Miami Herald: U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, back from a two-day tour of Afghanistan, held up a map of the country Friday and called it ”worrisome” that its western neighbor, Iran, is sending arms across the border to a resurgent Taliban. The Miami Herald
BY ELINOR J. BRECHER
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, back from a two-day tour of Afghanistan, held up a map of the country Friday and called it ”worrisome” that its western neighbor, Iran, is sending arms across the border to a resurgent Taliban.
She also called the burgeoning narcotics trade in Afghanistan “out of control,” and said that the fight against it must be tied to the fight against a strengthening Taliban and Islamist jihadists.
“There’s no coordination” between military operations and efforts to stem poppy growth, she said Friday at a Miami International Airport news conference, and because drug money is fueling militants, there must be.
“There was a 60 percent increase in poppy production last year from the year before,” the Miami-Dade County Republican said, calling on President Hamid Karzai to “step up” eradication efforts.
“This is a critical juncture,” said Ros-Lehtinen, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
She likened certain lawless tribal regions to “the cocaine days of Miami on steroids. No one’s in charge.”
During her visit, four Americans died during “a major offensive at Tora Bora,” she said, and three German soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb.
A Polish soldier died the day before she arrived.
Visiting Kabul, Jalalabad and the huge U.S. base in Bagram, she shared meals with Florida troops, including her daughter-in-law, U.S. Marine Capt. Lindsay Nelson.
Nelson is married to Ros-Lehtinen’s stepson, Marine Capt. Doug Lehtinen, a fighter pilot who is currently stationed in Japan but headed back to Iraq.
She said that troops are “frustrated” by repeated deployments, although they remain “proud and dedicated.”
She said they want more help from coalition partners, a message that she would “carry back to Washington on their behalf.”
While she was gone, controversy arose about an upcoming report on the Iraq War.
The White House suggested that Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker should present it in a private congressional briefing and that the secretaries of state and defense present it to Congress.
Ros-Lehtinen said that the general and the ambassador “would testify themselves” before Congress.
And while she hasn’t gotten a “sneak peek” at the report, she knows that Petraeus, commander of the multi-national force in Iraq, will not present the situation “with rosy-colored glasses.”