Defense

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

Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), a longtime critic of the war in Afghanistan, on Tuesday demanded Defense Secretary James Mattis 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.

{mosads}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 Trump’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.”

Tags Bacha bazi Donald Trump Donald Trump James Mattis James Mattis Walter Jones Walter Jones War in Afghanistan

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