December 21, 2021

Congressional Probe Over Afghan Withdrawal Turns Partisan

Featuring Lisa Curtis

Source: Foreign Policy

Journalist Jack Detsch

Congressional Republicans are concerned that the Biden administration is stonewalling their investigation into the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, members of Congress and aides told Foreign Policy, after the State Department launched its own internal review of the withdrawal earlier this month.

Since August, the Biden administration has not responded to seven of eight inquiries from congressional Republicans, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken responding to a lone letter from the top GOP member on the House Foreign Affairs committee, Rep. Michael McCaul, in October. The letters have requested details on the Biden administration’s evacuation plan, and called for the United States to maintain sanctions against the Taliban. Some date back to the days of the August drawdown, when the gates of the Kabul airport in Afghanistan were swamped with would-be evacuees.

The lack of answers from the administration prodded McCaul and 39 other Republicans to send an inquiry—an unusual step—asking U.S. President Joe Biden to furnish basic information about the 15-day withdrawal, including data about consultations with NATO allies, the release of violent extremists during the Taliban offensive, and the exact numbers of U.S. citizens, green card holders, and Afghans who applied for special immigrant visas still left behind.

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“President Biden seems to want to wash his hands of Afghanistan and turn away from the problem; however, with humanitarian catastrophe looming and the threat of terrorism reemerging, his administration will not have that luxury,” Lisa Curtis, a former National Security Council senior director for South and Central Asia during the Trump administration, told Foreign Policy in an email.

Republican aides fear that the State Department’s new probe could be another diversion of the agency’s handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, and could leave out the National Security Council and the White House altogether—and all three entities made controversial decisions during the drawdown. The State Department’s internal watchdog has also launched a probe into the last days of the Biden administration’s diplomatic conduct in Afghanistan.

“President Biden must accept that Americans were disturbed by the way the withdrawal was handled and that they want explanations for why and how the administration made its decisions on withdrawal,” wrote Curtis, now a senior fellow and director of the Indo-Pacific security program at the Center for a New American Security.

Read the full story and more from Foreign Policy.

Authors

  • Lisa Curtis

    Senior Fellow and Director, Indo-Pacific Security Program

    Lisa Curtis is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Indo-Pacific Security Program at CNAS. She is a foreign policy and national security expert with over 20 years of service in...