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July 7th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Should the U.S. leave troops in Iraq past the deadline for leaving the country?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In 2008, President Obama promised over and over again to get all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011. After winning the presidency, he vowed to keep that promise.

Now as that deadline for military withdrawal from Iraq approaches, he's apparently prepared to break that promise. Gee, what a surprise.

The President announced this week that he's offering to leave 10,000 U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely, beyond the scheduled December withdrawal date. The White House says it's concerned that the planned pullout of nearly all U.S. troops at the end of the year could spark violence and trigger militant attacks there. Oh, and don't forget the oil.

Any extension of U.S. military presence depends on a formal request from Iraqi government, and so far no request has been made. But the Pentagon wants to give Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his government time to decide so if they need the help, there is time to plan. The Iraqi government is reportedly divided on whether the U.S. should leave additional troops behind and al-Maliki is facing pressure from hard line members of his own party to let the troops leave on schedule.

There are about 46,000 U.S. troops in Iraq right now. Only about 200 were supposed to remain in the country in "advisory" roles beyond December to train security forces there. The White House said yesterday that's still the Pentagon's plan and that time for the Iraqi government to ask for the troops to stay is running out. What'll you bet they ask.

Meanwhile there are discussions about cutting Social Security and Medicare to deal with a ballooning national debt and deficit caused at least in part by the war in Iraq which so far has cost an estimated $1 trillion. Makes a lot of sense.

Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. leave troops in Iraq past the deadline for leaving the country?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Iraq • Troop Withdrawals • U.S. Army • United States Military
June 15th, 2011
04:08 PM ET

How would you feel about the U.S. maintaining a military presence in Afghanistan for decades?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As the calls for a quicker U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan get louder in Washington, an interesting story appeared in the British paper, The Guardian. The paper reports that U.S. and Afghan officials are in secret talks over a long-term security partnership between the two nations.

If this is the case, such a deal could put U.S. troops and other special forces and personnel in Afghanistan for decades. The Guardian reports these talks have been under way for more than a month. A U.S. official denies The Guardian report and said there are no plans for a permanent base in Afghanistan. We'll see.

The withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan is supposed to begin in July. And President Obama is planning to release his plan soon on how many of the more than 100,000 U.S troops in Afghanistan will come home as the withdrawal begins. More than two dozen senators sent a letter to the president today calling for a "sizable and sustained reduction" of military forces in Afghanistan.

The U.S. is involved in four wars right now. Even though the White House - in trying to clear the president of any wrongdoing under the war powers resolution - argues that the U.S. military action in Libya doesn't amount to full-blown "hostilities." But we're spending money on these operations, we're engaging in military action, and we're putting military lives at risk. And we're stretched pretty thin.

Here’s my question to you: How would you feel about the U.S. maintaining a military presence in Afghanistan for decades?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • Troop Withdrawals • U.S. Army
May 5th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Does getting Osama bin Laden justify enhanced interrogation techniques?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Leon Panetta, head of the CIA, said earlier this week that intelligence collected from detainees who were waterboarded provided clues that helped the U.S. track down Osama bin Laden.

Waterboarding, which is the simulated drowning of prisoners to get them to spill secrets, is no longer legal, thanks to President Obama. It was one of Obama's first acts as president.

The Bush Administration before him had been harshly criticized for what some said was legalizing torture. Panetta in the past has said that enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding is torture and is morally wrong. However, he also said the debate about the use of these techniques will continue.

Some former members of the Bush Administration and a handful of other Republicans were quick to defend the practice in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Justice Department official John Yoo and Congressman Peter King from New York have all said in interviews this week that information obtained through enhanced interrogation techniques used on prisoners, like waterboarding, was key to the successful raid on Osama bin Laden's Pakistani hideout.

However, none of these men is really in the position to know this for sure. And there's been no official statement or any proof that any information gained from prisoners by using these interrogation techniques ultimately led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

Here’s my question to you: Does getting Osama bin Laden justify the use of enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

March 22nd, 2011
03:59 PM ET

Should Pres. Obama have consulted with Congress before U.S. military to Libya?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Quite a few members of Congress are not happy with President Obama over his decision to allow U.S. air attacks in Libya. They feel they weren't given any say in the whole matter…which they weren't. And the criticism of the president is coming in from everywhere.

Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas says the no-fly zone is unconstitutional. Liberal Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich from Ohio has brought up the idea of impeachment hearings for President Obama's actions. No surprise there... but it's not just the far right and the far left up in arms. Moderates like Democratic Senator and former Navy Secretary Jim Webb and Republican Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican member of the Foreign Relations Committee. They aren't happy with the president either.

Yesterday the President sent an official letter to Congress asserting his authority to make the decision on Libya based on the Constitution and War Powers Resolution. The letter said he was acting in the "national security and foreign policy interests of the United States."

The president did hold a briefing for congressional party and committee leaders in the White House Situation Room on Friday before any attacks were launched. But many lawmakers say that wasn't enough.

Here’s my question to you: Should President Obama have consulted with Congress before sending the U.S. military against Libya?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

March 22nd, 2011
03:58 PM ET

Does latest Army photo scandal change your view of U.S. military?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The armed forces of the United States are arguably the greatest fighting force ever assembled. More importantly, it traditionally has been used only for the noblest of causes. The most recent example is Libya, where President Obama ordered our military to assist in protecting innocent civilians from being slaughtered by the ruthless dictator Moammar Ghadafi.

But as with any organization, sometimes it only takes the actions of a few to call the reputation of the whole into question.

Over the weekend, the German newspaper, Der Spiegel, published photographs of what appear to be two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan standing over the bodies of dead Afghan civilians, in what's been described as trophy-like poses.

One of those soldiers, Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock, is being court marshaled for the murder of three Afghan civilians. He will plead guilty tomorrow. In all, 12 soldiers have been charged for offenses related to the murder of Afghan civilians last year.

The Army released a statement yesterday apologizing for the pictures and for the actions of 12 soldiers, saying:

"The photos appear in stark contrast to the discipline, professionalism and respect that have characterized our soldiers' performance during nearly ten years of sustained operations."

The incident is reminiscent of Abu Ghraib during the war in Iraq where U.S. soldiers took pictures of each other torturing Iraqi prisoners.

Whether the lengths and numbers of deployments of our military, which has been stretched to the breaking point, contribute to these kinds of things is a debate for another day.

Here’s my question to you: Does the latest Army photo scandal change your view of the U.S. military?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: U.S. Army • United States Military
October 6th, 2010
05:41 PM ET

Bar people from protesting at funerals?

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Protesters demonstrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court while justices hear oral arguments in the First Amendment case of Snyder v. Phelps. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Supreme Court is deciding a case involving the disgusting behavior of protesting at funerals.

The case focuses on a Baptist Church from Kansas whose anti-gay protests have targeted the funerals of soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The church claims the soldiers' deaths are God's revenge for the United States tolerating homosexuality. Members of this church have traveled around the country, showing up at funerals and shouting at grieving family members.

They also display signs with messages like, "Thank God for dead soldiers," "God blew up the troops" and "AIDS cures fags."

The Snyder family sued the church in 2007 after protests at their son's funeral. Their suit claims invasion of privacy and the intentional infliction of emotional distress. A jury awarded them more than $10 million, but that amount was cut in half by a judge and then overturned by an appeals court.

The judges said although the church's message was offensive, the speech was protected.

The soldier's father, Albert Snyder, said his son was not gay and the protesters shouldn't have been at his funeral, calling their actions "inhuman."

The attorneys general of 48 states and the District of Columbia, along with a bipartisan group of 40 senators, support the Snyders. So does common sense.

The church insists it has the right to protest at funerals. It is backed by First Amendment and media groups, which denounce the church's message but defend its free speech rights.

The Supreme Court's decision in this case isn't expected for months.

Here’s my question to you: Should people be barred from protesting at funerals?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • U.S. Army • War in Iraq
August 16th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Iraq's army: not ready until 2020; should U.S. forces leave next year?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Iraq's top army general says his troops won't be fully trained and able to take control of security until 2020.... another 10 years from now.

The warning comes as the U.S. says it's on target to end its combat mission and pull thousands of troops out of Iraq by the end of this month.

The White House says it's pulled out 80,000 troops from Iraq since President Obama took office... and that thousands more will leave at the end of August.

The U.S. plans to keep about 50,000 troops in Iraq - for support and training - but they, too, will leave by the end of next year.

But Iraq's military brass don't think this is such a great plan. And Iraq's top army general may have a point. Iraq's political leaders still haven't been able to form a new government 5 months after holding elections.

U.S. National Security Adviser Jim Jones said despite this assessment by Iraq's army, there will be no significant U.S. troop presence after next year... and that, "the mission is on the way to being accomplished" in Iraq.

The U.S. better hope so... now that it's focusing a lot of money and military resources on the war in Afghanistan, where insurgent attacks are at record levels.

It doesn't look like Afghanistan will be in any shape to see U.S. troops leave as soon as next summer, which is what President Obama wants.

Here’s my question to you: Iraq's army says it won't be ready to take control until 2020. Should U.S. forces still leave next year?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Iraq • Troop Withdrawals • U.S. Army
June 23rd, 2010
04:00 PM ET

How does McChrystal episode affect confidence in Afghanistan war?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Sometimes timing is everything… and when it comes to the war in Afghanistan the timing of the departure of General Stanley McChrystal is awful.

The U.S. is in the midst of escalating the nine year old war in an effort to defeat the spreading power of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

This surge of tens of thousands of U.S. troops was pretty much McChrystal's plan - and he had close ties with leaders in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.

Also - summer in Afghanistan is usually a time of heavy fighting and allied forces are on the eve of the Kandahar offensive. This month is on track to become the deadliest month for NATO troops since the start of the war in 2001.

But the president decided that McChrystal had to go. and on one level, you can't argue with him.

McChrystal's job was to implement the president's war plan on the battlefield. But he and his inner circle found it appropriate to trash top administration officials and make destructive personal attacks to a reporter from Rolling Stone magazine.

Just imagine what our enemies must think - not to mention families of the thousands of brave troops fighting in Afghanistan.

It put Pres. Obama in a very tough spot - he risked looking weak if he didn't fire the general... and now he could be accused of undermining his own strategy in Afghanistan by cutting loose the guy he put in charge at such a key moment.

Even before this incident - only 42 percent of Americans said they favor the war in Afghanistan - that's down six points since March. 56 percent oppose it.

Here’s my question to you: How does the McChrystal episode affect Americans' confidence in the Afghanistan war?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • U.S. Army
April 21st, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Three-fourths of youth unfit for military service

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With the U.S. fighting two wars and threats like a potentially nuclear-armed Iran on the horizon, there is a very scary truth that needs to be addressed.

Three-fourths of the young people between the ages of 17 and 24 are unfit for military service. It's a national disgrace.

There are a number of reasons for a lack of a sufficient pool of recruits for the military to draw from. These include factors like having a criminal record, not graduating from high school, or having health problems.

But the biggest reason is that a boatload of young people in this country are fat. In a report titled "Too Fat to Fight," a group of 130 retired military leaders says the top medical reason is young people are simply too heavy - and can't handle the physical requirements of being in the military.

One fourth of young Americans are just too fat to fight.

The report blames unhealthy food in school lunchrooms; and they're calling on Congress to pass a wide-ranging nutrition bill that would make school meals healthier. But the problem extends far beyond the school lunchroom.

We have become a sedentary society that doesn't exercise enough, spends way too much time in front of the TV or computer and exists on a diet of fast food and/or junk food. The price tag for that is sacrificing the future of the U.S. military.

The authors of this troubling report say all branches of the military now meet or exceed their recruitment requirements… but if these obesity trends don't change, they could wind up threatening our national security by the year 2030. That's less than 20 years away.

Here’s my question to you: What does it say about our country if three-fourths of our youth are unfit for military service?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Obesity • On Jack's radar • U.S. Army • US Military • US Obesity
February 2nd, 2010
05:00 PM ET

How would repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' affect military?

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen (R) participate in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. The committee is reviewing the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It could be the biggest shake-up to the military since the integration of the armed services under Pres. Truman back in 1948.

Pres. Obama is calling for a repeal of the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy - which bars gays from serving openly... and prevents the military from asking them about it. Congress would need to approve Pres. obama's request.

And just hours ago - the military's top uniformed officer appeared before Congress to support openly gay members serving. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, says it's a matter of integrity and that it is wrong to force people to "lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens."

The military is set to begin a year-long study into how "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" can be repealed without causing major problems in the service.

But Critics say it's a bad idea to change this policy while the U.S. is engaged in two wars and faces the ongoing threat of terrorism. Republican Sen. John McCain says he's quote "deeply disappointed"... and while the policy hasn't been ideal, it has been "effective."

Meanwhile - a poll from late 2008 suggests more than 80 percent of Americans believe openly gay people should be allowed to serve.

It's estimated that more than 13,000 people have been discharged from the military under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" since it was implemented in 1993 - this includes dozens service members who can speak Arabic - a highly-prized skill with the U.S. fighting wars in the middle east.

Here’s my question to you: How would the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" affect the military?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: U.S. Army • US Military
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