The Democrat chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee has called for an investigation into the Biden administration’s execution of a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan that led to the rapid collapse of that country’s government.
“Intelligence officials have anticipated for years that in the absence of the U.S. military the Taliban would continue to make gains in Afghanistan,” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said late Monday in a public statement.
“That is exactly what has happened as the Afghan national security forces proved unable or unwilling to defend against Taliban advances in Kabul and across the country,” Warner said, adding that the Biden administration should answer “tough but necessary questions.”
“I hope to work with the other committees of jurisdiction to ask tough but necessary questions about why we weren’t better prepared for a worst-case scenario”Senate Intel Committee chair Mark Warner:
Statement of Sen. Warner on Afghanistan
Aug 16 2021
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the below statement on Afghanistan:
“The images from Afghanistan that we’ve seen in recent days are devastating.
“We went into Afghanistan to defeat al-Qa‘ida and eliminate their safe harbor after September 11, 2001. Two decades later, the price of our longest war has been tremendous. We’re on track to spend $2 trillion on a conflict that has cost 6,000 U.S. servicemembers and contractors their lives and returned tens of thousands of our fellow Americans from the battlefield with wounds both visible and invisible. We owe a debt of gratitude to all those brave men and women who have served in Afghanistan, many of whom are experiencing renewed pain and grief today as they grapple with traumatic images out of Kabul, thoughts of their fellow servicemembers, and fears for those alongside whom they fought.
“At this moment, our top priorities must be the safety of American diplomats and other citizens in Afghanistan, and the extraction of Afghans who are at greatest risk, including those who bravely fought alongside our forces since 2001. The world must know that the United States stands by her friends in times of need, and this is one of those times. We must do everything we can to secure the airport in Kabul, restore evacuation flights, and allow our trusted Afghan partners to find safe haven in the United States or elsewhere before it is too late. We also cannot lose sight of the reason we were there in the first place and must continue to stay focused on potential threats to the United States posed by terror groups like the Haqqani network, al-Qa‘ida, and ISIS.
“Intelligence officials have anticipated for years that in the absence of the U.S. military the Taliban would continue to make gains in Afghanistan. That is exactly what has happened as the Afghan National Security Forces proved unable or unwilling to defend against Taliban advances in Kabul and across the country. As the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I hope to work with the other committees of jurisdiction to ask tough but necessary questions about why we weren’t better prepared for a worst-case scenario involving such a swift and total collapse of the Afghan government and security forces. We owe those answers to the American people and to all those who served and sacrificed so much.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., called Sunday for a congressional investigation into the Biden administration’s handling of the exit from Afghanistan as the Taliban toppled the U.S.-backed government in a matter of days.
Warner’s call for a probe, however, signals potential bipartisan backing for congressional scrutiny.
Moreover, Warner is a Democrat with actual power to begin and shape an investigation as head of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
In his statement, Warner said:
As the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I hope to work with the other committees of jurisdiction to ask tough but necessary questions about why we weren’t better prepared for a worst-case scenario involving such a swift and total collapse of the Afghan government and security forces. We owe those answers to the American people and to all those who served and sacrificed so much.
In remarks Monday afternoon at the White House, President Joe Biden largely blamed the Trump administration and Afghan political and military leaders for the outcome, but also said he stands behind his decision to withdraw U.S. troops.
During a press briefing Tuesday, a reporter asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki about Warner’s criticism.
“There’s been some criticism from Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill—Mark Warner, [Sen.] Bob Menendez [D-N.J.]— saying—Menendez saying, ‘I’m disappointed that the Biden administration clearly did not accurately assess the implications of a rapid … withdrawal.’ What is the White House’s response to those lawmakers?” the reporter asked.
“Well, I would first say that we did assess early on, when the president asked for a clear-eyed assessment, that there would be impacts and there would be consequences of making the choice he made,” Psaki said, adding:
He also acknowledged yesterday—and I would just reiterate—that this did happen more rapidly than we anticipated here—than anyone anticipated. I think that accounts for members of Congress and people who are on the ground in Afghanistan.
And what our effort is now—is focused on moving as many people out as we can from the country.
Reproduced with permission from The Daily Signal. Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Send an email to Fred. Lucas is also the author of “Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections.” Reproduced with permission. Original here, reproduced with permission.