When to withdraw: getting out of Afghanistan

O`DONNELL: Still to come, how much money can we save if we withdraw from Afghanistan now that bin Laden is gone?

And Melissa Harris-Perry on the fury from Republicans over a musician`s visit to the White House.

O`DONNELL: You`ve got to wonder why it took the CIA so long to find Osama bin Laden. They can afford HBO. In fact, you know, even if they can`t afford HBO, they`re the CIA. They could get HBO.

If they`ve been watching Bill Maher`s show two and a half years ago, CIA might have found bin Laden a lot faster.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s in a cave somewhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s not. I just talked to somebody very knowledgeable.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This woman who is —


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the way, Sarah Palin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: — a villa in — it`s in a nice comfortable villa in Pakistan.



O`DONNELL: Up next, how much longer should U.S. troops stay in Afghanistan now that bin Laden is gone?

O`DONNELL: When federal deficit reduction measure receiving increased support since the killing of Osama bin Laden is reducing military spending. Through the draw down of the over 100,000 United States troops currently in Afghanistan, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney defined the commander- in-chief`s position on possible withdrawal today.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has a policy in Afghanistan. It very explicitly contains within it a transition point in July of 2011 where we begin to drawdown U.S. forces. The pace of that drawdown, the scope of that drawdown depends on conditions on the ground. And the president has yet to receive a recommendation for the first — the number for the first movement of troops out in that drawdown.


O`DONNELL: According to “The Wall Street Journal,” U.S. military offices will propose the president withdraw a whopping 5,000 troops by July, and as many as another 5,000 by the year`s end. Though troop levels would go down, the president`s 2012 budget request for military operations in Afghanistan would remain about the same about $11,000 billion, roughly the amount we`ve spent in 2011.

That request sounds excessive to the combat veteran who currently chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It is fundamentally unsustainable to continue spending $10 billion a month on a massive military operation with no end in sight. The good news is: I believe we don`t have to. I`m convinced that we can achieve our core goals at a more sustainable cost in both lives and dollars and structure.


O`DONNELL: But today, the House Intelligence Committee chairman suggested that now is not the time to apply fiscal restraint to the effort in Afghanistan.


REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), MICHIGAN: Al Qaeda is alive and well. They are hurt. They`re damaged. They`re inspirational and operational leader has been taken off the battlefield, which is a huge opportunity for us.

The confusion with them is opportunity for us. And this is the time to step on the gas and break their back. This is the wrong time to back off on funding the intelligence committee — community, excuse me, when they`re very close to technological breakthroughs.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now Democratic congressman from Ohio, Dennis Kucinich.

Thanks for joining me tonight, Congressman.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: Thank you, Lawrence. Good to be with you.

O`DONNELL: Congressman, we just heard John Kerry say that the $10 billion a month sun sustainable, but we could achieve the core goals with a less expensive presence there. Then we hear the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rogers saying, no, no, now is the time to — now that Osama bin Laden`s out of the picture, they`re weakened. Now is the time to go after them even harder, presumably spend more money if necessary.

What is the right way to go on this?

KUCINICH: That, in a sense, my friend Congressman Rogers, to follow his logic, we`re look at a second surge, then.

Look, this war in Afghanistan has become a nightmare. The occupation has fuelled the insurgency just like in Iraq. We don`t have any honest partner to deal with there. People we fund one day are fighting our soldiers the next.

We have to get out of there. We cannot afford it in any way. And we`re — if you look at the rate of withdrawal that the White House is talking about, “The Wall Street Journal” reported, they`ll slow walk this war right through 2020-2021, at the cost of another $1.2 trillion. We can`t afford it, and the blood, treasure — by every measure, this is wrong. And now is the time to get out.

O`DONNELL: According to “USA Today”/Gallup poll released today, the majority of Americans, 59 percent now believe that the mission is accomplished in Afghanistan, and we should bring the troops home, 36 percent say keep the troops there. And also, Republicans are now split on whether to withdraw or keep troops in Afghanistan, 47 percent straight Republican Party split on it.

Congressman, it seems like there isn`t a political price to pay for withdrawal. It seems like the popular political choice would be withdrawal at this point.

KUCINICH: Well, you know, sometimes it`s worth respecting the innate wisdom of the people as is being expressed right now. An overwhelming majority of Americans feel our work is done in Afghanistan.

And we also have to keep in mind that with over 10 million Americans unemployed, with 50 million Americans still without health care, with millions of Americans losing their home, with people worried about their retirement security, this is the time for us to come home and start taking care of the economic problems here, which are quite formidable.

So, I think the American people if asked, would you rather take care of things here at home or would you rather spend another trillion dollars in Afghanistan, I think the numbers would go much higher than 59 percent, 60 percent approval for that position.

O`DONNELL: One of the new theories of engagement in Afghanistan — I mean new literally in the last fortnight, is that this is where we base our moves into Pakistan. This is where SEAL Team Six launched from to go into Pakistan, to go get Osama bin Laden. And so, even if what we need to do is these kinds of strikes inside Pakistan, we need to hold a base in Afghanistan in order to launch those.

KUCINICH: OK, let`s look at that. What the underlying assumption is there we`re going to have more war with Pakistan. There`s a point at which Pakistan may start to fight back. We`ve got to be very careful about spreading ourselves so thin that we not only weaken our military, we also leave American vulnerable.

And, you know, we`re — we have our drones over Pakistan, over Yemen, over Libya, over Iraq. We are — we`re in Afghanistan. We are right now at war throughout the region.

It`s time that we put the brakes on this impulse towards war before we get sucked into more war. And if you look at this, this so-called Detainee Security Act, that they`re having hearings on right now, Lawrence, it`s a license for never ending war.

When do we say enough is enough? Stop the wars and start taking care of things here at home. When do we say that? When we do just let`s take care of things here at home, mind our own business and have a strong enough security at home that no one would dare mess with us?

O`DONNELL: Now, you co-signed a letter with other House Democrats to the Armed Services Committee chairman, asking for these hearings on the Defense Authorization Act. The letter read, in part, “By declaring a global war against nameless individuals, organizations and nations associated with the Taliban and al Qaeda, as well as those playing a supporting role in their efforts, the Detainee Security Act — what you just mentioned — would appear to grant the president never unfettered authority to initiate military action around the world.”

So, this otherwise obscure Detainee Security Act would actually, in your view, expand the president`s war-making authority?

KUCINICH: There`s no question about it. I mean, you know, there`s a point at which this very intricate balance of power which the Founders of our country put together and enshrined in the Constitution is about to be totally dismantled. It`s not — it`s bad enough that President Obama ignored the Congress in taking us into a war in Libya. But it becomes even worse when members of Congress are talking about changing the very structure of our laws so that the president can at, you know, at his instance just initiate war against anyone because we say, well, there`s terror suspects in this country.

We`ve got to be very careful that we don`t ruin our democracy with this seemingly insatiable instinct to use aggression as a means of trying to settle our differences with groups and other countries. Should we pursue terrorists? Yes. But as an army? No. As an international police force? Yes.

O`DONNELL: One of the strangest power dynamics of the second half of the 20th century has been watching the Congress slowly surrender its war- making authority to the White House.

KUCINICH: Absolutely right.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Democrat from Ohio — thank you very much for joining us tonight.

KUCINICH: Thank you.

About William Brighenti

William Brighenti is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified Business Valuation Analyst. Bill began his career in public accounting in 1979. Since then he has worked at various public accounting firms throughout Connecticut. Bill received a Master of Science in Professional Accounting degree from the University of Hartford, after attending the University of Connecticut and Central Connecticut State University for his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees. He subsequently attended Purdue University for doctoral studies in Accounting and Quantitative Methods in Business. Bill has instructed graduate and undergraduate courses in Accounting, Auditing, and other subjects at the University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University, Hartford State Technical College, and Purdue University. He also taught GMAT and CPA Exam Review Classes at the Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Center and at Person-Wolinsky, and is certified to teach trade-related subjects at Connecticut Vocational Technical Schools. His articles on tax and accounting have been published in several professional journals throughout the country as well as on several accounting websites. William was born and raised in New Britain, Connecticut, and served on the City's Board of Finance and Taxation as well as its City Plan Commission. In addition to the blog, Accounting and Taxes Simplified, Bill writes a blog, "The Barefoot Accountant", for the Accounting Web, a Sift Media publication.
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