Liz Cheney claims ‘surrender’ to Taliban occurred on Trump, Pompeo watch

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Amid the catastrophic crisis in Afghanistan, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney has once again resorted to doing what she does best, which is trashing former President Donald Trump, though in fairness to her, some of the points she raised were factually accurate.

Still, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” this Sunday, the ostensible Republican lawmaker couldn’t resist, justifiably or not, making President Joe Biden’s failed withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan partially about the former president.

She voluntarily diverted the topic of the discussion to Trump after host Chuck Todd asked her whether “the Taliban is a direct threat to the United States.”

Listen:

“Absolutely. The facts make me say that. We know the Taliban has never renounced al-Qaeda. This is one of the things that was such an indefensible step by the Trump Administration — when President Trump and Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo decided that they were going to sign a surrender agreement with the Taliban,” Cheney replied, immediately making it about Trump.

The so-called “surrender agreement” was a negotiated contract signed in February of 2020 that stipulated that the U.S. and its NATO allies would “withdraw all troops within 14 months” (by May 1st of this year) so long as the Taliban “upheld” its part of the contract, as reported at the time by the BBC.

“We sat down and negotiated with terrorists because we completely excluded the Afghan government from those negotiations. We gave credibility to the Taliban. Secretary Pompeo told us that the Taliban was going to renounce al-Qaeda. They told us that the Taliban was going to fight terrorists,” Cheney continued.

Fact-check: FALSE.

Al-Qaeda is only mentioned on page three of the contract, where it’s stipulated that the Taliban will not allow al-Qaeda members “to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies”:

Agreement for Bringing Peac… by Jacques Godboutbm

“They forced the Afghan national government — we did — to release 5,000 prisoners. So we completely undercut the Afghan national government, we absolutely emboldened the Taliban,” Cheney added.

“And we know now from public reporting that the moment that agreement was signed, the Taliban went to members of the Afghan National Army and said, the Americans are leaving you, you should lay down your arms when the time comes or we’ll kill you and your families. So that led directly to the catastrophe we’re seeing today.”

To Cheney’s credit, it’s true that the Trump administration negotiated the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners.

“Under the Trump administration’s pressure, the Afghan government also released 5,000 Taliban prisoners, many of whom have returned to the battlefield during the Taliban’s continuing offensive,” The Wall Street Journal notes.

It’s not clear if the Republican lawmaker’s other claim about the Taliban threatening members of the Afghan National Army is true.

What’s known is that the Biden administration withdrew logistical support from the Afghan army without first training them on how to conduct their own logistics.

Following the lawmaker’s remarks on NBC, she was flooded with criticism on Twitter from Trump supporters saying Biden — and only Biden — is to blame.

Look:

After trashing Trump, Cheney did at least take a moment to trash Biden as well — or at least after Todd asked her specifically about him.

“President Biden is the president of the United States. He’s had no problem in reversing course on other things. He decided he’s going to rejoin the JCPOA, rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. He’s reversed a number of decisions of the Trump Administration,” she said.

“In this circumstance, where absolutely the U.S. National security requirement was to maintain a presence on the ground, to help to frankly embolden and train the Afghans bearing the brunt of this and fighting for us, President Biden ignored the advice of his military leadership and decided instead he’s going to withdraw.”

This is true.

“Classified assessments by American spy agencies over the summer painted an increasingly grim picture of the prospect of a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and warned of the rapid collapse of the Afghan military, even as President Biden and his advisers said publicly that was unlikely to happen as quickly, according to current and former American government officials,” according to a report from The New York Times.

Officials stationed as the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan also issued warnings.

“All you need to do is look at what is unfolding today, look at the interview we just heard. The fact that we’re now somehow relying on the Taliban to protect Americans, and the White House is denying what we know is happening on the ground, which is Americans are being beaten, prevented from getting to the Gates of the airport and probably being held hostage,” Cheney added.

Vivek Saxena

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