U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon just returned from his second trip to Afghanistan. He was part of a Congressional delegation lead by Michigan Senator Carl Levin. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley says he saw several changes from just 18 months ago. “A year a half ago there was a lot of discussion on the challenge of the Taliban units operating in southern Afghanistan near Kandihar. On this trip, the surge presence meant that was not as much of a problem. The conversation was much more about the sanctuaries in Pakistan and the threat they represent.” Merkley says endemic corruption continues to plague the Afghan government. The delegation met with Afghan President Karzai who admitted it was a problem and claimed he was working to reduce it.