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Calls for getting out of Afghanistan grow after bin Laden's death

U.S. troops stationed at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, watch breaking news on the announcement by President Barack Obama that Osama bin Laden had been killed.
United States military troops watch breaking news on the announcement by President Barack Obama that Osama bin Laden had been killed, at the USO at Kandahar Airfield, southern Afghanistan, May 2, 2011. AP Photo/Kevin Frayer

A growing number of liberals, including activists and members of Congress, are calling on President Obama to significantly draw down troops in Afghanistan, now that al Qaeda lead Osama bin Laden has been killed.

A handful of progressive House members sent a letter to Mr. Obama today urging him to announce plans "for a near-term and significant drawdown of U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan beginning no later than July of this year."

The administration has already committed to bringing home some American troops this July -- there are currently about 100,000 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan -- but it's unclear at this point how significant that reduction will be. Immediately following the news on Sunday that bin Laden was killed, opponents of the war declared that the development "ended the rationale for the continuation of a 10-year war."

Today's letter -- signed by Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Michael Honda (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) -- commended Mr. Obama for acting "decisively" to kill bin Laden and calling for national and global solidarity.

"It is our hope that you can similarly unify the nation by bringing our troops home and ending America's longest war in history-- a position supported by an overwhelming majority of the American people," the letter said.

The letter noted that the death of Osama bin Laden certainly does not an end to al Qaeda, but it said counter-terrorism policies must be "effective and sustainable."

"Ending the war in Afghanistan is a critical step toward refocusing U.S. resources and security assets to serve that vital purpose," it said.

The liberal grassroots network is also mobilizing its members to sign a petition to Mr. Obama, asking him to keep his commitment to an accelerated troop drawdown in July.

"It's already started--hawks in the media and military saying that the killing of Osama bin Laden is proof that the war in Afghanistan is working and that we should redouble our efforts," the group wrote in an email to its supporters today. "Even though bin Laden was captured in another country entirely. Even though the operation was executed by a small, specialized force and not the continued occupation of a nation by over 100,000 of our soldiers. Even though the man we ostensibly invaded Afghanistan to capture is no longer a threat."

A CBS News/ New York Times poll released today showed that 64 percent of Americans say the death of bin Laden does not complete the mission in Afghanistan. Still, 48 percent said they would reduce troops levels there now, up nine points since late last year. Forty percent said they would keep troop levels the same.

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