OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) criticized the White House decision to keep 8,400 U.S. military troops in Afghanistan through the end of the year. Almost fifteen years ago, and just three days after the 9/11 attacks, Lee cast the sole dissenting vote against the authorizing use of military force against terrorists, a resolution that paved the way for the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.
Lee, a member of House Appropriations and Budget Committees and the Steering and Policy Committee, said Wednesday that continued military engagement does not enhance U.S. national security. On September 14, 2001, the day she opposed the use of military force, she said, “I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States.”
Lee said in a statement Wednesday, “In 2001, I opposed the authorization for this war because it allowed any President to wage endless war without the Congressional oversight mandated by the Constitution. I will continue to pursue every legislative opportunity to re-establish Congress’s constitutionally-required oversight of war.”
Lee said she doesn’t want to see the war in Afghanistan stretch into a third presidency.
But President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he “will not allow Afghanistan to be used as safe haven for terrorists to attack our nation again.” He said that keeping 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan “is in our national security interest, especially after all the blood and treasure we’ve invested in Afghanistan over the years.”
Obama said in comparison to the 100,000 troops once deployed in Afghanistan, fewer than 10,000 troops remain. He said U.S. forces are supporting counterterrorist operations against al Qaeda, ISIL and other terrorist groups, as well as training and advising Afghan forces.
The president said al Qaeda is trying to regroup in Afghanistan and ISIL continues to try to expand its presence there.
Obama said Wednesday, “Instead of going down to 5,500 troops by the end of this year, the United States will maintain approximately 8,400 troops in Afghanistan into next year, through the end of my administration.”
Lee expressed her frustration Wednesday saying, “This war has already cost our nation too much, in blood and in treasure. We have lost 2,382 brave American servicemembers, and more than 20,000 have been wounded. This war’s $741 billion price tag undermines our ability to make critical investments in our national security and domestic priorities. This price tag increases by $4 million every hour,”
By Hannah Albarazi – Follow her on Twitter: @hannahalbarazi.