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HR McMaster says president’s policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is ‘unwise’ | TheHill – The Hill

H.R. McMaster, President TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president’s policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is ‘unwise’ Cast of ‘Parks and Rec’ reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response MORE’s former national security adviser, called the president’s plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan “unwise” in an interview scheduled to air Sunday.

The retired lieutenant general told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that Trump’s negotiations with the Taliban and the plan to withdraw troops has made the U.S. less safe.

“Well I think what he did with this new policy is he in effect is partnering with the Taliban against, in many ways, the Afghan government,” McMaster told CBS’s Scott Pelley in a portion of the interview released by the network Thursday. 

“So I think that it’s an unwise policy, and I think what we require in Afghanistan is a sustained commitment to help the Afghan government and help the Afghan security forces to continue to bear the brunt of this fight,” he added. 

In his book “Battlegrounds,” McMaster writes that the president has “cheapened” the lives of U.S. troops who died in Afghanistan by giving in too much to the Taliban, “60 Minutes” reported. 

“Terrorist organizations who pose a threat to us are stronger now than they were on September 10, 2001. Those who perpetrated the mass murder attacks of 9/11 were the mujahideen-era alumni of the resistance to Soviet occupation in Afghanistan,” he told Pelley. 

“Today, we are facing an Al-Qaeda and an ISIS alumni that is orders of magnitude greater than that mujahideen-era alumni ever was. And they also have access to much more destructive capabilities,” he added.

The former national security adviser, who served from February 2017 to April 2018, asserted that the U.S. is weaker due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the associated economic impact from the virus and increased racial tensions, weaknesses that its opponents will exploit.

McMaster’s interview will air as part of the 53rd season premiere of “60 Minutes” on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. EDT and 7 p.m. PDT. 

The National Security Council did not immediately return a request for comment.

The U.S. agreed to a peace deal with the Taliban in February, but representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban have begun meeting this month for their own agreement. In the deal with the Taliban, the U.S. vowed to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan within 14 months if the Taliban followed through on their end of the deal. 

McMaster has also denounced the administration when Trump declared troops would withdraw from northern Syria in November.

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LIVE AT 4 PM: Gov. McMaster to discuss state’s coronavirus response, CARES Act funding – WIS10

By Laurel Mallory | June 10, 2020 at 2:11 PM EDT – Updated June 10 at 8:44 PM

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) – Gov. Henry McMaster and health officials shared concerns about the continued spread of the coronavirus in South Carolina and a recent rise in cases.

“Today I am more concerned about COVID-19 in South Carolina than I have ever been before,” Dr. Linda Bell, the State Epidemiologist with the Department of Health and Environmental Control, said. “For the past two weeks, we’ve seen some of our highest daily numbers since the pandemic began.”

She said there are two ways to stop the virus from spreading in the state: social distancing and wearing masks.

“We are all eager to return to our normal lives,” Bell said, “but it will take us that much longer to get there if we don’t stop the virus today.”

Bell urged everyone to social distance and wear masks not only to keep themselves healthy, but also to protect others who are most at risk. She said it’s clear that people in South Carolina are not doing it.

While Dr. Bell said Greenville is a new hot spot in the state, she said no residents are safe from the virus.

“Your community might not be a hot spot today, but there should be no mistake that COVID-19 transmission is still high and widespread in South Carolina at this time, and it remains a threat to all of us,” she said.

Bell added: “We know that what we’ve been asking everyone to do is not easy, but I can’t stress enough that it’s really absolutely necessary. And working together we can turn the tide on COVID-19 and help save more lives in South Carolina.”

The epidemiologist also said she’s concerned about large gatherings people may be planning for the summer, especially community events around the Fourth of July holiday.

“We began to see the increasing trends several days after the Memorial Day weekend,” she said.

In recent days, there have been some spikes in the number of new coronavirus cases reported in the state. On Monday, nearly 550 new cases were reported.

This graph shows the number of new COVID-19 cases reported each day in South Carolina since the start of the outbreak.

This graph shows the number of new COVID-19 cases reported each day in South Carolina since the start of the outbreak. (Source: WIS)

To look at those numbers within the context of how much testing is being done, the percent positive has also been rising as of late, as Dr. Bell mentioned.

Percent positive refers to the number of positive cases in relation to the number of tests performed each day.

Percent positive - src6/1src/2src2src

Percent positive – 06/10/2020 (Source: SCDHEC)

The fact that the percent positive is rising could mean the state is doing less testing than needed.

But in this case, it also indicates more sickness in the community.

“It tells us more people than we would hope for who are being tested are sick,” Bell said.

Gov. McMaster echoed Bell’s comments urging residents to take greater precautions about COVID-19.

He said it’s up to individuals to take responsibility.

“Whatever happens we cannot keep businesses closed forever, we can’t isolate South Carolina from the rest of the world,” McMaster said.

He added: “Take this information to heart and be careful… This virus is with us, it’s not going to disappear…and the hot weather is not going to kill it.”

McMaster has said he’s not going to close down businesses again or mandate that people wear masks — leaving it up to individuals to step up and take action.

When asked by a WIS reporter what more can be done to stop the spread if he doesn’t take those actions, the governor responded, “very little.”

McMaster also spent some time talking about the financial impact of the outbreak.

Some of his recommendations came from the accelerateSC task force, which was focused on reopening the economy safely.

One of them includes giving $500 million to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, as it’s been wiped out due to the need of residents during the outbreak.

“I believe this may be the most important step we can take toward restoring our state’s economic engines to full speed,” the governor wrote. “And it will instill a renewed sense of confidence and stability with our business owners, investors and entrepreneurs.”

Other recommendations include the distribution of money from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) in two phases — one of which McMaster wants to happen this summer before the end of the fiscal year.

He also calls for state officials to apply for and exhaust any available federal grant money before using CARES Act funds.

Copyright 2020 WIS. All rights reserved.

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