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    Obama: Afghanistan decision in 'coming weeks'

    Obama: Afghanistan decision in 'coming weeks'
    Julie Pace, Associated Press Writer Tue Oct 13, 4:04 pm ET

    WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama said his decision on the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan will be made in "the coming weeks." While military and security decisions will be an important element in that strategy, Obama said "another element is making sure we're doing a good job in building capacity on the civilian side."

    The Obama administration is in the midst of an intensely debated review over how to overhaul its approach to the Afghan conflict. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan is believed to have presented Obama with a range of options, from adding as few as 10,000 troops to — the general's strong preference — as many as 40,000.

    Obama has held four meetings top-level meetings with key administration officials. A fifth meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, and a sixth will be held next week.

    Though he gave no indication of what he will decide, Obama said the U.S. mission in Afghanistan hasn't changed.

    "Our principal goal remains root out al-Qaida and its extremist allies that can launch attacks against the United States or its allies," he said Tuesday.

    A senior administration official told The Associated Press last week that Obama will determine how many more troops to deploy to Afghanistan based only on keeping al-Qaida at bay.

    A focus on al-Qaida is the driving force behind an approach being advocated by Vice President Joe Biden as an alternative to the McChrystal recommendation for a fuller counterinsurgency effort inside Afghanistan.

    Biden has argued for keeping the American force there around the 68,000 already authorized, including the 21,000 extra troops Obama ordered earlier this year, but significantly increasing the use of unmanned Predator drones and special forces for the kind of surgical anti-terrorist strikes that have been successful in Pakistan, Somalia and elsewhere.

    Also Tuesday, the White House rejected reports that the president authorized 13,000 additional troops that were now arriving in Afghanistan. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the troops were part of a deployment ordered by the former Bush administration that had not made their way to the Afghan theater by the time Obama took over the presidency.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_obama_afghanistan

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    more : http://www.bigbigforums.com/news-inf...ed-afghan.html
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    Lawmakers split on timing of Afghan decision
    By Matthew Lee, Associated Press Writer
    Sun Oct 25, 2:34 pm ET


    WASHINGTON – Top lawmakers sparred Sunday over the timing of President Barack Obama's decision on how to move ahead in Afghanistan, with Republicans urging a quick move to boost troop levels and Democrats counseling patience.

    In partisan displays, senators generally agreed on the need to support whatever Afghan government emerges from a Nov. 7 run-off election between President Hamid Karzai and challenger Abdullah Abdullah. But they differed on exactly how to do that and when.

    Republicans said Obama must sign off soon on a recommendation from the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, to substantially increase the number of American troops there by as many as 40,000 or more. Democrats warned against a hasty decision on any increase.

    "Clearly, time is of the essence here," said Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the second-ranking Republican. "I'm afraid that with every passing day we risk the future success of the mission."

    "I think it's taken too long," added Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "Why not follow the advice of his hand-picked general?"

    Arizona Sen. John McCain, the GOP nominee for president last year, said that "every day we delay will be a delay in this strategy succeeding." The deteriorating situation "argues for a rapid decision," he said.

    Obama has had McChrystal's recommendation for weeks but has yet to decide on putting it in place even after numerous strategy sessions with senior aides. The White House has said the president will not be rushed, but suggested a decision will be made soon.

    None of the Republicans would second a claim made last week by former Vice President Dick Cheney that Obama is "dithering" in making a decision, but they agreed that continued delay would endanger the 68,000 U.S. soldiers now on the ground in Afghanistan.

    "I would never want to call my president dithering," Hatch said. He stressed, though, that "they need these troops, there is no question about it. We're exposing them without the proper help that they have just got to have. ... I think it's a mistake."

    Distancing himself from Cheney, McCain also said he "wouldn't use that language." But, he added, "The sooner we implement the strategy the more we will able to ensure their (troops') safety."

    Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, lashed out at Cheney's criticism, which came in a speech on Wednesday while accepting an award from a conservative national security group.

    "I thought that comments of the former vice president were totally out of bounds," said Levin, D-Mich. "I don't think he has any credibility left with the American people in any event. But I think it is really wrong. ... The president needs to make the right decision."

    Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., another member of the Armed Services Committee, also disagreed.

    "The process that this administration is using is, I think, is a very proper and smart process," he said. "This deliberative process is what we need because we're going to end up living with the results for some time."

    In addition to differing on the timing of the decision, lawmakers were divided by party over on what it should be. Republicans wholeheartedly endorsed McChrystal's appeal while Democrats were more skeptical.

    Levin, who has urged that the Afghan security forces be built up before any increase in U.S. combat troops, said "it would be a mistake to have any significant number of additional combat forces because I would like to see a large increase in the Afghan army be the major way in which this is successful."

    Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., was more strident, saying he is against a build up of American forces.

    "It is time to start thinking about bringing troops out of Afghanistan and reducing our commitment there," he said. He pledged to oppose a decision to send more.

    "There will be resistance to this if necessary," Feingold said. "If necessary, we will act to prevent this mistake."

    Kyl and Levin spoke on "Fox News Sunday," Hatch and Webb were on CNN's "State of the Union," and Feingold and McCain appeared on CBS's "Face the Nation"


    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091025/...1ha2Vyc3NwbA--
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    14 Americans killed in 2 Afghan helicopter crashes
    By HEIDI VOGT, Associated Press Writer
    37 mins ago


    KABUL – Helicopter crashes killed 14 Americans on Monday, including three DEA agents after a firefight with suspected Taliban drug traffickers. It was the deadliest day for the U.S. in Afghanistan in more than four years.

    The casualties also marked the Drug Enforcement Administration's first deaths in Afghanistan since it began operations here in 2005. Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium — the raw ingredient in heroin — and the illicit drug trade is a major source of funding for insurgent groups.

    In the deadliest crash, a helicopter went down in the west of the country after leaving the scene of a firefight, killing 10 Americans — seven troops and the three DEA agents. Eleven American troops, one U.S. civilian and 14 Afghans were also injured.

    In a separate incident, two U.S. Marine helicopters — one UH-1 and an AH-1 Cobra — collided in flight before sunrise over the southern province of Helmand, killing four American troops and wounding two more, Marine spokesman Maj. Bill Pelletier said.

    It was the heaviest single-day loss of life since June 28, 2005, when 19 U.S. troops died, including 16 on an MH-47 Chinook helicopter that was shot down by insurgents.

    U.S. authorities have ruled out hostile fire in the collision but have not given a cause for the other fatal crash in the west. Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmedi claimed Taliban fighters shot down a helicopter in northwest Badghis province's Darabam district. It was impossible to verify the claim and unclear if he was referring to the same incident.

    Military spokeswoman Elizabeth Mathias said hostile fire was unlikely because the troops were not receiving fire when the helicopter took off.

    NATO said the helicopter was returning from a joint operation that targeted insurgents involved in "narcotics trafficking in western Afghanistan."

    "During the operation, insurgent forces engaged the joint force and more than a dozen enemy fighters were killed in the ensuing firefight," a NATO statement said.

    U.S. forces also reported the death of two other American service members a day earlier: one in a bomb attack in the east, and another who died of wounds sustained in an insurgent attack in the same region. The deaths bring to at least 47 the number of U.S. service members who have been killed in October.

    This has been the deadliest year for international and U.S. forces since the 2001 invasion to oust the Taliban. Fighting spiked around the presidential vote in August, and 51 U.S. soldiers died that month — the deadliest for American forces in the eight-year war.

    The latest deaths came as President Barack Obama prepared to meet his national security team for a sixth full-scale conference on the future of the troubled war.

    Obama is debating whether to send tens of thousands more troops to the country, while the Afghan government is rushing to hold a Nov. 7 runoff election between President Hamid Karzai and challenger Abdullah Abdullah after it was determined that the August election depended on fraudulent votes.

    The administration is hoping the runoff will produce a legitimate government. In Washington, Obama was to meet with his national security team Monday in what was to be the sixth full-scale Afghanistan conference in the White House Situation Room.

    Abdullah on Monday called for election commission chairman Azizullah Lodin to be replaced within five days, saying he has "no credibility."

    Lodin has denied accusations he is biased in favor of Karzai, and the election commission's spokesman has already said Lodin cannot be replaced by either side.

    Abdullah made the demand in a news conference during which he spelled out what he said were "minimum conditions" for holding a fair second round of voting, including the firing of any workers implicated in fraud and the suspension of several ministers he said had campaigned for Karzai in the first round before the official campaigning period began.

    Abdullah did not say what would happen if his demands were not met. "I reserve my reaction if we are faced with that unfortunate situation," he said.

    Abdullah said he was willing to meet with Karzai to discuss the conditions, but repeated that he would not discuss a coalition government as some have suggested, nor compromise on his recommendations out of concerns that they are difficult to implement.

    "These are not impossible things," Abdullah said, stressing that his team had pared them down to what they considered essential to a fair vote and possible to put in place before the runoff.

    Another flawed election would cast doubt on the wisdom of sending in more U.S. troops.

    With less than two weeks to go until the vote, disagreements have emerged between the U.N. and the Afghans on how to conduct the balloting.

    Lodin said the commission hopes to open all 23,960 polling stations from the first round. The U.N. wants to open only 16,000 stations to cut down on the number of "ghost polling stations" that never opened but were used to stuff ballot boxes.

    Elsewhere Monday, Nangarhar province Gov. Gul Agha Sherzai survived an assassination attempt after a gunman fired automatic weapons at his convoy in Jalalabad, according to his spokesman Ahmad Zia Abdulzai. Sherzai's bodyguards killed the gunman, as well as another attacker wearing a suicide vest and carrying grenades.

    Meanwhile, security forces in Kabul fired automatic rifles into the air for a second day Monday to contain hundreds of stone-throwing university students angered over the alleged desecration of Islam's holy book, the Quran, by U.S. troops during an operation two weeks ago in Wardak province. Fire trucks were also brought in to push back protesters with water cannons. Police said several officers were injured in the mayhem.

    U.S. and Afghan authorities have denied any such desecration and insist that the Taliban are spreading the rumor to stir up public anger. The rumor has sparked similar protests in Wardak and Khost provinces.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091026/...as_afghanistan
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    Kerry: General's war plan goes too far
    By ANNE GEARAN, AP National Security Writer
    38 mins ago


    WASHINGTON Ė A war plan that asks President Barack Obama to commit tens of thousands of additional U.S. forces to Afghanistan is too ambitious, a top Senate Democrat said Monday.

    Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the White House's point man during last week's tense talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, praised commanding Gen. Stanley McChrystal but said his plan for adding troops in Afghanistan "goes too far, too fast."

    Kerry's stance would aim for a modest increase in American forces, treading middle ground between Republicans who have said Obama would put soldiers and the country at risk by rejecting McChrystal's larger request and anti-war Democrats who question whether the United States has already taken on too much in Afghanistan.

    "Under the right circumstances, if we can be confident that military efforts can be sustained and built upon, then I would support the president should he decide to send some additional troops to regain the initiative," Kerry said.

    Obama is nearing a decision on whether to commit large numbers of additional troops to the war next year. McChrystal favors an increase of roughly 40,000, officials have told The Associated Press, which would allow the U.S. military to expand its reach in areas of the country's south and east now under Taliban sway.

    Fresh from several days of talks in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, Kerry warned that the United States also cannot risk a drastic shift in strategy that would focus narrowly on hunting terrorists.

    "We all see the appeal of a limited counterterrorism mission, and no doubt it is part of the endgame, but I don't think we're there yet," Kerry said during remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations. "A narrow mission that cedes half the country to the Taliban could lead to civil war" in Afghanistan and threaten the fragile civilian government in Pakistan, he said.

    Obama mourned 14 Americans killed Monday in helicopter crashes in Afghanistan, and told a military audience he will not be hurried as he evaluates whether to alter U.S. strategy in the war.

    "I will never rush the solemn decision of sending you into harm's way. I won't risk your lives unless it is absolutely necessary," Obama said during a visit to Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida.

    Obama convened another in a series of White House war council sessions with Cabinet officials and other top advisers earlier Monday amid Republican criticism that he is taking too long to choose his next move.

    White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Monday that a decision is still expected in the coming weeks.

    As Obama weighs his options on the military side, the State Department said Monday it was on track to meet the goal of tripling the size of the civilian component in Afghanistan by year's end or very early 2010.

    That will bring the number of agronomists, lawyers, diplomats and development experts in the country from 320 in January to 974, Deputy Secretary of State for Management Jack Lew told reporters.

    Lew said he did not expect Obama's decision on troops to have a significant effect on the civilians except in cases where additional troops might secure new areas of the country for them to work safely.

    Three civilian Drug Enforcement Administration agents died Monday during the crash of a U.S. military helicopter that also killed seven U.S. service members, an official said. The craft went down in the west of Afghanistan.

    The casualties mark the first DEA deaths in Afghanistan since the drug agency began operations there in 2005.

    The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement has been made. Officials say the helicopter had left the scene of a fire fight with insurgents.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091026/...s_afghanistan/
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    Obama to troops: “I will never rush the solemn decision of sending you into harm’s way”
    October 26, 2009 by Allahpundit [/i]
    http://hotair.com/archives/2009/10/2...into-harms-way

    A noble and altogether proper sentiment, made somewhat less so by (a) reports of how much golf he’s been playing and (b) the inconvenient truth that there are troops in the field being endangered by the lack of reinforcements. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/wo...tary.html?_r=2 I can only assume he’s defining “rush” here as “any speed faster than the speed I feel like going.”

    If not, then the obvious question — asked a thousand times but still unanswered as far as I know — is why this strategic reassessment wasn’t undertaken when he decided to replace McKiernan with McChrystal earlier this year. Especially since Bush’s own assessment last year provided “helpful” information, per Gibbs’s own admission.
    http://realclearpolitics.blogs.time....not-the-issue/

    According to ABC, it sounds like the new yardstick for “rush” is anytime before mid-November: http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpu...not-40000.html

    Sources tell ABC News that as of now President Obama will likely announce his decision about a new strategy in Afghanistan at some point between the Afghan run-off election, November 7, and the president’s departure for Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday, November 11.

    There is a chance the announcement may be delayed until the president’s return from the Asia trip on Friday, November 20, but as of now the plan is to have the announcement in that window.

    Sources emphasize that no decision has yet been made, but as of now it looks as though the president is leaning towards sending more troops to Afghanistan, though not as many as Gen. Stanley McChrystal requested, 40,000.
    Be sure to read this Danger Room piece on today’s helicopter nightmare in Afghanistan after you watch the clip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tS83n...layer_embedded Boots on the ground aren’t the only thing we need more of. http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009...ghanistan-war/

    Remember this photo op?I didn’t see one of our bravest and best smiling today. http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/war...f-the-ame.html
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    No Defense appropriation until December?
    posted at 12:55 pm on October 26, 2009 by Ed Morrissey


    Democrats have a majority in the House with more than 70 seats over the Republicans. Appropriations can’t be filibustered in the Senate, but even if they could, Democrats have a filibuster-proof majority in the upper chamber. Passing a budget is the basic responsibility of Congressional leadership, and it was due on September 30th. In wartime, the annual defense appropriation should have the highest priority over all of the other appropriation bills that comprise the federal budget plan. The Democrats have one of their own in the Oval Office, Barack Obama, who has shown no inclination at all to interfere with Congressional leadership on legislation, not even on his highest domestic agenda priorities.

    So when will this Congress get around to a conference vote on the Pentagon’s appropriation? December

    Some lawmakers are growing antsy over the delay by House Democratic leaders in moving the 2010 defense appropriations conference report to a vote.
    Rep. James Moran (D-Va.), a senior defense appropriator, told The Hill on Friday that the vote on the conference “possibly” will not happen until December. …

    The House leadership is expected to meet with President Barack Obama next week to discuss the strategy for the pending appropriations bills.

    Meanwhile, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), the Senate Appropriations Chairman, said in a short interview with The Hill that conference negotiations between the two chambers are proceeding. He also expressed confidence that the 2010 Pentagon-spending bill “will pass very soon.”
    Well, don’t feel like you have to rush anything, you know. It’s not like there’s a war on, or that it’s your job or anything. Oh, wait ….

    This goes directly to leadership and competence. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi missed last year’s budget deadline on purpose, to cut George Bush out of the loop. This year, they have no such excuse. They have had all year to work on the FY2010 budget. We have been at war since 9/11, and the Defense appropriation should have been passed well before the October start to the fiscal year.

    If Reid and Pelosi can’t get Job 1 accomplished in 2009, voters should do their best to ensure that Democrats don’t have the opportunity to screw up any more budgets in the future.


    http://hotair.com/archives/2009/10/2...until-decmber/



    Bush family political heir is shipping off to war

    George P. Bush, or "P" as he's known to some, is thought to be the biggest hope for a fourth generation of Bush family political leaders, with some suggesting that he might run for statewide office in Texas at some point in the next four to eight years. But, as The Daily Beast points out today, any future George P. Bush political ambitions will have to be put on hold as his Navy Reserve unit is set to be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan in the coming weeks.

    Lt. Junior Grade Bush, 33, joined the Navy Reserve in 2007 as an intelligence officer. The Navy recently told him, like thousands of others, that the two ongoing wars required him to go active-duty overseas, potentially in Iraq or Afghanistan. "It's been communicated to me that it's not a question of 'if,' it's a question of 'when,'" Bush told The Daily Beast. "It's just a matter of time."
    Bush, who said that he was inspired by the service of his grandfather George H.W. Bush as well as former NFL star Pat Tillman, signed up for an eight-year term in the Navy Reserve in 2007. When word got out about his enlistment, Bush told Politico that he was "disappointed" as he'd intended to keep it under wraps, saying, "I was hoping to keep this as confidential as possible. I'm not doing it for political purposes or anything along those lines." However, prior to his joining some opponents of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan roundly criticized the Bush administration for the Bush family's lack of service in the war effort, saying that if George W. Bush was willing to send the children of other Americans into harm's way overseas, then George P. Bush and other eligible Bush family members should join the armed services and risk their lives fighting for the country as well.

    Compared to JFK Jr. due to his good looks and seemingly effortless public charisma, George Prescott Bush (his middle name honors his great-grandfather, former U.S. Sen. Prescott Bush) is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his wife, Columba Bush, who was born and raised in Mexico. Bush's half-Hispanic bloodline aided his burst onto the American political scene in 2000, when he helped his uncle George W. Bush rally up considerable Hispanic voter support by speaking at the Republican National Convention and starring in Spanish-language campaign ads, an effort that many feel helped Bush win the state of Florida's electoral votes, which turned out to be the controversial determining factor in the close election.

    Born and raised in Florida, George P. Bush was a high school classmate of pop star Enrique Iglesias. After high school, he attended Rice University in Houston, where, just like his presidential uncle and grandfather, he was a walk-on on his school's baseball squad, though he quit the team during his sophomore year. After earning a degree in history from Rice, Bush got a job teaching at a Miami-area agricultural community. After leaving that job to hit the campaign trail in 2000, he entered law school at the University of Texas after NYU, Yale, Harvard, and Columbia rejected his applications. While there, he met his future bride, Amanda Williams, whom he asked to play golf on their first date. After graduation, they both practiced law in Dallas before moving to Austin in 2005. Bush now is a partner in a real estate investment firm while his wife practices law.

    Other than being arrested at 18 for burglarizing the home of an ex-girlfriend, George P. Bush appears to have all the right credentials to carry the Bush legacy well into the future. While family members often refer to the former presidents Bush as "41" and "43," the Washington Post says that some close to the family have taken to referring to George P. Bush as "47," so it's probably safe to assume that those inside the family see him as a potential future Bush torchbearer just as many outside the family do. Could a possible Bush vs. Biden matchup be in the works for 2020 or 2024, with George P. Bush taking on Beau Biden, the attorney general of Delaware and son of the current vice president who also served in Iraq? In some circles, it may not be too early to speculate.





    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/200910...ws/ynews_ts954
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    No Defense appropriation until December?
    posted at 12:55 pm on October 26, 2009 by Ed Morrissey


    Democrats have a majority in the House with more than 70 seats over the Republicans. Appropriations canít be filibustered in the Senate, but even if they could, Democrats have a filibuster-proof majority in the upper chamber. Passing a budget is the basic responsibility of Congressional leadership, and it was due on September 30th. In wartime, the annual defense appropriation should have the highest priority over all of the other appropriation bills that comprise the federal budget plan. The Democrats have one of their own in the Oval Office, Barack Obama, who has shown no inclination at all to interfere with Congressional leadership on legislation, not even on his highest domestic agenda priorities.

    So when will this Congress get around to a conference vote on the Pentagonís appropriation? December

    Some lawmakers are growing antsy over the delay by House Democratic leaders in moving the 2010 defense appropriations conference report to a vote.
    Rep. James Moran (D-Va.), a senior defense appropriator, told The Hill on Friday that the vote on the conference ďpossiblyĒ will not happen until December. Ö

    The House leadership is expected to meet with President Barack Obama next week to discuss the strategy for the pending appropriations bills.

    Meanwhile, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), the Senate Appropriations Chairman, said in a short interview with The Hill that conference negotiations between the two chambers are proceeding. He also expressed confidence that the 2010 Pentagon-spending bill ďwill pass very soon.Ē
    Well, donít feel like you have to rush anything, you know. Itís not like thereís a war on, or that itís your job or anything. Oh, wait Ö.

    This goes directly to leadership and competence. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi missed last yearís budget deadline on purpose, to cut George Bush out of the loop. This year, they have no such excuse. They have had all year to work on the FY2010 budget. We have been at war since 9/11, and the Defense appropriation should have been passed well before the October start to the fiscal year.

    If Reid and Pelosi canít get Job 1 accomplished in 2009, voters should do their best to ensure that Democrats donít have the opportunity to screw up any more budgets in the future.


    http://hotair.com/archives/2009/10/2...until-decmber/



    Bush family political heir is shipping off to war

    George P. Bush, or "P" as he's known to some, is thought to be the biggest hope for a fourth generation of Bush family political leaders, with some suggesting that he might run for statewide office in Texas at some point in the next four to eight years. But, as The Daily Beast points out today, any future George P. Bush political ambitions will have to be put on hold as his Navy Reserve unit is set to be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan in the coming weeks.

    Lt. Junior Grade Bush, 33, joined the Navy Reserve in 2007 as an intelligence officer. The Navy recently told him, like thousands of others, that the two ongoing wars required him to go active-duty overseas, potentially in Iraq or Afghanistan. "It's been communicated to me that it's not a question of 'if,' it's a question of 'when,'" Bush told The Daily Beast. "It's just a matter of time."
    Bush, who said that he was inspired by the service of his grandfather George H.W. Bush as well as former NFL star Pat Tillman, signed up for an eight-year term in the Navy Reserve in 2007. When word got out about his enlistment, Bush told Politico that he was "disappointed" as he'd intended to keep it under wraps, saying, "I was hoping to keep this as confidential as possible. I'm not doing it for political purposes or anything along those lines." However, prior to his joining some opponents of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan roundly criticized the Bush administration for the Bush family's lack of service in the war effort, saying that if George W. Bush was willing to send the children of other Americans into harm's way overseas, then George P. Bush and other eligible Bush family members should join the armed services and risk their lives fighting for the country as well.

    Compared to JFK Jr. due to his good looks and seemingly effortless public charisma, George Prescott Bush (his middle name honors his great-grandfather, former U.S. Sen. Prescott Bush) is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his wife, Columba Bush, who was born and raised in Mexico. Bush's half-Hispanic bloodline aided his burst onto the American political scene in 2000, when he helped his uncle George W. Bush rally up considerable Hispanic voter support by speaking at the Republican National Convention and starring in Spanish-language campaign ads, an effort that many feel helped Bush win the state of Florida's electoral votes, which turned out to be the controversial determining factor in the close election.

    Born and raised in Florida, George P. Bush was a high school classmate of pop star Enrique Iglesias. After high school, he attended Rice University in Houston, where, just like his presidential uncle and grandfather, he was a walk-on on his school's baseball squad, though he quit the team during his sophomore year. After earning a degree in history from Rice, Bush got a job teaching at a Miami-area agricultural community. After leaving that job to hit the campaign trail in 2000, he entered law school at the University of Texas after NYU, Yale, Harvard, and Columbia rejected his applications. While there, he met his future bride, Amanda Williams, whom he asked to play golf on their first date. After graduation, they both practiced law in Dallas before moving to Austin in 2005. Bush now is a partner in a real estate investment firm while his wife practices law.

    Other than being arrested at 18 for burglarizing the home of an ex-girlfriend, George P. Bush appears to have all the right credentials to carry the Bush legacy well into the future. While family members often refer to the former presidents Bush as "41" and "43," the Washington Post says that some close to the family have taken to referring to George P. Bush as "47," so it's probably safe to assume that those inside the family see him as a potential future Bush torchbearer just as many outside the family do. Could a possible Bush vs. Biden matchup be in the works for 2020 or 2024, with George P. Bush taking on Beau Biden, the attorney general of Delaware and son of the current vice president who also served in Iraq? In some circles, it may not be too early to speculate.





    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/200910...ws/ynews_ts954
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  16. #8
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    Obama considering scaled-down Afghan war plan
    By Anne Gearan And Matthew Lee, Associated Press Writers
    45 mins ago


    WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is considering sending large numbers of additional U.S. forces to Afghanistan next year but fewer than his war commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, prefers, U.S. officials said.

    Such a narrowed military mission would escalate American forces to accomplish the commander's broadest goals, protecting Afghan cities and key infrastructure. But the option's scaled-down troop numbers likely would cut back on McChrystal's most ambitious objectives, amounting to what one official described as "McChrystal Light."

    Under the pared-down option, McChrystal would be given fewer forces than the 40,000 additional troops he has asked for atop the current U.S. force of 68,000, officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

    Senior White House officials stressed, however, that the president has not settled on any new troop numbers and continues to debate other strategic approaches to the 8-year-old Afghanistan war. The officials say Obama has not yet firmly settled on the narrowed option or any other as his final choice for how to overhaul the war effort.

    Obama is likely to hold off on making a decision until after Afghanistan's presidential run-off election on Nov. 7, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday in Pakistan.

    "I would imagine that he will be coming to a decision sometime after the Afghan election is finally resolved," Clinton told a group of Pakistani journalists during an interview in Lahore.

    Two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because Obama has not announced his decision, said the troop numbers under the narrowed scenario probably would be lower than McChrystal's preference, at least at the outset. The officials did not divulge exact numbers.

    The stripped-down version of McChrystal's plan still would adopt the commander's overall goals for a counterinsurgency strategy aimed at turning the corner against the Taliban next spring.

    But that pared-down approach would reflect a shift in thinking about what parts of the war mission are most important and the intense political domestic debate over Afghan policy.

    A majority of Americans either oppose the war or question whether it is worth continuing to wage, according to public opinion polls dating to when Obama shook up the war's management and began a lengthy reconsideration of U.S. objectives earlier this year.

    Any expansion of the war will displease some congressional Democrats. If Obama does not meet McChrystal's request, Republicans are likely to accuse Obama of failing to give McChrystal all of what he needs.

    A stripped-down approach would signal caution in widening a war that is going worse this year than last despite intense U.S. attention and an additional 21,000 U.S. forces on Obama's watch.

    Fourteen Americans were killed Monday in Afghanistan in two helicopter crashes, and roadside bombings Tuesday left eight U.S. troops dead. October has been the worst month for U.S. fatalities since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan began in October 2001.

    Even if McChrystal gets less than he wants from Obama, the U.S. may still end up adding more troops later in 2010. The most likely reason would be to fill voids left by some NATO allies who have been considering troop cutbacks.

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates has pushed back hard against a faction of administration officials, led by Vice President Joe Biden, who contend that much of the U.S. national security objective in Afghanistan could be accomplished by concentrating on strikes at al-Qaida along the Pakistan border.

    That approach would hunt terrorists with techniques such as missile-loaded pilotless drones, and could require little or no additional U.S. manpower.

    Gates has bridged both sides, officials said. Long wary of a large U.S. presence that could too easily look like an occupation army, he has suggested recently that he could support a carefully designed expansion.

    Obama meets Friday with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the military leaders who would have the responsibility for carrying out his strategy decisions. White House officials said the president will continue to consider his options with advisers over the next couple of weeks, adding that other broad war council meetings may still be called during that period.

    Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is on record supporting a troop increase. He has not quantified his preference, but he signed off on McChrystal's assessment of the worsening conditions in Afghanistan and the need for a change in approach and boost in manpower.

    Gates has not given a public opinion on McChrystal's request but has pushed for the commander's overarching strategy during recent weeks of review by the White House, officials said.

    "I think that the analytical phase is ... coming to an end," Gates said last week in Europe. "Probably over the next two or three weeks we're going to be considering specific options and teeing them up for a decision by the president."

    As for McChrystal, he already begun carrying out elements of his targeted counterinsurgency plan, which focuses on the volatile south and east of the country and emphasizes protecting civilians even if it means allowing individual militants to escape.

    McChrystal's recommendations got broad endorsement from NATO defense chiefs last week, with the suggestion that some nations will increase troops or other resources.

    The Friday meeting is the last formal session the president has scheduled to review the situation in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, a decision-making process that Republican critics say has taken too long.



    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091029/...us_afghanistan
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    White House: Afghan troop decision within weeks
    By Lara Jakes, Associated Press Writer
    1 hr 19 mins ago


    WASHINGTON – Top Obama administration officials pledged Sunday to work with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, despite continuing doubts about his credibility that could have been eased had he won a runoff election against his top challenger, who dropped out citing concerns of fraud.

    The decision Sunday by former Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah to quit the runoff, less than a week before it was set to happen, creates yet another headache for the White House as it struggles to draw up a new battle plan for the eight-year Afghanistan war — including whether to send tens of thousands more U.S. troops to fight.

    "We are going to deal with the government that is there," senior Obama adviser David Axelrod said. "And obviously there are issues we need to discuss, such as reducing the high level of corruption. These are issues we'll take up with President Karzai."

    Axelrod said Obama would announce a war strategy "within weeks." A senior U.S. official told The Associated Press that Obama has still not yet decided what to do, and it remains unclear whether he will decide before he goes to Asia on Nov. 11.

    The official said a Karzai victory would have given the sitting Afghan president more legitimacy in the wake of widespread charges of fraud during the initial election in August, in which he collected 48 percent of the vote. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to speak more frankly about Obama's decision-making process.

    Still, Karzai's re-election was all but universally expected among U.S. officials who have been planning for weeks on how to help his government move forward.

    "Karzai was going to win anyway. So what now?" Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said Sunday in an AP interview from Dubai as he headed back to the United States after three days in Afghanistan.

    Had a runoff occurred, "that would make me think that he's more credible," said Hunter, a Marine veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. "But we can't force Abdullah to run. Let's get past that and say, 'Karzai, step up.'"

    It was still not clear Sunday whether a runoff election would be held anyway, but an announcement canceling it was expected as early as Monday.

    In a statement, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton praised Abdullah and said, "It is now a matter for the Afghan authorities to decide on a way ahead that brings this electoral process to a conclusion in line with the Afghan constitution."

    For months, the Obama administration has been grappling with whether to continue targeting the Taliban with more U.S. forces in an increasingly deadly war in Afghanistan, or to focus on eliminating al-Qaida and other terrorists with unmanned spy planes in Pakistan.

    About 68,000 American troops already have been ordered to report to Afghanistan by the end of the year. The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, wants the Pentagon to send him an additional 40,000 troops to prevent the Taliban from letting al-Qaida once again use Afghanistan as a haven — as it was in the days leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

    The White House has signaled it will probably send more forces, but fewer than what McChrystal wants. The senior U.S. official said Sunday that Obama's national security team is trying to define a "sufficiency standard" — sending a sufficient number of U.S. troops to provide a sufficient level of security and allow sufficient growth of governance and economic development to stabilize Afghanistan over the next three to five years.

    Abdullah's withdrawal, in effect, handed Karzai an uncontested win that puts Obama "in a difficult position," said Karin von Hippel, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    "We need a credible partner to make things happen," said von Hippel, who was still planning to head to Afghanistan on Monday to serve as an election observer should the Nov. 7 vote be held. "It's possible that Karzai can be a credible partner, but he really hasn't been in the last few years. And he needs to change the way he governs to become that."

    Hunter and Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut independent, called anew for Obama to heed McChrystal's request for additional forces. "It's time to send more help," Lieberman said.

    Once a Democrat, the hawkish Lieberman said the Obama administration needs to start working with Karzai, whom he praised.

    "I think it's time for us to stop beating up on President Karzai and start building up President Karzai and his government to be the government we need," Lieberman said. "Because they're not the enemy. The enemy is the Taliban."

    Valerie Jarrett, another senior White House adviser, said Abdullah's withdrawal would not "complicate" Obama's strategy decision. She did not mention Karzai specifically.

    "We're going to work with the leader of the Afghan government and hopefully that's going to improve the state of conditions for the people in Afghanistan, and also help us as we try to bring this war to a close," Jarrett said.

    Axelrod and Lieberman spoke on CBS' "Face the Nation," and Jarrett appeared on ABC's "This Week."

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091101/...l0ZWhvdXNlYWY-
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    Embattled UN rethinking Afghan-Pakistan role
    By Deb Riechmann And Sebastian Abbot, Associated Press Writers
    15 mins ago


    KABUL – The United Nations is sending about 600 foreign staff out of the country or into secure compounds because of the deadly Taliban attack on U.N. workers, warning the Afghan government Thursday that international support will wane unless it cracks down on corruption fueling the insurgency.

    The decision follows a drawdown of U.N. operations in Pakistan, casting doubt on whether the world body can operate effectively in this region with war raging on both sides of the border. The moves come as the Obama administration nears a decision on whether to send tens of thousands more U.S. troops to Afghanistan to try to curb the growth of the Taliban.

    The U.N. insists the staff relocations — which affect more than half the organization's foreign staff in Afghanistan and a modest number in Pakistan — are temporary.

    Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide, the top U.N. official in Afghanistan, told reporters that "we are not talking about evacuation" — language similar to that used by U.N. spokesmen in 2003 when the world body announced a "temporary relocation" from Iraq after bombings against U.N. facilities. The drawdown lasted for years.

    Nevertheless, insurgents can claim a psychological victory. Hampering the international community's ability to carry out aid and development work makes it much harder to win the hearts and minds of the people, a key ingredient for success on the battlefield.

    Reviving local economies and improving the effectiveness of local administrations are integral parts of U.S. counterinsurgency strategy.

    Earlier this week, the U.N. announced it was pulling some expatriate staff from Pakistan after a deadly attack in the capital, Islamabad. It also suspended long-term development work in such fields as health, education, agriculture and the environment in key areas of the lawless border area with Afghanistan.

    The Phase IV threat level the U.N. assigned to Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal region and North West Frontier Province is only one level below full evacuation. The U.N. said the distribution of food would continue through non-governmental organizations.

    In Afghanistan, the U.N. mission is still reeling from the pre-dawn assault Oct. 28 on a guest house in Kabul where dozens of U.N. staffers lived. Gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed inside, killing five U.N. workers and three Afghans. The three assailants also died.

    The Taliban said they attacked the guest house because the U.N. was working on the Afghan election, which they viewed as a Western plot.

    "It's been a few very difficult, dramatic days for us as U.N. family," said Eide, who visited the charred remains of the house where a blue U.N. flak jacket lay covered in ashes. "We have to get over it. We will, of course, continue our work here as we have promised."

    About 600 of the 1,100 international staff will be moved for three to four weeks to more secure locations both within and outside of Afghanistan while the world body works to find safer permanent housing, U.N. spokesman Aleem Siddique said.

    Only a minority of those 600 will be temporarily relocated outside Afghanistan, U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said in New York.

    Eide said a number of options were being considered for those who leave Afghanistan, including Dubai — a frequent destination for U.N. staff on rest breaks.

    Although Eide insisted the U.N. was not abandoning Afghanistan, he made clear that the U.N. is concerned about the deteriorating situation in the country and the failure of President Hamid Karzai's government to stamp out corruption.

    "There is a belief among some that the international commitment to Afghanistan will continue whatever happens because of the strategic importance of Afghanistan," Eide told reporters. "I would like to emphasize that that is not correct. It is the public opinion in donor countries and in troop-contributing countries that decides on the strength of that commitment."

    In Britain, public calls for a pullout of troops have intensified since an Afghan policeman shot and killed five British soldiers Tuesday. Britain is the largest contributor to NATO forces in Afghanistan after the United States, and its continued presence here is vital to Obama's strategy.

    Security in Pakistan is another key part of U.S. strategy in the region, partly because Taliban militants and their al-Qaida allies use the Pakistani side of the porous border as a base from which to plan attacks in both countries.

    A surge of violence across Pakistan over the past month has killed more than 300 people, including 11 U.N. workers, and threatened to destabilize the nuclear-armed nation. In one particularly jarring attack, a suicide bomber struck the World Food Program's headquarters in the heart of the capital.

    The rise in attacks is believed to be partly a retaliation for an ongoing Pakistani ground offensive launched last month against the Taliban in South Waziristan, part of the tribal area.

    "We have revved up security all over the world, but the risks are increasing because right now the United Nations is increasingly a target," Montas said.

    About 80 percent of the U.N. staff in Afghanistan are Afghans and will continue to work as usual, U.N. officials said.

    The relocation order was the latest blow to the troubled U.N. mission, which had been overseeing the fraud-marred Afghan presidential election, which ended this week when the lone remaining challenger to Karzai dropped out and a runoff planned for Saturday was called off. The challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, said he could not be assured that the vote would be fair.

    The top-ranking American in the U.N. mission here, Peter Galbraith, was fired in September after claiming Eide was not bullish enough in preventing fraud in the first-round presidential vote the month before.

    Nevertheless, Eide lectured Karzai on Thursday on corruption and fraud.

    "We can't afford any longer a situation where warlords and power brokers play their own games," Eide said. "We have to have a political landscape here that draws the country in the same direction, which is in the direction of significant reform."

    Defending Karzai, presidential spokesman Humayun Hamidzada called the Afghan leader a "unifying figure" who has brought together Afghans from all walks of life. He said the government and the international community must cooperate "to fight corruption in all its forms whether it's in the Afghan bureaucracy or in the award of international contracts."

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091105/...as_afghanistan
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    White House: Obama weighs 4 options in Afghanistan
    By Anne Gearan And Steven R. Hurst, Associated Press Writers
    1 hr 27 mins ago


    WASHINGTON Ė President Barack Obama is considering four options for realigning U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, his spokesman said Tuesday, while military officials said the choices involve several ways the president could employ additional U.S. forces next year.

    White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama will discuss the four scenarios with his national security team on Wednesday. Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Fort Hood, Texas, Gibbs would not offer details about those options. He insisted that Obama has not made a decision about troop deployments.

    Gibbs said that anybody who says Obama has made a decision "doesn't have in all honesty the slightest idea what they're talking about. The president's yet to make a decision" about troop levels or other aspects of the revised U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

    Obama and first lady Michelle Obama traveled to Killeen, Texas, Tuesday, where the president spoke at a memorial service for those killed in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood.

    Military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the decision is pending, said the military services are developing presentations to explain how various force levels could be used in Afghanistan and how various deployment schedules could work, given recent promises to give soldiers more rest time at home.

    Military officials have said Obama is nearing a decision to add tens of thousands more forces to Afghanistan, though probably not quite the 40,000 sought by his top general there.

    Republican senators planned to send a letter to Obama Wednesday urging him to move quickly to fully answer Gen. Stanley McChrystal's request for additional troops and resources. Officials have told The Associated Press that McChrystal prefers an addition of about 40,000 troops next year.

    In their letter, the Republican senators reminded Obama that they have supported his moves on Afghanistan so far but are concerned about the stress on the current U.S. force of 68,000.

    "We urge you to move now to fully support Gen. McChrystal's call for resources and troops," the letter reads.

    A copy of the letter was provided to the AP.

    Gibbs said Tuesday that a decision still is weeks away. He had earlier said no announcement is expected until late this month, when the president returns from an extended diplomatic trip to Asia.

    An Army brigade that had been training for deployment to Iraq that month may be at or near the vanguard. The brigade, based at Fort Drum in upstate New York, has been told it will not go to Iraq as planned but has been given no new mission yet.

    Military officials said Obama will have choices that include a phased addition of up to 40,000 forces over some six months or more next year, based on security conditions and the decisions of NATO allies.

    The Army would contribute the vast bulk of any new commitment, along with a large Marine Corps infusion. Both services are counting on plans for a large withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq to take place as scheduled next spring.

    Even so, it is not clear that large numbers of new forces could go to Afghanistan before March. Administration officials have told the AP that some of the expected deployment would probably begin in January with a mission to stiffen the defense of 10 key cities and towns.

    Several officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision has not been made also said Obama's announcement will be much broader than the mathematics of troop numbers, which have dominated the U.S. debate.

    It soon will be three months since Afghan commander McChrystal reported to Obama that the U.S. mission was headed for failure without the addition of about 40,000 troops.

    The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because final plans have not been disclosed, dubbed the likely troop increase as "McChrystal Light" because it would fall short of his request. They also said additional small infusions of troops could be dispatched next spring and summer.

    The more gradual buildup, the officials said, would allow time to construct needed housing and add equipment needed for transporting the expanded force.

    Besides being sent to cities and towns, the new forces would be stationed to protect important roads and other key infrastructure.

    As he makes his decision, Obama told ABC News that he wanted to make sure "that if we are sending additional troops that the prospects of a functioning Afghan government are enhanced, that the prospects of al-Qaida being able to attack the U.S. homeland are reduced."



    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091111/...RlaG91c2VvYg--
    Laissez les bon temps rouler! Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.** a 4 day work week & sex slaves ~ I say Tyt for PRESIDENT! Not to be taken internally, literally or seriously ....Suki ebaynni IS THAT BETTER ?

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