Hillary Clinton Defends US Mission in Afghanistan Before Lawmakers
(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was on the hot seat Tuesday, answering congressional lawmakers' questions about the recent turmoil in Afghanistan resulting from the burning of Korans at Bagram Airfield.
With Afghans furious over the desecration of their most revered religious materials, leading to the killings of several American military personnel, Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski pressed Clinton to justify continuing the mission in Afghanistan when Army Maj. Robert J. Marchanti II of Baltimore was shot in the head while inside the supposedly secure Interior Ministry.
Mikulski asked, "What do I tell his family today? Was it worth it? Because they're angry. People in Maryland are angry."
The senator said that while the U.S. went into Afghanistan to protect national security after the nation was attacked on 9/11, relations with the Afghans have become nearly unworkable.
Clinton acknowledged that there was no justification for the killing of an American officer under any circumstance.
However, the nation's top envoy insisted, "We have both made progress on the principle reason we were there -- security. Because of our platform and our presence in Afghanistan, we've been able to target terrorists, particularly top al-Qaeda operatives including (Osama) bin Laden in their safe havens. And we have made progress in helping the Afghan people."
As Clinton was getting clobbered on Capitol Hill, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen gave his support to the administration's position when he told a seminar in Washington, D.C. that the U.S. and its coalition allies "are showing remarkable restraint and professionalism under very difficult circumstances."
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