The Democrat-led House and Senate will hold rare hearings on the Biden administration’s handling of Afghanistan strategy and the evacuation of U.S. forces and allies from Kabul.
In the House, the Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.) said on Tuesday, Aug. 17, that his committee has asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to testify at a hearing “as early as possible,” Washington Times reported.
“The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly changing and it is imperative that the administration provide the American people and Congress transparency about its Afghanistan strategy,” he said in a statement.
Meeks said that Blinken and Austin need to describe “what the administration’s plan is to safely evacuate American citizens, [applicants for special immigrant visas], and other vulnerable Afghans from the country, and to understand our broader counter terrorism strategy in South Asia following the collapse of the Ghani government.”
In the Senate, the Foreign Relations Committee is seeking testimony on Afghanistan after the country fell into the hands of the Taliban on Sunday.
“I am disappointed that the Biden administration clearly did not accurately assess the implications of a rapid U.S. withdrawal,” the committee’s chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), said. “We are now witnessing the horrifying results of many years of policy and intelligence failures.”
Menendez blamed in part what he called a “wholly inadequate agreement the Trump administration made with the Taliban [that] did not get commitments for the Taliban to break ties with Al Qaeda, nor did it account for the day after our withdrawal.”
The senator said his committee would examine U.S. policy in Afghanistan, “including the Trump administration’s flawed negotiations with Taliban, and the Biden administration’s flawed execution of the U.S. withdrawal.”
“The committee will seek a full accounting for these shortcomings as well as assess why the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces collapsed so quickly,” he said.
On Monday, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that he would have “tough questions” for the administration about the rapid fall of the Afghan government and the evacuation activities.
In his statement on Monday, President Joe Biden defended his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan but said the Taliban took control of the nation more quickly than his administration anticipated.
Regarding the collapse of the Afghanistan government, Biden blamed the Afghan army for lacking “the will to fight” for their future. He also blamed the withdrawal debacle for the peace deal that he “inherited” from the Trump administration.