December 09, 2019

Following Release Of Afghanistan Papers, Gillibrand Calls For Senate To Hold Hearings For Complete Review Of Afghanistan Strategy

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, today called for a Senate hearing to investigate U.S. strategy and obstacles to success in Afghanistan. Gillibrand’s letter comes following the Washington Post’s release of previously confidential documents and interviews, in which senior U.S. military, administration, and diplomatic officials make clear that there was no clear objective to U.S. policy in Afghanistan, and no way of reaching stated goals, and that this was hidden from the American people.

 

“These papers show that past administrations, and our civilian and military leaders, have misled the American public about their objectives in Afghanistan and the potential of reaching those objectives. This is absolutely unacceptable,” said Senator Gillibrand, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee. “We have spent the last 18 years in Afghanistan, in what has become the longest armed conflict in U.S. history. It’s far past time that Congress reclaim its Constitutional role in our nation’s decisions to go to -- and remain in -- war. The men and women who serve our nation deserve much better, and the Senate must investigate how our nation got tangled in this mess.”

 

Senator Gillibrand introduced legislation earlier this year to restore Congress’s role in the nation’s war powers. The War Powers Reform Resolution would repeal the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMFs), which were passed to authorize military action, respectively, against September 11th terrorists hiding in Afghanistan and the perceived threat from Iraq. Additionally, Gillibrand’s legislation would require the president to provide Congress with a clear objective for military action; evidence that the use of the United States’ armed forces is necessary, appropriate, and proportional to the mission; a finite list of adversaries; and the names of the countries where the U.S. military will deploy. If U.S. forces remain beyond two years without Congressional approval, Congress would not provide operational funding. This would require any administration to come to Congress with adequate time before the two years is over to pass a new AUMF, if necessary.

 

The full text of Gillibrand’s letter to Senator Inhofe (R-OK), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senator Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, may be found here and below:

 

December 9, 2019

 

The Honorable James M. Inhofe

Chairman

Senate Armed Services Committee

228 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

The Honorable Jack Reed

Ranking Member

Senate Armed Services Committee

228 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

Dear Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Reed:

 

We all read today, the striking reporting by The Washington Post, suggesting that administration officials, including potentially military officials, have misled the American public about the war in Afghanistan. I am writing to request hearings to address these deeply concerning revelations about the Afghan war.

 

I appreciate the many hearings that you, and Chairmen McCain and Levin before you, have held to review the war in Afghanistan.  As the story reports, based on the Defense Department’s own figures, “since 2001, more than 775,000 U.S. troops have deployed to Afghanistan, many repeatedly. Of those, 2,300 died there and 20,589 were wounded in action, according to Defense Department figures,” and approximately a trillion dollars spent, without accounting for classified figures.  It is with these great costs to our nation in mind, that I recently introduced the War Powers Reform Resolution to end the manipulation of the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force to conduct nearly two decades of war, and to fundamentally reform how Congress would authorize future wars, so that we no longer send Americans into military action unless Congress has approved the purpose, location and duration of such action, and clearly stated whom we are fighting.

 

Given these costs in American lives and funds, it is deeply troubling to read a report of interviews with U.S. Government officials that appear to contradict the many assurances we have heard at committee hearings that the continuing war in Afghanistan has a coherent strategy and an end in sight.

 

The committee owes it to the American public to hold hearings to examine the questions raised by this reporting and provide clarity with respect to our strategy in Afghanistan, a clear definition of success, and an honest and complete review of the obstacles on the ground.