May 10th, 2009
11:43 AM ET
11 years ago

Corker: There was 'smugness' in meeting with leaders

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker said Sunday that a recent congressional meeting with the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan left him concerned.

“There was just an air of smugness, flippancy [in the room] when serious questions where asked,” Corker said on CNN’s State of the Union. “I asked about what our mission in Afghanistan ought to be and I thought [Afghan] President [Hamid] Karzai’s response was a non-response and when I pushed him further, he basically said ‘Look, this is your mission,’ which made me feel that our partnership there was not quite what I think Americans would like to see.”

“We want to see this mission articulated,” added Corker, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

A Democrat who sits on the same committee agreed with Corker.

“Some of the concerns that Bob raises are very well-founded,” Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.

“We have to continually evaluate the representations that they make and see the evidence of their progress against the Taliban,” Casey added.

Asked about billions of dollars in additional aid sought by Pakistan and the Obama administration, both senators also said that they thought the U.S. would have to continue to provide military and other types of aid to the country and its recently democratically elected government.

Filed under: Afghanistan • Pakistan • State of the Union
May 10th, 2009
11:42 AM ET
11 years ago

GOP senator: 'There are glimmers of hope' in the financial sector

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Picking up on a phrase often used by the Obama administration, a Republican senator said Sunday that things may be turning around for the struggling financial sector of the economy.

“There are glimmers of hope” in the financial sector, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union when asked if the industry had turned a corner.

“I think it was a positive step,” said Corker of the Obama administrations’ recent “stress tests” on the nation’s largest banks.

“But there will possibly be additional government dollars [for some financial institutions]. I think that hasn’t fully been said and I think that what we’ve got to be concerned about as we move into the future is not causing [the Troubled Asset Relief Program] to be codified so that it’s there forever.”

“I actually am feeling better about it. I really am,” Corker, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, added.

Even with improvement for financial firms, Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Case said Sunday that the country’s tough economic times may not yet be over.

“When we describe, we use language like ‘the unemployment rate is a lagging indicator,’ that gives no hope and doesn’t reflect the reality that so many people are living through,” Casey said Sunday on State of the Union.

“If you lose a job or your home or your hopes and your dreams, these economic statistics don’t mean much,” said Casey. “So we have a long way to go and I think we have to continually focus on the job numbers even as maybe the financial sector numbers or other data improves.”

Filed under: Economy • State of the Union
May 10th, 2009
10:28 AM ET
11 years ago

Petraeus: Main al Qaeda organization not based in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (CNN) – U.S. CENTCOM Commander Gen. David Petraeus said Sunday that al Qaeda, the terrorist group that organized and carried out the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, is not based in Afghanistan.

"This is a syndicate of extremist organizations – some of which are truly transnational extremists," the general told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King on CNN's State of the Union.

"They do come in and out of Afghanistan. But al Qaeda – precise al Qaeda, if you will – is not based per se in Afghanistan. Although its elements and certainly its affiliates . . . certainly do have enclaves and sanctuaries in certain parts of Eastern Afghanistan," Petraeus said.

The military commander added that the local, Afghani version of al Qaeda is still present in several districts of the country.

"The federally administered tribal areas of Pakistan – that very, very mountainous, rugged terrain – just east of the Afghan border and in the western part of Pakistan is the locus of the leadership of these organizations although they do, again, go into Afghanistan and conduct operations against our troops."

The general was responding to recent comments by Afghani president Hamid Karzai who told CNN's Wolf Blitzer last week that al Qaeda was no longer based in his country.

"I think that's an accurate assessment," Petraeus said Sunday about Karzai's remarks on CNN's The Situation Room.

Filed under: Afghanistan • Pakistan • State of the Union
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