WASHINGTON. D.C. – Rep. Blake Moore (R-District 1) is fighting mad over the ongoing U.S. debacle in Afghanistan and wants to hold Biden administration officials accountable for that disaster.
“After nearly 20 years of continuous deployment, the sacrifice of 2,000 American lives and $2 trillion in taxpayer money,” Moore argued Friday, “the American people deserve to know what went wrong in the days and months leading up to the Biden administration withdrawal (from Afghanistan).”
To ensure that, Moore introduced the Afghanistan Accountability Act in the House Armed Services Committee on Friday.
“I am introducing the Afghanistan Accountability Act to get answers for my constituents and ensure that an absence of presidential leadership on this scale will never happen again.”
Moore’s staff members say that the proposed legislation will be a crucial first step toward identifying the breakdown that obviously occurred between the intelligence community, leaders in the Pentagon and White House officials that resulted in the current humanitarian and geopolitical crisis.
“I am heartbroken by the stories coming from Afghanistan as my staff and I scramble to help as many U.S. citizens and eligible Afghan families as possible,” Moore explained. “When President Biden first announced his Afghanistan withdrawal in April, I voiced grave concerns over its lack of a conditions-based strategy.
“The President’s decision to pursue a Sept. 11 deadline (for withdrawal of U.S. forces) regardless of the safety of U.S. citizens and Afghan individuals who supported the U.S. effort there was theatrical and disturbing. Without a responsible exit plan, the Taliban eroded decades of progress in just 4 months.”
That erosion of stability resulted in the collapse of Afghan president Ashraf Ghani’s government this week and the Taliban takeover of the capitol city of Kabul.
Other congressional Republicans share Moore’s ire over the widening disaster.
“After 20 years of sacrificing blood and treasure toward a mission in which we no longer know what success even looks like, we built a government that collapsed in mere days,” charged fellow Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT). “The ongoing catastrophe in Afghanistan was entirely avoidable and is a blatant failure of leadership – both by President Biden and the Pentagon.”
Bypassing Moore’s call for an investigation into the Afghan debacle, Stewart demanded that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley admit their abject failure and resign immediately.
Other critics insist that the Afghan disaster undermines Biden’s credibility as a world leader and urge the President to consider resigning.
Even normally moderate Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) has added his voice to the growing chorus of criticism.
“Contrary to his claims,” Romney said after a recent speech in which Biden refused to acknowledge any personal responsibility for the Afghan crisis, “our choice was not between a hasty and ill-prepared retreat or staying (in Afghanistan) forever. The decision to place a higher priority on a political promise than on the lives of innocent men, women and children is a stain on America’s reputation and undermines our credibility around the world.”
Administration critics on both sides of the political isle in Congress are charging that Biden and senior U.S. officials either did not have adequate intelligence to predict the rapidity of Afghanistan’s collapse or chose to ignore it out of political expediency.
Those critics add that their own words reveal senior administration officials’ blindness toward true conditions in Afghanistan.
“We are not withdrawing,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “We are staying; the Embassy is staying; our programs are staying; and we are working to make sure that our other partners stay. We are building all that up …”
In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee in June, Gen. Milley downplayed any comparison between the Taliban and the North Vietnamese Army that captured Saigon in 1975.
“It’s not that kind of situation,” he said flatly.
Biden himself painted a similar rosy picture in recent remarks.
“There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy … of the United States in Afghanistan,” Biden pledged.
The President also disputed rumors that the U.S. intelligence community was predicting a quick collapse of the Afghan government if U.S. military forces withdrew.
“It is clear that an after-action report on the intelligence provided to the President and national security officials is necessary,” Moore argued Friday.
Moore’s staff explained that Afghanistan Accountability Act would require an extensive audit of the effectiveness and analytic integrity of the intelligence and information provided to the President from January to August of 2021 as the administration planned, announced and implemented the withdrawal of U.S. armed forces from Afghanistan.
Realistically, Moore’s proposal has no chance of passing the House of Representatives without support from Democratic lawmakers. But that support may not be out of the question as the firestorm over Afghanistan grows on Capitol Hill.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been largely successful so far in keeping the Democratic leadership of the House in line, but some individual Democratic lawmakers – especially military veterans — have been quick to join their GOP colleagues in criticizing Biden. They include Representatives Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Andy Kim (D-NJ) and Seth Moulton (D-MA).
In the Senate, however, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has an open revolt on his hands. Committee chairs already threatening hearings and investigations into the President’s handling of the Afghan withdrawal include Bob Melendez (D-NJ) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Jack Reed (D-RI) of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Mark Warner (D-VA) of the Senate Intelligence Committee.