Now that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is dead, it is time to end the war in Afghanistan and bring US troops home, several Republicans and Democrats in the US House of Representatives demanded on Wednesday.
US President Barack Obama will begin drawing down some of the 100,000 troops in Afghanistan in July, with all combat forces due out by 2014. That timetable is unacceptable to a growing number of war-weary US lawmakers who argue that the death of the al-Qaeda leader is an opportunity for the US to recalibrate its strategy.
“The successful mission that located and killed Osama bin Laden has raised many questions about the effectiveness of America’s strategy to combat terrorism through a now 10-year-old nation-building effort in a deeply corrupt Afghanistan, especially in light of the serious fiscal challenges we face at home,” representatives Jason Chaffetz, a Republican, and Democrat Peter Welch wrote in a letter to colleagues on Wednesday.
They said it would be more effective to use “a targeted, worldwide counterterrorism strategy similar to the intelligence and special operations mission that located and killed bin Laden in Pakistan earlier this month.”
Chaffetz and Welch planned to offer an amendment to the defense bill for withdrawing ground troops from Afghanistan. A group of eight Republicans and Democrats were pushing another measure to accelerate the transition from US to Afghan control of operations.
While the amendments were unlikely to pass, the votes expected yesterday were certain to provide a measure of the congressional opposition to the war — numbers that will not go unnoticed at the Pentagon and White House.
Still fuming over Obama’s lack of extensive consultation with lawmakers before launching air strikes against Libya in March, the House adopted an amendment that says nothing in the bill could be construed as Congress authorizing the military operation in Libya.
Separately, in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, three Republican lawmakers complained about Obama’s decision not to follow the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which says the president can send troops into combat for only 60 days without congressional approval. That legal deadline for a full-blown authorization expired last Friday.
Obama told Congress last week that he would welcome a resolution backing the limited US involvement in the NATO-led military campaign.
By voice vote, the House adopted an amendment that would extend whistle-blower protection to members of the military who speak up about “ideologically based threats” by fellow service members that they believe could undermine US security.
Republican Representative John Carter, sponsor of the -measure, cited the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, and the accused shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan. A Pentagon review found Hasan’s supervisors expressed concerns about his behavior, but failed to heed their own warnings.
Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the November 2009 shooting spree on the Texas military post.
The House also voted to stop a White House effort to require anyone seeking government contracts to disclose political contributions. Obama’s disclosure order, drafted last mont, has not yet been issued, but reports about the order have upset Republicans and some Democrats.
“Government agencies should award contracts based on merit and value to taxpayers, not politics,” said Republican Representative Tom Cole, the amendment’s sponsor.
The measure passed on a vote of 261-163.
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
A squad of gun-toting police officers patrolled Myanmar’s sacred site of Bagan under the cover of night, taking on plunderers snatching relics from temples forsaken by tourists due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each evening as dusk falls, about 100 officers fan out across the plain of Bagan covering 50km2, sweeping flashlights over the crumbling monuments to scour for intruders. “Our security forces are patrolling day and night,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Sein Win told reporters. “We have it under control for the moment, but it’s a challenge.” The central Burmese city is strewn with more than 3,500 ancient monuments — stupas, temples, murals and sculptures
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un warned against the “hasty” relaxation of anti-coronavirus measures, state media reported on Friday, indicating the country would keep its borders closed for the foreseeable future. North Korea in late January closed its borders as the virus spread in neighboring China, and imposed tough restrictions that put thousands of its people into isolation. Pyongyang insists it has not had a single case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus that has swept the world infecting more than 10.8 million people and killing more than 500,000. Analysts have said that North Korea is unlikely to have avoided the contagion