The chairs of Congressional Progressive Caucus, as well as the chairs emeritus of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, have written President Obama with an urgent call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
“In the wake of Osama Bin Laden’s death, now is the time to shift toward the swift, safe, and responsible withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors from Afghanistan," declares the letter from Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) chair emeritus Barbara Lee, D-California; Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) co-chairs Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota and Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona; and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus chair emeritus Mike Honda, D-California. Also signing on were former CPC chair Lynn Woolsey, D-California, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters, D-California, chief deputy whip for the House Democratic Caucus, past CBC chair and current chair of the 73-member "Out of Iraq" Caucus.
Citing a New York Times/CBS poll that finds almost 50 percent of Americans believe that bin Laden’s death should lead to a reduction in U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, the House members urge President Obama to use some of the political capital he has accumulated in recent days — as his poll ratings for handling of foreig policy soar — to "meet the expectations of Congress or the American people.”
Here’s the full letter:
Dear Mr. President,
In the wake of Osama Bin Laden’s death, now is the time to shift toward the swift, safe, and responsible withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors from Afghanistan. We, the undersigned Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), strongly urge you to announce plans for a near-term and significant drawdown of U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan beginning no later than July of this year.
On March 16, 2011, 81 Members of Congress sent you a letter asserting that the forthcoming reduction in U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan must be significant and sizeable, and executed in an orderly fashion. This bipartisan message stressed the urgency of creating economic opportunities here at home and said that the redeployment of only a minimal number of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July would not meet the expectations of Congress or the American people. Mr. President, we are hopeful that Osama Bin Laden’s death will offer comfort to the families of the victims of unconscionable attacks on innocent life that have occurred throughout the world and on 9/11. You acted decisively in your efforts to capture the mastermind behind those tragic events and we commend your calls for national and global solidarity as we acknowledge the world is safer for his absence. It is our hope that you can similarly unify the nation by bringing our troops home and ending America’s longest war in history— a position supported by an overwhelming majority of the American people. The death of Osama Bin Laden certainly does not represent an end to Al-Qaeda. As we seek a future free of the threat of global terrorism, we must work to implement smart security policies that are both effective and sustainable. Ending the war in Afghanistan is a critical step toward refocusing U.S. resources and security assets to serve that vital purpose.
The letter is being circulated nationally by Progressive Democrats of America, a group that has worked closely with Lee and the Congressional Progressive Caucus to highlight issues relating to the Afghanistan conflict, military spending and the need to bring the troops home.