McCaul: Afghanistan Withdrawal Debacle “Stunning Failure of Leadership”Press Release
Washington, D.C.- Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul delivered the following opening statement at a full committee hearing on Assessing Progress and Challenges in State Department Management, Operations, and Reforms.
“This has been a stunning failure of leadership. This has been an abdication of the most basic duties of the U.S. government: To protect Americans and to leave no one behind. In the midst of this chaos, the State Department has been all but useless to those who were trying to escape. They fell down on the job. Thankfully, outside organizations – patriots as far as I’m concerned – stepped up to fill the vacuum.”
-Full Opening Remarks-
“Thank you Mr. Chairman. And thank you for holding today’s hearing. I also want to thank our witness for joining us here today.
There are many pressing issues facing the Department and this committee – including threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party, Russia, and Iran; Havana Syndrome attacks; and important department reforms, just to name a few. And you have a lot on your plate.
But today, I would like to focus on President Biden’s catastrophic failure in Afghanistan.
In the spring – and against the advice of his top generals and the intelligence community – President Biden announced the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan. It led to an unconditional surrender to the Taliban.
The withdrawal date was set for political and PR reasons – not based on the conditions on the ground.
And soon after his announcement, I wrote an op-ed with President Obama’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker.
In it, we outlined the steps the Biden Administration needed to take to mitigate the fallout that was certain to happen with our withdrawal.
Instead, the White House and the State Department spent months kicking the can down the road, doing little to adequately prepare for the withdrawal.
As a result of the Biden Administration’s lack of preparation, we watched horrific scenes unfold as the Taliban quickly took over the country.
A sea of humanity, desperately trying to make it through the airport gates that represented freedom.
Mothers handing their children over the walls of HKIA to strangers – willingly giving them up in the hopes of saving their lives.
Four busloads of university women and girls – who had visas and a plane ready to take them to Portugal – being refused entry at the airport. And God knows what’s happened to them today.
Desperate Afghans, clinging to airplanes as they took off, while the world watched in horror as some fell from the sky.
And after the blasts at the Abbey Gate, blood and bodies and hundreds of grieving families.
Then, breaking yet another promise, President Biden abandoned hundreds of Americans, thousands of green card holders, tens of thousands of Afghans who fought side-by-side with our troops were still trapped behind enemy lines.
Those that we promised we would protect them. We betrayed them.
This has been a stunning failure of leadership. This has been an abdication of the most basic duties of the U.S. government: To protect Americans and to leave no one behind.
In the midst of this chaos, the State Department has been all but useless to those who were trying to escape. They fell down on the job.
Thankfully, outside organizations – patriots as far as I’m concerned – stepped up to fill the vacuum.
Primarily organized by veterans, groups like Pineapple, Argo, AWS, Dynamo and Allied Airlift have saved thousands of lives.
And they are continuing to save lives today.
Yet, State Department leaders have provided little clarity on how they’ve been coordinating with these groups – which they have promised to do.
Some light has been shed very recently. But per my conversations with various groups, the coordination has been – and remains – extremely inconsistent.
As a result, it was – and still is – taking far too long to rescue people who are trapped and at the mercy, now, of the Taliban.
I, and other Members, have sent numerous letters to the Secretary urging coordination. And yet, you have still not prioritized this.
In the wake of this unmitigated disaster created by President Biden, reports coming out of Afghanistan are appalling:
85% of SIV applicants – heroes who risked their lives to help our special operators – were left behind enemy lines to be hunted down and slaughtered by the Taliban.
Reports of little girls as young as 9 years old are being sold off to marry 55-year-old warlords just so their families can eat.
People are being terrorized. They are being rounded up by the Taliban, threatened, and beaten.
And all the while, we still can’t get a straight answer from the State Department on how many American citizens were abandoned and left behind.
Or how many are still there, desperately trying to flee the terrorists who now control their country.
Mr. Deputy Secretary, enough is enough. We are tired of not getting full answers from your Department.
We are tired of finding out more information from the news than through official channels.
And I am personally tired of the stonewalling.
We hope we have an opportunity, sir, today to get those answers from you. To try to restore the damage that’s been done in the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
And with that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.”