Patty in the News

Speaking hours before President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called for a “sizable and sustained reduction in troop levels” while stressing “the unseen costs of war.”

Murray, who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, delivered a Senate floor speech centering on stresses felt by those involved in fighting two simultaneous Asian wars.

“We all hear how expensive war is while we are fighting it — but for so many of our service members, what happens on the battlefield is just the beginning,” said Murray.

“We are seeing suicide rates that are much higher among active duty service members and veterans than among civilians.  We are finding they are having trouble accessing the mental health care so many of them deserpately need.

“We are watching as these men and women are sent out on tour after tour.  Too often, they are having a tough time finding jobs when they come home.”

Murray noted that the enemy faced in Afghanistan — the Taliban and al-Qaeda — “is real” and by words and actions “they meanus great harm.”

“After September 11th, Afghanistan was providing safe haven for them, and we were absolutely right to go in and take them out,” the senator argued.  “But we know terrorism isn’t a country — it’s a network and a threat that exists around the world.”

The Senate has experienced fiery debate in recent days, as a growing number of both Democrats and Republicans have argued for an accelerated troop pullout.

Sen. Joe Mancin, D-West Virginia, on Tuesday stressed financial costs of the war, and argued that U.S. resources should be devoted primarily to rebuilding America rather than building Afghanistan.

He was sharply rebuked by Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who pointed out that the U.S. “walked away” from Afghanistan after Soviet troops withdrew, and the Taliban and al-Qaeda moved into the power vacuum.

Murray argued, on Wednesday, that America’s “terrorist enemies are not tied to a specific location” and are found not only in Afghanistan but in Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan “and beyond.”

“Leaving large levels of troops in Afghanistan is not the best use of our resources — especially in tough economic times:  It’s time to redeploy, rebuild our military and focus on the broader war on terror,” she argued.

- Seattle PI