Members of Congress Call for Bipartisan Review US Policy in Afghanistan

August 19th, 2010 - by admin

– 2010-08-19 02:04:34

August 13, 2010

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
White House
Washington DC

Dear Mr. President,

As America heads inexorably towards its tenth year of war in Afghanistan, it is clear that the end of this, America’s longest war, is nowhere in sight.

Consequently, we write to echo calls from national security, military and development experts as well as our colleagues in Congress for the establishment of a bipartisan Afghanistan-Pakistan Study Group (APSG) to conduct a comprehensive review of US policy in these countries.

Similar to the establishment of the Iraq Study Group in 2006, the formation of an APSG is not a partisan issue. Concerns and questions regarding the direction of US military engagement in Afghanistan have been expressed by Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and an increasing majority of the American public.

In cooperation with your Administration, and through independent analysis guided by in-country assessments, an APSG can provide much-needed recommendations to focus the ongoing debate on US policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As we continue to assess the benefits, costs, and affordability of our engagement in the region, this rational and independent examination is exactly what is needed. Further, we believe a critical component of this assessment should be the development of an alternative strategy for concluding the US war in Afghanistan.

On June 23, 2010, in appointing General David Petraeus as Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and US forces in Afghanistan, you emphasized the need for “unity of purpose” with regard to US policy in Afghanistan.

However, serious questions pertaining to our mission and objectives, metrics and feasibility for success, and the timeline for military engagement in the region threaten responsible oversight and execution of these policies. The formation of a bipartisan APSG will be critical in working toward agreement on the most responsible path forward for our nation.

We respectfully urge you to utilize your executive authority to establish an APSG as soon as possible. We believe Congress would be eager to support this vital initiative and further request that the Department of Defense and the Department of State promptly provide an estimate for the resources that would be required to convene such a body.

Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to hearing from you.


Congressional Co-signers:
Rep. Barbara Lee (CA),
Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (MI),
Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey (CA),
Rep. Michael M. Honda (CA),
Rep. George Miller (CA),
Rep. Steve Cohen (TN),
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (AZ),
Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME),
Rep. Jackie Speier (CA),
Rep. James P. Moran (VA),
Rep. Sam Farr (CA)


This is a heads up and update on the case of GI whistleblower Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking the attack helicopter video to Wikileaks. The Army has also accused him of leaking additional documents to Wikileaks, but how many documents keeps changing. The Army started by saying he leaked 260,000 documents, then 50, now 90,000. The Army says he accessed these documents during his year in Iraq. Private First Class (PFC) Manning has been held in isolation and not allowed to talk to a civilian lawyer, so we only hear the Army’s version of the story.

A quick summary of the case is available on the Courage to Resist website: ( ). T-shirts, posters, and other material are also available on the Courage to Resist link. One note: Manning is no longer in in Kuwait, but has been moved to the US Marine base at Quantico, VA.

Courage to Resist and a newly forming organization, the “Bradley Manning Support Network” (BMSN) (, are working jointly on his defense and are taking the lead in this case. Jeff Paterson is a key leader in both organizations. Code Pink, ANSWER, Veterans for Peace national, and other groups have stepped up to defend Manning.

The GI Resistance Working Group, a task force formed by VFP national, will be working on the Manning case as well as supporting GI’s in Canada. Gerry Condon (president, VFP Seattle) and Russell Brown (VFP Buffalo, NY) are the co-chairs of the working group.

This case is big — Calling Manning a hero, Daniel Ellsburg said that Manning, “is the first person in 39 years to do something comparable to what I did.” The case is also an early battle in the US government’s attempt to shut down the international website, Wikileaks. See the Democracy Now interview with Daniel EllsbErg, Glenn Greenwald of, and Birgitta Jonsdottir, Member of the Icelandic Parliament and co-producer of the Wikileaks video Collateral Murder . Manning is also supported by Ray McGovern and Col. Ann Wright.

If the US and Wikileaks’ other enemies can shut Wikileaks down, whistleblowers in the future will be deterred. If not, more and more secrets from governments and big corporations around the world will continue to be exposed, and more websites like Wikileaks may be inspired to start up.

Some 39 years ago, Daniel EllsbErg’s release of the “Pentagon Papers” changed American public opinion about the Viet Nam war. Leaks of all kinds in the future could have a similar impact on major players and criminal wrongdoing around the world. The Manning case is now the tip of the spear in this battle.

Please take immediate action: Write letters of support to Bradley Manning at:

Inmate Bradley Manning
USMC Base Quantico Brig
3247 Elrod Avenue
Quantico, VA 22134

The mailing rules are:
* No specific/detailed discussion of the charges pending against him (it could be used as an excuse to make it “evidence”)
* No profanity (Marines don’t swear 🙂
* No organizational mail. Mail should come from an individual, with only an individual’s return address (no groups, organizations, etc.–although you can mention you are with a group)
* No news clipping about him or his case
* Copies of magazine articles are usually allowed, but not magazines.
* A family-type 4×6 photograph is usually allowed, but it has to be rated G, maybe PG at most.
* No imagery depicting violence (ironic?) or nudity.
* No cash, stamps, or anything of value.
* No excessive decorations, perfume, or glitter.

The Marine Corps may return your letter to you, saying that it’s not on Manning’s approved list. However, if you keep re-sending it two or three times, they will eventually ask him if he wants you on his list, then they will give it him.


Calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan, we continue to leaflet and talk with passersby at the corner of Geary and Powell on Thursdays, from Noon-1pm. Last week’s appearance by 18-month old Maeve Hallinan attracted much attention.