With the heat building for President Obama to decide how many troops to send to Afghanistan and just what strategy to pursue, Sen. Carl Levin has rebuffed calls from three senior senators for the Senate Armed Services Committee to hold hearings about the way ahead.
Levin told Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) ranking member of the committee, Joseph Lieberman, (I.-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that, while "I agree with you concerning the importance of succeeding in Afghanistan and the need for Congress and the American people to understand how the future of Afghanistan is linked to our own safety here at home," he did not yet think it time for a hearing.
"At the present time, while General McChrystal has submitted his assessment of the situation on the ground and his recommendations concerning the strategy for Afghanistan up through the chain of command, he has not yet submitted his recommendation as to the resources that he believes would be needed to implement the strategy. I also understand that discussions on strategy are ongoing," Levin wrote his colleagues.
Given all that, Levin said that "it is premature to seek the military commanders’ testimony on their resource recommendations to implement a strategy before the President’s senior advisers, including Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates, have had an opportunity to provide their advice to the President," Levin wrote.
McCain has called for more troops to be sent to Afghanistan, as he did for Iraq long before the Bush administration decided on the surge. This move by the former presidential candidate, his close colleague Lieberman and Graham seems a clear attempt to pressure the administration into action.