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Obama Responds To Afghan Law That Legalizes Rape: ?I Think This Law Is Abhorrent?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 5th, 2009 4:32 am by HL

Obama Responds To Afghan Law That Legalizes Rape: ?I Think This Law Is Abhorrent?
At a news conference in Strasbourg, France, this morning, President Obama discussed NATO efforts in Afghanistan and secured the commitment of NATO allies to send 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Fox News’ Major Garrett asked Obama what he thinks of a new Afghanistan law that legalizes rape. The legislation, which applies to the country’s Shia […]

At a news conference in Strasbourg, France, this morning, President Obama discussed NATO efforts in Afghanistan and secured the commitment of NATO allies to send 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Fox News’ Major Garrett asked Obama what he thinks of a new Afghanistan law that legalizes rape. The legislation, which applies to the country’s Shia population, contains this provision:

“As long as the husband is not traveling, he has the right to have sexual intercourse with his wife every fourth night,” Article 132 of the law says. “Unless the wife is ill or has any kind of illness that intercourse could aggravate, the wife is bound to give a positive response to the sexual desires of her husband.”

In a written statement, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), said the law “legalizes the rape of a wife by her husband. … The law violates women’s rights and human rights in numerous ways.”

This morning, Obama said, “I think this law is abhorrent” and that his administration’s views are being communicated to the Karzai government. “We have stated very clearly that we object to this law.” But Obama added, the priority for the U.S. right now is al Qaeda. “But I want everybody to understand that our focus is to defeat al Qaeda and ensure that they do not have safe havens from which they can launch attacks against the Alliance.” Watch it:

The Afghanistan law poses a difficult diplomatic challenge for Obama and for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said recently, “Women’s rights are a central part of American foreign policy in the Obama Administration; they are not marginal; they are not an add-on or an afterthought.”

President Karzai said he ordered his Justice Ministry to review the law, and if anything in it contravenes the country’s constitution or Shariah law, “measures will be taken.” But he added that he had studied the law earlier in the day and, “I don’t see any problems with it.”

Transcript: More ?

Conservatives Holding Up Increasing Number Of Key Obama Nominees
Conservatives in Congress and in the media are attempting to block or delay a growing number of critical nominees for what amount to ideological witch hunts and self-interested horse-trading. As the President attempts to deal with the significant legal and logistical questions surrounding two wars, closing Guantanamo Bay, and caring for our nation’s veterans, the […]

duckworth.jpgConservatives in Congress and in the media are attempting to block or delay a growing number of critical nominees for what amount to ideological witch hunts and self-interested horse-trading. As the President attempts to deal with the significant legal and logistical questions surrounding two wars, closing Guantanamo Bay, and caring for our nation’s veterans, the people Obama has picked to assist him with such issues are being forced to wait in the wings.

In the last week alone, at least four separate nominees who thought they were on track to be approved will have to wait at least a few more weeks:

Department of Defense: Sens. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) announced today that “they are blocking President Barack Obama’s nomination of Ashton Carter as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics.” The senators want assurances that Carter will not “change the criteria” on which the Pentagon considers a refueling tanker contract that could benefit defense contractors in their state.

Department of Veterans Affairs: Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) asked the Senate Veterans Affairs committee to delay voting on the “nomination of Tammy Duckworth, an injured Iraq war helicopter pilot, to be an assistant secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs.” Contacted by ThinkProgress, Burr’s Press Secretary, David Ward said that Burr is waiting for the answers to several questions he’s put to the White House and Duckworth, but would not disclose what those questions were.

White House Office of Legal Council: Dawn Johnsen’s nomination as head of the OLC has been delayed in part because Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has ideological differences with her. As the Legal Times explained, “citing Johnsen’s criticisms of Bush national security policies, [Cornyn] accused her of lacking ‘the seriousness and necessary resolve’ to fight terrorism,” while “other Republicans have targeted her work as legal director for NARAL Pro-Choice America from 1988 to 1993.”

Department of State: Right wing commentators are working to block the appointment of Harold Koh to the State Deptment’s top legal adviser, smearing him as a “threat to democracy” for his being an international law expert. As the Century Foundation notes, “The fervent opponents of Harold Koh turn out to be enthusiastic defenders of John Yoo.”

Additionally, Chris Hill’s nomination as ambassador to Iraq is still being held up by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) at the behest of the right wing. This despite the fact that Secretary of State Robert Gates recently issued a rare statement on a diplomatic appointment saying, it is “vital that we get an ambassador in Baghdad as soon as possible.” These delays are just the latest in a long string of delays. The nominations of Attorney General Eric Holder, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and Presidential Science Adviser John Holdren were also held up for largely partisan reasons.

Update Last night, Rachel Maddow reported Sen. Burr’s efforts to block Duckworth’s appointment. Addressing Burr, Maddow said, “How about diligently doing the right thing right now and picking a different high horse to ride in on, ok? You picked the wrong thing here.” Watch it:

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