Karzi says he backs security pact
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — President Hamid Karzai urged tribal elders Thursday to approve a security pact with Washington that could keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan until 2024, but he added a wrinkle that he prefers his successor sign the document after elections next April.
Karzai’s move could be an attempt to avoid taking personal responsibility for an agreement that many Afghans see as selling out to foreign interests.
His remarks to the 2,500 members of the consultative council known as the Loya Jirga came as President Barack Obama made a personal plea for quick passage of the agreement in a letter promising to respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty and only raid homes when U.S. lives are at risk.
The Loya Jirga is widely expected to approve the agreement, and Karzai’s remarks could be seen as last-minute move to force the gathering to ask him to sign the long-delayed accord — thus shifting the responsibility for the deal away from him to the elders.
The White House urged that the security pact be signed by the end of the year, with spokesman Josh Earnest saying a failure to finalize an agreement in the coming weeks “would prevent the United States and our allies from being able to plan for a post-2014 presence” in Afghanistan.
Dems curb blocks of all non-Supreme Court nominees
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sweeping aside a century of precedent, Democrats took a chunk out of the Senate’s hallowed filibuster tradition on Thursday and cleared the way for speedy confirmation of controversial appointments made by President Barack Obama and chief executives in the future.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who orchestrated the change, called the 52-48 vote a blow against gridlock. Republicans warned Democrats will eventually regret their actions once political fortunes are reversed and they can no longer block appointments made by a GOP president.