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Should America's "phased withdrawal" begin next month with 3000 troops or 15,000? Is "counterinsurgency" counterproductive? We look at success, failure and possible change in the President's military and civilian strategies in Afghanistan. Also, Leon Panetta Discusses Afghanistan and defense spending at his confirmation hearing. On Reporter's Notebook, is healthcare reform on its way to the US Supreme Court?

Banner image: In this photo provided by ISAF Regional Command (South)/US Air Force, U.S. Army Spc. Timothy Leary (L) and John Lombardo (R) provide security while Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul engineers inspect a road project June 9, 2011, in Qalat, Afghanistan. Photo: Sgt. Brian Ferguson/US Air Force via Getty Images


Thomas Barfield

Making News Panetta Discusses Afghanistan, Defense Spending at Confirmation Hearing 7 MIN, 44 SEC

CIA Director Leon Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee today he'll be a "hands-on manager" if he's confirmed to replace Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense. Mark Thompson is Deputy White House Bureau Chief for Time magazine, covering national security.

Mark Thompson, Time magazine (@MarkThompson_DC)

Main Topic The Military and Civilian Challenges in Afghanistan 35 MIN, 5 SEC

As America's longest war completes its tenth year, President Obama has promised a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, starting next month. There is heated debate, not just on Capitol Hill but within the Administration, over how many troops should come home and how soon. The cost of keeping 100,000 troops in Afghanistan is $10 billion a month. Since the death of Osama bin Laden, 64 percent of Americans say it's not worth the money. At the same time, the $19 billion spent to prop up the civilian government may create ongoing dependency on the US as well as local corruption. Is General Petraeus' "counterinsurgency" strategy working or not? How many troops should begin the President's "phased withdrawal" next month? What are the political consequences of continuing America's longest war or ending it too soon?

Mark Thompson, Time magazine (@MarkThompson_DC)
Tom A. Peter, Christian Science Moitor
Thomas Barfield, Boston University
Matthew Hoh, Center for International Policy (@matthewhoh)

Reporter's Notebook Federal Judges Challenge Constitutionality of the Healthcare Law 7 MIN, 47 SEC

There have been 31 separate legal challenges to President Obama's healthcare reform. In five lower-court decisions so far, three judges appointed by Democratic presidents have upheld the law while two Republican appointees have rejected it. Yesterday, it faced its third appellate court, which many regard as the one most likely to get the case to the US Supreme Court. As lawyers have traveled from Cincinnati, Ohio to Richmond, Virginia and now to Atlanta, Georgia, healthcare litigation "has taken on the feel of a traveling road show in wingtips." That's according to Kevin Sack, national correspondent for the New York Times.

Kevin Sack, New York Times

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