House GOP Seeks Interviews With Biden Officials Over Afghanistan Withdrawal Statements

House Republicans are pursuing transcribed interviews with White House press officials to explain details needed for their investigation into the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sept. 10 that in addition to the nine diplomats the committee requested testimony from in late August it also plans to hear from former White House press secretary Jen Psaki, National Security Counsel Coordinator for Strategic Comms John Kirby, and former State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

This news came shortly after the two-year anniversary of the last soldiers leaving Afghanistan as the Taliban took control of large sections of the country, including the capital Kabul, causing the Western-backed Afghan government to collapse.

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Tens of thousands of Afghans were evacuated through Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul; however, the terrorist group ISIS-K carried out a suicide attack on Aug. 26, 2021, detonating a bomb that killed 13 U.S. troops and dozens of civilians.

When pressed for details about why his committee requested the interviews, Mr. McCaul said they wanted to speak to Ms. Psaki because: “The messages she was sending out from the White House were so different from what was happening on the ground.”

Similarly, the lawmaker asserted that Mr. Price was making “rosy comments” from the State Department and that Mr. Kirby claimed at the time that there were “no weapons” left behind in Afghanistan, a statement Mr. McCaul called “insane.”

“There were … $7 billion of weapons, and I can show you the tapes of the weapons and the cash that were left behind,” Mr. McCaul said.

He explained that his committee wanted to know why these individuals were “all giving a rosy picture, while at the same time what was happening on the ground was very different.

“I don’t know where this is going to end, Jake, but as a former federal prosecutor, I’m going to follow the facts.”

Previous Interview Requests

On Aug. 30, Mr. McCaul requested transcribed interviews with nine current and former U.S. diplomats, asking that they testify about their roles in the 2021 withdrawal.

The request was made in a series of letters where Mr. McCaul identified the officials, including Ross L. Wilson, the former acting U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Salman Ahmed, director of policy planning, and Brian McKeon, former deputy secretary of state for management and resources.
“Through our ongoing investigation, we have determined these individuals have important information that is critical to uncovering how and why the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan resulted in a disgraceful surrender to the Taliban, the death of 13 U.S. servicemembers, and [injury of] 45 more—all which could have been prevented,” Mr. McCaul said on Aug. 30.

The Republican chairman investigating the withdrawal, which took place in the first few months of the Biden administration, called it an “unmitigated disaster of epic proportions” and vowed to keep digging into it “until the American people receive the transparency and answers they deserve.”

Mr. McCaul provided copies of letters he had addressed to the four departing U.S. ambassadors and a letter he had sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken requesting the testimony of the five currently serving diplomats.

The State Department has maintained that it has cooperated with the post-withdrawal inquiries but has not said if Mr. Blinken will grant some of the Congressional interview requests.

“The department will continue to respond to Congressional oversight requests in a timely manner, including requests for transcribed interviews,” a State Department spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

“Already the department has made thousands of pages of documents available, along with numerous and extensive interviews, briefings, and other informational engagements.”

Motivation Behind Investigation

Mr. McCaul said during his recent interview that he had “great respect” for Gen. Kenneth McKenzie and Gen. Mark Milley, the military leaders thought to have had the primary control over withdrawal efforts.

However, he said he doesn’t yet know if any of the key decisions impacting the withdrawal “actually went up to their level” but that it was clear that somewhere along the chain of command, “an airstrike was denied that could have taken out the suicide bombing team, ISIS K.”

Mr. McCaul cited the families of the deceased soldiers, saying part of the motivation for his inquiry was to bring answers to their families, often called Gold Star families, about the death of their loved ones.

“I feel like I’m the advocate on behalf of the Gold Star families. They deserve to get access to Colonel [Brad] Whitehead, who did not get permission to Sergeant Tyler [Vargas-Andrews] to take out the suicide bomber,” the Texas legislator said.

“They deserve to know about why an airstrike was not given to take out the very individual who was in charge of the suicide bombing operation with ISIS-K.”

The White House did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

Ryan Morgan contributed to this report. 

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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