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Reps. Kucinich and Rogers Debate Afghanistan

Reps. Kucinich and Rogers Debate Afghanistan

By John King, USA - July 26, 2010

KING: The White House is condemning the leak of thousands of classified documents about the war in Afghanistan saying it's illegal and could cause harm to U.S. troops, but could it also change the politics of the war, which is one of the few topics that Republicans and most Democrats have agreed on during the Obama administration.

Joining us now Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, a leading voice to end the war in Afghanistan, and Mike Rogers of Michigan is a Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman Kucinich to you first and the congressman is joining us on the telephone. What impact -- you have long said we should end this war and get an exit strategy. What impact will these documents have on that debate?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO (via phone): I think they'll have a great impact because the specificity of the documents indicate that our troops are in real danger, that there's countless innocent civilians being killed, that the Afghan government is hopelessly corrupt that Pakistan intelligence is collaborating with the enemy against the U.S., the Pentagon is underestimating the fire power of the insurgence and they've got a top Pakistani general who's visiting a suicide bombing school monthly. We've got a mess in Afghanistan and we have one that's burgeoning in Pakistan. We have to start taking care of things here at home and get out of that region.

KING: Congressman Rogers, I want you to come in and follow-up on -- I suspect you don't agree with Congressman Kucinich, but as I do, he mentioned the former intelligence chief in Pakistan visiting a madrasa. I want to read you a bit from one of these leaked documents because you serve on the Intelligence Committee and I'd love your perspective.

"CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center comment, 95 percent of the suicide attackers are trained in the Madrasa of Hashimiye, which is located in the Peshawer district of Pakistan. Monthly the former chief of the Pakistan Intelligence Service, General Hamid Gul, is visiting this madrasa. Do you have confidence, sir, in the U.S./Pakistan part of this relationship?

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), MICHIGAN: Listen, this has always been an off again/on again friend/maybe not friend relationship since the very start of it. There's information long before this going back where certain elements of the ISI, their intelligence services were cooperating with certain elements of the Taliban, and there's been all kinds of problems and mainly centered around the tribal areas. And so you have to understand that they are getting pulled in both directions, and we need to use Pakistan to our advantage when it comes to al Qaeda and senior Taliban and other groups just like they gained advantage from having us do that --

KING: But is it still going on? Was Congressman Kucinich right in saying look, too many billions, too many lost men and women; it's time to come home.

ROGERS: Well, I mean obviously, you want to continue that relationship. You cannot afford to abandon safe haven areas where we know that these networks can grow and finance and recruit and train and do exist. So you walk away from that, and I'll guarantee you they'll be back because they understand it well and they know how to use those particular regions of the world to launch attacks against the United States.

They've done it once. So we have to be careful about just saying these documents say this, and we ought to just pull the plug. Intelligence is always a messy matter, if you will, and it is really the raw truth about how we have to analyze who our friends are and who are not and how you work with those people to the best of your ability to serve the best interests of the United States national security.

And to that end they've done it. It is a tricky thing. Listen, I've been a vocal critic of Pakistan as any in the last few years when I think they have not gotten a handle on their cooperation efforts. But I will say this, John, real quick. This culture of disclosure is dangerous and some notion that these are only secret documents and provide no value to the enemy is just simply wrong.

It shows what we know, what we don't know, how we operate, how we don't operate. That's valuable information to people who are trying to kill U.S. soldiers, and we ought to treat this -- that seriously. This is a life and death disclosure, and having third parties who don't understand the impact of this information saying well we determined it wasn't is just wrong and it is dangerous to our troops in the field.

KING: Well Congressman Kucinich, on that point these documents being released, do you believe helps your political argument about trying to end the war. But do you agree with Congressman Rogers that it is reckless and criminal and that if they can find out who did it they deserve to spend some time behind bars?

KUCINICH: Well I honor Congressman Rogers' service on the Intelligence Committee. It's an important committee. But now we -- it's a fact. There's 92,000 documents that have -- that cite chapter and verse the danger of the United States going deeper and deeper into our war experience in Afghanistan.

The American taxpayers are being asked this week to spend another $33 billion on a war that is costing hundreds of billions. We really owe it to the taxpayers to go forward based on the truth, nothing but the truth. We're told the truth shall set us free. We'll see if Congress votes to continue our expedition into Pakistan, and if we continue our expedition in Afghanistan, it's going to be in the face of a mountain now of evidence which now tends to cast serious doubt as to the mission and as to the rationale for our staying.

KING: Congressman Kucinich, Congressman Rogers, appreciate both of your time -- it is a fascinating topic. We will stay on top of it. We appreciate your coming in and helping us tonight.

 

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