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House Republicans issue scathing report criticizing Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal

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This determine — which meant there was “roughly one consular officer for each 3,444 evacuees” — is considered one of a number of beforehand undisclosed particulars outlined within the extremely important report inspecting the chaotic US withdrawal final August.

The Home International Affairs Committee Republicans’ report, which is being printed precisely one 12 months after the nation’s capital fell to the Taliban, reveals extra new particulars concerning the Biden administration’s failure to adequately plan for and execute the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The report additionally says the administration didn’t precisely painting the character of the occasions on the bottom and didn’t put a plan in place to forestall American-trained Afghan commandos from being recruited by America’s adversaries.

“A whole lot of the Biden administration’s evacuation plans had been carried out within the spring 2021 — some even earlier than the president introduced the withdrawal. And so they had been by no means up to date regardless of the Taliban battlefield beneficial properties, regardless of the deteriorating safety scenario, and regardless of the revised intelligence assessments,” mentioned Rep. Michael McCaul, the highest Republican on the Home International Affairs Committee.

President Joe Biden introduced in mid-April 2021 that the US would withdraw all remaining troops from Afghanistan by September 11 of that 12 months — the twentieth anniversary of the terrorist assaults that launched America’s battle there. Whereas Biden lengthy wished to finish US involvement within the Afghanistan battle, he attributed the choice, partly, to the deal brokered with the Taliban by the Trump administration, which had a dedication to withdraw by Might 1, 2021.

She fled Afghanistan with her law degree sewn into her dress. Many of her colleagues were left behind

Within the weeks and months that adopted, bipartisan lawmakers urged the administration to make sure plans had been in place to make sure the safety of Afghans who labored for the US through the practically two-decade lengthy battle, together with evacuation choices.

Each the State Division and the Pentagon have carried out their very own critiques of the withdrawal, however neither of the departments have launched any findings. The Pentagon’s overview is ongoing whereas the State Division concluded theirs in March, in response to a supply aware of the overview. The delay of its launch is due, partly, to an interagency overview course of layered with issues about politics, optics and efficient implementation of classes discovered.

The Home report discovered that it was not till mid-June 2021 that the US Embassy in Kabul held an Operational Planning Crew (OPT) assembly with members of the US army and US diplomats targeted on pre-planning for non-combatant evacuation operations (NEO). The assembly was described by one US army officer concerned as “the primary time” that the embassy started “taking a look at the opportunity of NEO.”

Due to the “full lack of correct planning by the Biden administration” there have been penalties: evacuation flights “had been taking off at solely about 50% of their capability” 5 days into the NEO, the report says. The report references sluggish processing on the gates and mayhem exterior the gates — a authorities evacuation course of so chaotic and disorderly that even staffers for Vice President Kamala Harris and first girl Jill Biden had been contacting exterior teams to attempt to get individuals out, representatives for the teams instructed the committee.

Evacuation flights overwhelmingly carried males

The report discovered that those that had been capable of get out on these evacuation flights had been overwhelmingly male, regardless of issues — which have now been borne out — about girls being stripped of freedoms when the Taliban took over.

“We now know by knowledge from the Departments of State and Homeland Safety that solely roughly 25 % of these evacuated through the NEO in Afghanistan had been girls or women. To place this determine in context, traditionally, girls and women symbolize greater than half of emergency refugee outflows,” Ambassador Kelley Currie, the ambassador-at-large for the State Division’s Workplace of World Girls’s Points below the Trump administration, wrote within the report.

As Kabul fell and then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the nation, two prime American officers — Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, the then-head of US Central Command, and Zalmay Khalilzad, the then-special consultant for Afghanistan who brokered the US-Taliban deal below Trump — met with Taliban officers in Doha, the place the militant group provided the US management of safety of the capital metropolis.

McKenzie testified he turned the supply down, telling Congress in September 2021, “That was not why I used to be there, that was not my instruction, and we didn’t have the assets to undertake that mission.”

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Nevertheless, Khalilzad instructed the committee that he thought “we might have thought-about it,” the report mentioned. The previous official additionally mentioned the US didn’t order the Taliban to remain out of Kabul.

“We did not say, ‘do not go.’ We suggested them to watch out,” Khalilzad mentioned, in response to the report. In the meantime, US officers had been repeatedly saying that the US supported peace talks between the Taliban and the Ghani authorities.

These making an attempt to flee town had been then compelled to deal with the specter of the Taliban as they sought to achieve the airport, the place 1000’s gathered exterior the gates in a determined try and make it inside and onto a flight. And within the early days of the evacuation, the airport operation was so poorly run that teams of Afghans made it onto the airstrip, and desperately tried to carry onto departing planes.

“Provided that the administration ceded management of Kabul to the Taliban, it was a really tactically difficult scenario. Nevertheless it was selections they made — or in some cases averted making — that led to that tactically problem scenario,” McCaul mentioned.

Whereas that chaos was unfolding, the report argues that administration “repeatedly misled the American public” by making an attempt to downplay the grim scenario on the bottom and as an alternative paint an image of competence and progress.

The report juxtaposes State Division officers’ feedback with inside memos, comparable to one from August 20 saying a minimum of seven Afghans had “died whereas ready exterior HKIA (Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport in Kabul) entry gates” and that the Taliban was “refusing to simply accept the stays” of the corpses which had been being saved on the airport.

“At one level the State Division spokesperson Ned Worth was encouraging individuals to make their method to the airport and telling the press the evacuation was ‘environment friendly and efficient,’ however the airport gates had been closed, and inside memos had been speaking about how there have been too many lifeless our bodies on the airport and they do not know take care of all of them,” McCaul mentioned.

Biden admin refused to participate

The committee requested transcribed interviews with greater than 30 administration officers, however the Biden administration refused to participate. For the report the committee relied on interviews and data from whistleblowers, conversations with individuals who had been in Kabul through the withdrawal, and fact-finding journeys to the area.

The Republicans main this investigation are within the minority, which implies they don’t have subpoena energy nevertheless they’ve indicated that they may difficulty subpoenas and proceed investigating the withdrawal ought to their occasion take over the home within the elections this 12 months. They’re calling this an interim report.

The report additionally says the administration failed — even months after the withdrawal — to take actions that will stop American-trained Afghan commandos from being recruited by US adversaries like Iran, China or Russia.

“The U.S. authorities did evacuate about 600 Afghan safety pressure personnel who assisted the evacuation by offering perimeter safety and different capabilities, however these symbolize a really small fraction of U.S. skilled items who fought alongside American troops. And even those that had been fortunate sufficient to be flown out have discovered themselves stranded in third nations,” the report says, including that 3,000 Afghan safety forces fled into Iran in response to a SIGAR report from earlier this 12 months.

As of July, the Biden administration nonetheless didn’t have a plan to prioritize evacuating these Afghans from the area, with the State Division ready on a coverage choice from the NSC, the report says.