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House rejects Lee’s Iraq/Afghanistan amendments

Rep. Barbara Lee is among lawmakers moving to ensure America doesn’t get sucked back into war in Iraq or Afghanistan, but all of her proposals were rejected Thursday and Friday.

Lee, D-Oakland, on Thursday introduced four amendments to the 2015 Pentagon budget bill. One would specify that no money in the bill can be used for deploying troops on the ground in Iraq; this failed on a 165-250 vote late Thursday.

Another prohibits funding for use of force under the 2002 authorization that Congress gave for military action in Iraq; this failed on a 182-231 vote late Thursday.

The third prohibits funding for combat operations in Afghanistan after December, the time at which President Obama said the U.S. combat mission there would end. This failed Friday on a 153-260 vote.

And the fourth prohibits funding under the use of force Congress approved in September 2001; this failed on a 157-260 vote late Thursday. Lee famously was the sole vote against the 2001 authorization for use of military force.

“We must not let history repeat itself in Iraq,” Lee had said on the House floor Thursday. “Because the reality is there is no military solution in Iraq.

Posted on Friday, June 20th, 2014
Under: Afghanistan, Barbara Lee, Iraq, Iraq War, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Speier blasted for disputing Taliban are terrorists

Some conservatives are blasting Rep. Jackie Speier for disputing the Taliban’s status as “terrorists” during an MSNBC interview Tuesday.

Speier, D-San Mateo, was being interviewed about the Obama administration’s swap of several Taliban-related prisoners whom the U.S. was holding at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for captured U.S. serviceman Bowe Bergdahl.

“Let me underscore the term ‘terrorists.’ The Taliban is part of the fabric of Afghanistan, they were part of the leadership of that country before we engaged there. We are now actively attempting to get the Taliban to negotiate with President Karzai and the Afghanistani government because there will be some cooperation, some level of coordination between the two if that country is going to survive and move forward. So, to say that they are terrorists at this point is not necessarily accurate.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Move America Forward – a Sacramento-based nonprofit known primarily for raising money to send care packages to U.S. troops overseas – sent out a fundraising email with this photo near the top:

Taliban and Speier

“According to a [sic] Rep. Speier, the Taliban had legitimacy when they ruled over Afghanistan by enforcing Sharia law, persecuting women, helping Al Qaeda plot 9/11 and killing anyone who dissented against them,” the email said. “That is, until we stopped them and liberated Afghanistan from their theocratic rule in 2001. Oh, they aren’t terrorists, they’re a social movement that’s just another part of the fabric of Afghanistan…

“Is she serious? Rep. Speier needs a reality check! The Taliban are indeed terrorists committed to killing Americans and we are still very much at war with them!” the email continued. “With leaders like these, is it any wonder our troops sometimes wonder if America still supports them? Don’t let our troops be unsure – show them that we still support their efforts and pray for their safety.”

Speier couldn’t be reached for comment.

Posted on Thursday, June 12th, 2014
Under: Afghanistan, Jackie Speier, U.S. House, War on Terror | 2 Comments »

Lee, Pelosi disagree on Obama’s Afghanistan plan

Bay Area House members differed Tuesday on President Obama’s announcement of plans to draw down U.S. forces in Afghanistan by the end of this year and completely end the U.S. military commitment by the end of 2016.

Obama said he will cut the current U.S. force of 32,000 troops to about 9,800 as the U.S. combat mission formally ends later this year; the remainder will stay there to focus on training Afghan security forces and on counterterrorism efforts. The 9,800 will be halved and consolidated in Kabul and at Bagram Air Field, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, over 2015, and fewer than 1,000 will remain after 2016 to staff a security office in Kabul.

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

Nancy Pelosi“Today, President Obama announced a path forward to fulfill his core promise: to enhance the security of the American people, to end the war in Afghanistan responsibly, and to bring us closer to the day when all of our troops can come safely home.

“The course of action unveiled today moves our nation step-by-step to a conclusion of the long conflict in Afghanistan. This strategy will ensure our military maintains a strong enough presence to continue supporting counter-terrorism operations, train Afghan security forces, and build on the efforts to return responsibility for the safety of the Afghan people to Afghanistan’s leaders themselves.

“The longest war in American history is now coming to an end. We have reached this moment thanks to the bravery of our troops and the sacrifices they and their families have made over more than a decade of conflict. As these men and women prepare to return home, we express our unending gratitude for their service and rededicate ourselves to never lose focus on our common mission: to protect the security of all Americans, preserve freedom for all families, and promote peace worldwide.”

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“I respectfully disagree with plans announced today to leave nearly 10,000 troops and an unknown number of contractors in Afghanistan beyond 2014 and to extend U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan until 2016.

“After thirteen years at war, it’s obvious that there is no military solution in Afghanistan and it is far past time to end the war and bring all of our troops home now.

“At the very least, Congress should debate and vote on this agreement that will keep our troops in Afghanistan for years to come and will cost billions more in spending. Enough is enough.”

Posted on Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
Under: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Barbara Lee, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Rep. Eric Swalwell visited Afghanistan, UAE

It’s been a travel-heavy recess for freshman Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton.

Just weeks after his trip with a congressional delegation to Israel and the West Bank, Swalwell returned Thursday from another co-del to Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates.

Swalwell with 1st Lt Chris Mitchell of Fremont

Swalwell with 1st Lt. Chris Mitchell of Fremont

Led by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the House Armed Service Committee’s ranking Democrat, the delegation met with top U.S. military officials including Marine Four-Star General Joe Dunford, commander of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan. They were briefed on the drawdown of American troops, the transition of responsibility to the Afghanistan National Security Force and the supporting role our troops are now playing. Swalwell’s office reports he also met with troops from his own 15th Congressional District, as well as local Afghan leaders and military officers.

In the UAE, the lawmakers were briefed by military and intelligence officials on the developing situation in Syria as well as the strategic partnership between the UAE and the United States.

“I was encouraged to see that the efforts of our Armed Forces have better prepared Afghan troops to play a primary security role in the region as we significantly reduce our troop levels in Afghanistan,” Swalwell said in a news release issued Thursday. “I especially appreciated the opportunity to visit with our brave men and women serving in Afghanistan, including several of my constituents.

“Since being sworn-in back in January, I’ve been able to celebrate many troop homecomings from Afghanistan in the East Bay and also sadly have eulogized at a funeral of local hero who gave his life serving in Operation Enduring Freedom,” he added. “It was an honor to visit our troops in Afghanistan to express my appreciation for their service to our country and dedication to a smooth transition of power as we step back to play a supporting role. Our troops’ preparation of the Afghan Forces will help ensure that the country is never again a safe harbor and training ground for terrorists who wish to plan attacks against Americans.”

Posted on Thursday, August 29th, 2013
Under: Afghanistan, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | No Comments »

Antioch soldier to receive Medal of Honor

A soldier from Antioch will become the fifth living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan, the White House announced today.

President Barack Obama on Aug. 26 will award U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry, recognizing his courage while serving as a cavalry scout with Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, during combat operations in Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on Oct. 3, 2009.

Here’s how the incident was described when Carter received the USO’s most prestigious leadership honor, the George Van Cleave Military Leadership Award, in 2011:

Ty CarterWhen his fellow soldiers and a nearby combat outpost came under attack from a battalion-sized enemy force, Carter, a specialist at the time, ran repeatedly through heavy enemy fire to bring critical ammunition to his position.

Armed only with only an M4 carbine, he beat back the assault force for several hours. Despite being wounded, he disregarded his own personal safety to assist a critically wounded comrade. He administered first aid and carried the wounded soldier through withering enemy fire. Throughout the battle, Carter exposed himself to the enemy no fewer than six times as he crossed treacherous ground where eight fellow soldiers were killed.

Carter grew up in Spokane, Wash., but now calls Antioch home; he’s married to Shannon Carter and they have three children, Jayden Young, Madison Carter and Sehara Carter.

He enlisted in the Army in January 2008 as a cavalry scout, and after training at Ft Knox, Kentucky, he was assigned to 3-61 Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, where he deployed to Afghanistan from May 2009 to May 2010. In October 2010 he was assigned as a Stryker gunner with 8-1 Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He completed a second deployment to Afghanistan in October 2012, and now is stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., assigned to the 7th Infantry Division.

His other military decorations include the Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Army Good Conduct Medal, Navy Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two Campaign Stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon w/Numeral 2, Army Service Ribbon, Oversea Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, the Combat Action Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge and Air Assault Badge.

The Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.

Posted on Friday, July 26th, 2013
Under: Afghanistan, Obama presidency | 2 Comments »

Woolsey gives her 444th, final antiwar speech

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, who is retiring from Congress in a few weeks, this morning delivered her 444th and final special order speech expressing her opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and her support for a “smart” approach to national security:

http://youtu.be/ztGa932tnwc

Woolsey, D-San Rafael, will be succeeded in the next Congress by Rep.-elect Jared Huffman, a fellow Democrat; the newly drawn 2nd Congressional District stretches from the Golden Gate Bridge’s north end to the Oregon border.

Read the text of Woolsey’s speech as prepared, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
Under: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iraq War, Lynn Woolsey, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Lawmakers urge faster Afghanistan withdrawal

Most of the Bay Area’s House delegation was among 101 members who signed a letter, co-authored by Rep. Barbara Lee, urging President Obama to announce an accelerated transition of security responsibilities to the Afghan government and security forces.

The lawmakers want the president to announce this at the upcoming NATO summit meeting in Chicago, in order to effect a speedier withdrawal of U.S. troops.

“Earlier this month you visited Afghanistan to sign a Strategic Partnership Agreement. As you stated at Bagram Air Base, ‘this time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end,’” the lawmakers wrote. “The core of al Qaeda has been greatly reduced in size and ability to attack Americans. Our brave men and women in uniform have done everything that we have asked of them. With over 17,000 dead and wounded U.S. servicemen and women, and long term costs estimated at $4 trillion for the past decade of unfunded wars, the overwhelming majority of American people want to bring the war in Afghanistan to an expedited end.”

The lawmakers wrote that while many of them would prefer an immediate full withdrawal, there’s broad bipartisan consensus that the process at least should be speeded up. “We also remind you that any agreement committing U.S. troops to Afghanistan must have congressional approval to be binding.”

The only Bay Area members who didn’t sign the letter – which Lee, D-Oakland, coauthored with Walter Jones, R-N.C. – were Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

Lee also this afternoon offered an amendment to H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act, which would’ve limited further funding for the Afghanistan war to only what’s required for the safe and orderly withdrawal of all U.S. troops and contractors.

Lee’s amendment failed on a 113-303 vote. “My amendment provided members of the House the opportunity to stand squarely with the war-weary American people,” she said in a statement issued afterward. “I am disappointed that a majority of House members did not stand with seven out of ten Americans who oppose the war in Afghanistan.”

Posted on Thursday, May 17th, 2012
Under: Afghanistan, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, Pete Stark, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 1 Comment »

Gov. Brown honors slain Alameda soldier

Staff Sgt. Thomas FogartyGov. Jerry Brown ordered flags flown at half-staff over the State Capitol today in honor of Army Staff Sgt. Thomas Fogarty, 30, of Alameda, who was killed May 6 by an improvised explosive device in Ahmad-Kheyl, Afghanistan.

Fogarty was assigned to the 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska. He had arrived in Afghanistan only last month.

Brown said he and first lady Anne Gust Brown offer their deepest condolences to Fogarty’s family and friends; he’ll be sending them an official letter as well.

Posted on Tuesday, May 15th, 2012
Under: Afghanistan, Jerry Brown | 1 Comment »

Dems disagree on Obama’s Afghanistan pact

The U.S-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement that President Barack Obama signed yesterday with Afghan President Hamid Karzai is drawing plaudits from congressional Democratic leaders, but not from some of the caucus’ more liberal members.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, issued this statement yesterday:

“The signing of the U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement advances President Obama’s efforts to return the responsibility for Afghan security to the Afghan people. Many of us in Congress have been steadfast in expressing our opposition to an extended military presence in Afghanistan; this agreement moves us toward the day when all U.S. troops have been brought safely home.

“We have come to this moment because of the bravery of our troops and the sacrifices they and their families have been willing to make. In Afghanistan, and around the world, they have performed excellently.

“One year ago, with the death of Osama bin Laden, President Obama sent a clear message that we will pursue those who intend to do our nation harm and will never lose focus on our responsibility to keep our nation safe.

“President Obama has reiterated his commitment to the security of the American people and to end the war in Afghanistan responsibly.”

But Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland – who was the lone vote against authorizing the Bush Administration’s use of force after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and who is a member of the Out of Afghanistan Caucus – issued this statement today:

“I had hoped that President Obama would have seized this opportunity to announce an expedited end to the war in Afghanistan. Instead of speeding the transition to a fully independent Afghanistan, the newly signed U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership agreement is an open-ended commitment that could extend our presence at least another ten years. After ten long years of war, nearly two-thirds of Americans say the war is not worth fighting. It is past time for our policy to catch up with the American people. As it is widely acknowledged, there is no military solution in Afghanistan. We need to end the war now.”

From the other side of the aisle, here’s what Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had to say yesterday:

“I am pleased that President Obama has returned to Afghanistan. Our troops and the American people deserve to hear from our President about what is at stake in this war. Success in Afghanistan is vital to our nation’s security. It would be a tragedy for Afghanistan and a strategic setback for America if the Taliban returned to power and once again created a sanctuary for terrorists. We tolerated such a sanctuary until we lost thousands on September 11, 2001. Many brave Americans have sacrificed everything so that we could win this fight for a more secure future. Let us honor the memory of the fallen, not only by keeping them in our daily thoughts but also by staying true to their commitment. We are united as one nation in our gratitude to our country’s heroes.”

Posted on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
Under: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Barbara Lee, Mitt Romney, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Breaking: Obama in Afghanistan to sign pact

President Barack Obama is in Afghanistan for a whirlwind visit that will culminate in a live, televised address to the American people tonight, according to pool reports just forwarded by the White House.

Obama is expected to sign a strategic partnership agreement shortly with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, pledging U.S. support for Afghanistan for a decade after NATO forces’ planned end to combat operations in 2014. The president will address the nation at 4:30 p.m. PDT today.

UPDATE @ 5:10 P.M.: Here’s the speech…

For the pool report’s text, follow us after the jump…
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Posted on Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
Under: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Obama presidency | 5 Comments »