A group of 18 Republican senators wrote a letter Monday to the chairmen of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, requesting next week’s hearing on President Joe Biden’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal be open to the public.
Next week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hear from Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, a move that left 13 service members dead, hundreds of Americans stranded, and gave control of the country to the Taliban.
“President Biden’s misguided and dangerous decisions in his botched withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan led to the United States most stunning, unforced and humiliating defeat in decades,” the letter addressed to Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) stated.
“Thanks to this administration’s actions, the world is now a more dangerous place,” the letter continued. “Now, we as members of the United States Senate, and the American people, are rightfully demanding answers.”
The Republican lawmakers went on to argue that the hearing should be available to all Americans.
“That’s why it is imperative that a portion of this joint hearing be open to the public so that American families and all impacted by the botched withdrawal can hear directly from Secretaries Blinken and Austin. We understand the importance of also having a closed portion of this hearing to discuss sensitive or classified information, but cannot allow this opportunity to pass without ensuring that the American people get answers from the Biden administration,” they wrote.
Last week, Biden doubled down on his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, making no apologies for the disaster that resulted in 13 U.S. deaths. “I have a great concern for the women and men who were blown up on the line at the airport by a terrorist attack against them,” he said during a press conference. “But the military will acknowledge, and I think you will who know a lot about foreign policy, that had we stayed and I had not pulled those troops out, we would be asked to put somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000 more troops back in, because the only reason more Americans weren’t being killed than others, is because the last president signed an agreement to get out by May the first, and so everything was copacetic.”
The hearing scheduled for next week will focus on the testimonies of Blinken and Austin, and their perspectives on the Afghanistan withdrawal. Last August, following the botched withdrawal, Blinken turned his back on reporters asking about the stranded American citizens in Afghanistan.
Blinken turns his back on reporters and refuses to answer questions about abandoning American citizens. pic.twitter.com/QsJGGEqmrw
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) August 30, 2021
Blinken has previously put faith in the Taliban, stating they agreed to let American citizens leave the country and committed “to prevent terrorist groups from using Afghanistan as a base for external operations.”
The hearing on the Afghanistan withdrawal comes as another foreign crisis tests the Biden administration. On Monday, Biden put 8,500 U.S. troops on “heightened alert” amid Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine. That move came just a day after Biden ordered families of U.S. personnel at the embassy in Kyiv to leave the country.
The letter from GOP senators ended with a plea for full transparency and oversight during the hearing. “The United States Senate must exercise the full authority of its oversight abilities to ensure that we have total transparency and accountability for the actions and decisions that led to and exacerbated the failures of this withdrawal. We appreciate your attention to this urgently important matter and look forward to working together to deliver answers to the American people.”
The hearing will take place on February 2 at 10 a.m.
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