09/13/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/13/2021 18:21
Washington, D.C.- Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul pressed Secretary Blinken on the Biden Administration's failed leadership in Afghanistan at a full committee hearing.
'The situation we find ourselves in is far worse in my judgement - as the former Chairmen of Homeland Security Committee - far worse than pre-9/11. To make matters worse, we abandoned Americans behind enemy lines. We left behind the interpreters who you, Mr. Secretary, and President Biden both promised to protect. I can summarize this in one word: Betrayal. The America I know keeps its promises. The most important promise in our military is no man left behind - no one left behind. But you broke this promise.'
-Opening Remarks as Delivered-
'Over the last several weeks we witnessed Afghanistan rapidly fall to the Taliban and the chaotic aftermath that followed.
This did not have to happen.
But the president refused to listen to his own generals and the intelligence community who 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.
For weeks, our offices were flooded with requests to help people get out of Afghanistan.
Requests that were coming to us because the State Department failed to provide help.
And then - the unimaginable happened. On August 26th, 13 American service men and women were brutally murdered by ISIS-K trying to help
American citizens and our Afghan partners escape from the Taliban.
Two days ago, we commemorated the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
While we mourned the loss of almost 3,000 innocent people, the Taliban at the same time celebrated by raising their flag over the Presidential Palace.
Days before, they emblazoned their flag on the wall of our United States embassy - proclaiming the defeat of the United States of America.
Shockingly, the White House has described this Taliban regime as 'business-like and professional.'
So let's meet a few of these professionals - the so-called 'new and improved' Taliban.
The Acting Prime Minister - Mullah Hassan Akhund - one of the Taliban's founding leaders.
He is also sanctioned by the United Nations, and sheltered Osama bin Laden for years.
The infamous members of the 'Taliban 5' released from Guantanamo under the Obama Administration also all hold senior positions in the new government .
And finally the worst, Acting Interior Minister Haqqani. He is responsible for overseeing policing and counterterrorism.
He's also wanted by the FBI;
He is the head of the brutal Haqqani Network with close ties to al Qaeda; and
Is currently sanctioned by the United States.
Most of the 'new and improved' Taliban leaders hold the same or similar positions they held prior to 9/11.
And we are now at the mercy of this Taliban's reign of terror. All while a dark veil of sharia law covers Afghanistan.
The freedoms our troops helped secure for Afghan women and girls have been stripped away in a matter of weeks.
This, in my judgment, is not only disgraceful. It also dishonors the men and women who served our nation so bravely.
Mr. Secretary, the American people don't like to lose; especially not to terrorists. But that is exactly what has happened.
This has emboldened Taliban and our adversaries. The Taliban - a designated terrorist group - is now equipped with more American weapons than most countries in the world.
Just a few weeks ago, thousands of terrorists - the worst of the worst - were all released from prisons as the Taliban overran the country.
The situation we find ourselves in is far worse in my judgement - as the former Chairmen of Homeland Security Committee - far worse than pre-9/11.
To make matters worse, we abandoned Americans behind enemy lines.
We left behind the interpreters who you, Mr. Secretary, and President Biden both promised to protect.
I can summarize this in one word: Betrayal.
The America I know keeps its promises. The most important promise in our military is no man left behind - no one left behind.
But you broke this promise.
Unfortunately, it wasn't the only promise this administration broke.
In April, President Biden promised, quote, 'we will not conduct a hasty rush to the exit' and 'we will do it responsibly, deliberately and safely.'
But that promise was broken.
Then, in July, the president said, quote 'There's going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of' the United States Embassy in Afghanistan.
That promise was also broken.
Our standing on the world stage has been greatly diminished. Our enemies no longer fear us. Our allies no longer will trust us.
And, our Afghan veterans are questioning if their sacrifice was worth it.
For those veterans who are watching this today, I have a message for you: Your service was not in vain.
It is because of your heroism that we have not witnessed a large-scale attack by the terrorists since 9/11 in the last 20 years.
And for that I say to all of you: thank you.
So we are here today to better understand how this Administration got this so wrong. I hope you will directly answer our questions, Mr. Secretary, succinctly because we have quite a few.
And with that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.'