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Republicans call for dozens of Biden officials to testify on Afghanistan

Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee are calling for the testimony of dozens of Biden administration officials over how the chaotic U.S. pullout from Afghanistan unfolded. 

In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken sent Monday, GOP lawmakers requested at least 34 officials sit for transcribed interviews to address “unanswered questions about the planning — or lack thereof —  that preceded the drawdown and evacuation.”

Top officials the House GOP lawmakers are intent on hearing from include Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon; John Bass, former Ambassador to Afghanistan and lead of evacuation efforts at Hamid Karzai International Airport; and Ross Wilson, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

The Republican letter is critical of answers and statements so far provided by Biden administration officials in hearings and briefings with Congress, and said the purpose of transcribed testimonies is “to establish a more detailed record.”

It said briefings so far “by State Department officials have been cursory exercises that mystify as much as they illuminate, with relevant actors often declining to answer questions directly, deferring to other colleagues or agencies, or claiming not to have relevant information at their immediate disposal and then offering to ‘follow up’ with answers that never seem to arrive.”

Blinken testified before the committee in September about the U.S. withdrawal, and the committee has held at least two other hearings on Afghanistan, one with expert witnesses that are non-government officials, and the other a closed-door hearing. 

Republicans identified more than a dozen issues related to the U.S. pullout that they want to talk to administration officials about, including how the administration prepared for the exit at the end of August, and how it reacted to the lightning takeover of the country by the Taliban.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have expressed outrage at the handling of the administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

While the administration evacuated more than 124,000 people from the country, the two weeks of evacuation efforts were defined by tragedy, with thousands of desperate Afghans swarming Kabul’s international airport, Afghans falling to their deaths from airplanes taking flight and a terrorist attack killing dozens of Afghans outside the airport gates, along with 13 American service members. 

Democrats have argued that multiple administrations, Republican and Democrat, are responsible for the U.S. failure in Afghanistan. They also have echoed Biden officials in saying that former President Trump’s agreement with the Taliban to put a hard deadline on withdrawing U.S. forces contributed to the problems. 

Republicans have singled out Biden for criticism, and have made it clear the issue will be part of their midterm strategy.

GOP lawmakers also want to press officials on the number of Americans that may have been left behind in Afghanistan, and what the future of U.S. policy towards Afghanistan looks like. The lawmakers also want a recounting of the months and weeks leading up to the decision to start evacuations, and what communication and coordination was undertaken when evacuations began.

Tags Afghanistan Afghanistan withdrawal Antony Blinken Donald Trump us troop withdrawal

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