GOP rep on Afghanistan: 'Why are we still shedding our soldiers' blood for pedophiles?'

GOP rep on Afghanistan: 'Why are we still shedding our soldiers' blood for pedophiles?'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Walter JonesWalter Beaman JonesThe Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push Ex-Greenville mayor wins Dem primary in North Carolina, GOP candidates head to runoff North Carolina reporter says there could be 'new crop' of GOP candidates in 9th Congressional District race MORE (R-N.C.), a longtime critic of the war in Afghanistan, on Tuesday demanded Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisPentagon reporters left in dark as Iran tensions escalate Trump officials slow-walk president's order to cut off Central American aid: report Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Trump nominates Shanahan as Pentagon chief | House panel advances bill to block military funds for border wall | Trump defends Bolton despite differences MORE explain why U.S. troops are still shedding “blood for pedophiles.”

“Why are we still shedding our soldiers' blood for pedophiles?” Jones asked before reading a headline about an inspector general report on the Pentagon’s policy on child sexual abuse in Afghanistan.

Last month, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction released a previously classified report on the Pentagon’s enforcement of a law known as the Leahy Law, which bans the U.S. government from assisting foreign forces that have been found to commit gross human rights violations.

The investigation was requested by 93 members of Congress after news reports alleged a Pentagon policy kept U.S. troops from reporting when Afghan police and militia officials sexually assaulted children in a practice known as "bacha bazi" — or "boy play."

The inspector general report found that the Pentagon has used a loophole in the Leahy Law to continue training, equipping and otherwise assisting Afghan security forces units that have committed “gross violations of human rights.” None of the times the law was waived that were identified in the report involved allegations of child sexual assault.

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In addition to the inspector general report, Jones on Tuesday read a series of grim headlines about Afghanistan, including recent high-profile attacks on Kabul.

Jones, a frequent outlier in his party, also highlighted President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push MORE’s prior opposition to the war in Afghanistan. When Trump announced he was extending the U.S. presence there indefinitely, the president acknowledged his advisers changed his mind on the issue.

“After 16 years, I do not think we’re having any successes,” Jones said. “No one has ever conquered Afghanistan, and many have tried. We will join the list of nations that have tried and failed.”

Mattis countered that the U.S. mission in Afghanistan is not to conquer the country.

“In fact, what we are doing to earn the trust of the American people is to ensure another 9/11 hatched out there does not happen during our watch,” Mattis said. “Further, the strategy we put together, President Trump challenged every assumption.”