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Afghanistan War Powers Resolution

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DENT. Madam Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this House Concurrent Resolution 248 that directs the President to remove U.S. Armed Forces from Afghanistan within 30 days of adoption of this resolution unless the President determines that it is not safe to remove U.S. forces before the end of the 30-day timeline. But even if there is an identified danger, U.S. forces would still have to be removed by December 31.

Really, here is the catch: There is a clear and present danger in removing our men and women from the field while they are engaged in the first major assault of President Obama's reaffirmed counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan.

But here is another danger: damaging the morale of the troops who sacrifice their safety and well-being to fight to protect our homeland, our freedoms, by not providing them with the support and resources they need to complete their mission.

This is a very dangerous business, moving troops out of a country. I have sat with Secretary Gates on more than one occasion over the years talking about withdrawing troops, in this case from Iraq, and how complex a situation this is and how dangerous it is and the logistical realities of moving this many people safely.

But don't take my word for it. I think we should also listen to the words of our Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama, who, on December 1 in his address to the Nation, said, ``I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on Ð9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak.'' President Barack Obama's words.

He goes on. ``This is no idle danger. No hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror, and this danger will only grow if the region slides backwards and al Qaeda can operate with impunity. We must keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and to do that we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region.'' Again, that was President Obama.

He goes on in another address on March 27 of 2009, where he made another statement. He says, ``And if the Afghan Government falls to the Taliban or allows al Qaeda to go unchallenged, that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.''

Secretary Gates, a very fine Secretary of Defense, and I am pleased President Obama has kept him on, said on February 5 of this year, ``This is a critical moment in Afghanistan. I am confident that we can achieve our objectives, but only if the coalition continues to muster the resolve for this difficult and dangerous mission.''

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on September 23, said, ``Some people say, well, al Qaeda is no longer in Afghanistan. If Afghanistan were taken over by the Taliban, I can't tell you how fast al Qaeda would be back in Afghanistan.'' Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

I also want to mention what General Petraeus has said.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. I would like to yield an additional 30 seconds to Mr. Dent.

Mr. DENT. And our very fine commander, David Petraeus, I met with him in Florida a few months ago. He said, on January 25, ``It was in Kandahar that 9/11 attacks were planned. It was in training camps in eastern Afghanistan where the initial preparation of the attackers was carried out before they went to Hamburg and flight schools in the U.S. It is important to recall the seriousness of the mission and why it is that we are in Afghanistan in the first place and why we are still there after years and years of hard work and sacrifice that have passed.''

Again, I strongly urge that we defeat this resolution. We owe it to our troops. They are watching this debate as we speak. They want us to oppose it too.


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