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Congresswoman Chellie Pingree Questions Top Military General on Afghanistan

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Congresswoman Chellie Pingree challenged General David Petraeus yesterday about whether the war in Afghanistan is making America safer or not. Pingree questioned Petraeus, the top military commander in Afghanistan, during a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday afternoon.

"I disagree on the premise that our continued military presence in Afghanistan actually strengthens our national security," Pingree said. "Since the surge of troops in southern and eastern Afghanistan started, we have seen only increased levels of violence, coupled with an extremely incompetent and corrupt Afghan government. Continuing with this surge and increasing the level of American forces will have the same result-more American lives lost and we will be no closer to success."

"The American people remain very skeptical that continuing to put their sons and daughters in harm's way in Afghanistan is worth the price being paid and I think they have good reason to feel that way," she said.

Pingree cited Army Lt. Commander Robert Brown, who was in charge of a US under attack in Afghanistan and was then ordered to withdraw. Brown said the presence of US troops was a recruiting tool for the insurgents and after his unit withdrew the traditional Afghan leaders rose up against the Taliban.

Petraues responded that Pingree had only "cited isolated incidents and I could cite other isolated incidents" that showed that the continued military presence made the region more stable.

"We can't afford to be stay in Afghanistan," Pingree said. "The loss of American life and the enormous financial cost are far, far too high a price to pay for a war that doesn't make us any safer."

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