White House says Afghanistan trip not political
May 1st, 2012
06:57 PM ET
10 years ago

White House says Afghanistan trip not political

Washington (CNN) – The White House strongly denied Tuesday that President Barack Obama's surprise trip to Afghanistan was executed for political motives, saying the visit was more than a year in the making.

On a conference call with reporters, a senior administration official speaking from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan was asked if the trip – made on the one-year anniversary of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden – was opening the president to charges of "craven politics."

"I think what could not be clearer is that for 20 months the United States and Afghanistan have been negotiating a strategic partnership agreement," the official said. "The negotiations were completed in recent weeks and then the documents for the strategic partnership went to the presidents for their review. The two presidents had set a clear goal for the agreement to be signed before the summit in Chicago."

NATO is slated to hold meetings in Chicago in mid-May.

Obama has come under fire in recent days by Republicans who say he is politicizing the one year anniversary of bin Laden's death ahead of November's general election. Obama's likely GOP rival Mitt Romney has said he is "disappointed" by the president's handling of the anniversary, though he has not made any public statement about Obama's trip.

In the call Tuesday, the administration official said Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai had been working for months to finalize the strategic partnership agreement, which provides a framework for U.S.-Afghanistan relations after the U.S. and allied troop withdrawal.

"We had a window of time here, a number of weeks, to sign the agreement," the official said. "It was the president's preference to sign that agreement on Afghan soil, it was President Karzai's preference to invite President Obama to sign that agreement on Afghan soil, because it's an indication of the progress that we have made together and the future that we are building together here in Afghanistan."

The anniversary of bin Laden's death was a "resonant day" for Obama to visit troops in Afghanistan, the official said, because of the hard work of the U.S. military in the raid that brought down the al Qaeda chief.

"It was always the president's intention to spend this anniversary with our troops, because it was an extraordinary group of U.S. service members who carried out that operation," the official said.

CNN White House Correspondent Brianna Keilar contributed to this report.

Filed under: Afghanistan • President Obama
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Dad Clark

    Sure could use a few helo's on OUR border. They STILL in afghanistan? What they supposed to be doing now? Just killing another country. Time's almost up , can i get an amen?

    May 1, 2012 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  2. Lionel

    Good Job Obama. Remember he is the commander in chief. Stop criticizing every decision he makes.

    Can't wait to hear what the haters in this country is going to say.

    Latinos for Obama

    May 1, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  3. Slamore

    Well kiss me if I'm wrong then...I always thought politicians who belong to a poltical party and run on a political platform and time things to happen during certain periods for political purposes for winning political elections were political in nature. Hmmm...not this time I guess.

    May 1, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  4. polly Teeks

    Why even bother to ask the question whether the trip had political motivation. Of course it did. It also happened to be the right thing to do and the right time to do it, one year after Bin Laden killing. The reality is that every single action taken (or not taken for that matter) will be criticized by the Republicans as politically opportunistic as well as wrong-headed. Such is the status of our political discourse. And the Democrats would do the same thing if we had a Republican president. I for one am so tired of this political dynamic but can't seem to find a way out of it.

    May 1, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  5. Root and stem

    no, no, not political.

    May 1, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  6. Four and The Door

    If the Afghanistan trip wasn't political then they sent the wrong guy.

    May 1, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  7. Biotechdev

    This President has goven up governing this country. EVERYTHING he does is political. Whyedoesn't he stay in Washington and roll up his sleeves and work until Congress reaches a compromise on stabilizing our economy and saving Medicare. I am sick of watching him campaign while millions suffer in a recessions

    May 1, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  8. T'sah from Virginia

    I am sick of hearing about events that are happening for "POLITICAL" reasons – President Obama is a "politician" and everything he does is POLITICAL!!! Did you check out MITTens R-Money in NYC today – standing in front of the firehouse where many firefighters died on 9/11 "cramping" about President Obama using this day – the day Bin Laden was captured and put to rest – for political gains? R-Money is such a hypocrite!!!

    So the next time any politician wants to state that another candidate is using events or “political reason,” should look in the mirror first!!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!!

    May 1, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  9. Senior Citizen

    WTG Mr. President. Your doing a fine job and look forward to your being in office the next 4 year.

    May 1, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  10. Howard

    Not political ... who is the White House trying to fool ???
    AFGHANISTAN IS JUST ANOTHER CAMPAIGN STOP FOR OBAMA ... and, since neither Obama, or Karzai can be trusted, this so called last minute victory, after running America into the ground for the past 3 1/2 years, will probably fall apart, right after the November election.

    May 1, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  11. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Right. And i'm the Queen of England.

    May 1, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  12. RomyMon

    Not for political motives? Yeah, right!

    May 1, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  13. Hammerer

    I am ashamed of Obama!

    May 1, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  14. An American from Massachusetts

    My trip to Afghan to make a speech to the US was not political, it was a necessary risk for the President to take on the anniversary of the death of Osama Bin laden.

    Now, for anyone who has been laughing uncontrollably for more than an hour, please see your doctor,

    May 1, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  15. Larry L

    President Obama is doing a magnificent job of serving as Commander-In-Chief. I was proud to serve during his Administration and highly respect his leadership.

    May 1, 2012 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  16. Mary

    Please give me a break. I was born in the morning but not yesterday morning. Everything is for political reasons right now.

    May 1, 2012 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  17. vic , nashville ,tn

    Democrats or President not playing any politics on OBL death, Republicans in advance attacking democrats and president on this because they know they are losing

    May 1, 2012 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  18. Tom in San Diego

    You have to be kidding.

    May 1, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    It was always the president's intention to spend this anniversary with our troops, because it was an extraordinary group of U.S. service members who carried out that operation," the official said.

    Really? For several years as president, this is the first time he has set foot on Afghan soil – and the troops who are there now are not the ones who took down Osama.

    May 1, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  20. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    If this is a political trip, then any and every trip the president makes is political. How can you tell one from another?

    May 1, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  21. Ed1

    I would have to say BS on that.

    May 1, 2012 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  22. eroteme

    Everything our Community Organizing president has done since gaining office has been political. That is what he does so well.

    May 1, 2012 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  23. Conrack

    Last I checked, my calehdar sys it is May 1, 2012, which leaves seven months until Election Day and nine months until President Obama either leaves office or starts his second term. He does not need to defend himself or his actions, foreign or domestic, in doing his job. It would be more convenient for Rove, the RNC and the rest of the GOP jackels if he just sat in a dark room and did nothing, but then they would propogate a whole other pack of lies and propaganda if he didi that. The American voter knows who has been playing politics instaed of tending to the needs of the country and the GOP will be mighty shocked in November at how much they underestimated the American people..

    May 1, 2012 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  24. Everett Wallace

    puplease give me a break, its all political, the white house don't give a flip about the military.

    May 1, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  25. malclave

    Oh, the White House says it wasn't political? I guess that proves it.

    May 1, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
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