US Lawmakers Demand Witnesses From Pompeo, Esper On Afghan Strategy Hearing

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper demanding testimony for a hearing on the country’s strategy in Afghanistan.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee’s subcomittee on national security wrote a letter to the pair saying their previous requests had been denied by the State Department and the Pentagon and they have “either failed to respond or responded with delay, obfuscation, and excuses for not appearing.”

“The Trump Administration has repeatedly refused to provide the National Security Subcommittee with information about its handling of America’s longest war,” the Committee Democrats wrote.

They said they would subpoena witnesses for a Sept. 9 hearing if the departments failed to confirm their participation by Wednesday.

“Should your departments refuse to appear voluntarily, the Subcommittee will have no other choice but to receive testimony through compulsory process,” they wrote.

“The Taliban appears to be failing to meet its obligations,” the subcommittee said.

The Democrats raised concern that U.S. troop level in Afghanistan are being determined by the Presidential elections in November 2020 election rather than the “future stability of Afghanistan and our national security interests.”

They cited reports which said that while Trump has been eager to cut the troops and has met the withdrawal threshold, the “Taliban has yet to meet its own benchmarks” under the Doha agreement signed between the two in February.

They noted a subsequent uptick in Taliban violence against Afghan security forces and Pentagon reports which have said that Taliban has “not yet demonstrated” that it has broken ties with the Al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations.

The Democrats called it a “moral and constitutional imperative” for the departments to testify publicly about the Trump administration’s plan to bring a “responsible end” to the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.

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