July 26, 2010

Feingold: Classified documents reveal U.S.'s 'deeply flawed' Afghanistan strategy

Leaked documents prove the U.S.'s policies in Afghanistan are "deeply flawed," Senator Russ Feingold said Monday in a prepared statement.

The website Wikileaks released 92,000 classified U.S. military documents this week about the war in Afghanistan. The leak rocked the military and suggested U.S. allies in Pakistan are actually supporting al Qaeda insurgents.

Here's Feingold's statement on what the leaks mean for U.S. policy:
"While I do not condone the leaking of classified material, these documents underscore what we already knew - the policies we have been pursuing in the region under both the Bush and Obama administrations are based on a deeply flawed strategy. In particular, the documents highlight a fundamental strategic problem, which is that elements of the Pakistani security services have been complicit in the insurgency. That, combined with competing agendas within the Afghan security forces, make it clear that there is no military solution in Afghanistan.  It is long past time that we reduce our military footprint rather than continuing to pursue a military escalation that depends on unreliable actors.  We need a new strategy, beginning with a timetable to draw down our troops from Afghanistan, so we are better able to accomplish our top national security priority of destroying al Qaeda’s global network."
Senator Feingold, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has repeatedly raised concerns about ties between elements of the Pakistani Security Services and its ties to the Taliban:
·        On May 7, 2009, Senator Feingold wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressing concern over a seemingly “unqualified acceptance” of Pakistan’s public statements that there are no elements within ISI that are cooperating with militants or extremists.
·        On May 20, 2009, Feingold announced his opposition to the supplemental war spending bill.  In his statement, Feingold said, “this bill contains over $1 billion for the Pakistani military, and while we must not over-generalize or take an ‘all or nothing’ approach, it would be unwise and very dangerous to convey to the Pakistani military that it has our unconditional support.”
·        During a May 21, 2009 hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Feingold asked the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Richard Mullen, about the ISI supporting the Taliban and how the U.S. should alter its military-to-military strategy in the event the support continued.
·        On February 2, 2010, during an open Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Feingold asked Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair about Pakistan’s “continued support for militant proxies and about the assistance provided by some of those groups to al Qaeda.”