Congress Calls For Top Afghanistan Diplomat and General to Testify

| Fri Mar. 7, 2008 11:56 AM EST

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Remember last September's false promise that with the testimony before Congress of David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the highest-ranking U.S. general and diplomat in Iraq, some major change in the Iraq War was imminent? Nothing happened, of course, other than some very deft rhetorical deflection (evidence of Petraeus' political talents?) and calls for more time for the "surge" to work. (Some, including John McCain, now argue that it has, others that it hasn't.) If Joe Biden and Carl Levin, the respective chairmen of the Senate foreign relations and armed services committees, get their way, we'll be treated to yet another media spectacle in coming weeks, this time focusing on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

More after the jump...

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Yesterday, the Senators fired off letters to Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates, requesting that they authorize U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan William Wood and NATO International Security Assistance Force commander, General Dan McNeil, to testify before their combined committees. The impetus for the request, say the Senators, is their concern that "the United States and the international community lack a strategy for success in Afghanistan." The letters read:

The conflict in Afghanistan must also be a priority. It is essential that Congress hear from the commanding general and U.S. ambassador about the situation on the ground in Afghanistan. We are deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, based on both first-hand observations and the recent testimony of military experts, the intelligence community, State Department officials, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Among our concerns are that six years after the defeat of the Taliban, an anti-government insurgency is re-asserting itself in many previously-peaceful provinces, al Qaeda is regenerating along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, poppy production remains at record levels, international development and reconstruction efforts lack both coordination and resources, shortfalls continue in troops and equipment for NATO's Afghanistan mission, and many of the Afghan people are at risk of losing faith in the ability of their government to deliver a better future.

Biden and Levin have asked that the testimony be given "no later than April 18, 2008."