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Letter to Barack Obama, President of the United States - General David Petraeus to Testify

Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) today sent a letter, along with 30 other Members of Congress, to President Obama asking that General David Petraeus be made available to testify before the House of Representatives early in the 112th Congress on the status of conditions on the ground in Afghanistan. Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), the incoming chair of the House Armed Services Committee, has also called for General Petraeus' testimony on the War in Afghanistan.

"It is absolutely critical that there are oversight hearings on the War in Afghanistan, which include General Petraeus, early in the 112th Congress," said Conyers. "The Administration has stated its views on the war in its December strategy review. Now it is time for Members of Congress to conduct hearings and review conditions on ground so that they may draw their own conclusions."

"In my view, the numbers simply don't add up. Fighting in Afghanistan this year has resulted in more troop deaths, more civilian deaths, and an ever-expanding $2 billion a week financial commitment to a country that has an annual gross domestic product of $27 billion. It is difficult to argue that this constitutes progress."

The letter has been signed by 31 Members of Congress. The full text of the letter follows.

December 23, 2010

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

We write today to respectfully request that General David Petraeus be made available to testify before the Members of the House of Representatives on your administration's December Strategy Review and the status of conditions on the ground in Afghanistan. We believe that the enormous cost and importance of our war policy in Afghanistan warrants vigorous constitutionally-mandated congressional oversight as early as possible next year.

We believe that this bipartisan call for oversight is warranted by the uncertain progress being made securing the country, minimizing American casualties, combating corruption, expanding governing capacity, promoting political reconciliation, addressing links between the insurgency and Pakistan, limiting the Taliban's ability to project violence, and furthering other important components of our Afghanistan-Pakistan policy. The limited analysis provided in your December Strategy Review, although important, cannot replace in-depth and substantive congressional hearings and oversight.

Many Members are also concerned about the incredible costs associated with the current policy. The War in Afghanistan is costing the American taxpayer $2 billion per week and will total $125 billion this year alone. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted this past August that "the most significant threat to our national security is our debt." We need direct access to our lead commander on the ground in order to fully consider the costs and benefits of a policy that is significantly contributing to our $1.5 trillion deficit and $15 trillion debt.

The American people deserve transparent oversight and a robust and comprehensive review of our Afghanistan policy by both the Administration and the new Congress next year. We urge you to make General Petraeus available to testify early next year so that we can properly and appropriately fulfill our constitutional duties.


Rep. John Conyers, Jr.
Rep. Tammy Baldwin
Rep. Michael Capuano
Rep. Yvette Clarke
Rep. Steve Cohen
Rep. Donna Edwards
Rep. Keith Ellison
Rep. Bob Filner
Rep. Marcia Fudge
Rep. John Garamendi
Rep. Alan Grayson
Rep. Raul Grijalva
Rep. Michael Honda
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee
Rep. John Lewis
Rep. Hank Johnson
Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick
Rep. Dennis Kucinich
Rep. Barbara Lee
Rep. Ed Markey
Rep. Jim McGovern
Rep. Gwen Moore
Rep. Richard Neal
Rep. John Olver
Rep. Chellie Pingree
Rep. Mike Quigley
Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark
Rep. Paul Tonko
Rep. Niki Tsongas
Rep. Maxine Waters
Rep. Lynn Woolsey

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