By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE SENIOR REPORTER
(The Center Square) — On the one-year anniversary of the chaotic and deadly withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban is in control of the struggling nation, and Republicans are blasting President Biden’s handling of the withdrawal in a new report.
Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee are touting findings of the report, which alleges that about 800 American citizens were left behind, a number the Biden administration disputes, along with thousands of Afghans who helped the U.S. and were therefore in danger.
Also, 13 U.S. service members were killed in the withdrawal, and about $7 billion in equipment was left behind.
“There was a complete lack and a failure to plan,” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the ranking Republican on the committee, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “There was no plan, and there was no plan executed.”
Afghanistan is facing a food crisis as well as a crackdown from the Taliban, which has limited education for girls.
Axios reports that the White House prepared a memo to circulate defending the withdrawal and attacking the Republican report. The memo says the GOP report is “riddled with inaccurate characterizations, cherry-picked information and false claims.”
“When President Biden took office, he was faced with a choice: Ramp up the war and put even more American troops at risk, or finally end the United States’ longest war after two decades of American presidents sending U.S. troops to fight and die in Afghanistan and $2 trillion spent,” the memo said. “The president refused to send another generation of Americans to fight a war that should have ended long ago – and we fundamentally disagree with those who advocated for miring the United States’ fighting men and women in an indefinite war with no exit strategy.”
The memo also argues that former President Donald Trump had significantly weakened the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.
“Our top intelligence professionals assessed – and recent history had shown – that we’d ultimately need to send more American troops into harm’s way just to keep the stalemate in a 20-year war from degrading,” the memo said. “The president rejected the impossible notion that a so-called low-grade effort could have maintained a stalemate. There’s nothing low-grade, low-risk or low-cost about any war – and there were no signs that even more time, funds, or even more importantly Americans at risk in Afghanistan, would have yielded different results.”
Lawmakers blasted President Biden on the anniversary.
On his Twitter account, Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., wrote, “One year ago, Kabul fell to the Taliban on @JoeBiden’s watch. He knew the Taliban could swiftly take #Afghanistan & the risks of stranding Americans in a botched withdrawal. Biden failed to prepare & lied to us & the world. 13 U.S. troops were lost. We won’t forget them.”
Sen. Scott introduced a resolution last year to create a bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Afghanistan, but the resolution has not passed.
“The American people demand accountability,” Sen. Scott added.
The call for further investigation and “accountability” were echoed in both the Senate and the House.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the House minority leader, referenced the report Monday, pointing to the “hundreds of Americans abandoned” and “billions of dollars in military equipment lost” as well as the “13 American service members tragically murdered.”
“It’s been exactly one year since Biden’s failed Afghanistan withdrawal,” Rep. McCarthy said. “Republicans demand answers – and we will get them.”
Casey Harper works at The Center Square’s Washington, D.C., bureau.