Washington – The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Mike McCaul, criticized the White House and the State Department for the chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan a year ago, saying there was “no plan” to withdraw from the country.
“There are many sins, if you will,” McCall said in an interview with “Face the Nation.” “There was a complete lack and failure to plan. There was no plan and no plan was executed. And, as you say, you know, right up front, I think the State Department doesn’t have the resources to carry out an evacuation of this size and magnitude. “
The Texas lawmaker discussed the findings of a report released Monday by Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. McCaul described the run-up to the withdrawal as “a futile report of failure” by the Biden administration.
The release of the report coincides with the one-year anniversary of the Taliban’s swift takeover of Kabul and the flight of then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. The failure of the Biden administration to anticipate the Taliban’s rapid rise has drawn criticism from President Biden, who has repeatedly defended his timeline for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by August 31, 2021, earlier than the September 11 deadline he had previously set.
The fall of Kabul also triggered a chaotic influx of Afghans trying to flee the country under Taliban rule. As U.S. forces took control of the capital’s main airport for evacuations, scores of Afghans descended on gates surrounding it, hoping to board military planes ferrying people out of the country.
Until thenOn August 30, 2021, more than 122,000 people, including 5,400 American citizens, had been evacuated from Afghanistan since the end of July 2021, marking the official end of America’s longest war. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken estimated at the time that fewer than 200 Americans remained in the country.
Department of State estimate There are 74,000 vulnerable Afghans who have applied for special immigrant visas and are waiting to leave the country.
McCall said the State Department was “overwhelmed” by the size of the evacuation. But the bigger issue, he said, is the “rosy picture” painted by the White House and State Department, even as the Pentagon and the intelligence community warn that the Afghan government could collapse sooner than expected.
“You know, there’s a disconnect between the intelligence on the ground and what the White House is doing,” he said. “In this report, it’s all said, like, ‘There’s no way we’re going to evacuate embassy staff by helicopter, which we did in Vietnam.’ And of course, we know it happened.”
McCall also pointed to the Taliban’s decision to reject an offer by the U.S. military to take over Kabul’s security.
“Think of what it would have changed,” he said. “We were relying on the Taliban [Hamid Karzai International Airport]. It caused confusion. This led to a suicide bomber killing 13 service members, men and women, and injuring hundreds. And it could have been avoided.”
The Texas Republican defended the intelligence community and the Pentagon for accurately assessing the fall of the Afghan army and the Taliban’s takeover.
“The problem was that the White House and the State Department had their heads in the sand, didn’t want to believe what they were saying, and so there wasn’t enough planning,” he said.
McCall said the US had broken promises to thousands of Afghans who helped US troops during the war.
“Women left behind is the worst part of the whole story. I got four busloads of little girls from music school, but Schindler’s List, you know, if you’re on the list, you’re going to live. Not on the list, you’re probably going to die,” he said. “One hundred thousand Afghan partners stayed behind – remember what we said, we will protect you. That was our promise to them, no one was left behind and we left them at the mercy of the Taliban and now they are being tortured. And killed.”
The Biden administration is set to release its own report on the withdrawal and has provided more than 150 briefings to lawmakers and staff on Afghanistan to address a variety of topics. Blinken has also testified twice in hearings focused specifically on Afghanistan, while senior State Department officials have briefed the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the issue, answering questions from Democratic and Republican members.