Top House Republicans revealed their intention to investigate America’s ill-planned military withdrawal from Afghanistan, sending President Joe Biden a letter Wednesday and telling his administration to preserve all relevant records.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon promised its own investigation into the deadly terrorist attack at the airport in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan.
Thirteen U.S. service members and dozens of Afghan civilians were killed in a suicide bombing outside the airport Thursday, and at least another 18 service members were injured. The U.S. military says the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan was behind the deadly suicide bombing attack, and ISIS-K took responsibility for it.
Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee; Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee; and Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a joint letter obtained by the Washington Examiner to Biden, with the Republicans saying that once the U.S. withdrawal has finished, “House Republicans plan to vigorously investigate your administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. That investigation will comprise a joint, comprehensive review by our three Committees of the intelligence, diplomatic, and military factors that led to the current fiasco.”
The GOP letter to Biden added: “To ensure our constitutionally mandated oversight is honored, we request that your administration — including the Department of Defense, Department of State, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, as well as the broader Intelligence Community — take immediate steps to preserve all records related to your Administration’s withdrawal of U.S. personnel, including diplomatic staff, intelligence personnel, and military forces, as well as those of our allies, from Afghanistan.”
The Thursday attack prompted a flood of calls from Republicans for Biden to resign, be impeached, or be removed by his Cabinet through the Constitution’s 25th Amendment process.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Friday: “Of course, there was a failure somewhere. … It could’ve been at a Taliban checkpoint. So, we’ve not been certain about that at all. There will be an investigation. We’ll try to learn as much as we can about what happened.”
He added: “We’re gonna do the forensics on this … and try to figure out what went wrong because, clearly, something went wrong. … I wouldn’t characterize it as a criminal investigation, but it’ll be as comprehensive as Gen. McKenzie needs it to be to try to do the forensics here, to figure out what happened and what we can learn from it going forward. It’ll be a very complete, thorough investigation.”
Taliban, al Qaeda, and ISIS-K fighters are believed to have been among the thousands of prisoners freed from the Parwan Detention Facility when the Taliban entered Kabul last weekend. The prison is right next to Bagram Airfield, which the U.S. quietly abandoned in July.
Kirby said, “I don’t know the exact number” of ISIS-K fighters that had been released. He said, however, that it was “clearly it’s in the thousands” because of prisons being “taken over by the Taliban and emptied.”
Central Command leader Gen. Frank McKenzie said Thursday the suicide bombers were "assessed to have been ISIS fighters." The general said he believed the suicide bomber made it through Taliban lines and was at a U.S.-controlled "interface point" when he detonated himself.
“We believe it is their desire to continue those attacks, and we expect those attacks to continue," McKenzie warned. “If we can find out who is associated with this, we will go after them.”
The U.S. has relied upon the Taliban to maintain security checkpoints around Kabul's airport, even amid confirmed reports that Americans had been threatened and beaten by Taliban guards when trying to make it to the gates to board planes. The general said they would continue to ask the Taliban to assist with security, saying he hadn't seen evidence that the Taliban let the attack occur.
The Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and al Qaeda are deeply intertwined in Afghanistan, and the Taliban have integrated Haqqani Network leaders and fighters with al Qaeda links into its command structure. ISIS-K has long clashed with the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, claiming that Taliban rule is illegitimate.
“To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” Biden said Thursday, adding, “There is no evidence thus far that I’ve been given, as a consequence by any of our commanders in the field, that there has been collusion between the Taliban and ISIS in carrying out what happened today … and what is expected to continue for — beyond today.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Friday that “there will be a day of reckoning” for Biden over his decisions.
“The ongoing chaos in Afghanistan profoundly concerns the American people. The horrifying scenes on the ground and the resulting erosion of America’s worldwide geostrategic position raise troubling questions about your administration’s ability to competently manage a major foreign crisis,” Nunes, McCaul, and Rogers wrote to Biden.
They said that “as elected officials, our primary duty is to protect the American people” and urged the Biden administration “to do all in your power to locate and evacuate these U.S. citizens” who are trapped in Afghanistan, arguing that “our nation has no higher priority at this moment in history.”
The House Republicans pointed to the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act, adding, “Records and documentation regarding policies, decisions, procedures, and transactions related to your administration’s Afghanistan withdrawal are certainly subject to these statutory preservation requirements.”
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Original Author: Jerry Dunleavy
Original Location: House GOP will investigate Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal