Secretary of State Antony Blinken confronted bipartisan criticism Tuesday over the botched US withdrawal from Afghanistan — as a high Senate Republican questioned whether or not President Biden is definitely calling the photographs within the White Home.
Blinken’s second consecutive day of grilling by Capitol Hill lawmakers even noticed the Democratic chairman of the Senate Overseas Relations Committee blast final month’s humiliating exit — which included the killings of 13 American service members — as “clearly and fatally flawed.”
Additionally throughout Tuesday’s listening to:
- Blinken admitted that officers have been nonetheless investigating whether or not a drone strike at a suspected ISIS-Okay terrorist by accident killed an Afghan support employee and 9 members of the family, together with seven youngsters.
- Blinken tried to downplay the variety of youngster brides being dropped at the US by Afghan refugees.
- Blinken’s declare that nobody anticipated Kabul to fall earlier than the US army left was countered by months of intelligence warnings that the state of affairs in Afghanistan was “going to hit the fan.”
Blinken took repeated hits from the committee’s GOP members, together with rating member Sen. James Risch of Idaho, who blasted the withdrawal as a “dismal failure.”
“There’s not sufficient lipstick on the earth to placed on this pig to make it look any completely different than what it truly is,” he mentioned.
Risch additionally demanded to know who within the White Home was in control of ending the official livestream protection of Biden’s appearances, as occurred mid-sentence Monday throughout a gathering in Boise, Idaho, in regards to the wildfires plaguing the western US.
When Blinken mentioned that Biden “speaks very clearly and really intentionally for himself,” Risch requested, “Effectively, are you saying that there isn’t any one within the White Home that may lower him off?”
“As a result of yesterday, that occurred, and it’s occurred a variety of instances earlier than that. It’s been extensively reported,” Risch mentioned.
“Any individual has the power to push the button and lower off his sound and cease him from talking. Who’s that individual?”
Risch added: “This can be a puppeteer act when you would, and we have to know who’s in cost and who’s making the choices.”
However in contrast to throughout Blinken’s look earlier than the Home Overseas Relations Committee on Monday — when most Democrats blamed the Afghan chaos on former President Donald Trump’s February 2020 peace cope with the Taliban — some key Senate Democrats excoriated the Biden administration for its failures.
“The execution of the US withdrawal was clearly and fatally flawed,” Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) mentioned.
“This committee expects to obtain a full rationalization of this administration’s selections on Afghanistan since coming into workplace final January.”
Menendez — who’s one in all a handful of Democratic hawks — added: “There must be accountability.”
Different Democrats who have been exhausting on Blinken and President Biden included Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), in the meantime, pressed Blinken on who precisely was killed within the Aug. 29 American drone strike that adopted the lethal ISIS-Okay suicide bombing exterior Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport three days earlier.
When Blinken mentioned that was nonetheless unclear, Paul requested, “So that you don’t know or gained’t inform us?”
“I don’t — I don’t know, as a result of we’re reviewing it,” Blinken answered.
Paul shot again: “You suppose you’d type of know earlier than you off someone with a Predator drone whether or not he’s an support employee or he’s ISIS-Okay.”
“And the factor is, there’s blowback to that,” Paul mentioned.
“I imply, I don’t know if it’s true, however I see these footage of those lovely youngsters that have been killed within the assault. If that’s true, and never propaganda, if that’s true, guess what? Perhaps you’ve created a whole lot or 1000’s of latest potential terrorists from bombing the unsuitable individuals.”
The New York Occasions has reported that the retaliatory assault for the Aug. 26 killings of US personnel and scores of Afghans by accident focused a automobile pushed by Zemari Ahmadi and carrying 9 members of his household.
Ahmadi reportedly labored as a technical engineer for the Pasadena, Calif.-based charity Diet and Training Worldwide, which had utilized for refugee standing on his behalf.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) requested Blinken what number of Afghan youngsters now being housed at army bases within the US or at transit factors abroad have been subjected to sexual abuse by older male evacuees, citing studies of kid brides being dropped at America.
Blinken maintained that everybody concerned within the resettlement effort, each within the US and overseas, has exercised “excessive vigilance to cope with any instances or considerations.”
When pressed for the precise variety of such instances, Blinken mentioned there was simply “a handful” however mentioned he couldn’t present a tally.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) informed Blinken that “essentially the most troubling factor” he’d mentioned in his opening assertion was the declare that “even essentially the most pessimistic evaluation didn’t predict the federal government forces in Kabul would collapse whereas US forces remained.”
“, for a lot of final 12 months I used to be appearing chairman of Intelligence and now I’m the vice-chairman of Intelligence. I’ve been monitoring this very intently,” he mentioned.
“Simply going again to the start of this 12 months — clearly, I can not quote the titles of the items — however let me suffice to say that there are quite a few items that may very well be categorized as ‘it was going to hit the fan.’”
Rubio added: “I believe any evaluation of these items would have led everybody to that conclusion.”
Rubio additionally warned that “China and Russia and Iran, they have a look at this botched withdrawal and what they see as incompetence that they suppose they could be capable of exploit.”
Sen. Invoice Hagerty (R-Tenn.) informed Blinken that “there should be accountability,” including: “My workplace and different congressional places of work have heard rumors concerning potential cupboard resignations over the state of affairs in Afghanistan.”
“So, I need to ask you: Have you ever submitted your resignation concerning this difficulty?” Hagerty requested.
Blinken answered: “I’ve not.”