McCaul says ‘there was no plan’ for US withdrawal from Afghanistan

Washington- Rep. Mike McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, criticized the White House and the State Department for the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan a year ago, saying “it there was no plan” to withdraw from the country.

“There are a lot of sins, if you will,” McCaul said in an interview with “Face the Nation.” “There was a total lack and failure of planning. There was no plan and there was no plan executed. And, at your point, you know, even before, I think the Department of The state probably didn’t have the resources it needed to pull off an evacuation of this size and enormity.”

The Texas lawmaker discussed the findings of a report to be released Monday by Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. McCaul described it as a “fairly objective report on the failures that have been made” by the Biden administration in the run-up to the exit.

The release of the report coincides with the one-year anniversary of the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Kabul and the flight of then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani from the country. The Biden administration’s failure to anticipate the rapid rise of the Taliban has fueled criticism from President Biden, who has repeatedly defended his timetable for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan by August 31, 2021, earlier than the 9/11 deadline he had previously set.

The fall of Kabul also sparked a chaotic rush of Afghans trying to flee the country under Taliban rule. As the US military controlled the capital’s main airport for evacuations, dozens of Afghans descended on the gates surrounding it, hoping to board military planes ferrying people out of the country.

At the time when the the withdrawal has been made as of August 30, 2021, marking the official end of America’s longest war, more than 122,000 people had been evacuated from Afghanistan since late July 2021, including 5,400 American citizens. Secretary of State Antony Blinken estimated at the time that fewer than 200 Americans remained in the country.

The State Department estimates 74,000 vulnerable Afghans have applied for special immigrant visas and are waiting to leave the country.

McCaul said the State Department was “overwhelmed” by the scale of the evacuation. But the bigger problem, he said, was the “pink picture” painted by the White House and the State Department, even as the Pentagon and the intelligence community warned that the Afghan government could collapse. earlier than expected.

“There’s a disconnect between, you know, intelligence on the ground and what the White House is doing,” he said. “In that report, it says it all, like, ‘There is no way to evacuate embassy personnel from helicopters like we did in Vietnam.’ And of course we know it happened.”

McCaul also pointed to the decision to turn down a Taliban offer for the US military to take responsibility for securing Kabul.

“Think how much that would have changed,” he said. “We had counted on the Taliban to secure the perimeter of [Hamid Karzai International Airport]. This led to chaos. It also led to a suicide bomber killing 13 military men and women and injuring over hundreds. And it could have been avoided.”

The Texas Republican defended the intelligence community and the Pentagon for correctly assessing the downfall of the Afghan military and the Taliban’s rise to power.

“The problem was that the White House and the State Department were sticking their heads in the sand, not wanting to believe what they were saying, and therefore not planning adequately,” he said.

McCaul said the United States had broken its promise to thousands of Afghans who had helped American troops during the war.

“Women Left Behind are the worst in this whole thing. I busted out four busloads of little girls from music school, but Schindler’s list, you know, if you’re on the list, you’re gonna live if you’re not on the list, you’re probably going to die,” he said. “One hundred thousand Afghan partners left behind – remember what we said, we will protect you. That was our promise, no one was left behind, and we left them at the mercy of the Taliban, and now they are tortured and killed.”

The Biden administration is set to release its own pullout report and has provided more than 150 briefings to lawmakers and staff on Afghanistan, covering a range of topics. Blinken also twice testified in hearings specifically focused on Afghanistan, while senior State Department officials briefed the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the issue, fielding questions from its Democratic and Republican members. .

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