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Pressure Mounting on McChrystal to Testify

Key Democrats are calling on Gen. Stanley McChrystal to testify before Congress about his strategy for Afghanistan, but it remains to be seen if the U.S. and NATO commander will come.

“I think the answer to that is ‘yes,’— House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday, when asked if McChrystal should testify soon.

Hoyer hedged on saying when he would like to hear from McChrystal but likened such a visit to past visits from Gen. David Petraeus, who testified before Congress on the changing military strategy in Iraq.

“I think it would be useful at some point in time for Gen. McChrystal to share with the Congress, both the Senate and the House, his views and his proposals and his sense of the success that the changed strategies would have,— Hoyer said.

The Majority Leader wouldn’t elaborate on whether he agrees with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that the House lacks the will to support another round of troop increases in Afghanistan — a request military leaders are expected to make in coming months.

“Well, we’ll see that. We first have to know what McChrystal is suggesting,— Hoyer said.

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) told reporters Tuesday that his committee would better understand McChrystal’s goals for Afghanistan if he came to testify. But he called it premature to call in the commander at this stage.

“He will call military and civilian witnesses to testify before the committee once commanders in Afghanistan have made their recommendations, which they have not yet made, and after the recommendations have been reviewed by the chain of command,— Levin spokeswoman Tara Andringa said.

House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) has been pushing for McChrystal to testify in his committee for more than a month. But he has yet to receive a response to his Aug. 13 letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates in which he requests that McChrystal testify about the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the results of his 60-day assessment of operations.

The Armed Services chairman “wants him to come testify. He has been leading the charge since August,— committee spokeswoman Lara Battles said. “I know they’re aware of the request.—

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters last week that Gates wants McChrystal to stay focused on the conflict at hand in Afghanistan for the time being.

“I have heard very emphatically that the secretary does not believe now is the time to bring Gen. McChrystal back to testify. I mean, he is dealing with a very difficult fight right now in Afghanistan. And the secretary believes his focus and attention should be there and not back here in — in a political process,— Morrell said.

Republicans, including Senate Armed Services member John McCain (Ariz.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio), have also been upping the pressure on McChrystal to share his Afghanistan strategy with Congress.

“We’ve been asking for Gen. McChrystal to come to Capitol Hill and testify. The request — we haven’t heard anything,— Boehner said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.—

Added Boehner: “There’s reports out all last week that the White House has asked Gen. McChrystal to wait four to six weeks before sending his request in, and so … there’s something amiss here, and I am highly skeptical of the debate that we’re going to have here over the next couple of months.—

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