"There's some problems where what you have to do is say, 'You know, you're going to have to figure out how to live your own miserable life,'" Gingrich said. "You clearly don't want to learn from me how to be un-miserable. The Karzai government is playing us for fools."
The politics of the unpopular war helped drive a forceful Washington response on Monday.
"I would simply say that there is an agreement, I think, with (Democrats), but broadly the American people, that we should not stay in Afghanistan one day longer than is necessary" Carney said.
"The president has a policy — not a slogan, not a political opinion, but a policy in place," to ensure that, Carney said.
The goal of keeping al-Qaida at bay is larger than the short-term ups and downs in a difficult war, Carney said. The war is worth fighting because the job of defeating the terror network is not complete, he said.
Durbin, among other Democrats, has questioned whether al-Qaida poses enough of a threat in Afghanistan to justify a U.S. troop commitment currently around 90,000. U.S. intelligence agencies agree that al-Qaida has only a minuscule presence in Afghanistan today, more than 10 years after the U.S. invasion toppled the Taliban government that sheltered al-Qaida leaders.
Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden's death at U.S. hands last year helped scatter the group's remaining operations along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
"It remains absolutely a national security priority of the United States to ensure that we defeat al-Qaida, which is why we are in Afghanistan to begin with," Carney said, although he did not list specific milestones that have not been met.
Pentagon officials conceded that after the killings of two U.S. officers inside the Afghan interior ministry on Saturday, the U.S. is not ready to allow its advisers to return to work at the Afghan offices. NATO, France, Britain and the U.S. pulled their advisers from the ministries after the shootings, which remain unsolved.
The high-ranking officers were killed at their desks in the heavily secured ministry building. The remains of the two officers will be flown to Dover Air Force Base, Del., officials said Monday. They identified the two officers as Army Maj. Robert J. Marchanti II, of Baltimore, and Air Force Lt. Col. John D. Loftis, of Paducah, Ky.
Two other U.S. servicemen were killed last week in apparent retaliation for the Quran burnings.
Of 52 U.S. and NATO troops killed this year in Afghanistan, nine were apparently killed by Afghan forces or impersonators.
Associated Press writer Ken Thomas contributed to this report.
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