By Molly K. Hooper - 10/09/09 01:01 AM EDT
GOP lawmakers were irked that Defense Secretary Robert Gates or Gen.
Stanley McChrystal did not attend Thursday afternoon’s closed-door
briefing on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
President Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor former Gen. James Jones held a classified briefing with House members to answer questions on the status of the administration’s strategy in Afghanistan.
“Why wasn’t McChrystal there, we’ve got (Jones) down there trying to answer questions that, conveniently, he can’t answer and I would like to know the position of Gates and McChrystal, and not necessarily in that order,” said Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.), currently serving his 12th term.
For weeks, House Republicans and some Democrats, including House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), have called for McChrystal to appear at a public hearing to discuss his recommendations on the way forward in the precarious region.
But sources in the room intimated that Jones did not reveal what the administration thought about McChrystal testifying in public.
At this point, the president has yet to decide how to move forward in Afghanistan and is considering various options.
According to Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston (R), Jones didn’t tell members anything about the president’s position on the way forward that the press hasn’t reported.
“It’s a show and tell of nothing,” the top GOP agriculture subcommittee appropriator told The Hill, adding that the Congress should “merit” a briefing with the relevant Cabinet secretaries.
“The temperature is truly heating up in Afghanistan and we don’t merit the secretary of State or secretary of Defense for a full meeting?” Kingston asked.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took issue with Kingston’s characterization and called the briefing “excellent.”
“Former General Jones, as a military person, was very effective, very understandable and gave us a good perspective,” the Speaker said as she left the briefing.
A senior-ranking GOP lawmaker on the Armed Services Committee agreed that Jones’s appearance was valuable.
Rep. John Kline (Minn.), a retired high-ranking Marine, said that he was "very glad" that his fellow jarhead spoke to interested members of the lower chamber.
“It’s very helpful for the national security adviser to come over and brief us and answer questions,” Kline told The Hill.
According to Kline, Jones answered all of the questions that members asked, "but everybody may not like his answers.”
Jones held a similar briefing with senators last week.