Rep. Jones presses Obama on full troop withdrawal

Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) is pressing the Obama administration to abandon plans to keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan after 2014.

"After 12 years, billions of dollars and [Afghan] President [Hamid] Karzai's continued disrespect for the United States ... it is time to end our commitment to Afghanistan," the North Carolina Republican said in a letter sent to Obama on Tuesday. 

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Jones also expressed frustration that Congress will not have an opportunity to weigh in on a postwar pact, which would lay the groundwork for America's continued presence in Afghanistan. 

"It is a sad day when the Afghan government has voted on the [plan], but that opportunity has been denied to the United States Congress," Jones wrote.

Last Wednesday, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) demanded  Obama seek congressional approval for any postwar U.S. force in Afghanistan after the White House-mandated 2014 withdrawal deadline. 

"Should the President determine the necessity to maintain [American] troops in Afghanistan" after 2014, "any such presence and missions should be authorized by a separate vote of Congress," according legislation proposed by Merkley.

The language is part of an amendment filed by the Oregon Democrat to the fiscal 2014 defense spending bill. 

Last November, Jones joined several Republicans and Democrats in pushing legislation to formally end U.S. military operations in Afghanistan ahead of the 2014 deadline. 

Monday's letter comes as Washington is turning up the heat on Kabul to formally agree to the postwar plan, drafted by Karzai and Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this month. 

The postwar plan, known inside the Pentagon as the bilateral security agreement (BSA), was presented by Karzai to an assembly of the Afghanistan's most powerful tribal leaders, called the Loya Jirga, Thursday.

Reports claim the council is overwhelmingly leaning toward ratification of the plan, which  would go into effect in January 2015 and last roughly a decade. 

However, Kabul retains the option to terminate the deal before the it expires in 2024, according to the terms of the postwar pact. 

But a slew of last-minute demands by Karzai, including the release of all Afghan prisoners at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay and banning members of a U.S. postwar force from entering Afghan homes, has Obama considering a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan next year. 

Without a BSA in place "the U.S. would have no choice but to initiate planning for a post-2014 future in which there would be no U.S. or NATO troop presence in Afghanistan," according to a White House summary of a meeting between Karzai and National Security Adviser Susan Rice. 

On Monday, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren declined to comment on whether the department was planning for a complete pullout from the country. 

But he reiterated Kabul's repeated delays in approving the deal has brought U.S. postwar planning to a standstill. 

"The planning process takes time ... but in order to do that, we have got to have a BSA," Warren said.