Veterans group decries Congress blocking Trump troop withdrawals

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2020-07-03 News |
Veterans group decries Congress blocking Trump troop withdrawals
Afghan veteran chides "chief chickenhawk Liz Cheney's" support

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- BringOurTroopsHome.US, a national coalition of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans, Thursday called on Congress to reject amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act, approved Wednesday by a bipartisan vote of the House Armed Services Committee, that would block President Trump's orders to withdraw thousands of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and from Germany. 

"Congress should listen to the men and women who've fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to the American people," BringOurTroopsHome.US founder and Afghanistan veteran Dan McKnight of Meridian, Idaho, said. "They should reject this attempt by chief chicken hawk Liz Cheney and the endless war caucus of both parties to further delay President Trump's efforts to save our troops and taxpayers from the cost in blood and tax dollars of continuing our military's forever service on foreign soil."

"After 75 years in Europe, and two decades in Afghanistan and Iraq," McKnight said, "the American people strongly agree that it's time, during a worldwide pandemic, to bring our troops home to secure America's borders and infrastructure and medical supply chain."

McKnight cited a YouGov poll in January that found nearly 70 percent of all Americans surveyed support withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, and a Concerned Veterans for America poll in April which found 60 percent of 1,500 veterans and military families polled support full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

He lauded Trump's efforts "to fulfill the wishes of the American people and his own campaign promise."

"If these amendments pass Congress," he said, "President Trump should veto them, and in the only six months he may have left in office, accelerate his efforts to bring our troops home while he still can."

McKnight was responding to two amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act -- one offered by Rep. Jason Crow, D-CO, that would require several certifications before the U.S. military can further draw down in Afghanistan, which was approved 45-11 Wednesday by the Armed Services Committee; and another by Reps. Ruben Gallego, D-AZ, and Don Bacon, R-NE, that would block funding to reduce the number of troops in Germany and Europe at large until several certifications are made, which passed 49-7.

Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the No. 3 House Republican and a member of the Armed Services Committee, argued the (Afghanistan) amendment 'lays out, in a very responsible level of specificity, what is going to be required if we are going to in fact make decisions about troop levels based on conditions on the ground and based on what's required for our own security, not based on political timelines,' The Hill reported.  

President Trump's troop withdrawal agreement with the Taliban is ongoing, and last month, he also ordered the withdrawal of roughly 10,000 troops from Germany, seventy-five years after the U.S. invaded Nazi-occupied Europe.

McKnight also questioned the Afghanistan amendment's requirement of an investigation into a Russian military unit's alleged offer of "bounties" to the Taliban for killing U.S. troops and civilians in Afghanistan, without also investigating reports by a Congressionally-authorized inspector general that U.S. military contractors have funneled U.S. tax dollars to the Taliban that could be used to fund killing Americans.

"The Russian report, if true, is outrageous," McKnight said, "but why do members of Congress seem more upset about allegations that Russians might've given the Taliban money for killing Americans than they do about the even more outrageous established fact that U.S. military contractors gave American taxpayers money to the Taliban they could use to kill Americans? What difference does it make if it's called a 'bounty' or 'protection payments'? We called for a Congressional investigation into that equally blood-boiling fact months ago, with no response."

McKnight referred to a report in December by the Special Inspector General on Afghanistan Reconstruction, whose findings have resulted in a lawsuit in December by over a hundred Gold Star families who lost family members in Afghanistan upset by reports that American defense contractors paid by the U.S. government violated the federal Anti-Terrorism Act to protect their operations in Afghanistan by secretly making 'protection' payments to enemy Taliban forces. One of the contractors defended itself by saying in a public statement that its actions "followed the directives of the U.S. government agencies that we served."
CNN: https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/27/politics/afghanistan-contractor-suit/index.html
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