Secretary of State Antony Blinken is testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where he is being pressed by Republicans on the committee about the Biden administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the country and about the policy and intelligence failures leading up to the tumultuous conclusion of America’s longest war.
Blinken’s virtual appearance before the House panel is his first congressional hearing this week on the topic. On Tuesday he will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul, opened the proceeding by calling the Biden administration’s military pullout of Afghanistan an “unmitigated disaster of epic proportions” in his opening remarks before Secretary of State Antony Blinken testified before the panel.
“Over the last several weeks, we witnessed Afghanistan rapidly fall to the Taliban in the chaotic aftermath that followed. This did not have to happen.
But the president refused to listen to his own generals in the intelligence community. You warned him precisely what would happen when we withdrew. This was an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions. I never thought in my lifetime, that I would see an unconditional surrender to the Taliban,” McCaul (R-Texas) addressed the committee.
He said congressional offices were inundated with requests to get American citizens and Afghan allies out of the country because the State Department “failed to provide help.
“Amid the evacuation efforts, McCaul said 13 American military members were “brutally murdered by ISIS-K, trying to help American citizens and our Afghan partners escape from the Taliban.”
McCaul also noted that the US remembered the 20 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by al Qaeda that propelled the US to launch the war in Afghanistan.
“And while we mourn the loss of almost 3000 innocent people, the Taliban at the same time, celebrated by raising their flag over the presidential palace, days before they raised their flag on the wall of our United States Embassy, proclaiming the defeat of the United States of America,” he said.
Rep. Gregory Meeks, the Democratic chairman of the committee, said in his opening comments that the Biden administration could have done things differently during the pullout, but said he has yet to hear “a clean withdrawal option and believes one does not exist.”
Meeks, of New York City, insisted President Biden’s hands were tied on Afghanistan because of the peace deal former President Donald Trump negotiated with the Taliban in February 2020, and said keeping troops in Afghanistan after Aug. 31 would have “left them in the middle of a rapidly deteriorating war zone.”
“And it strikes me that many of those critical of the administration evacuation efforts are really just angry that the…