While in public President Joe Biden and his administration attempt to maintain the illusion of control over his failed withdrawal from Afghanistan, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) said the dialogue behind the scenes is not so optimistic.
“What’s also painfully clear from the briefing that we just walked out of, is that behind closed doors, the Biden team tells us one thing — they admit mistakes,” Banks said after leaving a confidential Afghanistan briefing on Tuesday with the Biden Administration and other House members.
“They know this is a dangerous situation going on in Afghanistan. And President Biden tells us something different. He tells us that everything is OK — that it’s under control,” he continued. “So either Joe Biden is lying to us, or he’s not in touch with the team that just briefed us in the room, and that’s a shame as well.”
House Minority Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who led a subsequent briefing with Banks and several other House Republicans, said the confidential briefing with the Biden Administration left him “confident” that Americans will be stranded because of Biden’s failure.
“There’s no possible way that we can get every American that is still in Afghanistan out in the next seven days,” McCarthy said.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) relayed the same sobering news on Monday when he told reporters that evacuations will likely extend past the August 31 deadline, during which time airport security will remain hostile.
On Tuesday however, Biden caved to the Taliban — after the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) negotiated with Taliban terrorists — and pledged to honor the August 31 withdrawal deadline for U.S. personnel in Afghanistan. His decision comes after Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Tuesday morning that the terrorists will accept “no extensions” to the August 31 deadline.
“That is reckless and it is going to leave blood on peoples’ hands. Everything about this situation that we are in now is Joe Biden’s fault,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) said at the briefing.
Rogers, who is a ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said over the past several months, the committee wrote letters to the Biden Administration asking if they had a plan to responsibly withdraw. Rogers reportedly never received an answer.
“I wrote a letter to the president in July asking for a plan — still hadn’t gotten a response. And now, in August, the Taliban takes over,” he said. “He’s not listening to his advisors, he’s not listening to Congress, and this is the result that we’ve got.”
One of the “results” of Biden’s failure is the Taliban’s apprehension of $85 billion in American military equipment, according to Banks, who served in Afghanistan in 2014 and 2015 as a foreign military sales officer.
“That includes 75,000 vehicles, over 200 airplanes and helicopters, over 600,000 small arms and light weapons,” he said. “The Taliban now has more Black Hawk helicopters than 85 percent of countries in the world.”
— Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) August 14, 2021
But besides weapons, Taliban terrorists have U.S. tools that would enable them to locate Afghan allies — tools which, if used, could be a death sentence for any ally left behind.
“Unfathomable to me and so many others, is that the Taliban now has biometric devices which have the fingerprints, eye scans, and the biographical information of the Afghans who helped us over the last 20 years,’ Banks said.
According to the GOP House members, the Biden administration did not have a plan during Tuesday’s briefing to retrieve the U.S. weapons that have fallen into the hands of the Taliban. Banks expressed further concern al-Qaeda and ISIS-K could acquire those same weapons in the future.
“If any American is harmed or killed and not safely evacuated, or if any of this military equipment or weapons are used to harm or kill an American, the blood is directly on Joe Biden’s hands,” he said.
As of Saturday, internal government documents showed that there had only been 3,376 U.S. citizens airlifted out of Kabul, Afghanistan, according to a report from Yahoo News. Several thousand more Americans are still behind enemy lines as the August 31 deadline looms. From the beginning, however, the Biden Administration has chosen not to prioritize American citizens over Afghan allies for rescue.