- - Monday, August 20, 2012

WHITE HOUSE

President Obama declared Monday he is sticking to his war strategy of using U.S. troops to advise and mentor Afghan forces, even as a suddenly growing number of Americans are being fatally shot by the very Afghans they are training to take on insurgents.

In just the past 10 days, Afghan forces have attacked their coalition partners seven times, killing nine Americans. For the year, there have been 32 such incidents, killing 40, compared with 21 attacks killing 35 troops in all of 2011.

“We are deeply concerned about this, from top to bottom,” Mr. Obama said. But he added the best approach, with the fewest number of deaths in the long run, would be to stick to the plan for shifting security responsibilities to the Afghans.

“We are transitioning to Afghan security, and for us to train them effectively we are in much closer contact — our troops are in much closer contact with Afghan troops on an ongoing basis,” Mr. Obama said. “Part of what we’ve got to do is to make sure that this model works, but it doesn’t make our guys more vulnerable.”

That vulnerability, however, has been exposed in a strikingly deadly way in recent days.

U.S. officials offer two main theories for why Afghan security forces are turning their weapons on Western partners: infiltration by the Taliban and a U.S.-Afghan culture clash.

CONGRESS

Skinny-dipping GOP lawmaker apologizes

A Republican congressman representing Kansas has apologized for embarrassing his supporters by swimming naked at the holy site of the Sea of Galilee while on a fact-finding mission to Israel.

Freshman Rep. Kevin Yoder, 36, has not been charged in the Aug. 18, 2011, incident in which he and about 20 other lawmakers and staff members jumped into the water.

“It’s an embarrassing situation, and I regret it,” Mr. Yoder said during an interview on public radio station KCUR-FM in Kansas City, Mo. “I know that many constituents out there are sort of scratching their heads, saying, ‘What is this guy up to? What was he doing? What was he thinking?’”

DEMOCRATS

Kaine, Emanuel, Patrick among convention speakers

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick are among prominent Democrats who will speak at their party’s national convention in Charlotte, N.C.

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