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News and Views

Embassy of Afghanistan Legislative Update for January 2008

At this crucial moment in time, the Embassy of Afghanistan is actively engaging the U.S. Congress to provide the resources and commitment necessary to successfully rebuild Afghanistan. As part of these efforts, we will provide regular updates on legislative activity pertinent to Afghanistan and the region.

House Armed Services Committee Hearing


On January 23, the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing titled, "Assessment of U.S. Strategy and Operations in Afghanistan and the Way Ahead."   Witnesses included Lt. Gen. David W. Barno - Director, Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University, Karl F. Inderfurth - Professor of International Affairs, George Washington University, and Barnett R. Rubin - Director of Studies and Senior Fellow, Center on International Cooperation, New York University.   Witnesses discussed realities on-the-ground and ways to proceed in solving recent challenges.  Each witness echoed the importance of economic development and reconstruction in sustaining security and counter-narcotics victories.  Committee members stressed a strategic refocus and increased commitment of resources to the war in Afghanistan, as well as a call to NATO countries to increase troops and eliminate national caveats. 


Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing


On January 31, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing titled, "Afghanistan: A Plan to Turn the Tide?"  Witnesses included Richard Boucher - Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, General James L. Jones Jr. - former Commander, European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Thomas Pickering - former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, and Richard Holbrooke - former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations.  The hearing was a timely follow-up to three important reports, including the Afghanistan Study Group report, that were released a day prior before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asian Affairs.  The goal of this hearing and the report release were to reassess the situation in Afghanistan and examine ways to address the recent security and counter-narcotics concerns.  Issues of corruption, slow progress in reconstruction and regional terrorism were also thoroughly discussed.  It was agreed that Afghanistan’s problems will not be solved by military means alone and that increased resources and coordination must be committed to civilian reconstruction.  For more information on this hearing, CLICK HERE

President Bush Signs Defense Authorization Bill


On January 29, President Bush signed the Defense Authorization Bill into law after previously rejecting the bill over a provision that threatened to freeze Iraqi assets held in U.S. financial institutions.  In addition to authorizing funding for the Defense Department and military construction, the bill calls for the establishment of a Special Inspector General for Afghanistan (SIGAR) to oversee military reconstruction efforts.    

The SIGAR will provide oversight of Department of Defense reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan. The position was created in response to concerns raised by members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and others, over a lack of oversight in the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). The SIGAR will be commissioned to prevent and detect waste, fraud, and abuse in defense reconstruction programs and will coordinate with the Inspector Generals of the Department of Defense, State and USAID in carrying out its duties.

Senator Biden Sets Foreign Policy Agenda

At a January 24 press conference Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) outlined the Foreign Relations Committee agenda and priorities for the coming months and year.  Biden stated, "This is a time for a fundamental re-assessment of America's position in the world and the policies we're pursuing to strengthen that position.”  Biden stressed that the Committee will be examining intelligence information coming out of Afghanistan and holding a pubic hearing on the way ahead.  According to Biden, “This Committee has a key role to play in helping to shape a new strategy for success.  Afghanistan's fate is directly tied to Pakistan's future – and so is our security.”


House Condemns the Assassination of Benazir Bhutto

On January 16, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. Res. 912, condemning the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and reaffirming the commitment of the United States to assist the people of Pakistan in combating terrorist activity and promoting a free and democratic Pakistan. In addition to denouncing Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, H.Res. 912 welcomes the United Kingdom's assistance in investigating the attack and commends Pakistan for accepting such assistance. The measure urges the people and government of Pakistan to continue working towards a democratically-elected government.  The resolution was introduced by Representative Gary Ackerman (D-NY) and passed with a vote of 413-0. 

President Karzai Meets with US Senator Joe Lieberman

U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) visited Afghanistan this month and met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The two discussed the long-term strategic cooperation between Afghanistan and the United States.  President Karzai thanked the U.S. senator for his continuous support for Afghanistan and praised U.S. assistance to Afghanistan as vital for preserving peace in the country.  Senator Lieberman assured President Karzai that the U.S. is committed to the long-term reconstruction and security of Afghanistan.

Rep. Blackburn Visits Afghanistan


On Jan 16, Representative Marsha Blackburn (R - TN) held a news briefing on her recent trip to Afghanistan and Iraq.  Rep. Blackburn described her visits with American troops including the 101st Airborne at Bagram Air Base.  She also discussed the marked progress in Afghanistan since her last visit and the call from U.S. troops to pay more attention to the good news coming out of the country. 

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