Calls are rising for Congress to form a special commission to examine two decades’ worth of U.S. policy in Afghanistan after the southwest Asian nation fell so quickly to the Taliban as American military and diplomatic personnel rapidly withdrew this month.
In particular, many are calling for a focus on the Biden administration’s disastrous and hasty pullout, which drew comparisons to the chaotic withdrawal from what was then Saigon, South Vietnam, in April 1975. The pullout over the weekend as Taliban forces quickly approached resulted in the deaths of several Afghan civilians including three who plunged to their deaths after clinging to a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane.
“Congress should really consider a blue ribbon commission to take a hard look at Afghanistan. Iraq was studied to death. Afghanistan deserves just as much scrutiny,” Elbridge Colby, a Pentagon official, and national security expert during the Trump administration wrote on Twitter Tuesday.
"There are lessons to be learned on how each admin handled Afgh from start to finish & we owe it to the members of the military & other Amers who put their lives in harm’s way to plumb these lessons for future decision making,” said Michele Flournoy." 2/https://t.co/u4Qgl7Erqg
— Elbridge Colby (@ElbridgeColby) August 16, 2021
He went on to quote Clinton and Obama defense policy expert Michèle Flournoy, who told The New York Times: “There are lessons to be learned on how each admin handled [Afghanistan] from start to finish & we owe it to the members of the military & other [Americans] who put their lives in harm’s way to plumb these lessons for future decision making.”
Former Fox News host Greta Van Susteren agreed, touting a new book she is reading by Washington Post investigative reporter Craig Whitlock in which he “pointed out that despite all the known failures in the last 20 yrs, Congress has never created a 9/11 type commission to investigate what went wrong so that we can learn for future.”
“Between January 6th and the fall of Kabul, it’s time for Congress or an outside Commission to perform a wholesale and systemic review of the Intelligence Community’s strategic assessment processes and abilities,” noted Seamus Hughes, former government counterterrorism and U.S. intelligence policy expert.
Other experts joined in the call for an investigation as well.
“[M]aybe Congress should form a commission to figure out what happened with the insurrection that took place this past weekend,” noted “MAGA Leftist” Siraj Hashmi, referring to the disorganized retreat from Kabul.
“More people died on a Kabul airport tarmac than on January 6th,” conservative columnist Stephen Miller agreed.
More people died on a Kabul airport tarmac than on January 6th hashtag worsethan911 hashtag https://t.co/3mPWQPiYuG
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) August 17, 2021
In a separate tweet, he evoked former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment, writing, “Kind of think if we had congressional hearings over a shady phone call, we should probably have them over this.”
Reuters Pentagon correspondent Idrees Ali noted that military officials had told the Biden White House “for weeks” that the Defense Department was prepared “to do more” to get Afghans who helped the U.S. war effort safely out of the country.
“Officials say the military for weeks had been telling the White House that they were ready to do more, in terms of basing and flights from evacuating Afghans, but a decision didn’t come until it was too late,” Ali wrote.
Some have blamed the intelligence community for failing to assess the rapidity with which the Taliban were able to retake the country.
But in June, The Wall Street Journal reported that intelligence officials were predicting that the entire country would fall back to the militant group within six months of a U.S. withdrawal. The assessment came as the Taliban, emboldened by President Joe Biden’s announcement in the spring the U.S. would be getting out, had begun to retake territory.
There were other failures as well, including the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw U.S. contractors who were in-country to keep Afghanistan’s air force operational.
“After withdrawing the contractors that kept its air force flying, a military that had trained with close air support fell apart. To end a stalemate, Biden and his team chose catastrophe,” national security correspondent Eli Lake wrote in a Twitter post.
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