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Afghanistan hearing day

Today marks the start of a grueling set of four congressional hearings for U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and Gen. Stanley McChrystal:

  • Tuesday 9:30 a.m., House Armed Services Committee (HASC), Chaired by Rep. Ike Skelton
  • Tuesday 1:30 p.m., Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), Chaired by Sen. Carl Levin
  • Wednesday 10 a.m., Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), Chaired by Sen. John Kerry
  • Thursday 9:30 a.m., House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFA), Chaired by Rep. Howard Berman

We'll be live-blogging and live-tweeting throughout, and watch for thorough coverage on the AfPak Channel as well.

So, what to look for? 

Well, above all: details about the Obama administration's planned escalation of the conflict, including where the soldiers are headed, information about strategic goals, information about the civilian surge and population-centric strategy, questions about the importance of al Qaeda and the Taliban, and questions about relations with the Karzai government and Pakistan.

Spencer Ackerman at the Windy and Noah Shachtman at Danger Room have some good suggested questions and further details.

Also: dissent. Eikenberry and McChrystal aren't particularly fond of one another right now. The ambassador reportedly strongly questioned the strategy the latter helped create, arguing that sending more troops without bolstering the Afghan government might foster dependency and undercut the state; McChrystal, in contrast, wanted to send 40,000, rather than 30,000, troops. One of the unstated goals of the hearings will be to show a united face. But members of congress, as well as the press, will be looking for any cracks.

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Food for thought

Percentage of Americans who believe in angels: 55

Percentage of Americans who believe in evolution: 39

Percentage of Americans who believe in anthropogenic global warming: 36

Percentage of Americans who believe in ghosts: 34

Percentage of Americans who believe in UFOs: 34