare opportunity to chart a new and more effective course in our two nations’ counter-terrorism partnership. Much of the Pakistani population believes that this Administration has used, and is still using, the weight of the United States government to bolster President Pervez Musharraf rather than facilitate a democratic transition. We urge you to embark on a new relationship with Pakistan based on cooperation with institutions rather than individuals, and to support the will of the Pakistani people as expressed in the February 18 parliamentary elections. Promoting democracy and legitimate government is not only in line with our nation’s core values, but also with our national security interests: Every day that the Pakistani government remains distracted by political uncertainty is a day when the intelligence, military, police and other resources of its government will be diverted from the fight against terrorists who threaten the lives of Pakistanis and Americans alike.

An al Qaeda attack on the U.S. homeland would likely originate in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. We urge you to work with Congress on a comprehensive new strategy—to change course now, while time still remains. Clearly, a bold new plan is urgently needed. Our nation cannot afford to stand by while the danger to the region—and to America—grows stronger day by the day.

The dire threats facing Afghanistan and Pakistan are inextricably linked: there can be no successful policy in either country without a comprehensive strategy for both. Given the urgency of the threat, we look forward to your prompt response.


Sincerely,

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Comments

Why should anything shift? Those republicans in the White House are hot on Osama's trail & those WMA's in Iraq are going to be found any day now.


I see the corrupt dingy Harry Reid is calling Iraq a civil war again.
Anyway, Bush has done more to combat terrorism than his predecessor as well as more than any clueless Democratic would ever have done. Reid should stick to what he does best and that is steer more lobbying business to his family.


Doughboy,

9/11, 9/11, 9/11.

It happened on dumbya's watch. Al Qaeda is stronger than ever.
Osama bin Laden is still alive and well.
Iraq is a disaster.
Are you really this dumb?


John D maybe Harry Reid is calling Iraq a civil war becaise it is. He could have thrown in corporate boondoggle as well. Man your brainwashed!


Time to shift terror efforts. Aim for Saudi Arabia!


with each passing day the issues simplify, our choice becoming clear. we can vote for hope, or we can vote for fear.


Let's just hope the JUNIOR senator doesn't yet again throw out the canard that he was against the war...bla bla bla WHICH IS WHY HE KEEPS VOTING FOR FUNDING THE DANG THING. And WHEN oh WHEN will we SEE 30 years of tax returns from Robinson and Obama (non-redacted, not faked to exclude the Walmart stuff Michelle did for the post- Sam Walton cannibalistic version of the company) like the Republicans will now demand (thanks Barack) of them? Where's the media outrage about THAT omission?
The Obama supporters relentlessly race-bait anyone who disagrees with them even SLIGHTLY.
And, apparently being sexist is the last allowable habit of stupid people (male and female in America. But the smart people are now fighting back. Watch Geraldine Ferraro expose Randi Rhodes for the pea-brained person she really is:
http://guerillawomentn.blogspot.com/2008/04/geraldine-ferraro-responds-to-randi.html
Why wouldn’t the other media outlets run this? Well, Fox knows there’s very little risk of Hilary winning anyway, so why not? But the other mainstream media outlets do not want to get caught doing anything to help THE ONE CANDIDATE WHO CAN STILL BEAT JOHN MCCAIN—AND THAT’S HILARY. Note who’s posting it—Tennessee Guerilla Women. News Flash—Hilary TOOK the mid-South, and you need that to win in the fall campaign. Barack’s fake wins in Iowa and elsewhere (republicans cross over, bosses intimidate caucus employees, stuffed ballot boxes in Minnesota), EVEN WHILE OBAMA REFUSES TO STEP IN AND SAY THE DEMS WILL REVOTE MICHIGAN AND FLORIDA!
Now, watch the Obama campaign trolls call me racist for saying so.
Unbelievable!


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