WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama came under pressure from U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday to persuade Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to step down over what they see as his failed leadership in the face of an insurgency threatening his country.
As Obama prepared to meet congressional leaders to discuss U.S. options in the Iraq crisis, senior administration officials joined the chorus of criticism against Maliki, faulting him for failing to heal sectarian rifts that militants have exploited.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he does not back sending any U.S. troops into the conflict in Iraq, which he described as a “civil war” on Wednesday ahead of a meeting with President Barack Obama about the escalating crisis.
“I do not support in any way putting our men and women in the midst of this civil war in Iraq. It is not in the national security interest of our country,” Reid said in remarks opening the Senate’s daily session.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is putting together a proposal to shift some money that had been designated for use in Afghanistan for possible military operations in Iraq, congressional aides said on Monday.
As they formulate a response to the Iraq crisis, White House officials have told lawmakers they will submit this week or next a request to Congress for “Overseas Contingency Operations” funding, carving out some money for Iraq that had previously been anticipated for use in Afghanistan.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is not ruling out air strikes to assist the Iraqi government fight a growing radical Islamist insurgency, President Barack Obama said on Thursday, raising the possibility of the first American military intervention in Iraq since the end of the U.S.-led war.
Obama was asked whether Washington would consider drone strikes to combat violence that threatens to break up the country. “Iraq is going to need more help. It’s going to need more help from us, and it’s going to need more help from the international community,” he said.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A closed-door congressional hearing on the release of Bowe Bergdahl failed to calm Republican anger on Tuesday over the administration’s secretive deal to trade five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo for the U.S. prisoner of war.
But a group of former soldiers defended the exchange and accused lawmakers of stoking the furor over the prisoner swap for political gain.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. congressional committee voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to bar the use of federal funds to transfer detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison, as lawmakers expressed anger at the White House’s failure to tell them about an exchange of five Taliban prisoners for the last American soldier held in Afghanistan.
The House of Representatives Appropriations Committee voted 33-13 — with backing from both Republicans and Democrats — to include the Guantanamo amendment in the $570 billion annual defense appropriations bill.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A political storm over the trade of five Taliban inmates for a captured American soldier intensified on Monday when Obama administration officials told U.S. lawmakers that up to 90 people within the administration – but no members of Congress – were told in advance about the swap.
“It strikes me as unfortunate that they could have 80 to 90 people in the administration aware of what was happening and not be able to trust a single Republican or Democrat in the House or the Senate,” Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, a member of the House of Representatives Republican leadership, told reporters after leaving a briefing on the exchange.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration expects more inmates will be transferred from the Guantanamo Bay military prison this year, a U.S. official said on Thursday, despite the political firestorm over the exchange of five Taliban detainees for the last American soldier held in Afghanistan.
“There are a significant number of transfers in the pipeline at various stages, and I think you are going to be seeing substantial progress this year,” a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told a briefing for reporters on moves toward closing the base.
WASHINGTON, June 4 (Reuters) – Three U.S. senators will
visit Eastern Europe this week to reinforce U.S. support for
allies worried by Russian aggression,
although it was not clear whether Congress will back President
Barack Obama’s call for up to $1 billion in security funding for
“It’s very important to send a message from both the
executive and legislative branches to our NATO allies that we’re
serious about re-investing in this alliance,” U.S. Senator Chris
Murphy, chairman of the Senate’s Europe subcommittee, said in an
WASHINGTON/WARSAW (Reuters) – President Barack Obama defended on Tuesday the prisoner swap deal that freed a U.S. soldier from Taliban captivity in Afghanistan, and the Army pledged to investigate the circumstances of his capture after fellow soldiers said he had deserted.
Trying to defuse concerns of members of Congress who said the president broke the law by not giving them advance notice of the agreement, Obama told a news conference in Warsaw: “Regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he’s held in captivity. Period. Full stop.”