Capitol Hill

Senate Challenges Afghan Plan

For the second day in a row, administration officials found themselves facing a skeptical Senate questioning President Barack Obama's new Afghanistan plans. The revised strategy calls for a surge in troops, costing the U.S. an estimated $30 billion a year, to stamp out al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) said that the focus on Afghanistan was misguided, stating, "We have largely expelled al Qaeda from Afghanistan." Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) asked "whether the costs of this deployment are justified in our overall national-security context and whether we are mistakenly concentrating our forces to fight a terrorist enemy in a specific location even as the global terrorist threat is becoming increasingly diffuse." Senators also emphasized the need to focus on Pakistan, which is becoming a potential staging ground for terrorism.