Graham Fears ‘Unholy Alliance’ of Right and Left Will Undercut War

Posted August 1, 2010 at 10:15am

Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reiterated their support Sunday for the war in Afghanistan, with Graham expressing fear of an “unholy alliance” between the right and the left to defund the war next summer.

Graham referenced anti-war Democrats and Republicans who want to paint the conflict as President Barack Obama’s war. “My concern is that for different reasons, they join forces, and we lose the ability to hold this thing together,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Graham, a military prosecutor and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the military should court-martial any military member accused of leaking more than 90,000 documents about the war to WikiLeaks. The documents were published internationally last week.

“The crime that needs to be punished here is undercutting those who are in the fight, because what you have done by linking this information, you may have a noble reason in your mind, in your heart, but you have put at risk people within Afghanistan who are trying to make things better for their family and for their country, and you made it harder on our troops to win,” he said.

Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on “State of the Union” that the damage from the leaks is still being assessed.

He described the war effort as a “mixed picture” but insisted there are signs of progress, including leadership roles being taken by the Afghan army. But he said U.S. casualties will increase as troop levels go up this fall and as the U.S. military moves deeper into Taliban strongholds. July was the deadliest month of the war for the United States, with 66 troops killed.

Levin cited the importance of the July 2011 date set by Obama for beginning to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. “It’s critical that that date was set to show that it isn’t a blank check, it’s not an open-ended commitment of American troops in the same numbers that we’re going to have there,” he said. “… The pace will be determined by the conditions.”

Vice President Joseph Biden said July 11 on ABC that the initial withdrawal could be “as few as a couple thousand troops.” But Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) indicated Sunday that she hopes the troop drawdown will be higher.

“I know it’s not going to be, ‘Turn out the lights and let’s all go home on one day.’ But I do think the American people expect it to be somewhere between that and a few thousand troops,” Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week.”

John Stanton contributed to this report.