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February 27th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

U.S. losing war in Afghanistan?

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Soldiers with a joint U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force Provincial Reconstruction Team keep cover in Afghanistan's Shemgal Valley. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The U.S. is losing the war in Afghanistan - so says Senator John McCain.

"When you aren't winning in this kind of war, you are losing. And, in Afghanistan today, we are not winning," said McCain.

The former presidential candidate says although he approves of President Obama's plan to send 17,000 more troops there. He thinks additional allied and Afghan troops will be needed to bat back a resurgent al Qaeda and Taliban. He's calling for the U.S. to set up a larger military headquarters and to boost nonmilitary assistance.

The Arizona Senator says that the situation in Afghanistan is nowhere near as bad as it was in Iraq - but that insurgent attacks were up sharply last year and violence increased more than 500 percent in the last 4 years.

McCain's comments come after those of Defense Secretary Robert Gates - who has said the U.S. faces "a very tough test" in Afghanistan, although Gates is confident we will "rise to the occasion."

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows most Americans agree with McCain... only 31% say the U.S. is currently winning the war in Afghanistan, although 62% say the U.S. can eventually win it.

Meanwhile - when it comes to the other war, the one in Iraq, McCain is among several Republicans backing President Obama's plan to pull most U.S. troops out by August 2010. McCain says the plan is a "reasonable" one and he's "cautiously optimistic" that it can lead to success.

Here’s my question to you: Is John McCain right that the U.S. is losing the war in Afghanistan?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • US Military
February 18th, 2009
01:01 PM ET

More troops to Afghanistan?

More troops to Afghanistan?

American soldiers search for caves concealing weapons in eastern Afghanistan. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama has decided to send another 17,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. More than 7 years into the war there, this move will increase U.S. troop levels by 50%. The president insists that "urgent attention and swift action" are needed to fight a resurgent Taliban and al Qaeda. The increased troop levels are expected to last 3 to 4 years.

American and NATO casualties – along with Taliban attacks- were at record highs last year. War-related civilian deaths were up almost 40%.

Although Mr. Obama hasn't made a call yet on troop cuts in Iraq, his decision will move troops to Afghanistan who had been scheduled to deploy to Iraq. The president has said he wants to limit objectives in Afghanistan. These new troops will be headed to southern and eastern regions, will help train the Afghan army and help provide security for the August elections.

The U.S. commander in Afghanistan had actually asked for more than 30,000 additional troops, which would have doubled the current force.

A tough decision – one of many – made by the new president these days, especially when you consider the public may not be behind escalating our military effort in Afghanistan. Recent polls shows 34% of Americans think the U.S. should send more troops there. 29% call for a decrease. Also, only 18% of Afghans think we should step up our presence – not exactly a warm welcome.

Here’s my question to you: Is a prolonged American military presence in Afghanistan a good idea?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • US Military
January 22nd, 2009
05:43 PM ET

Banning Enhanced Interrogation: Does it invite U.S. enemies?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama issued three executive orders today that signal a sharp departure from the Bush Administration. One of them bans torture. It ends the CIA practice of so-called enhanced interrogations and requires the Army field manual be followed for terror interrogations.

Leg shackles sit on the floor at Camp 6 detention center at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Bush administration and intelligence agencies under Bush's command said the tactics were the only way to get information from suspects being held captive in the war on terrorism.

The techniques include forceful grabbing and slapping, forced standing for more than 40 hours while shackled and handcuffed, holding naked prisoners in a 50 degree cell while splashing them with cold water, and waterboarding which simulates drowning.

At one point the former CIA director and former attorney general both testified to lawmakers about the value of the practices.

Human rights organizations, of course, said the U.S. was out of line and said they were violating international laws.

It's been the subject of much debate since coming into practice in 2002 and now President Obama has put a stop to it.

Here’s my question to you: Does forbidding so-called "enhanced" interrogation techniques send an invitation to enemies of the United States?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Guantanamo Bay • US Military
January 15th, 2009
05:30 PM ET

Time to end “don’t ask, don’t tell”?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President-elect Obama is committed to ending the "don't ask don't tell" policy that prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the military.

Should "don't ask, don't tell" be overturned?

He campaigned on this, and a spokesman reiterates it on a new video posted on the change.gov web site.

Commitment aside, the spokesman elaborated on his comments to add that the President's first priority is jump starting the economy.

Not to mention that overturning the policy requires legislation from Congress. President Clinton tried to overturn it when he took office in 1993 but opposition from military leadership prevailed.

Ret. General Colin Powell, who was the chairman of the joint chief of staffs at the time, has said Congress should review the policy because attitudes have changed since it was passed more than 15 years ago.

In an attempt to create a loophole of sorts, a bill was introduced during the last session of Congress to implement "a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation" but it never came up for a full House vote. So that bill and Obama's commitment to overturn the policy remain on the back burner, at least for now.

Here’s my question to you: Is it time to end "Don't ask, don't tell" for gays in the military?

Tune in to the Situation Room 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.


Filed under: US Military
January 14th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Guantanamo Bay: What should happen to the inmates?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Pentagon says 61 former detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay have resumed what they call terrorist activities since their release.

A guard stands his position at Camp V on the US Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

President-elect Obama says he'll close the prison as soon as his first week in office. He admits there are issues to work out if he does so, primarily the threat that the suspects still in custody there pose to the safety of the American people. There are about 250 of them including 2 of the alleged conspirators of the 9/11 attacks. They can't simply be released.

Perhaps the Pentagon is trying to emphasize that very point with the information they released. But it lacks details like what actions the detainees have taken since their release, where they are now and why they were released in the first place. Human rights advocates are skeptical of the report.

President-elect Obama's haste in closing the prison is an attempt to make a clean break from the Bush Administration's war on terror. Yesterday, when asked about Obama's plans to close Guantanamo, President Bush told CNN's Larry King that signing the paper is one thing but actually doing it is more involved. President Bush said he wants the base closed too, but it's a complex matter.

Here’s my question to you: If President-elect Obama closes the Guantanamo Bay prison, what should be done with the inmates there?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Guantanamo Bay • US Military
November 17th, 2008
03:12 PM ET

How concerned are you about a terrorist attack?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President-Elect Barack Obama has been warned of a "huge threat" from al Qaeda by intelligence leaders in the U.S. and abroad. He told 60 Minutes' Steve Kroft last night that since terrorists could try to attack the U.S. during his White House transition, putting together his national security team is a top priority.

And it should be. The presidential transition period is prime time for terrorists. In 1993, just a little more than a month after President Bill Clinton took office, there was the first attack by al Qaeda on the World Trade Center. In 2001, during President George W. Bush's first year, we had 9/11.

The director of the CIA, Michael Hayden, said last week that al Qaeda is strengthening its hub in the Pakistani mountains and building ties with militant groups in Europe and Africa.

The president-elect told 60 Minutes that stamping out al Qaeda was also atop his to-do list and capturing or killing Osama bin Laden is a critical aspect of that plan.

Here’s my question to you: How concerned are you about another terrorist attack?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Al Qaeda • US Military
November 11th, 2008
06:08 PM ET

Obama’s proposed civilian security force a good idea?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President-elect Obama has said he wants to establish a civilian security force to assist our already-taxed military. He described it as a national security corps that's as powerful and well-funded as the U.S. military, and it would take on the national security burden.

Obama made mention of this in a speech in Colorado in July. That speech has since circulated on the Internet. For some reason, the concept scares people. Republican Congressman Paul Broun from Georgia told the Associated Press, that such a move could lead to Marxism.

He said, "That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did... When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."

Broun also said he thinks Obama will move to ban gun ownership if he does build a national police force.

Here’s my question to you: Is President-elect Obama's idea for a civilian security force a good idea?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama • US Military
November 10th, 2008
06:46 PM ET

Should the U.S. attack al Qaeda without permission?

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Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, remember him? The incompetent boob a chorus of retired generals and admirals called on to resign because of his incompetence and inability to lead our military? He finally quit in November of 2006.

Well guess what? According to a report in the New York Times, Secretary Rumsfeld authorized a classified order back in 2004 that allows the U.S. military to carry out broad and secret attacks against al Qaeda even if those attacks occur inside countries we're not at war with. In other words, these controversial strikes of late inside Syria and Pakistan are just fine according to Rumsfeld, whether the governments or people of those countries like us waging war inside their borders or not.

Watch: Cafferty: Attack al Qaeda?

More than a half-dozen current and former military and security officials confirmed this to the New York Times. The measure gives the U.S. military the power to attack al Qaeda anywhere in the world.

Most of these attacks, when they occur, are carried out by U.S. Special Forces in conjunction with the C.I.A.

Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. be attacking al Qaeda in foreign countries without permission?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?
FULL POST


Filed under: Al Qaeda • US Military
August 15th, 2008
04:50 PM ET

Why do military donations favor Obama over McCain?

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Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When it comes to the money race, it appears Barack Obama is ahead on the battlefield. Members of the military are donating more money to Obama than to the military man John McCain. A lot more money.

A nonpartisan organization called the "Center for Responsive Politics" reports U.S. troops serving abroad have given almost six times as much money to the Democrat Obama as they have to the Republican McCain.

Watch: Cafferty: Military $ for Obama?

These are pretty shocking results when you consider that historically military donations favor the Republican. Also, McCain is a decorated war hero who spent almost 5 years as a POW in Vietnam. He graduated from the U-S Naval Academy and was a naval aviator for 22 years. His military experience is a big part of his candidacy. Obama has never served a day in the military.

It might just mean that Obama's message of being against the war in Iraq is resonating with the people who have been called on to fight it. Obama says he would pull out all combat troops from Iraq within 16 months.

McCain has been a staunch supporter of the war and insists the U.S. will only withdraw troops when the conditions on the ground are right. At one point, McCain suggested the United States could be in Iraq for 100 years.
Here’s my question to you: Why are members of the military donating more money to Barack Obama despite John McCain’s military background?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • US Military
April 7th, 2008
05:01 PM ET

1 in 8 Army recruits needs conduct waiver

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U.S. Stryker Brigade Combat Team. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The war in Iraq comes to Washington this week. General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker are set to give two days of testimony to Congress on the progress of the war starting tomorrow. President Bush is then expected to address the nation on Thursday, and talk about the future of Iraq as well as the administration's decision to reduce combat tours of duty from 15 months to 12 months.

The highlight of the two days of testimony will no doubt be the questioning of Petraeus and Crocker by the three candidates for president, all senators. Out on the campaign trail, you have John McCain, who has said the U.S. could be in Iraq for 100 years... versus Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who insist the war hasn't made the U.S. safer and want to pull our troops out.

As the war grinds on, our military forces continue to be stretched thinner. Consider this: one out of every eight new soldiers now requires a waiver to join the Army either because of a criminal record or other past misconduct. That's a number that has more than doubled since 2004. One top military official told USA Today it's because of the difficulties the Army faces attracting young people to join during a time of war. Officials insist that the military has granted waivers without hurting the quality of recruits.

Another depressing sign of the state of our military is this: the percentage of high school graduates among Army recruits is down from 91% in 2001 to 79% last year.

Here’s my question to you: What’s the future of the U.S. military if one in every eight new Army recruits requires a conduct waiver?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: US Military
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