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Congressmen Ask Petraeus to Testify Early Next Year

U.S. commander in Afghanistan General David Petraeus at the presidential place in Kabul on Dec. 8, 2010. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)
SHAH MARAI
David Petraeus
U.S. commander in Afghanistan General David Petraeus at the presidential place in Kabul on Dec. 8, 2010.
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

More than 30 members of Congress, including the incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, are asking for Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Afghanistan, to testify in the House early next year.

Democratic Rep. John Conyers (Mich.) and 30 other Democrats sent a letter to President Obama today, requesting Petraeus' presence before Congress to discuss the results of the Obama administration's year-end strategy review. Last week, Republican Rep. Buck McKeon (Calif.), the incoming chair of the Armed Services Committee, made the same request in a public statement.

After the release of the strategy review last week, Mr. Obama said said that the U.S. has made "significant progress" in Afghanistan, and in spite of remaining challenges, remains on track to achieve its goals of defeating al Qaeda.

Now that the administration has released its assessment of the war, Conyers said in a statement today, "It is time for Members of Congress to conduct hearings and review conditions on ground so that they may draw their own conclusions."

In their letter today, the congressmen called the administration's strategy review "limited" in its analysis, and they expressed concern about the "uncertain progress" in areas such as minimizing American casualties and combating corruption. The also noted that at a cost of $2 billion per week, the war is significantly contributing to the national 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," the letter says.

In a statement last week, McKeon similarly said the Armed Services Committee should be "on a war footing" in order to provide proper oversight of the mission in Afghanistan.

"We intend to hear directly from General Petraeus early next year on the conditions on the ground, where progress is being made, what challenges exist, and where he believes we can begin transitioning security responsibilities from our troops to Afghanistan's security forces," he said. "We will also focus on whether our military forces have the tools, support and training they need to win in Afghanistan."

Congress this week gave final approval of a bill to give the Pentagon nearly $160 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this budget year. The measure passed in the House with almost no debate over the war in Afghanistan.



Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.