The top Republicans on the House Intelligence, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees announced in a letter to President Joe Biden on Wednesday they plan to investigate his withdrawal from Afghanistan, and his administration should preserve all records on the issue.
Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (CA); Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Mike Rogers (AL); and Michael McCaul (TX) sent a letter to Biden on Wednesday that said:
The ongoing chaos in Afghanistan profoundly concerns the American people. The horrifying scenes on the ground and the resulting erosion of America’s worldwide geostrategic position raise troubling questions about your administration’s ability to competently manage a major foreign crisis.
As elected officials, our primary duty is to protect the American people. Thus, we were shocked to hear White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declare that no Americans are stranded in Afghanistan.
We implore you to acknowledge that, in fact, thousands of Americans remain stranded in Afghanistan, and to do all in your power to locate and evacuate these U.S. citizens. Our nation has no higher priority at this moment in history.
They added that once withdrawal efforts are completed, House Republicans plan to “vigorously investigate your administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.”
“That investigation will comprise a joint, comprehensive review by our three Committees of the intelligence, diplomatic, and military factors that led to the current fiasco,” they wrote.
They requested that the Department of Defense, Department of State, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, as well as the Intelligence Community “take immediate steps to preserve all records related to your Administration’s withdrawal of U.S. personnel, including diplomatic staff, intelligence personnel, and military forces, as well as those of our allies, from Afghanistan.”
Biden announced in April that he would withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan on August 31, but maintain a diplomatic presence in the country.
However, as the drawdown neared its deadline, a Taliban offensive picked up momentum, leading to the collapse of the Afghanistan government and a complete takeover by the Taliban of the country in just 11 days. Prior to the takeover, administration officials had insisted that a collapse was “not inevitable.”
The rapid takeover led Biden to order 6,000 troops to deploy to the capital of Kabul in order to fly out remaining American government employees, Afghans who had worked for the U.S. government, and other Afghans desperate to escape life under the Taliban or migrate to the U.S.
However, the takeover also left thousands of Americans stranded behind enemy lines. The U.S. military has been forced to work with the Taliban to get Americans and other evacuees past Taliban checkpoints set up around the airport, where the evacuation is being staged. But there are at least a thousand more Americans in Afghanistan, according to an estimate given by Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki this week claimed that the administration was not stranding Americans in Afghanistan, but the next day she implored anyone with any information about Americans stuck in Afghanistan to contact the U.S. government.