September 19, 2021

Congress gears up to question Biden admin on Afghanistan debacle

As President Joe Biden continues to face a staggering level of condemnation – even from typically friendly corners – over his administration’s handling of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the specter of wide-ranging congressional inquiries into what went wrong also now looms over the White House, as The Hill reports.

Both the House and Senate now appear poised to launch probes into just how the Taliban advanced and seized power so rapidly, despite recent administration assurances that such a scenario was exceedingly unlikely and why the evacuation of Americans and Afghan associates has been bungled so egregiously.

Legislators in the president’s own party are among those calling for immediate inquiries on the topic, with at least four major committees pledging action to get to the bottom of where and how American intelligence fell so short and to determine how the administration plans to address new terror threats that may come to the forefront now that the Taliban have control of Afghanistan, according to Politico.

The outlet noted that Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chair of the chamber’s Foreign Relations Committee has promised a “full accounting” of what he called the administration’s “flawed execution of the U.S. withdrawal” characterized by “clear policy execution and intelligence failures.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee has promised a probe from that panel as well, indicating his plan to “ask tough but necessary questions about why we weren’t better prepared for a worse-case scenario involving such a swift and total collapse of the Afghan government and security forces.”

Politico further noted that the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) has already requested testimony from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken “as early as possible” to obtain details about evacuation plans for American citizens and to explore the “broader counter terrorism strategy” to be employed amid the collapse of the Afghan government.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), who chairs the Armed Services Committee has declared his intention to hold hearings on “what went wrong” and to probe the Biden administration’s “failures of intelligence, diplomacy, and a lack of imagination,” throughout the process of withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Though supportive of the overall goal of withdrawing American forces from Afghanistan and traditionally loathe to publicly cast a critical eye toward the Biden administration, even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) revealed Tuesday that the “highest-level officials” will testify next week in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, according to CBS News, and she has also requested a trio of briefings for different categories of lawmakers.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) this week put a fine point on just how damaging the entire debacle has been for Biden, saying, as The Hill noted, “the president has managed to alienate even his allies with this step.” Of course, whether the aforementioned Democrats will in fact hold firm and pursue true accountability from those responsible for this shameful episode still remains to be seen.

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28 days ago

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