Gen. David Petraeus said Tuesday that it "is important to note the president's reminder in recent days that July 2011 will mark the beginning of a process, not the date when the U.S. heads for the exits and turns out the lights."
"We'll need to provide assistance to Afghanistan for a long time to come," he said, quoting President Barack Obama.
"Moreover, as President (Hamid) Karzai has recognized, and as a number of allied leaders noted at the recent G-20 summit, it is going to be a number of years before Afghan forces can truly handle the security tasks in Afghanistan on their own.
"The commitment to Afghanistan is necessarily, therefore, an enduring one, and neither the Taliban nor our Afghan and Pakistani partners should doubt that."
Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) told the Senate Armed Services Committee: “We need to give our strategy the necessary time to succeed. We cannot afford to have a stay the course approach to starting our withdrawal in July 2011 when the facts on the ground are suggesting that we need more time. This is all the more essential now with General Petraeus assuming command pending his confirmation. He has proved that he can win wars and we need to give him every opportunity and remove every obstacle to win in Afghanistan.”
In prepared testimony, General David Petraeus tells the Senate Armed Services Committee: “I was part of the process that helped formulate the President's strategy for Afghanistan and I support and agree with the new policy. During its development, I offered my forthright military advice and I have assured the President that I will do the same as we conduct assessments over the course of the months ahead.”
Gen. David Petraeus goes before the Senate Armed Services Committee today. There is little doubt he will be confirmed as the new commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, but senators on both sides of the aisle will want to hear reassurances on the course of the war.
The committee's chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, wants an explanation as to why the much anticipated Kandahar operation will have a preponderance of International Security Assistance Forces and not Afghan troops, a plan he described Monday as "totally unacceptable." FULL POST
The 85-year-old Democrat from Hawaii is about to become the highest-ranking Asian-American in U.S. history. Inouye, who is Nisei – a second generation Japanese-American – will become the president pro tempore of the Senate, replacing Sen. Robert Byrd, who died early Monday after nearly 52 years in the Senate.
Politico reports that the position puts Inouye, now also the most senior member of the Senate, in the presidential line of succession behind Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California.
On June 11, Inouye became the second longest-serving senator in U.S. history – 47 years – beating the record held by the late Sen. Strom Thurmond. When he surpassed Thurmond's record, the highly decorated World War II veteran was honored on the Senate floor by his peers.
"This is a very special day for me and my family and friends who helped make it possible. When I took the oath of office in 1963, I pledged to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. I spend every day trying to live up to that oath," Inouye said.
Ongoing coverage - BP webcam of Gulf oil disaster
9:00 am ET - Supreme Court nomination hearing – Confirmation hearings continue in the Senate for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.
9:30 am ET - Petraeus hearing – The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Gen. David Petraeus to take the reins of allied forces in Afghanistan.
1:00 pm ET - Biden visits the Gulf Coast – Vice President Biden travels to the Gulf Coast region to assess efforts to counter the BP oil spill. He meets with Gulf residents impacted by the spill and makes a statement to the press.
2:30 pm ET - White House briefing – White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs holds the daily briefing.
5:30 pm ET - Biden in Pensacola – Vice President Biden travels to the Gulf Coast region to assess efforts to counter the BP oil spill. He visits Naval Air Station Pensacola and makes a statement to the press.
CNN.com Live is your home for breaking news as it happens.
An update from London on some of the international stories we expect to develop on Tuesday:
Football chief sorry for referee errors: FIFA president Sepp Blatter has done a U-turn over the use of goal-line technology and apologized to the English and Mexican football associations for controversial refereeing decisions in their last 16 defeats. Read more
Google changes China policy: Search engine giant will no longer reroute traffic to its uncensored Hong Kong website after it said Chinese government officials found the redirect unacceptable.
U.S.: Russian spies arrested: Less than a week after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited the United States, the Justice Department announced Monday that 10 people were arrested on charges of being Russian agents involved in a long-term mission in the country. Another suspect was still being sought. Read more
USGS reports 5.8 magnitude earthquake 65 miles south of Concepcion in southern Chile and 15 miles underground.
The Pentagon is out to save $100 billion over the next five years in a major push to cut overhead costs, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Gates officially unveiled his plan at a Pentagon news conference Monday, announcing he is putting department acquisition chief Ashton Carter in charge of finding where the $100 billion will come from in the budgets beginning in 2012.
"The department's leadership has already taken strong action in this area, and needs to do more," Gates said. FULL POST
General Stanley McChrystal has told the Army he will retire, U.S. Army spokesman Gary Tallman says.
A sea turtle egg relocation project has been started in hopes of keeping hatchlings out of the oil that's spreading through Gulf of Mexico.
Henry Cabbage of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said they have started digging up sea turtle eggs in nests in Florida's Panhandle.
The eggs are being moved to a secure facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where the turtles will be released in the Atlantic Ocean once they're hatched. Cabbage said the fear with leaving the eggs on the Gulf Coast is "the turtles wil ride the current into the oil."
The eggs will be collected three times a week from now until November.
A video posted on YouTube purportedly shows street fighting between Islamist fighters and Ugandan peacekeepers.
Islamist fighters battling Somalia’s fragile government have released new video of recent street battles against Ugandan peacekeepers in Mogadishu. It’s the latest propaganda video made by Al-Shabaab – an affiliate of al Qaeda – as it seeks to extend its appeal on the internet to young ethnic Somalis in Europe and North America.
Not that the Ugandans are described as “peacekeepers” in the perfectly accented English narration for the 10-minute video.
Titled “The African Crusaders,” the opening line sets the tone: “As dawn breaks in Mogadishu every morning, a new chapter also begins in the battle against the coalition of crusaders and their apostate allies.” They are, the narrator continues, “fighting America’s war in a foreign land.”
Sources in Mogadishu say the scenes were filmed at the beginning of June as Al-Shabaab fighters threatened to close in on the presidential palace, one of the few buildings still controlled by the government. The sources say Al-Shabaab was driven back – and one of its commanders was reported to have been seriously wounded – but the narration inevitably paints the conflict as a triumph for the insurgents against the African Union force.
An EPA worker takes photos of oil coming ashore in Orange Beach, Alabama.
The X Prize Foundation announced today that it is developing a multimillion-dollar “oil spill cleanup X challenge” to come up with solutions to cleaning up shorelines and open water fouled by oil leaking from the BP Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
Speaking at the TEDxOilSpill conference in Washington, Frances Beland of the X Prize Foundation asked the audience of 300, and many more watching the conference’s videostream, “What do you prize?” Beland told CNN after his appearance that the oil-related challenge will probably offer about $3 million in prize money for a cleanup solution.
The X Prize Foundation gained public attention for its X Prize of $10 million awarded for the development of private spacecraft, and the nonprofit foundation has created other prize challenges.
A gubernatorial candidate in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico, was killed by gunfire Monday morning in Ciudad Victoria, the government-run Notimex news agency reported.
The candidate, identified as Rodolfo Torre Cantu, belonged to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, known by its Spanish acronym PRI.
Three other people, including his campaign manager, also were killed in the shooting, Notimex said. Another four were wounded and transported to the Doctor Norberto Trevino General Hospital in Tamaulipas, where they were under heavy guard, the news agency said.
Mexico holds elections Sunday and Torre was considered a front-runner in his race.
The National Hurricane Center on Monday issued a hurricane watch for the Texas coast from south of Baffin Bay to the mouth of the Rio Grande.
And the Mexican government issued a hurricane watch for the coast of Mexico from the mouth of the Rio Grande to La Cruz, Mexico.
That means that hurricane conditions are possible within those areas. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated arrival of tropical-storm-force winds.
U.S. soccer fans in New York react Saturday during their team's match against Ghana.
[Updated at 1:30 p.m.] History may have repeated itself when Ghana beat the United States 2-1 in extra time, eliminating the Americans from the World Cup on Saturday, but the weekend match did make television history of its own.
The contest became the most-watched men's game in FIFA World Cup history in the United States, according to ESPN. In 2006, Ghana also eliminated the U.S. with a 2-1 win.
For more than two hours Saturday afternoon, an average 14.9 million viewers tuned in to ABC, according to ESPN, 13 percent more than the highly anticipated U.S. versus England World Cup game June 12, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Combined with viewers from Spanish TV network Univision, the number of viewers exceeds 19 million, according to latest data from Nielson media research.
The U.S.-Ghana contest also ranks as the third highest-rated Men's World Cup game on record, behind two matches in 1994 – the game between the U.S. and Brazil and that year's men's final between Brazil and Italy.
One of two relief wells being dug in an attempt to kill the runaway oil well in the Gulf of Mexico has reached a point within 20 feet of it horizontally, a BP executive said Monday.
The relief well has reached a depth of 16,770 feet, but engineers still plan to drill another 900 feet vertically before cutting in sideways, said Kent Wells, BP senior vice president of exploration and production.
"In the last 200 feet, we will angle the well in directly towards it," he said, adding that the operation is expected to occur in early August.
The Supreme Court has ruled against a Christian campus group that sued after a California law school denied it official recognition because the student organization limits its core membership to those who share its beliefs on faith and marriage.
At issue was the conflict between a public university's anti-discrimination policies and a private group's freedom of religion and association.
The 5-4 ruling was written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was on the bench a day after her husband passed away.
The law school, wrote Ginsburg, "caught in the crossfire between a group's desire to exclude and students' demand for equal access, may reasonably draw a line in the sand permitting all organizations to express what they wish but no group to discriminate in membership."
In dissent, Justice Samuel Alito wrote, "I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that today's decision is a serious setback for freedom of expression in this country." He was supported by Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
In another dramatic victory for firearm owners, the Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional Chicago, Illinois' 28-year-old strict ban on handgun ownership, a potentially far-reaching case over the ability of state and local governments to enforce limits on weapons.
A 5-4 conservative majority of justices on Monday reiterated its two-year-old conclusion the Constitution gives individuals equal or greater power than states on the issue of possession of certain firearms for self-protection.
"It cannot be doubted that the right to bear arms was regarded as a substantive guarantee, not a prohibition that could be ignored so long as states legislated in an evenhanded manner," wrote Justice Samuel Alito.
The court grounded that right in the due process section of the 14th Amendment. The justices, however, said local jurisdictions still retain the flexibility to preserve some "reasonable" gun-control measures currently in place nationwide.
In dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer predicated far-reaching implications. "Incorporating the right," he wrote, "may change the law in many of the 50 states. Read in the majority's favor, the historical evidence" for the decision "is at most ambiguous."
He was supported by Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.
It’s never easy to keep up with the multiple threads of news from Afghanistan: military, political and diplomatic. And now it’s even more difficult, as different opinions emerge on the military campaign and whether/when/how a dialogue with the Taliban should begin.
On ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, CIA Director Leon Panetta said the U.S. had seen “no evidence that [the Taliban] are truly interested in reconciliation, where they would surrender their arms, where they would denounce al Qaeda, where they would really try to become part of that society.” Those are the essential demands of the U.S. for allowing the Taliban to the negotiating table.
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