WASHINGTON - The Taliban is stronger now than before President Barack Obama ordered a surge of US troops to Afghanistan, two senior US lawmakers said on Sunday, contradicting the administration's assessment of the insurgency.
"I think we both say that what we found is the Taliban is stronger," Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein told "Fox News Sunday" in an interview that included House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, who agreed with her statement. The two lawmakers returned last week from a trip to Afghanistan.
The Defense Department said last week in a report to Congress that its surge of 33,000 extra troops in Afghanistan ordered in late 2009 had weakened the Taliban but that the insurgency remained resilient.
The report said overall insurgent attacks declined in 2011 for the first time in five years, even though violence increased in areas surrounding the Taliban's southern stronghold of Kandahar, a region where US efforts have been focused since 2009.