McCaul: “The American People Deserve to Know the Truth” About the Afghanistan Withdrawal and EvacuationPress Release
Washington, D.C. – House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican spoke in the Committee yesterday about his Resolution of Inquiry (ROI) requesting vital documents and information from the State Department about President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, the apparent lack of planning by the State Department and White House, and the emergency evacuation that resulted. A ROI helps Congress obtain information from the administration, but is not binding law. Unfortunately, every Democrat on the Committee except one opposed the ROI, claiming the State Department does not need to provide Congress with this information.
Since the evacuation last August, the Committee has only held one, open full committee hearing on the withdrawal and evacuation featuring a Biden administration official involved in the planning and execution. The State Department has either ignored or rejected every request for documents and information from the Committee Minority. An interim report released by Rep. McCaul last month outlined the ways in which the administration repeatedly failed to plan for the fallout from the U.S. military’s withdrawal, causing the chaotic and deadly emergency evacuation.
“I think this committee has jurisdiction over this,” Rep. McCaul said during the markup debate. “And we should exercise that jurisdiction with oversight. And I don’t think we’ve had one document produced to this committee. Now this administration is not even working with SIGAR, the inspector general. And they certainly didn’t work with me when we conducted this report on the strategic failures…The American people, quite honestly Mr. Chairman, just deserve answers as to how this catastrophic event happened. But the State Department has ignored or denied every attempt I have made to get information…I don’t know what was going on in the White House. But I think the American people deserve to know the truth.”
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And you know our relationship is always agree to disagree and work civilly together and that’s what I fully intend to do here today.
But I do disagree and I think this committee has jurisdiction over this and we have to exercise that jurisdiction of oversight and I don’t think we’ve had one document produced to this committee.
And now this administration is not even working with the Inspector General and they certainly didn’t work with me when we conducted this report on the strategy failures, Strategic Failures, but over a year ago we did really watch in horror as the 20 years of blood, sweat, and tears of the United States and NATO came crumbling down in Afghanistan almost overnight and I think that was shared on both sides of the aisle.
I believe in spite of Doha which is a conditions-based agreement. This decision to unconditionally withdraw led to the failure.
In May of 2021, Ambassador Crocker and I warned them, quoted as “Very likely the Taliban will try to take control of the country,” end of quote.
And we strongly urged President Biden to urgently establish a plan to protect US National Security and bring our Afghan partners and allies home or at least to safety.
Unfortunately, we now know the State Department did very little to prepare. The IC warned us, The Department of Defense warned us. Both the State Department and the White House seem to be in a different time and space.
At the time the country fell, only 15 councilor officers were in the country, one week into the evacuation, that number only rose to 36.
The administration waited until the end of July to begin evacuating Afghan allies who fought alongside our troops.
Because of this delay, only 1,962 SIV applicants and their families were evacuated before the country fell. Now we have almost 100,000 left behind. No one left behind is what we talked about.
We told them we would protect them and they trusted us and we left them behind to the mercy of the Taliban. And the reporting I’m getting is horrific and only 25% of the women got out and Americans were left behind. T
he request for military assistance and planning for the evacuation really didn’t even come until August 11, four days before the Taliban would encircle the city of Kabul. The ambassador to Afghan, Ross Wilson took a vacation at that time.
The same time, that being general Miller the US Commander on the ground in Afghan was warning of the rapid loss of district centers.
They told us when they pull the air power out, when we do, the country would fall and then President Ghani left like a coward unlike President Zelenskyy in Ukraine.
That was also the time the United States military officially left the Bagram airbase which we know conducted ISR capabilities in Russian, China, and Iran.
As a result of this failure, the emergency evacuation that followed forced tens of thousands of people to flee to the one remaining place with U.S. troops and that would be HKIA or Kabul airport.
And then for 15 horrific days we watched as Americans and Afghans alike, desperately tried to get inside the gates and on the plane for freedom. Some even grabbing onto the wheels of the airplane.
But the chaos both outside and inside the gate made it extremely difficult if not impossible to get inside. As a result, outside groups composed of veterans, journalist, congressional offices, and even active military duty, and intelligence officers banded together to help people they had worked alongside for years.
And then the unthinkable happened, because we had to put the Taliban in charge of security around the perimeter of HKIA and in charge of the evacuation.
An ISIS K terrorist was then able to get close enough to the airport to donate a bomb that killed 13 US service members and more than 160 Afghans and injured another 45 US service members and countless other Afghanistans. It was the deadliest day in Afghanistan since 2011.
He was able to get that close because again we were relying upon the Taliban to provide security at the airport.
And We learned later that the administration was offered a chance to secure the city ourselves.
But the offer was sent to the White House and the State Department ignored that request and declined.
One year later the State Department has confirmed that more than 800 Americans had been evacuated since the departure and recently told us another 200 still remain there.
The American people quite honestly Mr. Chairman just deserve answers as to how this catastrophe event happened. But the State Department has ignored or denied every attempt that I have made.
Many of us on both sides of the aisle fought together to urge the administration to evacuate our partners, Afghan partners, because it was the right thing to do. During evacuation we worked together to help people get out of the country and to safety relying on outside veteran groups.
It was almost like a Schindlers list, if you’re on the list you get out, if you’re not you don’t. And we mourned the deaths of the service members and I think getting these answers is important and as I close Mr. Chairman, you know I think this is a legitimate exercise and you know when the President said there was going to be no circumstance where you see people lifted off the roof of an embassy like in Vietnam, that’s exactly what we saw and so I don’t know what was going on in the White House but I think the American people deserve to know the truth and I yield back.