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William Daley on Afghanistan: 'Our Goal is to Leave'

2:45 PM, Mar 14, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press," White House chief of staff William Daley had this to say about America's war in Afghanistan:

We went to Afghanistan in order to get rid of al-Qaeda. And our goal is to leave, and the president's goal, is to leave--begin to leave in 2011, and we will do that.

It is not clear what Daley is talking about. If the U.S. went to Afghanistan "to get rid of al-Qaeda," why isn't the president's goal to eliminate al Qaeda? Has the threat decreased? Or have we accomplished the goal? Or, more likely, has the primary goal for America's war in Afghanistan changed? Daley does not say. And the host of "Meet the Press," David Gregory, does not ask.

Instead, Daley, speaking on behalf of the president of the United States, says his sole concern in Afghanistan is to leave. 

Also, does Obama's chief of staff not realize that the year is 2011? Daley says that the U.S. will "begin to leave in 2011, and we will do that." That's this year. Of course, the president, in 2009, made clear that he wanted to begin withdrawals in 2011. But from the way Daley spoke, it seems that the administration is surprised that their self-imposed deadline -- an aspect of their Afghanistan policy that's been subject to criticism -- has arrived so quickly. 

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