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OC Lawmaker Banned From Afghanistan Slams 'Corrupt' US-Backed Leader

COSTA MESA (CBS) — An Orange County lawmaker has been banned from entering Afghanistan over his criticism of the U.S.-backed president of the war-torn nation.

KNX 1070's Vytas Safronikas reports Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is no longer welcome under Afghan President Hamid Karzai.


Rohrabacher — the senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — said that he was denied entry into Afghanistan last month while traveling to the region as part of congressional delegation.

When asked whether he would allow Rohrabacher to return for a future visit, Karzai replied, "Definitely not".

Now the Republican lawmaker is defending his criticism of Afghanistan's leader.

"It's my job to make sure if you got a corrupt leader like Karzai that we're not spending billions of dollars and losing lives for nothing, and frankly our State Department made a big mistake years ago by pushing Karzai into his position of power," said Rohrabacher.

His comments come after he was asked by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last month to stay behind when Karzai expressed his disapproval of Rohrabacher's position just as another delegation went to visit the region.

But Rohrabacher alleged that domestic politics were just as big a factor for Karzai — who Rohrabacher said was "pushed forward" by the U.S. after the Taliban was defeated in 2002 — as any geopolitical considerations.

"Who is Karzai? He wasn't a leader at all, we sort of pushed him forward, and the people in the Northern Alliance have the allegiance of over 50 percent of that population," he said. "I think Karzai looks at them as being his competition and he's right."

The Costa Mesa congressman sent a letter to Clinton on May 17 asking her to invite members of the Afghan National Front to the NATO summit in Chicago in order to "let them take their rightful seat at the table and help decide the fate of their own country".

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