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Obama, Karzai address Afghan government corruption

Indirectly rebutting criticism from congress, such as from Rep. Walter Jones, the respective presidents of America and Afghanistan hold firm to their intentions for “a proper, well-organized and interference-free election.???

Judging from the opinions of many in the White House press corps after their joint news conference Friday afternoon, President Obama and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan had a successful event. The two looked to be on the same page as the American President and his counterpart from Kabul proclaimed an almost completed mission.

???We pushed the Taliban out of their strongholds,??? said President Obama, and added that the ???insurgents continue to lose territory.??? While admitting ???we still face significant challenges,??? he emphasized that the Afghanistan forces will take ???the lead for security??? by the middle of the year and that there will be a further reduction of coalition forces.???

But both presidents also seemed to be addressing???albeit never with any specifics???an issue that continues to come up continually in Congress when Afghanistan is mentioned: corruption within Karzai???s own government.

Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), one of the earliest critics of the U.S. role in Afghanistan going back to George W. Bush???s tenure, spoke for many of his colleagues when he told Human Events, in no uncertain terms, last month: ???As for Afghanistan, I still ask why we are spending tax dollars on a crook like Karzai and sending troops there????

President Obama might well have been dealing with Jones??? salvo when he spoke of Afghanistan becoming ???a responsible international actor??? and that ???Afghanistan still has work to do to accomplish those goals.???

Karzai himself could have been replying even more directly to the lawmaker who called him a ???crook.??? Not disputing a question that there is ???corruption in Afghanistan,??? Karzai insisted that his government has ???succeeded in certain ways??? in rolling back corruption. But, asking aloud whether he is satisfied with the progress Afghanistan has made toward ???clean??? governance, Karzai then answered his own question: ???Of course not.???

He then went on to say that ???the greatest of my achievements??? will be ???a proper, well-organized and interference-free election??? that will make him ???a retired president and very happy.???

Walter Jones and other Karzai critics in Congress no doubt wish that he were ???retired and very happy.??? Their public criticism of tax dollars being spent on Karzai and the cases where it has been misused are sure to continue. But on Friday, at least, Obama and Karzai gave a clue they were listening to that criticism.

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John Gizzi has come to be known as ???the man who knows everyone in Washington??? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on what???s going on in the nation???s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as ???Gizzi on Politics??? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of ???Gizzi???s America,??? video interviews that appear on Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. John???s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com