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Obama’s Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
President Obama’s brain trust on Afghanistan does not know much the U.S. spends on the war each year or the American cost in lost lives on the battlefield.
The witnesses: James F. Dobbins, State’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan; Donald Sampler, assistant to the administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development, which provides civilian foreign aid; and Michael Dumont, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia.
When it came time for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, to quiz the witnesses, he asked what he thought was a simple question:
“How much are we spending annually in Afghanistan? How much is the cost to the American taxpayer?”
He was met with stone silence from the witness panel. Mr. Dobbins gestured to the other witnesses for the answer. They, too, came up empty.
“I’m sorry, congressman,” Mr. Dobbins said.
Mr. Rohrabacker called the lack of an answer “disheartening.”
“How many killed and wounded have we suffered in the last 12 months,” he asked.
Again, none of the three had an answer. Mr. Dumont said he would get back to him.
“We’re supposed to believe you fellows have a plan that is going to end up in a positive way in Afghanistan,” the congressman said. “Holy cow.”
Rep. Gerald Connolly, Virginia Democrat, said he was stunned.
“I say to the panel, Mr. Rohrabacker is right. How you can come to a congressional oversight hearing on this subject, with your titles and not know how much we”re spending every year and not know how many casualties we incur this last year, I will say to chairman of this committee, is actually a stunning, stunning development.”
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