The Cable

The Cable goes inside the foreign policy machine, from Foggy Bottom to Turtle Bay, the White House to Embassy Row.

White House denies CNN report of 3 year timeline for Afghanistan withdrawal

President Obama will not announce a three-year time frame for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, despite a CNN report to the contrary. "That’s wrong. The time frame of three years is nowhere in the speech," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told The Cable. He added that spokesman Robert Gibbs’s statement on this issue earlier Tuesday ...

President Obama will not announce a three-year time frame for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, despite a CNN report to the contrary.

"That’s wrong. The time frame of three years is nowhere in the speech," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told The Cable. He added that spokesman Robert Gibbs’s statement on this issue earlier Tuesday was accurate but did not elaborate.

Gibbs told CNN’s John King this morning that "the president will discuss tonight the time frame in which he believes we can transition our forces out of Afghanistan."

CNN then reported that time frame will be three years, according to multiple administration officials.

This sparked a firestorm of reaction on Capitol Hill, with hawks and dovs alike reacting to the idea.

"I hope it’s not true," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-CT, who added that he supported Obama expected announcement of 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan as "enough."

"I hope it’s not an explicit deadline to get our troops out because that undermines the mission, but some mention of a time line or a goal is OK," Lieberman said.

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-WI, said that he was "very happy" about the idea of "having a timeline or some sense that this is not open-ended."

He is simultaneously opposed to the basic idea of increasing troops there in the first place.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said he expected Obama to announce "milestones" but not a hard timeline. 

Senior administration officials are set to brief reporters on the Afghanistan strategy momentarily.

President Obama will not announce a three-year time frame for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, despite a CNN report to the contrary.

"That’s wrong. The time frame of three years is nowhere in the speech," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told The Cable. He added that spokesman Robert Gibbs’s statement on this issue earlier Tuesday was accurate but did not elaborate.

Gibbs told CNN’s John King this morning that "the president will discuss tonight the time frame in which he believes we can transition our forces out of Afghanistan."

CNN then reported that time frame will be three years, according to multiple administration officials.

This sparked a firestorm of reaction on Capitol Hill, with hawks and dovs alike reacting to the idea.

"I hope it’s not true," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-CT, who added that he supported Obama expected announcement of 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan as "enough."

"I hope it’s not an explicit deadline to get our troops out because that undermines the mission, but some mention of a time line or a goal is OK," Lieberman said.

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-WI, said that he was "very happy" about the idea of "having a timeline or some sense that this is not open-ended."

He is simultaneously opposed to the basic idea of increasing troops there in the first place.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said he expected Obama to announce "milestones" but not a hard timeline. 

Senior administration officials are set to brief reporters on the Afghanistan strategy momentarily.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin