By Greg Richter and Todd Beamon
WASHINGTON D.C – President Barack Obama made a “big mistake” in announcing a timeline for U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan, says Rep. Peter King.
Obama said Tuesday that the United States will leave 9,800 troops in Afghanistan after this year, and withdraw most of them by 2016.
“That just gives the enemy the opportunity to plan their strategy,” King a Republican from New York, said Tuesday on CNN’s “Out Front with Erin Burnett.”
King was one of many Republicans who slammed Obama’s announcement. Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire jointly called the decision irresponsible and a “triumph of politics over strategy.”
“The president came into office wanting to end the wars he inherited. But wars do not end just because politicians say so,” the three senators said. “The president appears to have learned nothing from the damage done by his previous withdrawal announcements in Afghanistan and his disastrous decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq.
They said that Obama’s announcement “will embolden our enemies and discourage our partners in Afghanistan and the region. His decision on Afghanistan will fuel the growing perception worldwide that America is unreliable, distracted, and unwilling to lead.”
The more responsible move was a “limited-assistance mission” to aid the security forces, they said. The move would “preserve momentum on the battlefield and create conditions for a negotiated end to the conflict.King said he doubts that the number of troops being left in Afghanistan is sufficient for the United States to carry out intelligence operations outside of Bagram and Kabul.
Obama said in Tuesday’s White House remarks that Americans have learned it is easier to get into a war than out of one. King called that statement “condescending … as if we were in Afghanistan as some sort of lark.”
The United States went to war with al-Qaida in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks.
Obama’s withdrawal announcement is most likely a political move, said Fox News Channel senior political analyst Brit Hume.
In a commentary Tuesday on Fox News Channel’s “Special Report,” the channel’s senior political analyst Brit Hume Hume said it makes no sense why the announcement would be made publicly unless Obama wanted to seek political gain.
“Why would you need to let the enemy know that you’re going to be leaving, or how much of your force that you’re going to draw down?” Hume said. “Strategically it makes no sense. Tactically it makes no sense.”
Hume also addressed the accidental release of the name of the CIA’s top spy in Afghanistan over the weekend, calling it the latest case of the ineptness of the Obama White House.
The White House has said it learned of various scandals, including the current secret waiting lists at Veterans Administration hospitals, from media reports. Hume noted that the same happened in the leak of the CIA chief of station’s name.
“In this case, this is something that his press office put out, and the mistake wasn’t noted until somebody in the press told them about it,” Hume said. “That’s a high level of bungling.”
King told CNN that someone should be fired for the leak. Though it probably was a mistake, he said, it was “an unpardonable error.”
The name was included on a list supplied by the military, which was then reviewed by the White House press office before the list was released to a Washington Post reporter writing a pool report of the president’s visit. King said there were multiple opportunities for someone to catch the error before the reporter noticed it and notified the White House.
“This was not something that just went out on Twitter,” King said.