Read the complete transcript of State of the Union for 8-23-09. Excerpt below:
KING: This is the “State of the Union” report for Sunday, August 23rd.
In Afghanistan today, both President Hamid Karzai and his top challenger are claiming victory in last week’s election, raising tensions, even though it could be weeks or more before the official results are certified. It is an uncertain military situation, as well, with fighting between U.S. forces and the Taliban intensifying. And fresh indications President Obama could soon be asked to commit more American troops.
Here to talk about this and other global challenges are the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen , and the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry. He joins us from Kabul.
And Mr. Ambassador, let me start with you. There are complaints, escalating complaints this Sunday about fraud in the elections. On the threshold question of will this balloting be credible, what is your answer?
EIKENBERRY: Well, John, it was an extraordinary two months that we’ve been through, with this being a very historic election. Afghanistan, the first time in the past 30 years that the Afghan people have led an election for their president, for provincial councils, very intense campaign that occurred over the last two months, all new in Afghanistan. Presidential televised debates, campaign rallies. A very civil debate that occurred over this time.
The election itself, everyone knows how challenging it is in the country like Afghanistan to run an election. There’s an insurgency in parts of the country right now. It was an election in which over 6,000 voting stations were set up, crossing deserts and mountains, donkeys carrying ballots to the last polling stations of Afghanistan, and a very well-organized campaign. The Afghan-led independent electoral commission looks like it managed a pretty good process. There’s adjudication systems that have been up, an electoral complaints commission. There was a media complaints commission that was set up.
I got out myself and looked at some of the voting that was going on, and I can tell you, at least one part of the process, the indelible ink, over three days now I haven’t been able to get it off the finger.
Now, against all of that, where are we? Well, right now we’re waiting for the results of this election to come in. The electoral -- the independent electoral commission, they’re waiting for the tallies to be count from across the country. There’s been charges of fraud. The electoral complaints commission is taking those on right now.
We’re really not going to know, John, for several more weeks exactly where we do stand in this process.
We’re not sure exactly what the level of voter turnout was. Millions turned out to vote, but of course, Taliban intimidation, especially in southern Afghanistan, certainly limited those numbers. But for now, we don’t know, and it’s for us to wait and see and allow this process to move forward.