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Split Persists Over McChrystal Testimony


House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wants the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan to testify on Capitol Hill. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

By Ben Pershing
A key Democratic leader reiterated Tuesday that Gen. Stanley McChrystal should appear before Congress soon to testify on the war effort in Afghanistan, one day after the administration again made clear no such appearance was forthcoming.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday that McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, should not go to the Hill before President Obama decides on a new policy, because doing so "would put General McChrystal in an impossible situation." That has been the consistent position of the White House, even as a chorus of Republicans has called for McChrystal to visit the Capitol to explain why he believes more troops are needed.

But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) differs with the administration on this point, and he reiterated his stance at his weekly press briefing Tuesday morning, just hours before he and several key leaders and committee chairmen from both parties head to the White House to meet with Obama.

"I want to hear from the president certainly, but I also want to hear from General McChrystal," Hoyer said, adding that he had made that desire known to Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"I continue to believe and recommend that General McChrystal -- at some point in time in the relatively near future, before we make a determination as to what we should do -- testify before the Congress, and brief the Congress. Perhaps in executive session, if that's necessary, but also testify before the Congress."

By calling for McChrystal to appear before Obama decides on a new policy, Hoyer not only differs from the Pentagon but also from some fellow Democrats on the Hill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said last week that it would be inappropriate for McChrystal to appear at Congressional hearings "until the president makes up his mind." The Senate voted Thursday along party lines to defeat a Defense appropriations bill amendment authored by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would have forced McChrystal to testify on the Hill by Nov. 15.

Short of such legislative action or a subpoena, which doesn't appear likely, there is no way Hoyer and Hill Republicans can compel McChrystal to testify unless the administration changes its position on the subject.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she doesn't think "there's a great deal of support for sending more troops to Afghanistan in the country or in the Congress." Hoyer, who has long been more hawkish than Pelosi on military matters, was more circumspect Tuesday.

"I do think there's support in Congress" for a troop increase, Hoyer said. "The question is, is there majority support in Congress? I don't know the answer to that.... I think this is a very, very thorny issue and I think it needs to be considered very very carefully."

By Ben Pershing  |  October 6, 2009; 1:23 PM ET
Categories:  Branch vs. Branch , Dem. Leaders  
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Comments

When the dumb Gen. Stanley McChrystal gets fired do you think he'll get a ticker-tape parade through the streets of New York City ? MacArthur did ... but he helped "WIN" a war. McChrystal has a big mouth, he hasn't won anything & is probably insubordinate. He doesn't deserve a free ride home from where ever he's at.

Posted by: wasaUFO | October 6, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse


These democrats all in a quandry. They can't understand that Gen. Stanley McChrystal's job is to manage the war, and Obama's job is to decide whether to try to help him win the war or shut it down. There should be no conflict in McChrystal testifying about the field conditions and needs and Obama's decision.

.

.

Posted by: Billw3 | October 6, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

The guy should be fired. Just like MacArthur. Period.

The constitution states that there is but ONE commander-in-chief of the US military, and that is the elected (read political) President.

The clearly stated intention of the US constitution is that this country is NOT run by the military, the military is run by our elected political representatives.

Anything else is treason, pure and simple.

Posted by: WP11231 | October 6, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Congress can declare war, but it is constitutionally not in charge of running a war. The President is.

Posted by: WP11231 | October 6, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

When the dumb Gen. Stanley McChrystal gets fired do you think he'll get a ticker-tape parade through the streets of New York City ? MacArthur did ... but he helped "WIN" a war. McChrystal has a big mouth, he hasn't won anything & is probably insubordinate. He doesn't deserve a free ride home from where ever he's at.

Posted by: wasaUFO | October 6, 2009 3:25 PM
-------------------------------------------
If you call McChrystal, who Obama hand-picked to run the war, dumb, what would you call the president who selected him, a moron?

Posted by: jmk55 | October 6, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I assumed that Hoyer would go along with the White House on this.. seems kind of weird battle for him to fight.. weirder than McChrystal's public speaking tour.

Anyway.. I was glad to finally see that some of the anti-war protestors finally woke up from their post-W celebratory phase..

I think this war is unwinnable.. or if we win or lose or draw.. we won't be able to tell the difference..

I'll go with whatever the POTUS thinks.. he is the man in the know.. and he did get stuck with this.. no matter how I would like to rationalize that it's now his baby..

Posted by: newbeeboy | October 6, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Hmm - it sounds as if Hoyer also wants to use McChrystal's testimony to create pressure for more troops.

I'm torn. Congress has a right to be in the loop on this, and since they fund the war, eventually Obama needs their support. But we also know how long McChrystal's testimony before an executive session would stay secret - about long enough for a Republican staffer to unlimber his cell and start tweeting. Let Hoyer come up with a operational plan for dealing with the threat of leaks, and I'll go along.

Posted by: j2hess | October 6, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Why wouldn't Obama want the most knowledgeable man in the country to brief Congress on what is going on in Afghanistan. Why would he be in an impossible situation? That doesn't make any sense! And how can Congress decide what to do without the best information available. What is Obama doing?

Posted by: valwayne | October 6, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

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